Viaccess-Orca and Broadpeak Power New NPVR Service for Orange Poland, Increasing Audience Engagement

VO-Mobile_CatchUpViaccess-Orca (VO), a global leader providing OTT and TV platforms, content protection, and advanced data solutions, announced today that it is powering a new NPVR service for Orange Poland in partnership with Broadpeak, a leading provider of CDN and video-streaming solutions.

VO’s Service Delivery Platform (SDP) has been integrated with Broadpeak’s CloudPVR solution, enabling Orange Poland to launch NPVR, catch-up TV, and start-over features on set-top boxes (STBs) and iOS and Android™ devices, with a fast time to market.

“Within the Polish TV market, there’s a high consumer demand for NPVR capabilities. To be competitive, we needed to introduce an NPVR service quickly and cost-effectively,” said Piotr Jaworski, CTO at Orange Poland. “VO and Broadpeak joined forces, creating a simple and efficient solution for managing and delivering NPVR. Being able to launch this new NPVR offering in just eight months, from kickoff to commercial launch, is a huge benefit for us as it enables our subscribers to enjoy the content they love more comfortably and intensively.”

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VO’s SDP enables Orange Poland to manage subscribers and service delivery efficiently from a single platform whilst reducing costs. Using the comprehensive capabilities offered by VO’s SDP, Orange Poland can effectively manage the limits on the number of recordings, storage, and time duration, which are critical to a successful NPVR service. Broadpeak’s CloudPVR solution includes the BkM100 to manage recordings and the BkS350 origin packager to ingest and record ABR live streams. The BkS350 also records live content in one video format and then packages and encrypts it on the fly in any ABR format, providing massive storage savings.

“Orange Poland is the fastest-growing pay-TV operator in Poland,” said Jacques Le Mancq, CEO, Broadpeak. “We are extremely proud to build, together with VO, a solution that delivers Orange Poland’s vision for the future of television.”

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“Today, users want the flexibility to watch television shows at any time, and services like NPVR are a great way for operators to address those subscribers’ demands,” said Paul Molinier, Viaccess-Orca CEO. “Working with Broadpeak, we’re helping Orange Poland to communicate and interact with audiences on all devices and deliver personalised recordings, including programs that have already been broadcast, improving audience engagement.”

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VO will demonstrate its SDP and other solutions at IBC2019 at Stand 1.A51. More info.

Broadpeak will demonstrate its Cloud-PVR and other solutions at IBC2019 at Stand 5.B78. More info.

 

Viaccess-Orca Joins Forces With Zodiac Systems, Enabling Advanced Services on Existing STBs

The partnership will offer a joint solution making it easier and more cost-effective for TV operators to deploy VO’s cloud-hosted TVaaS and Service Delivery Platform (SDP) with existing legacy STBs. The Zodiac Stack device software and Matrix cloud integration platform support both legacy and next-generation environments, empowering service providers to rapidly deliver feature-rich content on every screen.

With the jointly designed solution, any STB — including IPTV, hybrid, cable, and OTT — can be connected to VO’s SDP and TVaaS. The Zodiac Stack currently supports a growing list of over 150 STB models, making this solution more attractive over time. The comprehensive solution also acts as a cloud integration platform for any existing CAS/DRM or any other BSS/OSS system, enabling service providers to retain their existing third-party vendor ecosystem once integrated with Zodiac Matrix.

“The combined VO and Zodiac solution simplifies back-end migrations, allowing operators to provide a blend of services across STBs, smoothly handling the transition between existing backends and the SDP, whether on-premises or cloud-hosted,” said Derek Harrar, CEO at Zodiac Systems. “By enabling computational off-loading into the cloud, the solution opens up the possibility of launching new services on lower-end devices, which is an exciting opportunity for service providers.”

The Zodiac Stack device software and Matrix cloud integration platform target any STB, no matter how old. In fact, STBs over 10 years old have successfully been integrated with VO’s TV platform, so that all subscribers, even those with vintage STBs, can benefit from new features like advanced search, VOD, catch-up TV, NPVR, and advanced advertising models. Combined, the Zodiac Stack and Matrix include all necessary components that integrate with the target device’s hardware abstraction layer and the device drivers to enable customization, innovation, and feature replacement in the future.

“The jointly developed solution delivers an unprecedented value proposition for operators, helping them reduce churn by enhancing the user experience across the entire installed base of legacy STBs. Now, they can also easily launch attractive new services offered by VO’s TV platform, including browser-based applications and popular OTT services,” said Pierre-Alexandre Bidard, Vice President, Marketing Security and Partnerships at VO. “By extending the lifespan of the STBs, our solution helps operators maximize ROI and reduce support costs while providing uniform consistency across the installed base of devices.”

The jointly designed solution from VO and Zodiac Systems will be demonstrated at IBC2019 at the Zodiac Systems stand 1.D11.

More info

Viaccess-Orca and Smart Bring Together the Best in New Targeted TV Advertising Solution

At DMEXCO 2019 and IBC2019, Viaccess-Orca (VO) and its programmatic advertising partner Smart Adserver will introduce an end-to-end, targeted TV advertising solution. Using the preintegrated solution, service providers can generate revenues through data and inventory monetization, in particular, for linear multicast and on-demand TV. The solution notably allows the creation of granular audience segments leveraging VO’s AI-enriched TV data-management capabilities and the activation of these segments on Smart’s advertising platform. It further allows the distribution of targeted ads on any screen through VO’s secure player, which offers versatile ad replacement and insertion capabilities.

“Leveraging Smart’s and VO’s unique awareness around data privacy and security aspects, service providers can now enjoy new revenue channels generated by our targeted TV advertising solution while keeping control over vital data assets,” said Romain Job, Chief Strategy Officer at Smart Adserver. “This alliance between two recognized specialists allows service providers to access a single, preintegrated solution for managing ad campaigns, activating audience data, and distributing targeted ads on any device, including on the fast-growing Android TV-enabled market segment.”

The end-to-end solution supports the entire targeted ad cycle and offers seamless integration with Smart’s programmatic advertising environment. This includes data management enablers that are natively compliant with GDPR regulations and ensures full-service provider control from segment creation to monetization. In particular, VO’s behavioral insights on TV-usage data, the results of VO’s extensive AI research, provide an elegant and innovative route to TV audience monetization while alleviating reliance on legacy, controversial, third-party, data-based targeting techniques. The solution’s holistic ad monetization capabilities also cover cross-channel advertising, from direct IO management to programmatic transactions. It also supports KPI-focused advertising implementations, with real-time ad analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of ads and make advertising content as relevant as possible to the audience.

VO’s playback solutions, combined with Smart’s performance optimization techniques including peak management, ad-call pacing, local creative storage, validation, and provisioning, enable targeted ad delivery for any TV use case (e.g. linear, on-demand, or catch-up) onto any device (including Android TV-enabled) over IPTV or OTT.

“Targeted TV advertising is a huge revenue opportunity for operators and broadcasters that can help turn viewers’ experiences into personal ones, thereby driving higher engagement,” said Alain Nochimowski, Executive Vice President of Innovation at Viaccess-Orca. “This partnership between two mature technology providers results in an easy, fast, and secure way to enter the targeted TV advertising market and generate a new line of revenue. It’s exactly the kind of targeted TV advertising solution the industry needs to succeed.”

VO and Smart will demonstrate the targeted TV advertising solution at:
• DMEXCO, Sept. 11-12 in Cologne at Smart’s Booth Hall 6 – C061, and
• IBC2019, Sept. 13-17 in Amsterdam at Viaccess-Orca Stand 1.A51 and Harmonic Stand 1.B20.

More info

Viaccess-Orca Inks System Integrator Agreement with Divitel

Based in the Netherlands, Divitel has over 20 years of experience as a solutions provider for all things video, offering cutting-edge technologies, end-to-end deployment support, and continuous data-driven operational improvements for pay-TV operators and service providers.

“Our goal is to work towards achieving superfast, low risk, and future-proof convergence between our customers’ networks and their advanced video services. By combining our unified video SI expertise, AI-driven data strategy, automation, and Divitel’s NOC, together with VO’s multiple state-of-the-art, proven products, we look forward to shortening the delivery time of flexible and robust converged solutions. This partnership is an important step in our mission to form strategic alliances with different video solutions vendors,” said Reuven Elmalem, Director of Service Strategy and Business Development EMEA at Divitel.

 

“Partnering with Divitel is a strategic decision that increases our competitive advantage across EMEA in project life cycle management, managed operations, and maintenance,” said Pierre-Alexandre Bidard, Vice President, Partnership and Product Security at Viaccess-Orca. “Teaming up with Divitel will help pay-TV operators quickly launch revenue-generating TV Everywhere offerings with a high quality of service.”

VO’s global network of system integrators is designed to deliver the best OTT and TV experience to operators through the company’s enhanced solutions, including its Service Delivery Platform, multi-DRM, recommendation engine, analytics, secure video player, Anti-Piracy Center, and more.

More info

How mature is AI development throughout the broadcasting industry?

By Chem Assayag. Chem Assayag is VO’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. With a strong experience in the world of digital television and content services, and during his tenure at OpenTV, the worldwide leader in interactive television, he managed operations in Europe and the Middle East, growing revenues in the company’s largest business region.


IBC recently ran a feature looking at AI in the broadcast industry and came across real world projects as diverse as using AI to automatically generate metadata, generate intermediate frames and thus super slo-mo from regular camera feeds; analyze audience behaviour patterns, provide speech to text, refine complex workflows, and much more.

Much of it is to do with automation in the value chain and currently it is mostly this that is driving the broadcast industry uptake. Broadcast is a very process-oriented business and many of these processes — think of Quality Control, monitoring channels for rights purposes, conforming, closed caption generation, ingest… the list is a long one —  map well into automation. The use of technology to increase speed and efficiency while at the same time cutting costs, is an attractive proposition.

Where is AI in Broadcast in 2019?

First off, it has to be said that, at time of writing, there is a lot of hyperbole regarding AI technologies and their impact in the value chain. A lot of what is being talked about is either projection, prototypes, or concerns projects that have a so far rather limited scope. The hype machine is in full flow as companies looking to leverage AI technologies look to raise funding and maximize interest.

This is not helped by a media that is fully buying into the more fanciful elements of the AI story. Sometimes these showcase legitimate concerns as well as rattling the funding tip jar, such as the story headlined ‘New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators’, which highlighted the problems of text-based deep fakes. On the whole though, there is a depressing willingness to buy into the trope of the inanimate becoming animate and leading to disaster, which is a cultural artefact you can trace from Talmudic stories of golems, through Frankenstein, and on to the Terminator movies and SkyNet; a point which the same newspaper as the previous link adroitly made a few months earlier in a piece titled ‘The discourse is unhinged’: how the media gets AI alarmingly wrong’.

Indeed, in its introduction to a gated reportexamining the hype cycle in relation to AI, analyst Gartner wrote: “AI is almost a definition of hype. Yet, it is still early: New ideas will surface and some current ideas will not live up to expectations.” Away from there alarmist mainstream headlines the AI-based technologies it sees as currently sliding into the Trough of Disillusionment (see here for an explanation of the Hype Cycle phases) include such high-profile cases as Computer Vision, Autonomous Vehicles, Commercial Drones, and Augmented Reality.

So, where are we in broadcast? Gartner has also produced a useful AI Maturity Model (see below) where companies and industries can measure their progress along a line that illustrates the growing deployment and impact of the technology.

ai in broadcasting diagram

As a whole, at this stage early in 2019 the broadcast industry is probably strung out in a line somewhere between the start of Level 2 and the early stages of Level 3. Level 2 is Active, and defined as AI appearing in proofs of concept and pilot projects, with meetings about AI focusing on knowledge sharing and the beginnings of standardization.

The Level 3 Operational stage sees at least one AI project having moved to production and best practices, while experts and technology are increasingly accessible to the enterprise. AI also has an executive sponsor within the organisation and a dedicated budget.

Things are moving swiftly though. IBC2017 was, after all, only eighteen months ago. But one of the accelerants for the introduction of technology is that the broadcast industry has been moving into the cloud at the same time. Companies no longer need to invest in their own infrastructure, hardware and software to implement AI in the value chain; they can outsource it via the cloud.

This is becoming easier to do than ever as well. As an illustration of what is available, AWS has a Free Tier that it bills as offering ‘Free offers and services you need to build, deploy, and run machine learning applications in the cloud’. The cloud-based machine learning services organizations and individuals can hook up to for no cost include:

  • Text to speech: 5 million characters per month
  • Speech to text: 60 minutes per month
  • Image recognition: Analyze 5000 images and store 1000 face metadata per month
  • Natural language processing: 5 million characters per month

Even the full costed versions can make a compelling argument. The Amazon Transcribe API is billed monthly at a rate of $0.0004 per second, for instance, meaning a transcript of a 60-minute show would cost $1.44. And, of course, though it is enormous and has a global reach, AWS is only one of a growing number of cloud-based companies offering AIaaS.

AI is Augmentation over Automation

One key point to make about AI in 2019 is that the industry is still largely working out the use cases. Automation is only the start of it, and indeed only looking at the places in a broadcast workflow where AI can automate processes is to underestimate the potential of the technology. AI holds out the promise of augmenting human actions, of being able to analyze information and make predictions based on those results faster than humans can.

That means when examining loci in a workflow where the technology can help, there are a few key considerations:

  • Does expert knowledge add value?
  • Is there a large amount of data to be processed?
  • Is the organization looking to affect an outcome included in that data?

If the answer to all those three questions is yes, then that is a business point that can be further augmented by AI.

AI in Broadcasting: All About Context

As we’ve said, there are lots of use cases and projects involving AI currently underway across the industry, but we’ll end by highlighting one example of what can be achieved in the field, the UK’s Channel 4 and its trials of Contextual Moments. This is an AI-driven technology that uses image recognition and natural language processing to analyze scenes in pre-recorded content, producing a list of positive moments that can then be matched to a brand.

Low scoring moments are discarded, whilst all candidate moments are checked by humans to ensure brand safety. After that, to use C4’s example, a baking brand might previously have contextually advertised around a show such as ‘The Great British Bake-Off’, now it can be presented with a list of programs where baking happens in a positive light, from dramas to reality shows.

Channel 4’s initial testing with 2000 people showed that this AI-driven contextual version of targeted advertising, boosted brand awareness and doubled ad recall to 64%. It will be interesting to see how those results are mirrored in real world data.

As yet, the Level 3 ideal of AI having a dedicated budget within an organization is largely fanciful; we are at too early a stage for ROI data to be reliably collated. The tendency for it to be applied mainly for automation purposes limits its impact, even though cost reductions can be impressive. More complex projects and thus more strategic impacts are on the way, though.

Gartner’s Level 4 of AI implementation sees all new digital projects at least consider AI; new products and services have embedded AI, and AI-powered applications interacting productively (and, presumably, with a degree of autonomy) within the broadcast organization. Given the speed of the timescales so far, you wouldn’t want to bet against some of the companies at the forefront of AI development starting to push into that territory towards the end of the year.

Read the full article on Viaccess-Orca website

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IBC2019 Exhibitor Preview From Viaccess-Orca

In parallel, as new forms of video piracy constantly emerge, security requirements remain as critical as ever. To succeed, openness is key. Operators need solutions that are open, flexible, and compatible with other technologies; that can quickly adapt to the evolving TV landscape; keep premium content safe; and address consumers’ privacy concerns.

At IBC2019, Viaccess-Orca (VO) will showcase its end-to-end anti-piracy services, as well as its targeted advertising and TV platform solutions, which enable operators to provide a smarter and safer digital TV and OTT experience.

Fight Piracy Smarter With VO’s New Anti-Piracy Center

The nature of piracy is changing, and operators need to react instantly to security threats, especially when delivering premium video content and live sports events. At IBC2019, VO will demonstrate its new Anti-Piracy Center, a comprehensive set of security services that enable operators to fight piracy from every point of attack ¬by assessing the security, monitoring the threats, identifying the source of piracy, and taking counteractions.

With its Anti-Piracy Center, VO’s security experts combat the next era of piracy on behalf of operators: premium content restreaming. From its operating center, VO monitors and prevents pirates from hacking the content distribution chain, starting with the service delivery platform to the end-user device. At IBC2019, attendees will see the complete range of services that the Anti-Piracy Center provides, including device assessment, dynamic watermarking developed in collaboration with b<>com, an intrusion detection system, and password-sharing identification, leveraging the latest advancements in AI and data analytics to fight piracy.

As a managed service, VO’s Anti-Piracy Center eliminates the need for operators to invest in complicated technologies or to constantly train security teams.

Deliver a More Compelling TV Experience

VO will showcase its hosted and fully managed TV platform at IBC2019, highlighting how operators can easily personalize content and advertising for VOD services. VO’s TVaaS platform allows operators to manage, publish, personalize, and monetize content on multiple devices with increased cost efficiency and business agility. With this one-stop solution, it’s possible to deliver multiscreen services across any network while responding quickly to technical, competitive, and business challenges. The solution includes:

  • A powerful, feature-rich service-delivery platform with content protection and DRM capabilities.
  • The VO secure video player, a multiplatform player integrated with major DRMs for premium VOD and live content to enable a compelling viewing experience on multiple OTT platforms.
  • Off-the-shelf, customizable white-label TV apps.
  • Out-of-the-box analytics dashboards for marketing purposes.
  • A unique search-analysis tool for optimized content rights acquisition.
  • TV-specific customer churn predictive modeling and multifactor analysis.

Bring Relevant Ads to Viewers With an Innovative Approach to Addressable TV
Addressable TV is a huge revenue opportunity for TV channels and operators and can dramatically improve the television experience for users by providing them with relevant ads. At IBC2019, VO will show its end-to-end, targeted TV and video advertising solution in collaboration with its programmatic advertising partner, SMART. During a demo, attendees will see how the solution enables household-level targeting on operator-controlled devices (including in a multicast environment) as well as TV viewership data monetization through integration with the programmatic ad ecosystem.

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VO Technologies in Action

At IBC2019, VO will offer several demonstrations showing the company’s technologies in action. These include:

  • VO’s deployment with Orange Spain will be showcased with a hybrid Android STB powering OTT and IPTV offerings. The Orange service is secured by the VO DRM solution and is available on STBs, smart TVs, and mobile devices.
  • Andorra Telecom is using VO’s TV Platform and DRM solutions to securely deliver live and VOD content including advanced services such as live VOD, catch-up TV, start-over TV, and NPVR to subscribers in multiple places.

More info

OTT Platform Providers Continue APAC Growth

By Jean Christophe Jubin, VP Sales APAC at Viaccess-Orca.

Few regions of the world have shown so much consistent growth in so many industries as APAC. Even if you take the economic powerhouse of China out of the equation, there is a constant increase in almost all metrics across the board as the region’s diverse economies continue to heat up. And the broadcast industry is no exception.

APAC is a large and diverse region, with notable differences between the many countries. Notable differences also exist within individual countries, especially between rural and urban populations and the infrastructure that serves them. Yet in survey after survey and report after report, the common denominator is of growth. From the vast economies of China and India, through the fragmented SE Asian market, to the developed and mature markets of Japan, Korea and Singapore and on to ANZ, more consumers are demanding more video.

According to analysis from Media Partners Asia (MPA), the Asia Pacific online video sector will double in size by 2024. The region’s online video advertising and subscription revenue will expand from $26 billion in 2019 to $52 billion in 2024, an annual growth rate of 15%. So, what is driving this expansion? And how do operators ensure they are a part of it?

Factors in OTT video services growth

Identifying the different reasons for the growth across the region is not an easy task due to the sheer diversity exhibited. Nevertheless, the interlocking three factors of an improving digital infrastructure, an increase in paid for local services, (either SVOD or Pay-TV), and the fact that the big international services such as Netflix are also increasing their attempts at localization are all at play to varying degrees.

Improving infrastructure

The infrastructure picture is, of course not consistent across the region, with some countries such as South Korea far ahead of the global curve, and several others lagging behind. Ironically, one of the factors driving OTT uptake has been the slow pace of infrastructure investment in rolling out Digital Terrestrial Television across the region.Ovum estimates that a 59% digital TV penetration at the end of 2014 will increase to 88% by the end of 2020, a transition that the IABM characterizes as ‘alarmingly low’, while at the same time admitting that both MENA and LATAM are at similar points.

“The lack of DTT progress can hinder the ability of traditional broadcasters, especially public broadcasters, to compete effectively in current media markets,” the IABM continues.

With the linked issue of a transition to HD also taking place at the same time, the assumption is that consumers are being driven towards OTT services as they offer a wider range of content functionality, and superior picture quality.

As we’ve highlighted in LATAM, there is a direct link between broadband provision and OTT demand, with operators often using OTT solutions as differentiators when they launch into increasingly crowded markets. The Netflix ISP Speed Index for April 2019 highlights the uneven nature of the provision, however; the Philippines has the lowest average connection speed at 2.57Mbps, while Hong Kong leads the field of countries with 4.08Mbps. By way of comparison, the company lists the USA at 4.19Mbps.

The Netflix figures are, of course, merely a measure of prime time Netflix performance on particular ISPs, and not a measure of overall performance for other services/data that may travel across any specific ISP network. So, while of limited use in general, in the context of delivering video to consumers they are very important. And it is worth pointing out that Netflix recommends 5.0Mbps as a minimum for HD streaming.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the focus in the region — and especially given its geographic spread and the difficulties of laying physical cable — is currently on mobile broadband. Indeed, in many countries, mobile has overtaken fixed broadband as the primary means of internet access. This is only going to accelerate as 5G deployment starts to ramp up.

This mobile first approach has implications for operators, who need to ensure their OTT offerings are tailored as such. This is not only in terms of content and UI either, but also when it comes to payment models, which tend to be undeveloped in many countries. As a result we are seeing a lot of partnering between OTT providers and existing telecom and Pay-TV operators, who have already carved out models that work well in low income markets with poor credit penetration. Indeed, Netflix is trialling a low-cost, mobile-only subscription plan in India that brings its historically high and globally set price more in line with the local market.

Increasing localization

The importance of local content can be seen by the importance that the global players place on it. Netflix was present in the APAC region a year before its global launch in January 2016, establishing bridgeheads in ANZ and Japan. As the IABM’s latest Media Technology Demand Driversreport for the region points out, usually Netflix offers around 20% of local programming, either made specifically or licensed. When it launched in Japan it pushed this figure up to 40%, plus entered a deal with telco and internet giant SoftBank to offer its customers easy ways to pay for a subscription.

The IABM says that “Netflix has replicated this strategy across the whole region by entering agreements with local companies producing local content.”

This though is not a new strategy. Netflix has been increasingly internationalizing for nearly two years.Ampere Analysis  says that 30% of Netflix Originals were non-English language in min-2017. By the time we got to Q4 2018, the company was producing new content in 25 countries, with 133 titles originating outside of North America and 36% of its originals were non-English. APAC’s contribution, primarily from India and Japan, is illustrated below.

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Amazon Prime Video has also been aggressive in this field, with 70% of its content in India and Japan local. It has also launched its streaming service free to Prime customers.

Given that governments are starting to legislate to ensure local content on streaming services (the European Union specifies 30%, Mexico is seriously considering it) and given the advantage that local content has to local audiences, we expect to see more local production ramp up in APAC and other areas. For local operators, some of whom may already have extensive locally produced content libraries, the importance of local content represents a significant opportunity to engage viewers with new OTT offerings. They may not be able to outgun Netflix when it comes to sheer numbers of subscribers, but the comparative success of operators such as iflix in Malaysia, which is aiming to quadruple its commissioning slate by 2019, HOOQ, and Viu already shows that there is definitely room in the market.

OTT Platform Providers in APAC – The Challenges

There are of course, plenty of challenges in the region too. Piracy in APAC is something we’ve written about many times before, with headline figures such as the fact that up to 45% of consumers in Thailand are using a TV box which can be used to stream pirated television and illegal content. Nevertheless, the industry is fighting back, and initiatives such as our new Anti-Piracy Center are providing valuable tools in the battle to protect content.

As a recent S&P Global Market Intelligence report points out, there is also probably too great an emphasis on AVOD at the moment throughout APAC, which detracts from any future SVOD growth. AVOD remains an important component of OTT growth overall, especially given its role in raising awareness of the services available and encouraging viewers to seek legal sources for premium content.

It is also worth pointing out that the rate of growth is starting to slow too as the market matures. This is going to mean operators will have to be rigorous in the planning and execution of their services. But, while growth might be slowing, revenues will still be on the rise for the next forecast period and, hopefully, beyond.

Read this article on VO website