Kjetil Horneland is CEO of Sixty

A new approach to broadcast graphics driving a step-change in power and flexibility

BY KJETIL HORNELAND

The broadcast and media industry is witnessing a significant change in how content is being consumed, with viewers moving further from traditional, linear TV ingest to consuming content on various second-screen devices.

A recent Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media report suggests that by 2020, half of all on-demand viewing will be done on a mobile screen. This trend runs parallel with the growing consumer demand for greater interactivity and personalisation, of which major online platforms are competing to offer the same quality viewing experience on a mobile or tablet than that is already available on TV.

Broadcasters, content owners and service providers are also looking for ways to maintain engagement levels and monitor audience viewing trends. While achieving this harmony may seem like a techno-utopia for many in the industry, a change in the way graphics are distributed and received brings this possibility closer to reality.

We developed our ‘Ease Live’ solution to do exactly this, creating and distributing interactive TV graphics through the cloud. The solution works by integrating existing on-air graphics software in the production room, where they are designed and created by the broadcaster’s UI team. The graphics are then sent to the Ease Live Cloud Platform separately before being pushed to the end-user’s device, where the blend of design, data and videos are rendered. This enables a tailored, interactive user experience with ‘viewer clickable’ graphics, giving a detailed insight into audience behaviour, personalised and contextually relevant ads — ultimately providing a great viewing experiences on any sized screen.

Earlier this year, we worked alongside Idonix, who provided broadcast data, workflow and real-time graphics services, to integrate Ease Live into its ‘Ignition’ framework, which aggregates data and enables the use of workflows and UI in high demand live broadcast environments. Through this deployment, Idonix is now able to simultaneously offer its customers with interactive, HTML5 rendered graphics directly in browser or on device, all from the same data set and UI. During NAB Show 2018, we demonstrated how this solution offers potential new ‘interactive election night experiences’ to viewers, using meaningful, real-time election data to enhance the user experience. The content that was previously only available in the studio is now instantly available to end-users to interact with on mobile devices. This provides a glimpse as to how broadcasters can reach new markets, increase monetisation and, crucially, further user engagement.

The personalisation of the digital industry is just the first step towards transforming the entire user experience. We must move away from the outdated model of optimising big-screen ‘one to everyone’ communication, as this provides little or no ability to engage and immerse the viewer during live events. A recent report from PwC suggested that 56% of consumers would like greater access to interactive content, especially while watching live sports. The growth of new viewing devices is helping to shift this model, along with the growth of over-the-top (OTT) with its more personalised and targeted content.

The way the broadcast industry currently handles graphics is far less advanced than other sectors of the digital industry, and the structure of the Live TV chain is defined by the limitations of the past, rather than the possibilities of the future. However, by changing the way they are distributed and received, the OTT experience, especially on touchscreen and voice-enabled devices, becomes inherently more tactile, promoting richer interactivity.

This allows for more information being shared online than ever before, offering a highly lucrative opportunity for advertisers and brands that are foregoing the traditional broadcast experience.

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