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The long tail wags the dog…
Choice. We all want it and more and more of it, or so we are told.

29 June 2012
Choice. We all want it and more and more of it, or so we are told. It’s not enough to have “any colour you want as long as it’s black” which was incorrectly associated with the Ford Model T… Now we expect to be able to have any colour we want whenever we want, and wherever.

When it comes to TV adding more and more, choice is seen as essential to the industry. In the UK historically there were 3 TV channels, then a fourth and finally a fifth before the advent of digital TV brought 30+ free to air channels to the mass market. Pay TV operators have long used the number of channels as a way or differentiating themselves from free services. 

But what about this extra content? Content which is only desired by a few is known as “long tail” content.  This long tail content can be anything, from a fishing channel, to music channels to a channel about musical fish. By its nature, the long tail content is not mass market and receives low viewing figures and often the current measurement schemes are unable to measure the viewers.

Long tail content can also relate to content within the popular channels, like the BBC, where content such as Eastenders, Strictly Come Dancing or Dr Who are mass market. However, content shown late night on a Sunday (for example) reaches a much smaller viewership. 

Within the UK and US, viewing figures show that the mass market consumption of content is based around a limited number of channels. Furthermore these channels are available free to air, even though a large number of viewers are watching as part of a Pay TV package.

When looking to design on-line catch-up TV services, the broadcasters have implemented systems which are designed to support the long tail content. There is no difference in either the quality of service or content between content with a high demand and content which is not highly desired.

Within most Video on Demand systems, again the mass market and long tail content is treated the same. If the viewer requests the latest blockbuster, or a film from 25 years ago, the same delivery mechanism and quality of experience is used. Given that there is a mass market desire for certain VoD content (latest releases, films which have a sequel recently released etc), there should be a way to prioritise this content and make the experience better for the viewers.

TV Anytime from Motive does exactly this. The content selected by the operator as having the widest appeal (mass market) can be delivered by TV Anytime to ALL STB’s using the broadcast network (cable / satellite / over the air etc) at the same time. So when the viewer wishes to access the content they have a high quality copy already on their STB.

From the viewers’ experience, they now have the most popular content available instantly, without having to wait until it is scheduled, or it can be streamed to their STB.  They also have excellent quality because there is no internet access / buffering / streaming issues.

From the operators’ point of view, they can offer the improved experience, as well as reducing distribution costs for the most frequently demanded content. They can also offer a long tail content library, to provide the full service, whilst having the highest quality associated with the most valuable content.

TV Anytime from Motive Television plc, high quality mass market content delivery.


Dr Glenn Craib
Vice President Products & Services