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Company contribution We’re not in 2020 anymore The pace of change brought about by Covid has introduced innovation and customer expectations that were not predicted to happen for years. But they are here now. And there is no going back, suggest experts at digital satellite platform Freesat. Lenin is believed to have said: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. That statement undoubtedly rings true for many industries, and ours is no different. The pace of change has been so quick and so vast that many operators need to re-invent or re-think their proposition to keep up. Whilst challenging, this provides nimble organisations with a great opportunity to create a service that goes to the heart of those changes and meets new customer expectations. A new ‘last mile’ challenge The trend towards more flexible working has been happening for some years now. However, the impact of Covid, when so many of us suddenly found ourselves having to work from home alongside our partners, housemates and/ or children had a huge impact on the demands placed on the products and services we had in place. As a result, we’ve seen switches to superfast broadband almost double between February and March, according to Comparethemarket. The CPE market for advanced routers and WiFi boosters had already started to become more competitive with many of the main providers already offering these products to their higher-tiered customers. But, with consumption habits and patterns changing, perhaps permanently, this will only intensify. “The home is now either part of or is ‘the last mile problem’,” says Andrew Ladbrook, Director of Strategy at Freesat. “This presents alternative networks with a challenge of how they will compete with more established brands and services. With the increasing demand for connected entertainment, owning the TV is a key battleground.” Video takes centre stage No one would be surprised to hear that since the start of Covid-19, video consumption is up, both for work and play. “The need to stay connected to the office has led to a boom for video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Team across all devices (laptops, tablets and mobile).But we’re also seeing increased usage over ‘more traditional’ platforms like our set-top boxes,” says Ladbrook. Ofcom’s recent Media Nations report showed that at the height of lockdown, the average daily viewing hours increased to 6 hours and 25 minutes, driven significantly by SVoD viewing which was one of the great beneficiaries of people staying at home. During this period, over 12m adults took up a new SVoD service; which for many will have been the third, or possibly fourth, service they subscribed to. In fact, according to research conducted by MTM, SVoD is the first place nearly a quarter of people (24% to be exact) turn to when looking for something to watch. 1 Traditional TV viewing also benefited from lockdown with increased viewership. Indeed, Freesat also saw a sustained increase in the use of use of its boxes of some 10% year on year. However, the make-up of that use has changed considerably, in part due to the more connected nature of the new set-top boxes launched earlier this year. What this means is that high-speed broadband is now required both into and throughout the home in order for customers to have their needs fulfilled. This is why the government’s initiative to improve the broadband infrastructure in rural areas and traditional not-spots has never been more important. But, if providers are to make the most of that infrastructure, then their TV platform and infrastructure needs to be just as reliable. Fortunately, a reliable infrastructure does exist and has done so for many years. The UK currently has over 20m homes with a satellite dish which can be connected to a Freesat set-top box to bring consumers over 170 channels, many in HD, as well as providing them with access to popular On Demand services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and Netflix. The potential benefits of having a proposition that can bridge the new hybrid TV and broadband worlds are clear and voluminous, so long as the experience is right. 1 MTM ScreenThink Wave 6 (H1 2020) 16 EUROMEDIA