Dr. Yaron Simler is president of Scopus Video Networks.
What products or services are you developing over the next few years, and why are they important to cable?
We’re developing capabilities to support cable migration from offering traditional broadcast service to offering personalized services, which in turn provide a competitive edge in retaining and increasing both customers and revenue. Our intelligent video splicer (IVG) for digital ad insertion is delivering the functionality necessary to insert local ads and program content seamlessly into premium content in both SD and the ever-increasing HD format.
During your meetings with cable operators, what areas of concern do they mention most frequently?
Cable operators are expressing concern about the speed of technology adoption across the board while staying competitive throughout that process. It takes time to absorb and adopt new technologies, and different pieces of technology must integrate easily and operate intuitively. Larger cable operators face the challenge of migrating technology enterprise-wide so that operations are consistent from city to city and so that customers everywhere share the same experience and quality of service.
Do the smaller, independent operators have different agendas or technical requirements from the large MSOs?
Absolutely, their approaches to technology adoption differ. Larger customers can afford and have the engineering resources to perform their own product qualification and testing and to integrate best-of-breed systems themselves. Smaller, independent operators typically count on their vendors for expertise and guidance, looking to buy complete solutions from a single vendor because the deployment price is lower, time-to-market is faster, and adoption into its operation is easier.
Do you have an international presence? If so, what’s your strategy?
Yes. In fact, most of our revenues are earned from international business. Our strategy is to expand our U.S. presence using knowledge gained in the international arena and by offering products and solutions that are tailored to meet U.S. requirements.
If you had to pick one area for the cable industry to become more focused on, what is it and why?
There are several areas that need focus, but one of the important ones is a consistent customer experience wherever the customer goes. As MSOs become triple-play providers, and as more video is offered and consumed outside of the TV set, they must ensure that their increasingly mobile customers always get the same experience they would in their living rooms. Consistent quality of product will serve as a valuable competitive edge.
Which is the biggest threat to the cable industry: telcos, satellite or over-the-top providers?
Short term, it is both telcos and satellite because by combining forces they have the strength to challenge the cable operator. But long-term, over-the-top providers are most threatening because they generate their revenues off existing infrastructures (cable or telco) without incurring the cost of maintaining those resources. Thus, they can provide similar services, but much more cheaply.
What service or product will have the biggest impact on cable subscribers over the next five years?
Cable operators’ ability to provide personalized services to their customers, tuned to their liking and available anywhere, will have greatest impact on subscribers.
What is the defining moment for your company over the past five years?
There are two that come to mind. Scopus’ win of World Cup coverage in 2002 identified the company as a leading industry supplier and helped us win more prestigious contracts worldwide. The second was when we became a publicly traded company in December 2005.
Any horror stories and/or shining examples from the field you’d care to relate?
A leading U.S. cable operator serving 1.5 million subscribers in 23 states selected Scopus’ encoding, grooming, rate shaping and decoding solution to deliver over-the-air TV stations over an IP transport network. At the time, Scopus was a new player in the United States, and this vote of confidence in our solutions and abilities was very rewarding. The successful launching of the live system was a wonderful accomplishment for both companies.