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Traditional linear television has been around for more than 80 years, and in that time audiences have got used to its look and feel. They appreciate a lot of what it gives them: there are values in linear television that appeal.

Programs are shown at appropriate times. There are regulations around the amount of advertising and the way it can be presented.

The linear advertising experience is the result of all those years of striving to deliver for both audiences and advertisers. It is in everyone’s best interests if spots are not repeated too often as audiences will disengage. Choosing the right commercials for the program ensures that audiences are likely to be receptive.

Scheduling and commercial campaign placements have become core skills in running a successful linear channel. We tend to call this superior experience the “broadcast premium.”

But new entrants to the market, like the digital-first providers, now see the broadcast premium as something they aspire to. They want to give audiences the convenience of watching when and where they like, but still with the qualities associated with linear channels.

In simple terms, digital and linear media services are converging. This is an inevitable, inexorable process. But it does throw up three big issues that need to be addressed.

The first is commercial. Despite the obvious attractions of digital services, linear television is still very popular with both audiences and advertisers. Today, 70% of revenues ― subscriptions and advertising ― is driven by linear television.

At Imagine, we spend a lot of time studying the forecasts for our industry and compiling them into a picture of where we are heading. This helps us focus our developments. And what those forecasts are telling us, consistently, is that by the end of the decade the financial split will have moved from 70/30 to 50/50.

But here’s the important point. That will not be because linear television will lose any of its value. The predictions are that linear revenues will hardly be eroded at all. The move to 50/50 is because the total addressable market will expand, driven by growth in digital services of as much as 15% a year.

The second consideration is around technology, and here again the direction is towards convergence. The current hot topics — video over IP, data-driven decision engines and increased automation, use of the cloud for elastic deployments ― are common whatever the delivery platform. And while digital on-demand services may continue to have the edge in targeted commercials, dynamic ad insertion is becoming increasingly important in linear channels and broadcast catch-up, ensuring that timely and appropriate spots are delivered for the time of day and demographics.

Finally, operations. Media businesses, wherever they start from, recognize that they are striving to reach one audience. Those who come from a broadcast background have to acknowledge that it is their content and their audience, no matter how viewers choose to watch and when they do it. Their audience rightfully expects the same experience and quality, whatever the platform.

The logical extension of that is that there should be one platform to serve this audience, no matter how fragmented. Separate silos defined by technology are irrelevant when we are trying to provide the best service to audiences (and advertisers).

Imagine recognized this need for a single, coherent platform to manage every step of the process from acquisition to delivery. We have a long and successful history in channel playout, content management, and advertising sales. We took all that knowledge and experience, and created a radical new origination and monetization platform: Imagine Aviator.

Built afresh as a truly cloud-native platform, Aviator provides all the functionality needed by broadcasters, MVPDs and digital-first providers to plan, originate and maximize the revenue opportunities — delivering premium video services to all platforms from a single system.

Designed using modern software-based architectures, Aviator is completely modular at the application level, so users can select the functionality and the connection to third-party systems they need. To guide the process, Aviator can be divided into three fundamental pillars that we call Plan TV, Make TV and Monetize TV.

Plan TV covers rights management, as well as scheduling and content planning. Users are supported in designing all the variants needed for different viewing devices, delivery formats and regional and localized services, using as much automation as is practical. The program content, commercials, trailers, station branding and all the other material are combined into frame-accurate playlists for each service.

Make TV provides everything you need to produce premium-quality, sophisticated linear channels across every platform and device type from a unified origination system. Aviator allows you to establish, configure and populate new services with lightning speed, so you can launch channels as the market demands them. Whether that is a FAST channel to enter new markets or a set of pop-up sports channels to serve a specific event or tournament, Aviator helps you to create and implement services as you need them, with the minimum of technical complexity.

Monetize TV, of course, is about maximizing revenues across platforms. Starting from the principle of one brand, one audience and, therefore, one advertising proposition, the software handles everything from sales and cross-platform campaign management to ad placement and serving in a single system. Intelligence in the system guarantees campaign targets are achieved with the optimum use of ad inventory across all outputs, which in turn maximizes revenue opportunities. And smooth integration with our SureFire video ad server ensures the right ad is always served at the right time to the right viewer.

Linear/digital convergence has taken off, and it is unstoppable.  Aviator uniquely provides the route to track and manage every aspect, in a single, intuitive and highly automated environment. The result is a more coherent and consistent viewing experience for the audience and a more precisely targeted and focused proposition for advertisers.

November 21, 2022 - By Ignacio Revuelto Roselló
Product Marketing Manager
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