Media Tech

Multiscreen, cloud, OTT video delivery: aren’t we there yet?!

Although we are now in March, talk in the MediaTech industry is still firmly on trends for 2018. The start of the year is always the beginning of tradeshow season—with Mobile World Congress and BVE now under our belts and NAB and TV Connect on the horizon—conversation within the industry is still centred on the big trends that are going to dominate 2018, and what challenges content service providers will face.

While talk at MWC was dedicated to 5G (again), for those that braved the snow to get down to BVE, the show’s main focus was video production. But that’s not all the industry talk on trends—Digital TV Europe recently released its Industry Survey 2018, which looks at the most pressing issues facing the digital video landscape. This year’s report takes a look at cloud technology, the emergence of internet players, multiscreen video and data.

But when it comes to taking a closer look at some of these conversations, I can’t help but feel a little deflated. The cloud, for example, is a topic that has filled headlines and column inches for a few years now—are media and entertainment businesses really still trying to work out how the cloud will impact them? The report also discusses the rise of OTT players like Netflix disrupting the industry—again, something we all know about, and have done for some time.

While some of this year’s ‘trends’ seem a bit old hat, there are, however, some interesting conversations taking place.

It’s all about the content

We all know that OTT players have disrupted the market with their business model, but there is another factor that has played a huge role in the disruption of the industry—content. DTVE’s Industry Survey puts original content as a huge driver for OTT services, and traditional broadcasters are clearly seeing this as a way to remain competitive. The BBC in my opinion, is excelling here—we’ve had Peaky Blinders (a personal favourite) and McMafia—while ITV’s Doctor Foster had the nation gripped. The BBC Studio also recently announced that it has been commissioned by Channel 4 to produce a programme on London’s fatberg (the fat and waste clogging up the sewers. Traditional broadcasters are clearly trying to do more to meet consumer appetite for more original content.

But when it comes to rivalling the OTTs of the world, broadcasters and content service providers don’t have to solely focus on creating original content. There’s also OTT for live streaming to think about—and sports is a massive opportunity here.

In February, we saw the battle for the Premier League TV rights. Sky took the majority, securing four out of five packages for £3.57 billion over three years, while BT took the other package. But there are two packages that are yet to be secured, and it seems that Amazon is very much in the running for these.

There’s also the Disney/Sky/Fox love triangle that we shouldn’t forget about, which raises some interesting questions. Could Disney look to make a play in OTT streaming of sports? Or, in the same way that NFL has taken the UK storm, will Comcast look to replicate this with football in the US?

Finding the right screen

The second screen is another one of those industry trends that has been around for years. The industry initially thought that devices such as smartphones and tablets were going to completely replace the TV, but while a balance was found, we may have come back full circle on this one. Mostly, second screens are used either to watch TV while out and about (like on the commute), or used to complement the TV experience, with viewers using apps, social media sites or the internet to find out more about a specific show/team/actor/song etc.

Yet the industry does seem to be confused about its multiscreen strategy. Going back to the DTVE survey, the report states that one of the major growth factors for OTT live streaming is reaching devices other than the TV, thanks to consumption on smartphones and other devices outside of the home (I for one, am only too familiar with this, having a football-crazy partner who insists he must watch the football on his phone while at dinner to make sure he doesn’t miss any goals). What’s more, in the report’s multiscreen TV section, almost half of the respondents said that they believe viewing on devices will supersede TV sooner than expected, with a further 37% in the opinion that TV viewing will decline over time. Yet 93% of respondents think that reaching the TV is the most important screen for OTT, and, most surprisingly, rank it more important than an all-screen approach.

Who can shine a light?

As broadcasters and content service providers look to diversify and broaden their reach, it seems that some industry education is needed—especially when there is disconnect on where these companies should be targeting to get the most reach. But who can shine a light, and help broadcasters and content service providers take on the OTTs?

Technology vendors are the ones who can play a crucial role here and make themselves a truly valuable partner. Especially when DTVE’s Industry Survey reports that 78% believe that outsourcing aspects of an OTT service will be important.

CCgroup’s own research further supports this, where broadcast service providers realise there are significant investments in technology that need to be made in order to make the transition to IP and compete with OTT providers. And finding the right partners is crucial—without these partners, these content providers will only slow down their transition to OTT.

But when it comes to finding these partners and understanding where to invest, the message again is one of confusion. Our research shows that over half of content service providers find it hard to find technology partners in the noisy, ‘me too’ market. Ultimately, broadcasters and content service providers need help navigating the complex landscape and need to understand how vendors can help them. If vendors are able to provide this voice, stand out from the crowd and be this light, they stand to gain significantly.

The outlook for 2018

If you walk round any of the aforementioned tradeshows, you will see almost every company does ‘multiscreen OTT cloud-based video delivery’. And with so much ‘me too’ in the industry, it does feels like it’s time for a refresh.

Outside of multiscreen, cloud, OTT delivery, there are some exciting industry conversations taking place, and some cool applications of newer technologies being seen. Although artificial intelligence is still in its early days, the industry is looking at creative ways this technology can be applied—another favourite of mine is the trailer that IBM created for This Is Morgan, which was done solely using AI.

Along with content, live streaming and sports, data, security and the use of Wi-Fi are all trends that are starting to get more recognition in the industry.

While multiscreen, cloud, OTT video delivery are all important, our research shows that being a ‘me too’ voice in the industry simply isn’t acceptable: it doesn’t help your end customers find what they’re looking for, and if it’s not helping them, it’s not helping you. Vendors must work much, much harder to prove their value and expertise to their broadcast service provider customers.

Written by Chloe Pope


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