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The Problem of Choice

Written by Anthony Smith-Chaigneau, Senior Director Product Marketing for NAGRA

It is mid-2018 and we have heard about how the fragmentation of video content’ is finally being recognized as an issue for viewers. What we do know is that we have been here before when it was called multichannel TV. (There is a longstanding TV industry magazine and website of that name) and we had so much variety of content (A Hollywood publication around TV Shows bears that name i.e. Variety) that we were getting swamped with choice. Too much choice is not good for human beings, it tends to lead to less choice rather than more. So back then, just like today, it was mightily complicated for the TV viewer. Then technology sort of solved the problem:

As far back as 1981 the EPG or Grid-Guide as the Americans would prefer was created so people could be guided through the mass of channels that were now being aggregated on the TV.
It is now 37 years later, and we still use the EPG. However, as the Internet bandwidth grows with an all-online TV play we are seeing disaggregation as the content is breaking away from the traditional to try something new – Direct to Consumer – Content is heading down the go-it-alone path as they believe that they can deliver a single pipe of content directly to the viewer and cut out the middleman. All started by Netflix whose business plan went from full-blown content offering variety to a more fine-tuned own content strategy. Hulu followed but saw that the biggest consumer request to improve their online service was the addition of a grid-guide, and they duly added it (irony).

A heavily debated topic, fragmentation is akin (I read this on LinkedIn) to food e.g. where once upon a time we had a choice of a baker selling a few types of sliced bread, we now have a supermarket with an enormous aisle of many sliced bread providers. What was not mentioned is that a lot of that supermarket bread gets thrown out because it is not consumed. Not consumed is where we will surely see analytics play a role. Thats for another blog piece.

Sight unseen, however, are all the go-it-alone services that have already bitten the dust (the list is too long for my 500-word limit). There are the strong few who have managed to carve a niche for themselves. The big delivery platforms i.e. the FAGs (Facebook, Amazon, Google) have diversified from their core business into video because content owners offered their wares to anyone and everyone with a dollar or two.

As the industry debates the ‘all-on-line-video’ play Google should really change their name to Goggle for their TV platform I bet nobody at Google realised that would ride so sweetly into the British vernacular, now, did they?

Finally, the BBC Director General recently fired a warning shot to the industry stating that the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix & Google) group is going to be the demise of Broadcast TV He should have added S for Snapchat FANGS Which makes them sound doubly devilish! But where is the Y for YouTube who has entered the game recently adding premium league sports? FANGSY doesn’t quite have the same bite now does it!

Well fear not folks because until one of these monstrous companies becomes the sole, global video monopoly and only place for content (the regulators may have a say about that) today’s disgruntled viewer could be tempted by the days of yore Where a simpler journey to content on a big-screen TV with an aggregated service makes viewing easier, through a single User Interface and great User Experience i.e. one remote control and ALL of their content, FANGSY and all, firmly back in one place but perhaps a little more a la carte, of course.’


Anthony Smith-Chaigneau
Senior Director Product Marketing

Anthony Smith-Chaigneau is the Senior Director Product Marketing for NAGRAs pay-tv & OTT Solutions unit. He is recognized as a leading evangelist for advanced-service television technologies, having held several senior management roles in leading digital TV companies since 1999, including the DVB consortium, where he was heavily involved in international-standardization efforts including involvement with ATSC, & Cable Labs.

Anthony Smith-Chaigneau spent 15 years in the British Royal Air Force as an Electronics & Avionics engineer. He is a seasoned speaker & panelist with a grounded, common sense approach to todays complex video market landscape. He has recently moved to the USA, based out of Phoenix, NAGRAs new USA HQ.

Written by DTG Team

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