01 Sep DEG Welcomes Altman Solon as a New Member: Meet Partner Jonathan Hurd
“Every year at CES, I love seeing the improvements in TV displays. There’s a big question around affordability in the next couple of years. However, the transition from the backlit displays sold today to one LED per sub-pixel (about 25 million LEDs for a 4K display) will improve the color gamut dramatically,” says Jonathan Hurd (above).
September 1, 2021 | DEG welcomes Altman Solon as a new member. Altman Solon is the largest independent strategy consulting firm exclusively focused on Telecom, Media and Tech. The company serves carriers and communication infrastructure companies in Telecom; content creators, owners, aggregators and distributors in Media; and leading hardware, software and services providers in Tech. Working with Fortune 50 leaders across the TMT spectrum, Altman Solon operates out of 13 offices on four continents, providing deep local and global data and market analysis to support strategy and business leadership.
DEG caught up with Jonathan Hurd, a partner based in Boston who has been leading Altman Solon’s unique proprietary consumer survey and simulation techniques to analyze the consumer trends in video viewing, movie theater attendance, and sports TV for insights into consumers’ digital entertainment experience — and into his own favorite entertainment experience.
DEG: Sitting as Altman Solon does at the intersection of entertainment and technology, what technology innovations do you see having the biggest potential to change consumer experience with streaming video in the next couple of years?
JH: There are a few innovations in particular that come to mind.
- Improvements in Connected TV Ad Tech: A major pain point with consumers today is that ad serving platforms are not coordinated or do not have sufficient tracking to ensure that the same consumer is not shown the same ads too frequently. Connected TV (CTV) is the fastest growing consumption platform, so the focus is on advertisers to improve the CTV ad experience and CTV platforms to strengthen ad delivery, measurement, and reporting. Improved ad targeting will also ensure consumers see ads relevant to their interests.
- Better, updated metadata and search: While the quality of streaming video is actually very good, there are still gaps in the user experience. As CTV viewership grows and streaming platforms measure and learn from user interactions, streaming services have an opportunity to improve search.
- MicroLED TV Sets: Every year at CES, I love seeing the improvements in TV displays. There’s a big question around affordability in the next couple of years. Samsung’s 110-inch display, for instance, is now a whopping $156,000. However, the transition from the backlit displays sold today to one LED per sub-pixel (about 25 million LEDs for a 4K display) will improve the color gamut dramatically.
- Easier navigation and subscription management: Technology isn’t the problem here, rather competition at the expense of user experience is. Now, as a consumer, you not only need to keep track of what services you are subscribed to, but also on which platforms you are subscribed to them!
DEG: There’s a lot of focus on scale as streaming grows in importance to major media companies. How do you see the media landscape evolving in the near term?
JH: Historically, scale was important to media companies when they negotiated affiliate fees with MVPDs. The more channels programmers had, the higher the fees they could extract; and of course, the more subscribers the MVPDs had, the more power they had to negotiate lower affiliate fees per subscriber. Now a similar game is playing out on connected TV platforms. Scale is important to both the streaming services and distribution platforms in negotiating distribution agreements that cover revenue share, ad inventory share, and access to subscriber and usage information. In fact, it’s an amplified version of the pay TV industry because the distributors, as well as streaming services, are global players, not the regional or national players of cable TV and satellite.
As media companies continue to invest in their direct-to-consumer (DTC) services, scale drives improved economics in ways beyond distribution. This leads to lower content costs per subscriber, decreased marketing costs per acquisition, and lower technology fees per stream. To take advantage of these benefits in the crowded SVOD and AVOD competitive landscape, streaming services need to continually adapt their content strategy, pricing and offer strategy, and technology infrastructure. Given the scale benefits and the crowded competitive landscape that exists today, it would appear inevitable that major media companies will merge and/or bundle their DTC services.
DEG: What is your personal favorite form of entertainment, and what was a recent standout experience that you had?
JH: This is somewhat outside of the media and DEG world, but my personal favorite form of entertainment is watching the Red Sox play at Fenway Park. Especially when sitting close to the field, there is nothing more impressive than watching players hit, field, and throw, realizing how far superior their game is to the baseball I’ve played! For me, football is a bit different, where the at-home experience is much more engaging and easier to appreciate plays. A recent standout media & entertainment experience I had was attending Springsteen on Broadway. Being in the theater and seeing Bruce himself on stage was very special. I’m looking forward to watching the Netflix version shortly – I hear it’s well done.
For me, the bigger the screen and the better the sound and video quality, the more I enjoy the movie. Years ago, I saw my first Blu-ray Disc demo at an industry conference with Guillermo Del Toro showing an SD/HD split-screen clip from Lawrence of Arabia (left), my favorite movie. Years later, I was finally able to buy the 50th anniversary Lawrence of Arabia Blu-ray set, and I watch it about once a year. I’ve been putting off buying a new 4K TV because they keep improving every year, but I don’t think I’m going to wait for microLED to become affordable.