Leandro Lagos, Director of the Residential Business Unit (B2C) at Tigo Costa Rica, starred in a one-on-one session during the last Nextv Series Central America’s virtual edition, in which he gave details of the new ONEtv product, recently launched on Android TV in Costa Rica, and with plans to continue its deployment in other markets in the region. The executive reported the good adoption of the product by the company’s clients, and highlighted that it was Tigo’s own development, in partnership with TiVo, Arris and Google. ‘Adoption is very strong according to our vision in the markets, and I think that Costa Rica is not going to be the difference’, he said.
At first, Lagos explained what the new Tigo ONEtv consists of and the new features it introduces. ‘We have seen rapid growth in speeds and connections in homes on an industry basis. For some time now, the internet and broadband have grown steadily. Becoming an essential product also makes and demands of us a different vision, taking into account that we are going through the pandemic, and that also invites us to re-think products’. This way, the executive emphasized that there has been ‘a consolidation of the industry with well-marked milestones, and with an opportunity to rethink products from technology, more focused on new audiences and friendly watching-content formats’. Lagos also stated that, at the country level, Costa Rica is ‘an extremely mature market, with very high pay TV penetration rates and broadband rates higher than TV penetration, which leaves us with a favorable context for the evolution of our ONEtv product’. Lagos also reported that, ‘these issues, together with the context of the pandemic, quickly made us reflect. We have seen some numbers, which showed 30% more traffic in our networks, and all this means that, more than ever, ONEtv has a space’.
Regarding the ONEtv product, Lagos assured that its evolution ‘was born with some very appropriate features and differentials for this moment’. This way, Lagos emphasized that, over time, the platform ‘grew, adapted itself and found new spaces that, in this context, has made a better acceptance possible’. Some of the features highlighted by the executive focused on ‘simplicity when searching content and a much more intuitive product; and it is based on issues that our clients request, such as mobility, multiplatform, multiscreen, and others. All these features are embedded in a single STB, which we have been marketing since June 15th in Costa Rica’.
Lagos has also expressed himself on how the launch of this type of product makes consumer demands to watch the content they want, when they want and from the device of their choice come true, and assured that ‘the accelerated growth of the industry is based on the needs of mobility, immediacy, to watch the content where someone wants, in the device that people choose, inside or outside the home. All this was an engine that motivated us to continue innovating in this line. I think we are satisfying that need for content consumption, entertainment, content reproduction in a different and much more flexible way, where the customer is the one who takes control of the entertainment. I think that is basic, and we managed to put it on the market through technology and innovation’.
When asked about how the service will be marketed for new subscribers and for current subscribers who would like to make an upgrade on its Tigo ONEtv, Lagos explained that the product ‘is conceived and designed from a simple format also for sale. For the current customer, the upgrade is easy to acquire, and joins the linear world with those of VOD and streaming. It is a product that is set with high internet speeds, and we have put a lot of effort into the delivery and the simplicity of the acquisition’. In addition, the executive reported that the upgrade can be done ‘in a simple way, through any of the digital channels, or from our customer service center’. Regarding new clients, Lagos reported that ‘we have made the product available for those who want to join our services at speeds of 100, 200 and 300 megabytes. It is a clear offer, bundled with internet and pay TV services’.
Regarding the concept of ‘plug-and-play’ that the Android TV operating system brings, Lagos reported that the ONEtv upgrade ‘still has that simplicity that invites us to adopt the product very fast, but the Google world allowed us to take that big step. Those of us who have belonged to the industry for a long time have seen great milestones such as the transition from analog to digital, from SD to HD and 4K, but what we have achieved for some time now with the innovation of the integration of linear platforms, VOD and streaming is great, because it allows a Google experience environment to get into a traditional service, which has been serving customers in a certain way, with limited flexibility. Furthermore, we are in a context where clients are eager to adopt this’.
‘The upgrade is based on a total openness concept’, said Lagos when asked about restrictions regarding applications that users can download from the Google Play Store. ‘All the authorized and most required applications on the market are available, such as Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Paramount+, together with the entire universe that exists in that ecosystem and that, in general, we do not usually explore’. In addition, the executive made reference to some new features offered by Android TV, which, in his words, ‘from flexibility, they adapt the product to something else these days, such as voice commands for smart searches, which I think is something powerful and offers something new and innovative in relation to what we were used to, even more so considering the endless content that we have today when streaming platforms coexist with linear formats. That, added to the recording in the cloud, which allows the flexibility to record up to 20 hours of content, with flexibility also to use and consume the content (catch up and forward), is something that complements the product a lot. We really feel like the customer takes 100% control of the entertainment experience’.
Regarding the companies that participated in the development of the new product, Lagos assured that ‘the development was made by Tigo on its own, with its own consulting and design work teams’. The executive added that ‘when choosing the partners with which to develop and carry this product forward, we partnered with TiVo to develop the interface, which is a very strong player in the market and with a long history. At the customer experience and flexibility level, there is no better partner than Google, with its Android TV, which is one of the essential partners; and Arris for STBs. With the natural evolution of Arris equipment, we completed the team, but the important thing to note is that it was our own development, and it is important to be able to listen to many customers from different markets, with needs crossed by a similar context, to realize what we have to prioritize when building this kind of product’.
‘We started developing the product in 2019, working on what is the first part of the platform. In 2020 we added content, with a natural evolution of time and current circumstances at that time, and in 2021 we managed to close the first phase of this platform, and put it back on the market. We can talk about years, very important steps in the last eight months, and a rapid adoption, because in these first 15 days since the product was updated, there has been significant interest from the current customer base, and from new ones’.
Lagos has also reflected on the renegotiation with media groups and TV networks to ensure the widespread availability of their content and their on-demand viewing on the new platform, and assured that ‘it is something necessary, taking into account that there is a world of rights in the middle. It is a very sensitive issue. We have a regional structure that negotiates with large regional programmers, and that was a solution that was given. But, locally, we had a slightly more active role. We have had contact with relevant local content, and we have managed to show that this evolution of the Tigo product in the Costa Rican market gives visibility and distribution to the local programmer. We have not had any problems with local relevant content’.
‘There will continue to be a segment of customers who like to continue consuming content in a traditional linear way, but it seems that we have set aggressive growth goals, based on the fact that we know that the adoption of this type of services is accelerating. The context in which we are led us to have the ability to consume much more. We have set ourselves very high percentages based on the first 18 months, and I think we are going to achieve them. Adoption is very strong because of how we are seeing it in the markets, and I think that Costa Rica is not going to be the difference, taking into account the maturity of the market and the need to consume more content every day, in the way that the client does and want to do so’, added the executive in relation to the aims of the new Tigo ONEtv.