FTA TV faces the main challenges in front of the OTT model

During the last edition of the Nextv Series Colombia event, which took place last June 27th at the JW Marriott Hotel in Bogota, executives Rodrigo Holguin, Director at RTVC Play, Santiago Escobar Lloreda, New Business Manager at RCN TV and Juan Ignacio Pinillos Seminario, Smart TV Manager at LG Electronics, starred in the panel ‘FTA TV moves to OTT’. The main topics discussed were the company’s models linked to OTT, these platforms monetization model, the role of smart TVs in the future of Colombian FTA TV,  challenges of FTA TV when migrating to OTT, the relationship with clients living abroad and the differentiation of content offered on FTA and those available on an OTT.

When asked about how the RTVC model linked to OTT works, Holguin said that “RTVC has the mission of offering contents from the Colombian Public Media to all Colombian audiences, inside and outside the country. If a large sector of these audiences – as we know it – begins to migrate to digital environments, we should reflect what is happening with them and how to offer our catalog in these new areas’. This way, the executive explained that “having a convergent technology direction within RTVC, the necessary developments were made and technology was created to make RTVC Play viable”. About OTT, Holguin said that ‘originally, it was created as an online showcase of the contents of all the RTVC brands of the Public Media System and, in the search for a differential as original content creator, it has content with topics, durations and different narratives than what is seen in RTVC FTA networks’.

‘From the LG’s point of view, we have been working with local channels that begin by having fully FTA content, and then change to subscription models. We work with special formats with Globo (Brazil), which began to broadcast special events in 4K and then specific programming, and recently we are working in Peru with hybrid formats’, he explained, adding that ‘many FTA channels do not have the EPG system enabled, and that begins to shorten  smart TV features, especially the artificial intelligence commands that we are having from this year, which do not give results’. Regarding RCN users experience with content via streaming and catch-up, Escobar said that ‘on RCN.com, streaming user behavior is an echo of what happens in the TV rating. We also have an important catch-up of our products in VOD, and we understand that there are different times of consumption, and different types of users who are visiting us. 65% of the content is consumed from mobiles, both in streaming and in VOD, and in both cases we have interesting consumption times, between 25 and 30 minutes’. The executive also explained that ‘of all our users, 2% return more than 15 times a month, and about 47% are users who return once’.

In relation to the best  OTTs monetization model (advertising, subscription or mixed ones), Escobar Lloreda said that ‘we understand that we must propose a mixed model, where the freemium offer allows us to create an important reachment and audience, because the willing people to pay are not so many. We need to generate an important basis to financially hold the business’. When giving his vision about it, Holguin said that ‘n RTVC we have had to be inventive about it, because as we offer contents from the Colombian Public Media, we cannot charge for access to our catalog. However, monetization is an important topic, where there have been thought, for example, about advertising revenue, but this year we are doing it in a co-production with Valencia Productions, through product placement. A product placement thought from the beginning, that is organic to the format that is being designed, and that is not perceived as invasive by the user. It’s about how to integrate certain brands in an organic way that, in some way, may have a connection with the story we want to tell’.

‘Smart TVs have begun to have a greater insight into the product mix we bring. Originally, 10% of the TVs we imported were smart, and now they are in a 100%. All the TVs that LG brings this year are connected, with artificial intelligence, bluetooth and all features. From a commercial point of view, if a person bought a small TV, it could not be technologically powerful and should choose to include Roku, Chromecast as some temporary solution. That has made having more penetration, reachment a more massive audience. And those with the greatest growth potential in this new ecosystem are the FTA channels. TVs were originally created to see the FTA network, and we continue to do that, even if we change the way we watch it and evolve. It is a path that begins. What I have always recommended is to look for an exclusivity with a brand to leverage brand and platform recognitions, and then become massive towards the rest of the brands’, Pinillos Seminario explained about the role of smart TVs in the future of FTA  TV from Colombia, and indicated that in Latin America, LG has 12 million activated TVs. In Colombia, 1.3 million are recorded.

About users living abroad, Holguin highlighted the competition that Netflix continues showing, and indicated that, with RTVC Play, users ‘saw a platform to celebrate  Colombian typical features at a different level’. The executive explained that the audiences abroad are looking for content that celebrates being part of the country. In the case of RCN, Lloreda explained that ‘the economic and distribution potential via OTT to international audiences ‘is everything’, and we must understand the most viable way to achieve it. The executives also expressed themselves about FTA TV challenges when moving to OTT, and said that FTA  means a passive consumption model, that goes along with the vast majority of audiences. ‘When we want to turn to OTT, we must think about what is a more active action and there is a decision about what we want to consume, and we must see how we generate value for the FTA consumer. We also have a challenge at the licensing and commitment level to generate the new path in digital areas’.

‘RCN is considering a multiscreen structure and strategy, where it is looking to answer users needs, wherever they are. OTT as a technology or business depends on what users need and what is better for the audience. We are studying the best way to achieve our goal’,said Escobar Lloreda. Finally, in relation to the  users expectations regarding the launch of an OTT, the executive said that the platform must offer something different to what is shown on FTA, and know the users through technology, to generate a relationship between the brand and the audience. ‘It is not about being a mirror of the FTA offer, but that both offers can live together and, eventually, complement themselves and present the content in another way to give a particular value to the experience’, said Holguin. Pinillos emphasized the quality of the content with a personalized experience, with the best quality in the market, as key elements.