CTH Group, Thailand's largest cable TV operator, has been faced with the urgent need of digital shift since its formation. With the help of Inspur Media Cloud, CTH unified its business forms and made the transition from analog to digital, one-way output to two-way network transformation, and thus millions of TV customers in Thailand changed from watching TV to using TV.
With the fast development of global digital TV industry, the way of watching television has changed dramatically. Customers have increasing demands on broadcasting and television business. More and more new ideas and technology play important roles in the transformation and upgrading of the television network, accelerating the reform of the most important piece of screen in people’s homes. The television business in Thailand is still analog-based and uniform; it is imperative that Thailand TV business carry out overall digital shift. CTH is one of the typical cable operators that captured the opportunity and developed Thailand into one of the first countries in Southeast Asia that implemented the digital shift.
Cable Thai Holding (CTH) was established in 2010 and became the biggest cable television operator in Thailand. It is composed of over 100 local cable operators who want to provide more and better TV programs. Now 70% of local operators (323 LCOs) are broadcasting CTH television programs, covering more than 3,500,000 households.
Such a huge system presents a great challenge for management operation and business development. The primary task of CTH is to provide better digital television service for millions of users and meet their demands for watching TV in an intelligent and personalized way. Based on this, CTH Group plans to provide 120-200 TV live programs which will cover all the family cable customers in Thailand via optical fiber network. This will realize the transition from analog to digital and the transformation of two-way network and benefit over half of the families in Thailand in the following three years.
Multiple Challenges of the Transition from Analog to Digital and from One-Way to Two-Way
The constructive scheme is very difficult to implement.
The Thailand digital TV industry has just started and has neither a big user group nor a uniform digital TV standard. The transformation from analog to digital signals and from one-way to two-way network can only be made by choice and phases instead of by one step. Listed below are the challenges that Thailand is in the face of during the development of digital TV:
- Fierce competition. There are many operators in the market, which puts great pressure on production, business, and service. The Thailand digital TV industry is not monopolistic, and the customers can choose any operator they want. Upgrading the broadcasting and television network and providing quality digital television service is the only way to develop stable customer resources and get ahead in the industry.
- Weak network foundation. The coverage and operation ability of the broadcasting and television network is not strong enough to well develop the business. CTH Group is composed of hundreds of cable operators, and its operation and business development is quite scattered. The various networks need to be integrated in order to develop business. A media cloud platform is needed to achieve unified management, operation and business development.
- Great regional differences. Considering the geographical constraints, it is very difficult to cover all the areas with a single product and system scheme. Thailand’s terrain varies from land to islands. Diverse products including cable, ground and satellite digital television are needed to meet the various demands of different families.
Therefore, the CTH business transformation from analog to high definition digital TV STB is the first step of digitization. A whole set of solutions are needed for transitions from the head-end system to the middleware deployment, and finally to the terminal application. Only in this way can rich business forms be realized, including two-way application shopping malls, intelligent EPG, network management system, advertising system, multi-screen interaction, etc.
Media cloud platform – the must for CTH to improve operation and service ability
The digital TV industry in Southeast Asia lags behind. It is difficult for CTH to stand out within a short term by itself. As a result, CTH’s senior leadership pays their attention to foreign countries and hopes to achieve rapid improvement with the help of international leading techniques. Among them, with the help of cloud computing and the experience in the development of media cloud platform, Inspur attracted Akradej Supamahitorn and other senior executives to come to visit and communicate and finalized the mature solution of Inspur media cloud.
From December 2012 to January 2013, CTH and Inspur signed a series of HD STB set-top box and middleware cooperation projects. This is the first digital TV solution that adopted the digital television cloud platform framework in Thailand and even Southeast Asia. CTH transformed from analog to digital and from one-way to two-way network reform. Through the monolithic movement, the Thailand digital TV industry developed from nothing and achieved the two-way high-definition interactive level.
In CTH’s transformation process, Inspur came up with a set of solutions based on Thailand’s operation situation, from head-end, STB, to mobile equipment terminal, and from business, service, to operation. It provided CTH with different series of STB schemes based on regional differences, including DVB-C, CTH DVB-S2, DVB-T, etc., which achieved full system service with various terminals and application scenarios. Apart from STB the solution also developed many value-added business applications, which are used on terminals such as televisions, mobile phones, PADs, and so on, to achieve TV and advertising business watching, network management, appstore, etc. The use of multiple businesses makes the operation analysis ability of the operators controllable.
Transformation from Watching TV to Using TV
Of course, before Inspur Media Cloud was successfully applied in Thailand, it once aroused slight worries on the part of CTH.
Inspur Media Cloud has its technical strength and successful cases. These are things beyond any manner of doubt. However, its success in China does mean that Inspur Media Cloud will be able to survive and achieve the same success in Thailand. Is it possible that Inspur Media Cloud will not be able to acclimate itself to the new environment? As to those digital TV subscribers in Thailand, how can it be ensured that Inspur Media Cloud is compatible with the original set-top boxes and business, and that it can satisfy all viewers’ needs, considering that the operation of digital TV has been switched to a new platform? Whether the introduction of Cloud Platform will bring substantial changes to the management and operation of CTH, and generate considerable revenue from advertising and other business?
Finally, with the steady progress of CTH project, Inspur Media Cloud fostered constant changes to Thailand digital TV, realized the transformation from watching TV to using TV, and achieved a series of value innovations.
Bring about the Unification of Business Forms and Raise Users’ Viscosity
By using uniform set-top box terminals, uniform middleware, and uniform front-end architecture, Inspur Media Cloud has unified the business forms of CTH digital TV subscribed by millions of Thai people, and made itself compatible with the original set-top boxes and business, thus lending solid support to the reorganized CTH, so that it can expand its brand-new TV business rapidly, and complete the transformation from watching TV to using TV. Meanwhile, the unified business forms lowered the costs borne by each household; hence steady increase in its users. These days in Thailand, fees for installing satellite TV have decreased to 1200 baht. Such a low price encourages consumers to abandon gradually analog signals and to turn to the digitalized way of TV watching. It can be seen from current trends that three or four years later, TV antennas will disappear in Thai domestic market, and that there will more be people turn to use cable TV, terrestrial TV, and satellite TV.
Prominent Increase in Advertising Revenue
By creating platforms performing various kinds of single-way/two-way value-added services (VAS), CTH has become the first operator in Thailand that has the operation capability for two-way digital television. Through the deployment and implementation conducted by the smart advertising operating platform, CTH realizes accurate delivery of TV programs and intelligent management, thus meeting subscribers’ demands and achieving an increase in profits. Furthermore, as the quality of digital TV services is improved, enthusiasm for installing and watching cable TV continues to grow. The rapid increase in subscription and TV ratings immediately leads to a steady increase in the adverting value of cable TV. As it is revealed by Wei Qi, president of Thailand Cable TV Association, there are now near 20 million families subscribe to cable TV programs in Thailand, and cable TV advertising revenue approximates 10 billion baht per year. It is much higher than it was in 2011, when only 3 billion baht was earned.
Prevalence of TV Sharing
The introduction to the concept of multi-screen interaction shows that developers give young people’s demands full consideration. This concept is intended to realize multilayered, in-depth interaction between multi-screen terminals and TV terminals. With mobile phones/PAD, users may watch live shows on TV by means of multi-screen terminals, or they can watch programs broadcast by different channels simultaneously on multi-screen terminals and on TV. Moreover, Inspur Media Cloud performs such new functions as the bi-directional sharing between multi-screen terminals and TV terminal, multi-screen linkage control, and social TV. In this way, it has made a notable contribution to the prevalence of TV, and has increased the covering capacity of radio and TV network.
Automated, User-Centered, Differentiated Services
The system may gain a real-time knowledge of its users’ interests through the linkage between terminals and Cloud Platform, and then offers an automatic recommendation, according to users’ viewing habits, on TV programs in which they might be interested. This may lead to a dramatic increase in the utility rates of two-way services. Moreover, its automatic acquisition of users’ viewing habits helps to optimize users’ lists of television programs, the system’s recommendation, and even advertising. EPG at each TV terminal will be different from each other because of users’ personal interest. Thus, the system has fulfilled automated, user-centered, differentiated services in its true sense.