Back in 1998, when I worked for Motorola, the company invited staff to join a corporate briefing on the status and future of the company. I was based in Prague at the time, and this was the first call of its type that I had the privilege of attending. There were literally thousands of people on this call, representing countries from around the world. After listening to our corporate executives talk about their vision of the future, one of the senior executives said something that caught my attention. He said (I’m paraphrasing as it’s been a while), “We plan to give special attention to emerging markets. We see a lot of opportunities in these regions and want to capitalize on their rapid growth potential. Specifically, we see states such as Idaho as an emerging market and we want to focus some of our efforts there…”
What? Idaho, an emerging market? Suddenly the reality of my role, working out of the humble Prague office located on the other side of the world, slapped me in the face. Even though I was responsible for marketing across over 25 countries in Central & Eastern Europe, it seemed that we weren’t even on HQ’s geographic radar.
I would like to provide some perspective on what are the true emerging markets in the entertainment industry – specifically in regards to video streaming. Fifteen years have passed since that call, and much of my time has been spent with one leg in western markets and the other in emerging markets. Holding dual citizenship as a Canadian and Slovak, I always felt I had solid footing in both cultures.
Digital video has arrived in a big way and is maturing rapidly across the globe[i]. Figure i shows the accelerated growth of internet traffic, of which approximately 70% will be video by 2016 according to Cisco’s VNI[ii] report. For nearly a decade consumers have enjoyed video streaming on their computers and more recently on their mobile devices. Even though this change occurred quickly, it has also been taken for granted. We expect high quality video streaming; that our Skype calls will work; we even assume that video will be served to our mobile devices. So, here is a quick reminder of what we didn’t have ten years ago:
- We didn’t have YouTube, which launched in February 2005[iii].
- Consumers were still calling long distance – Skype launched on the 29th of August 2003[iv] and reached its first 10 million concurrent users in 2007[v]
- Blu-Ray discs had yet to be introduced, with the first titles being released on the 20th of June 2006[vi]
- Even the iPhone began shipping as early as six years ago, on the 29th of June 2007[vii]
These products and services have become so essential to our lives it’s as if we’ve had them forever. But not everyone around the world has been enjoying entertainment at an even pace.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) maturity varies greatly outside of the developed market. The availability and quality of video streaming, communications, and mobility fluctuates depending on a given developing region. For example, the past decade has shown that the USA leads in the adoption of streaming video solutions, including its offspring Over the Top Content (OTT). Several of the first movers in OTT services who entered the market include Brightcove (est. 2004), Ooyala (est. 2007), and Kaltura (est. 2006). In addition, western subscribers consume more digital video than any other region around the work – in excess of 45GB of traffic per month. In fact, according to the latest report from Sandvine[viii], 32% of downstream traffic in the USA in 2013 can be attributed to Netflix alone. But in Europe, Canada and parts of Asia, these second-tier regions trail several years behind the USA in the adoption of OTT and video streaming services (Figure ii). European consumers, for example, consume a third of traffic compared to their American counterparts: 13GB per month. This is partially attributed to the limited supply of OTT services outside the United States.
The third tier in this assessment is that of emerging markets. These regions are at least four years behind the USA. This lag is significant on several fronts. First of all, from a competitive perspective, as the Internet is borderless, western companies are entering emerging markets before the local players have the knowledge, time or capital to build a service themselves. Secondly, early adopters from the west have first-move advantage to create an early footprint of global subscribers since they already have a platform and seed capital to expand to international markets. Western competitors wanting to establish a larger subscriber footprint in the east secure additional capital to buy expensive premium content. This footprint is easier to extend over the Internet where borders can be easily crossed. In contrast, broadcasters are typically restricted by geography due to regulation and the limitations of their physical infrastructure.
Stay Tuned for Part II
In the second part of this article we will look into several areas where OTT deployments in the emerging markets differ from developed markets.
In the digital era of the 21st century, ’emerging markets’ have evolved into what we now call ‘developing markets’. If companies in the west are considered the adults of the business world, then developing markets are still at the adolescent stage. A developing market at least acknowledges that the emerging markets have entered their next growth phase. As digital video and entertainment proliferates around the world, the tide is not rising for everyone at the same pace. Developing markets still have to overcome obstacles in adopting streaming solutions due to cultural, technological, and financial challenges. This article has taken a look at some of the differences between developed and developing markets in the adoption of Over the Top solutions (OTT) and digital streaming. By examining some of these, we can help them mature into healthy and robust teenagers.
• About Gabriel Dusil
• Gabriel Dusil was recently the Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer at Visual Unity Global, and a member of the core management team that secured 7.2m US$ in series “A” funding for the company in 2014. Before joining Visual Unity, Gabriel was the VP of Sales & Marketing at Cognitive Security, and Director of Alliances at SecureWorks, responsible for partners in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Previously, Gabriel worked at VeriSign & Motorola in a combination of senior marketing & sales roles. Gabriel obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and has advanced knowledge in Online Video Solutions, Cloud Computing, Security as a Service (SaaS), Identity & Access Management (IAM), and Managed Security Services (MSS).
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[ii] Cisco, Visual Networking Index (VNI), http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/index.html
[v] 50 million concurrent users online!, by Jean Mercier, http://skypenumerology.blogspot.cz/2013/01/50-million-concurrent-users-online.html
[viii] Sandvine – Global Internet Phenomena Report (1H ‘13)
[x] Responsive Web Design, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design
[xi] “Sub-Saharan Africa pay-TV numbers to double by 2020”, by Jim O’Neill, Ooyala VideoMind, http://videomind.ooyala.com/blog/sub-saharan-africa-pay-tv-numbers-double-2020
[xii] A similar trend occurred in the payment industry over the years. Markets that introduced a check-based payment system in the 80’s migrated to credit cards in the 90’s and then to debit cards in the 00’s. In the USA, where checks were introduced, that method of payment is still used to this day. But markets in Europe that missed the boat with checks flourished with credit cards. Emerging markets, on the other hand, missed the boat with credit cards and went straight to debit cards. Furthermore, many of the smaller emerging markets still remain a cash-based purchasing society.
[xiii] Average revenue per user, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Average_revenue_per_user
[xiv] “Pay-TV Prices Are at the Breaking Point — And They’re Only Going to Get Worse”, by Todd Spangler, Variety.com, http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/pay-tv-prices-are-at-the-breaking-point-and-theyre-only-going-to-get-worse-1200886691/
[xvi] Consolidated figures for Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_households, Ofcom, and iDate, http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr13/international/icmr-3.23