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Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players

Cognizant
Cognizant

Amid constant change, industry leaders need an upgraded IT infrastructure capable of adapting to audience expectations while proactively anticipating ever-evolving business requirements.

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Cognizant 20-20 Insights
Profitability in the Direct-to-
Consumer Marketplace:
A Playbook for Media and
Entertainment Players
Amid constant change, industry leaders need an upgraded IT infrastructure
capable of adapting to audience expectations while proactively anticipating
ever-evolving business requirements.
Executive Summary
The media industry’s business model is changing.
Traditional distribution and ad-supported revenue are
under immense pressure from a dynamic consumption
model that prioritizes entertainment on-demand and
one-to-one engagement. To compete, content owners
and media companies (including out-of-home and local
media) must prepare for a dynamic business environment.
This requires a media and information infrastructure
capable of flexing with audience expectations and evolving
with their business.
The marketplace is fickle as well. Despite record numbers
of new consumers, media service providers are under
fierce competitive pressure to provide more engaging
Produced in Partnership with
June 2021
2 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players
Cognizant 20-20 Insights
direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services. To
remain competitive, media providers need to scale
and grow with their audience, resolve customer
issues, expand their content offerings and improve
user interface (UI) capabilities. In short, they need to
innovate across the board. This includes new ways to
leverage data, artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and
engineering at scale to enhance content distribution,
subscriber experiences and monetization.
Media industry pain point
One of the major liabilities for entertainment content
providers is legacy IT. Entertainment programmers
rely on numerous disparate applications — many
of them decades old — for customer engagement,
distribution management, content delivery and such.
These applications are monolithic in comparison
to modern applications built from reusable
microservices. This results in:
	
❙ Unexpected downtime that affects customers, the
workforce and partners
	
❙ Reduced agility, causing even small changes
that take a long time because of the need for
regression testing
	
❙ Quality control issues leading to playback issues
and degraded customer experience
	
❙ Lack of transparency into operations, leaving
business leaders with little insight into which
software development efforts drive business
value	
	
❙ High costs of maintaining legacy applications
and the infrastructure they run on, which
squeezes IT budgets, and inhibits innovation
These challenges are hard to spot or repair,
and as a result of mashing together disparate
environments, it is difficult to gather performance
data spanning the content lifecycle. As the saying
goes, “You can’t fix what you can’t see,” and
without that data, getting to the root cause is a
highly manual one-time effort.
3 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players
Cognizant 20-20 Insights
One-size-fits-all delivery models no longer do
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of
millions to work from home and socially isolate, the
demands for both internet and streaming media
services skyrocketed. In the UK, streaming jumped
71% in a year.1
But this explosive growth wasn’t
shared equally among all media providers. Many
giants (such as Netflix and Disney+) got even bigger,
leaving smaller media providers wondering how they
could compete despite a growing marketplace for
their services.
The reason behind the disjointed growth falls squarely
on the preferences and demands of consumers,
who were seeking the best media and entertainment
experiences they could find for themselves (and
their families) during quarantine. Favor went to
those providers who could offer a “smarter” user
experience — ones that had intuitive navigation, could
remember personal preferences and could provide
valued features like parental controls.
Media providers who embraced a one-size-fits-
all relationship with their consumers suddenly
found themselves at a disadvantage. Without an
agile media infrastructure that could provide the
personalized one-to-one experience that their
customers wanted, they were at a loss. They had to
rethink their delivery model with a new focus on:
	
❙ The customer experience. Build more direct
connections with consumers to learn what
content and services they are looking for.
	
❙ Monetization. Find new ways to monetize
services that can build diverse revenue streams
and keep pace with their digital-first competitors.
	
❙ Content and distribution. Learn how to adapt
quickly to changing trends and then scale rapidly
to keep pace with increasing demands for digital
content.
Solving for customer needs
Media and entertainment organizations seeking
a more direct and personalized relationship with
prospective consumers must first understand
what those consumers want. Having a fancy app
doesn’t necessarily mean customers will embrace it,
especially if they already subscribe to a service that
they deem “good enough.” So, what do consumers
want? The right content. If you don’t provide the
programming consumers want, they’ll find a
competitor that can. Media providers need to design
their content strategy with their target segments in
mind.
	
❙ Convenience. Users want to find content easily,
and they expect an intuitive approach not only to
interface design, but also to the experience with
If you don’t provide the programming consumers want, they’ll
find a competitor that can. Media providers need to design their
content strategy with their target segments in mind.
Cognizant 20-20 Insights
4 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players
Monetization is about the data and being able to
effectively segment your audience into groups
so that you can share the right content with
the right audience on the right platform. This
increases the effectiveness of both the content
and promotional campaigns.
the service (signup, payments, support, portability
across devices, family sharing, etc.).
	
❙ Value exchange. Fair pricing or value exchange
(either in subscription fees or in exposure to paid
advertising—i.e., the value of their time).
	
❙ A streamlined streaming experience. An
intuitive UI that remembers their preferences and
settings. Make it easy. Make it fun. Make it cool.
Go for something consumers will want to tell their
friends about on social media.
When it comes to monetization, data is the key
As digital competitors and other market forces
disrupt the media markets, media organizations are
pressed to find new ways to create and implement
diverse revenue streams. New platforms, global
expansion and new paths to content monetization
are top priorities. But ultimately, monetization is
about the data and being able to effectively segment
your audience into groups so that you can share the
right content with the right audience on the right
platform. This increases the effectiveness of both
the content and promotional campaigns. When
data delivery can be leveraged to its full potential in
this way, it drives the metrics that matter most for
streaming service providers, including customer
lifetime value, average revenue per user (ARPU) and
subscriber retention rate.
Too often, media service providers take a myopic
view of data that resides in functional silos such as
product, marketing and promotions, and they wind
up leaving gaps in monetization opportunities that
a unified view of the customer can provide. So, what
steps do media organizations need to get right with
regard to data?
	
❙ Collect, clean and structure data into one place 	
	
❙ Get a 360-degree view of the customer through
data that’s clean, privacy-compliant and enriched
by first-party and third-party sources	
	
❙ Use the power of advanced analytics and data
science to separate the customer base into
multiple downstream use cases, such as customer
profiling and segmentation, and loyalty modeling
From content ingest to content distribution, media providers
need a solution that is engineered for stability, even in the face
of unpredictable workloads.
Optimizing content delivery and distribution
From content ingest to content distribution, media
providers need a solution that is engineered for
stability, even in the face of unpredictable workloads.
One that can:
	
❙ Support larger file formats and higher video bit
rates to deliver high-quality viewing experiences
	
❙ Leverage machine learning to provide capabilities
such as content translation and transcription for
regional distribution	
	
❙ Secure all content and data, as well as applications
and networks	
	
❙ Take advantage of cloud-based infrastructure and
content pipelines so content creators can access
their preferred tools for remote workstations,
editing, rendering and visual effects
5 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players
Cognizant 20-20 Insights
6 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players
Cognizant 20-20 Insights
A global premium cable
entertainment and media
company’s improved content
delivery journey
This leading media company’s content supply chain applications were outdated. These
applications were critical to their business, and it was paramount to adapt them in order to
scale and improve the quality of service for its viewers.
Approach
	
❙ The company worked with Cognizant and formed a transition team to understand their
application landscape.
	
❙ An Agile development methodology was adopted to reduce time to market.
	
❙ An event-driven, microservice-based architecture that leveraged AI and middleware was
incorporated to enhance and scale distribution.
Outcomes
	
❙ Significant improvements were made in the quality of content delivery with minimal
defects or disruptions in the transition to the new platform.	
	
❙ Streamlined release processes now enable new features to be delivered every 15 days.
	
❙ Upstream integrations with the delivery platform increased, which enhanced the
downstream video delivery capacity.
Quick Take
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Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players

  • 1. Cognizant 20-20 Insights Profitability in the Direct-to- Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players Amid constant change, industry leaders need an upgraded IT infrastructure capable of adapting to audience expectations while proactively anticipating ever-evolving business requirements. Executive Summary The media industry’s business model is changing. Traditional distribution and ad-supported revenue are under immense pressure from a dynamic consumption model that prioritizes entertainment on-demand and one-to-one engagement. To compete, content owners and media companies (including out-of-home and local media) must prepare for a dynamic business environment. This requires a media and information infrastructure capable of flexing with audience expectations and evolving with their business. The marketplace is fickle as well. Despite record numbers of new consumers, media service providers are under fierce competitive pressure to provide more engaging Produced in Partnership with June 2021
  • 2. 2 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players Cognizant 20-20 Insights direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services. To remain competitive, media providers need to scale and grow with their audience, resolve customer issues, expand their content offerings and improve user interface (UI) capabilities. In short, they need to innovate across the board. This includes new ways to leverage data, artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and engineering at scale to enhance content distribution, subscriber experiences and monetization. Media industry pain point One of the major liabilities for entertainment content providers is legacy IT. Entertainment programmers rely on numerous disparate applications — many of them decades old — for customer engagement, distribution management, content delivery and such. These applications are monolithic in comparison to modern applications built from reusable microservices. This results in: ❙ Unexpected downtime that affects customers, the workforce and partners ❙ Reduced agility, causing even small changes that take a long time because of the need for regression testing ❙ Quality control issues leading to playback issues and degraded customer experience ❙ Lack of transparency into operations, leaving business leaders with little insight into which software development efforts drive business value ❙ High costs of maintaining legacy applications and the infrastructure they run on, which squeezes IT budgets, and inhibits innovation These challenges are hard to spot or repair, and as a result of mashing together disparate environments, it is difficult to gather performance data spanning the content lifecycle. As the saying goes, “You can’t fix what you can’t see,” and without that data, getting to the root cause is a highly manual one-time effort.
  • 3. 3 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players Cognizant 20-20 Insights One-size-fits-all delivery models no longer do As the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of millions to work from home and socially isolate, the demands for both internet and streaming media services skyrocketed. In the UK, streaming jumped 71% in a year.1 But this explosive growth wasn’t shared equally among all media providers. Many giants (such as Netflix and Disney+) got even bigger, leaving smaller media providers wondering how they could compete despite a growing marketplace for their services. The reason behind the disjointed growth falls squarely on the preferences and demands of consumers, who were seeking the best media and entertainment experiences they could find for themselves (and their families) during quarantine. Favor went to those providers who could offer a “smarter” user experience — ones that had intuitive navigation, could remember personal preferences and could provide valued features like parental controls. Media providers who embraced a one-size-fits- all relationship with their consumers suddenly found themselves at a disadvantage. Without an agile media infrastructure that could provide the personalized one-to-one experience that their customers wanted, they were at a loss. They had to rethink their delivery model with a new focus on: ❙ The customer experience. Build more direct connections with consumers to learn what content and services they are looking for. ❙ Monetization. Find new ways to monetize services that can build diverse revenue streams and keep pace with their digital-first competitors. ❙ Content and distribution. Learn how to adapt quickly to changing trends and then scale rapidly to keep pace with increasing demands for digital content. Solving for customer needs Media and entertainment organizations seeking a more direct and personalized relationship with prospective consumers must first understand what those consumers want. Having a fancy app doesn’t necessarily mean customers will embrace it, especially if they already subscribe to a service that they deem “good enough.” So, what do consumers want? The right content. If you don’t provide the programming consumers want, they’ll find a competitor that can. Media providers need to design their content strategy with their target segments in mind. ❙ Convenience. Users want to find content easily, and they expect an intuitive approach not only to interface design, but also to the experience with If you don’t provide the programming consumers want, they’ll find a competitor that can. Media providers need to design their content strategy with their target segments in mind.
  • 4. Cognizant 20-20 Insights 4 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players Monetization is about the data and being able to effectively segment your audience into groups so that you can share the right content with the right audience on the right platform. This increases the effectiveness of both the content and promotional campaigns. the service (signup, payments, support, portability across devices, family sharing, etc.). ❙ Value exchange. Fair pricing or value exchange (either in subscription fees or in exposure to paid advertising—i.e., the value of their time). ❙ A streamlined streaming experience. An intuitive UI that remembers their preferences and settings. Make it easy. Make it fun. Make it cool. Go for something consumers will want to tell their friends about on social media. When it comes to monetization, data is the key As digital competitors and other market forces disrupt the media markets, media organizations are pressed to find new ways to create and implement diverse revenue streams. New platforms, global expansion and new paths to content monetization are top priorities. But ultimately, monetization is about the data and being able to effectively segment your audience into groups so that you can share the right content with the right audience on the right platform. This increases the effectiveness of both the content and promotional campaigns. When data delivery can be leveraged to its full potential in this way, it drives the metrics that matter most for streaming service providers, including customer lifetime value, average revenue per user (ARPU) and subscriber retention rate. Too often, media service providers take a myopic view of data that resides in functional silos such as product, marketing and promotions, and they wind up leaving gaps in monetization opportunities that a unified view of the customer can provide. So, what steps do media organizations need to get right with regard to data? ❙ Collect, clean and structure data into one place ❙ Get a 360-degree view of the customer through data that’s clean, privacy-compliant and enriched by first-party and third-party sources ❙ Use the power of advanced analytics and data science to separate the customer base into multiple downstream use cases, such as customer profiling and segmentation, and loyalty modeling
  • 5. From content ingest to content distribution, media providers need a solution that is engineered for stability, even in the face of unpredictable workloads. Optimizing content delivery and distribution From content ingest to content distribution, media providers need a solution that is engineered for stability, even in the face of unpredictable workloads. One that can: ❙ Support larger file formats and higher video bit rates to deliver high-quality viewing experiences ❙ Leverage machine learning to provide capabilities such as content translation and transcription for regional distribution ❙ Secure all content and data, as well as applications and networks ❙ Take advantage of cloud-based infrastructure and content pipelines so content creators can access their preferred tools for remote workstations, editing, rendering and visual effects 5 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players Cognizant 20-20 Insights
  • 6. 6 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players Cognizant 20-20 Insights A global premium cable entertainment and media company’s improved content delivery journey This leading media company’s content supply chain applications were outdated. These applications were critical to their business, and it was paramount to adapt them in order to scale and improve the quality of service for its viewers. Approach ❙ The company worked with Cognizant and formed a transition team to understand their application landscape. ❙ An Agile development methodology was adopted to reduce time to market. ❙ An event-driven, microservice-based architecture that leveraged AI and middleware was incorporated to enhance and scale distribution. Outcomes ❙ Significant improvements were made in the quality of content delivery with minimal defects or disruptions in the transition to the new platform. ❙ Streamlined release processes now enable new features to be delivered every 15 days. ❙ Upstream integrations with the delivery platform increased, which enhanced the downstream video delivery capacity. Quick Take
  • 7. Endnotes 1 “Lockdown leads to surge in TB screen time and streaming.” Ofcom, August 05, 2020, www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/ latest/features-and-news/lockdown-leads-to-surge-in-tv-screen-time-and-streaming. 7 / Profitability in the Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace: A Playbook for Media and Entertainment Players Cognizant 20-20 Insights The right platform for growth, performance and agility For media companies to satiate their consumers and remain profitable requires a comprehensive, revenue-focused approach that combines business processes, systems and technology. It also requires a delivery platform that will let them scale, strengthen and future-proof their DTC capabilities. DTC platforms such as this are already in use by some of the top global streaming services, and it enables them to out-deliver their competitors not only through scale and efficiency, but also by enabling customer experience enhancement as a streamlined process. But getting there requires working with a qualified technology partner. Together, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Cognizant wield a comprehensive set of purpose- built tools and services for media providers alongside a vast selection of dedicated partner solutions. The result is an enhanced DTC streaming solution that combines the powers of data, analytics and AI to deliver streaming services that clearly differentiate themselves from the competition and create unique and lasting experiences for consumers. Learn more about Cognizant’s DTC Media Solutions for media providers. For media companies to satiate their consumers and remain profitable requires a comprehensive, revenue-focused approach that combines business processes, systems and technology.
  • 8. © Copyright 2021, Cognizant. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission from Cognizant. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners. Codex 6735 World Headquarters 300 Frank W. Burr Blvd., Suite 600 Teaneck, NJ 07666 USA Phone: +1 201 801 0233 Fax: +1 201 801 0243 Toll Free: +1 888 937 3277 European Headquarters 1 Kingdom Street Paddington Central London W2 6BD England Phone: +44 (0) 20 7297 7600 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7121 0102 India Operations Headquarters #5/535 Old Mahabalipuram Road Okkiyam Pettai, Thoraipakkam Chennai, 600 096 India Phone: +91 (0) 44 4209 6000 Fax: +91 (0) 44 4209 6060 APAC Headquarters 1 Changi Business Park Crescent, Plaza 8@CBP # 07-04/05/06, Tower A, Singapore 486025 Phone: + 65 6812 4051 Fax: + 65 6324 4051 About Amazon Web Services (AWS) Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. Millions of customers — including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies — are using AWS to lower costs, become more agile, and innovate faster. About Cognizant Communications, Media & Technology Cognizant Communications, Media & Technology (CMT) business unit helps clients transform into people-centric enterprises — enabling businesses to create new business models that deliver more personal and relevant customer experiences. We combine human insights with advanced technology to translate customer needs into differentiated content, products and services that power our clients’ future. Cognizant applies domain expertise and digital know-how to help CMT companies optimize performance for today and accelerate digital transformation for tomorrow. Our technology innovations, proven solutions product and software engineering expertise, creative interactive prowess and global delivery excellence enable businesses scale to meet the needs of the market. About Cognizant Cognizant (Nasdaq-100: CTSH) is one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operating and technology models for the digital era. Our unique industry-based, consultative approach helps clients envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in the U.S., Cognizant is ranked 185 on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most admired companies in the world. Learn how Cognizant helps clients lead with digital at www.cognizant.com or follow us @Cognizant.