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This is a time of great innovation within the consumer-electronics and entertainment fields. The introduction of smart mobile devices has fundamentally changed how consumers access information and consume content.

The need for online content that can be accessed anywhere at any time helped drive new streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu. Similarly, Amazon has offered pay-per-view and subscription services for movies, television shows and, often, 24-hour-delayed live-event content.

The introduction of streaming content, in a market where demand continually is growing, presents a very real challenge for cable and broadband providers. Traditional premium models no longer are the preferred methods of service for consumers. New models and innovations are vital as consumer sentiment and demands quickly change.

Instead of feeling dread, content providers need to understand the opportunity ahead of them. As the market incumbents, these organizations know the landscape like no others.

One of the biggest micro-challenges cable and broadband companies need to address is how to better enable users to “search” for video content. At first glance, perfecting the way consumers search for video seems like a fairly easy challenge to overcome by implementing an appealing and intelligent user interface.

At first glance, perfecting the way consumers search for video seems like a fairly easy challenge to overcome by implementing an appealing and intelligent user interface.

However, if you consider how long consumers have used the current interface, even the most innovative replacement will struggle for adoption. Why? Consumers needed time to adapt and understand the benefits in simplistic functions – and then a more complex and dynamic interface became acceptable.

Let’s not forget that even searching for video on a traditional computer or laptop still is incredibly difficult. Looking for a video on YouTube or any other video-hosting site often requires the full name of the video or the user name of the administrator. It’s almost impossible to browse for content by keyword or interest, especially with so many parody videos online. YouTube recently started moving to a more traditional channel system, where content is compiled by subject, similar to today’s cable programming menus. There is a real need to balance the channel model with suggestive content based on history and social media.

In the quest to solve search issues, cable and broadband companies have one other advantage. They not only have a bundle of programming, but they also are experts at delivering this content with consistent high quality. Consider that many of these same companies provide the content delivery networks (CDNs) and broadband to subscribers for streaming video.

By offering CDN services to the streaming video provider, they not only offer competitive CDN pricing, but they use excess capacity in their CDNs and improve the quality for their subscribers of both traditional and streaming services.

Similarly, the broadband connection could be monetized to better enable streaming video services or they can be dynamically provisioned in real time. For instance, if a subscriber has a lower-tier broadband service and wants to stream a high-quality video from an OTT provider, why not create business models and technology to enable that ( i.e., an offer to boost broadband speed for one day)?

What all of this comes down to is that the industry is on the verge of a video renaissance. The innovator that introduces a new interface that can solve the challenges faced in the search for video can set the agenda of the market for years to come as long as it also provides high-quality content over its own network or in partnership with established providers.

Jeremy Bennington is senior vice president/Strategy at Cheetah Technologies. Contact him at jbennington@cheetahtech.com.

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