By Shaun Lim
For many industries and businesses, AI has undoubtedly been the buzzword du jour in 2023 and the transformational shifts the technology is bringing to the world have only just begun to take shape.
Indeed, AI is the buzzword of 2023 and will continue to be a big trend in 2024, concurred Stefan Lederer, Co-Founder & CEO, Bitmovin. He predicted, “There have been many cool AI-driven innovations in the media tech industry, and even more use cases will emerge in the coming 12 months.
“I expect in 2024, we will see AI being used to optimise video streaming configurations. For example, AI can help boost visual quality and upscale older content to more intelligent video processing for adaptive bitrate (ABR) switching and be used by operational staff for error detection in streams.”
And according to Michael Lantz, CEO, Accedo, AI will play a key role in shaping an over-the-top (OTT) landscape in 2024, with more media companies embracing AI-powered processes for enhanced metadata, localisation, and efficient quality improvements.
One challenge that OTT service providers will have to address is personalisation, he added.
“Personalisation remains a complex challenge in OTT. Viewer preferences are dynamic and influenced by mood, situation, and family dynamics.
“While the industry may not fully solve the personalisation challenge in 2024, there will be a heightened focus on improving user experiences to foster loyalty and engagement.”
With 2024 just days away, what will be some of the key trends and pitfalls that broadcasters and media operators need to evaluate to drive innovation and growth? Here are some of what APB+ subscribers share with us:
Cloud & AI will determine 2024 as a Year of Innovation
— Fintan McKiernan, CEO, Ideal Systems, South East Asia
“2024 will see a giant leap forward in innovation for leading broadcasters and news channels. For years, we have been building various cloud strategies and systems for broadcasters.
“Many of these have involved moving existing broadcast engineering functions into the cloud. It started with content archive systems, then editing systems, then automation, graphics and playout and now includes live production, compression, and conditional access.
“Now that all of the main broadcast functions are available in the cloud, many broadcasters have built out their cloud workflow, to allow all of these cloud-based systems to work more seamlessly together. This was also why Ideal Systems developed Alice, the cloud native integration platform for broadcasters.
To date though, most of this has really been focused on porting existing systems and workflows from legacy on-site hardware to more nimble, scalable cloud native systems.
“For broadcasters who have already migrated to the cloud, a much bigger innovation is about to take place, one which makes operations much more efficient, significantly reduces costs, and increases reliability and accuracy of existing services.
“2024 is the year where leading broadcasters who have already invested in cloud will really start to reap the benefits from their investments. This will be done by leveraging AI within their broadcast operations, or more accurately, multiple AIs focused on specific tasks, and doing those tasks quicker, cheaper and more reliably than ever before.
“Video AI, which can look and listen as live video 24×7 and also process existing video asset files, will take metadata enrichment and content search and retrieval to new levels, dramatically changing how live news and sports are produced and how sensitive content will be managed.
“Text-based AI will monitor dialogues, translate, and create subtitles with little or no human intervention. AI will advise on timing for advertising and for OTT, will monitor audience viewing habits to target content and advertising on a per viewer basis.
“In short, for broadcasters who have already invested in migrating to the cloud, adding on AI in 2024 will put the innovation leap, in their leap year.”
Pivoting back to create a new, optimised ad model for CTV
— Steve Reynolds, President, Imagine Communications
“Growth was the key focus across the media industry for the past several years ― growth in subscribers, viewership, library size, hours of live sports, and so on ― but much of that growth came at a cost that is simply not sustainable.
In 2024, I believe the key trend we’ll see is a renewed focus on profitability and efficiency and a pivot back towards more rational, scalable business models for both traditional linear services and Connected TV (CTV).
“While early CTV services focused on subscription, media companies are now seeing that advertising is just as important to raise average revenue per user (ARPU) to justify the high content spend. Achieving profitability and efficiency in 2024 will require blending the advertising models of TV and digital to create a new, optimised ad model for CTV.
“In many ways, CTV inventory is better than linear TV because it is addressable and measurable. But treating CTV inventory like digital inventory erodes its value by taking away the premium aspects of TV such as brand safety, mass simultaneous reach, or fixed placements for sponsorship.
“In 2024, we need to find the formula that moves CTV back towards premium rates and fix the viewer experience to make CTV advertising more valuable.”
Collaborate with ISPs to drive monetisation of infrastructure
— Jacques Le Mancq, CEO, Broadpeak
“As video streaming audiences surpass traditional broadcast viewership, video service providers must explore additional ways to monetise their content library and investments in supporting infrastructure and services.
“An amazing array of tools are already available to optimise streaming. We anticipate that OTT service providers will use AI to identify ways to improve streaming experiences, free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels to boost audience engagement, and targeted advertising with first-party data to increase monetisation for video streaming.
“With video content personalisation becoming a must-do, content providers will be looking for efficient targeted ad insertion solutions to monetise further their video service while delivering a customised experience for the viewers.
“Increased collaboration between OTT service providers and internet service providers (ISPs) will also be a driving force behind monetising infrastructure.
“By dynamically configuring and utilising CDN capacity within ISP networks, OTT service providers can deliver superior-quality streams while concurrently reducing delivery costs. The Streaming Video Alliance (SVTA) and its Open Caching concept is a prime example of collaboration happening in our industry.”
Back to the ground, choose your strategic partners carefully
— Tim Banner, Senior Solutions Specialist, Magna Systems & Engineering
“A trend that we are currently seeing in the industry is a move from the cloud and back to the ground as broadcasters realise the true costs of running certain operations in the cloud.
“There are definitely some workflows that make financial and operational sense to run in the cloud, but there are many workflows that were moved to the cloud in recent times and that have since proven to be cost prohibitive.
“At IBC 2023 the phrase ‘it is raining’ was heard and used many times to describe the move from the cloud back to the ground.
“Our advice for broadcasters is, before moving anything into the cloud, choose your technology partner wisely — choose a partner who has experience with all kinds of workflows and one who can advise you which workflows make financial and operational sense to be in the cloud and which do not.”
To conclude, APB+, peering through the clouds, views 2024 as a leap year that holds profound challenges that need careful strategic decisions as AI continues to permeate the media and entertainment industry. Avoid the buzz, avoid the rain, avoid taking the big jump onto the AI bandwagon … evaluate carefully, look before you leap!