5G set to be primary TV content access channel for broadcasters

A majority, or 82%, of global broadcasters polled believe that 5G will eventually replace traditional broadcast distribution like DTT/DTV and satellite as the preferred way to access TV content, with over a third (37%) of these respondents expecting this to begin happening within the next two years.

A survey by Norway-based virtual media production and broadcast solutions provider Nevion found that 10% of respondents still anticipate that it will take more than three years for 5G to overtake traditional services; however, the vast majority (94%) of broadcasters agree that 5G will likely increase the consumption of content.

Andy Rayner, Chief Technologist, Nevion, said a major catalyst to adoption is that 5G is set to enable participants to stream live content on any connected device no matter where they are. 

“5G technology can potentially deliver OTT broadcast services with the quality required not only for mobile devices, but also for TV screens at home. This means that 5G is eventually likely to usurp DTT for consumers at home as well as on the move.”

He reasons that in the long term, “it is likely that 5G mobile technology could become the standard means to deliver terrestrial television”. 

“However, it is expected that both DTT and 5G delivery (when ready) will co-exist for a reasonable time,” added Rayner.

The Nevion study also found that there are still some shortcomings with the current capabilities of mobile technology compared to DTT, which is highly optimised for power-efficient digital linear broadcast distribution.

Views favouring 5G as the primary means of distribution of TV content are reflected in the research findings. Half (50%) of the broadcasters surveyed think the biggest challenge of using it will be network performance issues and coverage issues (42%). This is followed by issues with reliability (26%) and network security (22%).

The biggest potential use cases envisaged for 5G in broadcasting was remote production (65%) and for distribution (61%).

Despite the enthusiasm, it seems that fewer than half of the broadcasters surveyed have already tested 5G.

“We are only just scratching the surface of 5G, and although broadcasters already see its potential value, at this stage industry-wide explorations into the technology are ongoing,” said Rayner.

“It is too soon to say exactly at which point in the broadcast chain 5G will provide the most value. As such, broadcasters currently delivering via DTT will need to work with experts to follow the evolution of 5G broadcast capability.”The survey was done in the first half of 2020 by OnePoll, on behalf of Nevion, to investigate the eagerness of the broadcasting industry globally to adopt 5G in both production and distribution. Nevion did not indicate the number of broadcasters polled.

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