Vidora’s AI Spotlight Series is a series of conversations with leaders, academics and pioneers in the world of artificial intelligence about where AI is today, and how it will change the way we do business. In this interview, we discuss the role AI will have in shaping the media industry.
MobiTV is a video delivery solutions expert that makes the live and on-demand media experience better in-home, in-hand and everywhere in between. Its content delivery platform unlocks content from the traditional Set Top Box (STB) experience allowing pay TV providers to seamlessly deliver content to their subscribers on any screen. The Company also provides customizable, cloud based, end-to-end streaming video solutions to providers worldwide (including Sprint, Reliance, AT&T and others) allowing them to offer a high-quality video experience across multiple devices, cost-efficiently, with the end-user in mind. With 17 years of industry experience, MobiTV continues to helps providers create customer loyalty by operating a platform with 99.99% uptime while ensuring video optimization across all screens.
MobiTV, AI and the Media Industry
Given MobiTV’s past, present and future, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is poised to make significant changes in media businesses, and MobiTV is on the front line working with operators to deploy the next generation of solutions in this space. We had the opportunity to sit down with MobiTV’s VP of Product, Fidel Zawde, and talk to him about how he sees the recent advances in AI impacting media distribution. Here is our conversation:
FZ: Well AI encompasses a pretty broad set of technologies these days. Right now I see AI poised to have a profound impact on quite a few different parts of the operator value chain – from how content is bundled and packaged, to content creation, to how consumers experience products themselves.
On AI impacting the content bundle
The traditional operator bundle has been around for some time now – so how do you think AI will impact it?
FZ: Firstly, I think AI and big data technologies, will help businesses provide the user with the most cost effective price-point for the content they’re receiving.
What about the content customers receive today is not cost effective?
FZ: Well for instance, many customers complain about paying $150 for 500 channels despite only watching 11 channels. As a result, I think solving that challenge is going to be key. And big data and predictive models can really shine here. I see operators working more intimately with data and build detailed predictive models to get that dollar equation more efficient for customers, and for their own businesses too.
So how will these data-driven technologies help decide on the best bundles?
FZ: I think they’ll help operators get to a point where they can say “we’ve found out of the 300 million people and the 125 million households in the US, this is the rough distribution of what people are likely to watch in the future.” You can no longer charge everyone $100 and lose a percentage of your users every year. So how do you figure out 5 or 6 different prices that make sense for those people? How do those tiers, and the content available in each tier, become adaptive and intelligent based on changing demographics and how users engage with content? Additionally, how do operators optimally decide what content is available in each tier at any given time? These are complicated equations involving billions of behavioral and marketing data-points, which is well-suited for AI technology.
On AI impacting content licensing and creation
Earlier you mentioned how big data might help drive content creation? What do you mean by that?
FZ: I think that as more content distribution moves online, studios will start seeing more detailed real-time data on how people are engaging with their various products. In the past a lot of this information wasn’t available. I think it will help make decisions on what type of content gets licensed and created. Netflix uses information on audience consumption patterns to make better decisions around which shows to create. I think you’ll see trends in this direction across the ecosystem. Content creation will also be influenced by real-time user behaviors. It will also be influenced by the price-points associated with content bundles being offered by the operators.
It’s really interesting to think about the shows that studios pass on versus those that they ultimately create. It seems like an inexact science.Do you think intelligent AI systems can play a role here?
FZ: It’s hard to be certain. But let’s think about reality TV for instance. I know people who work for those studios, and right now they go across the United States looking for people with interesting stories. Then they’ll build trailers and different promotion materials to get an impression from the market. At this point, I think big data and AI techniques could help them track trends around which demographics and ultimately which product tiers are going to be most engaged with particular shows.
On AI changing the customer experience
There’s a lot of talk in the industry around personalization, AI, and machine learning for the customer experience. How do you think AI will impact the customer experience?
FZ: Right, there is a lot going on right now in that area. I think the content space is going to move in the same direction as the social space. Look at Facebook or Twitter for instance. Those platforms have a deep understanding of their users and present content that’s relevant to them. I think content providers are probably less than a year out from at least trying to do the same thing.
How does that experience look for a customer?
FZ: To begin with, you could have a standard subscription where there’s 500 channels, 20,000 on demand videos, and 7 days of catch-up TV. In one subscription there’s probably over 100,000 videos that a person can instantly watch. Right now, all the content is more or less presented in chronological order. Or it may be based on what the content providers believe is best, or what they’re betting their money on. AI can understand difficult problems like “what is it about this user’s profile that’s telling us what they like and don’t like?” – and AI can work at scale.
The Role of AI Chatbots in Media
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about chatbots. What role do you see them playing with in the content consumption experience?
FZ: I think operators think about chatbots mostly in the context of customer support. As a result, there’s a feeling that they’re losing deep connections with their user base. Millennials in particular are also not as keen to pick up the phone, and more instead want to engage over chat with a business. So there’s a lot of interest in experimenting with driving interaction through the service itself using chatbots.
Do you have any examples for the role chatbots might play?
FZ: Well, let’s say for example that the bandwidth on a customer’s WiFi is low. In this case, an AI will know that the customer is having a bad experience and can send a popup. That popup might say “Hey, we know your WiFi is low, why don’t you try these three steps?”. Better yet, the AI can automatically implement those three steps for you. Of the hundreds of thousands of calls operators get every month, 90% of them filter down to around five issues. If AIs or chatbots could cut down on those calls and still provide a great customer experience, that would mean huge benefits for both the operator and the customer.
Customer experience, content, business decisions…that’s a lot of things to shake up.
FZ: It is.
You can find out more about MobiTV here
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