If quizzes and games evenings have now become a staple of lockdown, so has family film night.
However, finding something that will suit all tastes (and avoids strops and simmering petty resentments) can tend to dampen the mood.
And even if a conflict-free consensus can be struck, the process of trawling Netflix, Sky, Amazon, Disney, and Apple in search of an elusive feature is a palaver.
That flicking between platforms is a situation familiar to most, but one that’s slowly changing – for the better.
Convergence is occurring
So, here in the UK for example, Sky, the dominant pay-TV operator, has opened its platform to Netflix and Disney.
Change is occurring the world over and firms such as Sky and the big US cable networks are now in the position of being curators of other people’s content.
And they are just part of the changing environment as consumers become more demanding. They want content on any device, anytime, anywhere.
McGarva and his team spotted this potential disruption several years ago when the company was focused purely on devices deployed by global pay-TV companies.
Three acquisitions, culminating in the purchase last July of a Dutch business called 24i for US$24mln, has seen it focus its growth efforts on this convergence of traditional free to air broadcast, pay-TV with the internet operators as part of its software-led strategy.
“Today we service not just pay-TV operators but media companies, broadcasters and content owners,” says McGarva.
“Anyone who owns video content, we have a solution for them now.”
It counts phone giant KPN and Dutch broadcaster NPO among its clients, as well as Pure Flix, a Netflix style service for Christians (tagline ‘getting closer to Jesus one click at a time’), and BroadwayHD, which has filmed New York and West End theatre shows.
Amino’s focus is very firmly on user experience, which runs through the DNA of its three TVX.0 offerings.
Its PayTV+ solution increases an operator’s agility to expand its video service capabilities.
Its Multiscreen technology funnels content onto the many devices we own and carry around with us such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
And Amino has developed what it calls its Upcycling solution, which is designed to extend the life of video content.
User experience is key
All of these have the ability to enhance a company’s revenue-generating capacity.
“We think that user experience, being able to access, view and interact, is the key to unlocking value,” says McGarva.
“We are trying to optimise the whole video experience. Within our solutions, we do this.”
The pivot came as the company began developing software to use in the set-top boxes it sold.
The last trading update for the six months to the end of May reveals Amino’s transformation from a devices firm to a software-led business is “really starting to take hold”.
Of the US$38mln of revenues generated, US$9.8mln was from software and services, up from US$3.6mln a year earlier.
Devices a solid cash generator
The devices business, meanwhile, continues to be the “strong, cash-generative business” that has helped fund the transformation to date, says McGarva.
Progressive Research in a recent note lauded the new emphasis, saying it “continues to deliver”.
What also stood out from the trading statement was the fact Amino seemed to progress serenely in the face of the COVID epidemic.
Turnover was up 10% year on year, while cash at hand and an undrawn credit facility provide it with financial headroom of US$16.7mln.
This, according to the number crunchers at Progressive, “positions the group strongly to deal with the challenges in its respective marketplaces”.
McGarva and the team have some fairly lofty ambitions for the software services business.
“In three years we will have a device business that will be pretty steady-state, but our ambition is US$100mln software and services business. Of that, I would like 30-40% to be recurring,” he says.
While software is growing at a none-too-shabby 20% per year, Amino won’t achieve its target organically. So, acquisitions are on the agenda.
“Over the last three years we have completed three,” says McGarva. “We’ve been quite successful in integrating them.
“There is definitely going to be consolidation. There will be opportunities.”
The share price, which has been range-bound since the start of the year, appears to give little or no credence to management’s successful foray into higher-margin, sticky software services. Neither has Amino’s financial resilience during lockdown been rewarded.
One wonders how long this one-eyed assessment of the company’s prospects will continue.