MENA region: next-generation TV according to Endavo Media

Technology & Convergence

Endavo Media provides an enterprise OTT video services platform for telcos, and global OTT syndication for content producers and broadcasters.  Early next month Endavo’s president and CEO, Paul D Hamm is appearing at TV Connect MENA (November 5-6), so IP&TV thought it would be a perfect time to pick his brain about the future of TV in the region.

IP&TV: Hi Paul. You’re appearing at TV Connect MENA next month. How exciting is the Middle East and North Africa from an IPTV or OTT perspective?
Paul D Hamm: We are very excited about the MENA region for next-generation TV, which of course includes IPTV and OTT. We have been working with media companies and IPTV providers, such as Dubai Media, MBC and Etisalat, since 2008, so we’ve seen this market develop. We believe the regional market is now poised for successful deployment of next-gen TV offerings to consumers over managed networks and broadband Internet, and over multiple devices, such as TVs, set top boxes, tablets and smartphones. For example, our client, Dubai Media, has had a lot of success in the last year rolling out multiscreen VOD and live channel services over the Internet, as an extension of their traditional TV brand. We are doing some very exciting new things with DMI, such as catch-up TV and second screen apps.

Does the region present any specific advantages to potential Next-Gen TV operators?

We do believe the region has some interesting advantages in the global marketplace. First of all, the region is very young relative to the west, in terms of average age demographics. This is an important advantage if you are seeking to roll out new and innovative technologies or video services. A younger population tends to try and adopt new technologies and services, compared to older populations. In the U.S. we call those in the younger generations who avert traditional cable TV, “cord nevers”. There are a lot of cord nevers in the MENA region. Also, many countries in the MENA region are advanced in terms of broadband infrastructure and video technology proliferation, with many people having very high speed Internet connectivity and multiple smartphones and/or tablets, as well as Smart TVs and higher performance PCs, capable of handling high-quality video. These market dynamics, paired with the limited choices many people have for TV services, relative to many western countries, positions the MENA region as a very attractive market to roll out Next-Gen TV services in our opinion.

Tell us about the Endavo OTT Video Services Platform and what it could contribute to regional growth?

Endavo is in a very good position to help MENA media companies, broadcasters and service providers get Next-Gen TV services launched and into the market fast and cost-effectively. Our platform and solutions have been built specifically to support premium Next-Gen TV services. The world has become very flat and small, especially in terms of video, or TV, content and M&E brand distribution. There is a lot of excellent content being produced in the MENA region and there are both traditional media and new media companies poised to distribute Next-Gen TV to audiences around the globe, as well as within the region. Companies like Dubai Media are already doing this well, by distributing globally-available TV programming and interactive services on their websites, tablet and phone apps, Smart TVs and STBs, etc. Media and entertainment are significant economic drivers, along with broadband and technology. Next-Gen TV facilitates growth in all of these industries. Endavo is a proven platform and solution provider for Next-Gen TV in the MENA region.

How can Endavo help broadcasters improve their relationship with their audience – and help it to grow?

We believe user experience, or UX, is a critical factor in growing audiences and building loyalty, in addition to offering great content, of course. One of the first factors in delivering a great user experience is accessibility. Today’s video consumer increasingly demands “anytime, anywhere” access to their TV content. So, having a multiscreen strategy that includes a seamless user experience is very important. Other important UX factors include: quality of service, personalization, and discovery. In addition to delivering an amazing user experience, there are other ways to connect with your audience. Providing integrated social network and interactive tools, which allow your audience to engage with their friends and others about content they are watching, will help to enhance UX and improve the audience relationship. There are even proactive campaigns that a service provider can initiate with the audience, such as contests involving user-generated video. Endavo provides the tools and solutions to deliver amazing user experiences, integrate with the social web and launch interactive audience campaigns.

What would Endavo’s message be for ambitious digital broadcasters in the Middle East and North Africa?

TV is being reinvented before our very eyes around the globe. Larger OTT providers like Netflix, as well as regional media companies like Dubai Media, are changing the way TV is being distributed. This is happening largely in response to paradigm shifts in how TV consumers are consuming their personal entertainment, due in large part to broadband and video technology proliferation. Content is now being produced and distributed in new ways and the old traditional distribution and business models are being challenged. The beautiful thing about all of this is that many of the barriers have come down for new entrants. Today, Next-Gen TV services can be effectively launched with a very short time to market and without a large initial investment, relative to traditional TV models. With the right strategy and planning, even niche content produced for narrow audiences can be distributed profitably. Having a partner, like Endavo, that can help get you to the market faster, better and cheaper, can really accelerate success. This is a very exciting time for Next-Gen TV, and we look forward to discussing the market, strategies and plans further with ambitious digital broadcasters during the show next month.

You’re attending TV Connect MENA next month. Why this event?
We’ve participated in the past exclusively as an Etisalat partner. This year we are on our own here and ready to meet the Next-Gen TV industry. We believe that TV Connect MENA is the premier show in the region that brings the right people and industries together in a forum well suited for learning the state of the TV industry in this region, finding out who has initiated and/or is planning new IPTV/OTT projects in the region, generating new business prospects and getting deals done. We look forward to meeting innovative companies and people there, and we hope to contribute further to the Next-Gen TV industry in the MENA region.

Paul Hamm will be at next month’s TV Connect MENA,  November 5-6, 2013 - the only major TV event in the Middle East and African region linking key TV providers in the connected TV delivery ecosystem.