BY SOMU PATIL
The current mediascape is moving at a faster pace than ever before. Not only have consumers – particularly the younger demographic – moved away from linear to digital content access, they now expect to engage with the content of their choice via an ever more diverse range of platforms.
GroupM forecasted that during 2018, time spent on digital access globally would outstrip linear for the first time – accounting for a 38% share of media engagement (compared to TV’s 37%). This puts broadcasters, service providers and operators under pressure as they adapt their operational and business models to respond.
Premium content is what consumers want. As over-the-top (OTT) service providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime – as well as HOOQ, Viu and iflix in the Asia-Pacific region – invest in their own premium, original content, consumers will follow. At the same time, content owners like Disney and Fox are asserting their power. No longer tied exclusively to pay-TV providers to reach audiences, many are now distributing their own subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services directly to viewers.
As premium content increases in value for consumers, there is demand for higher resolution content and higher production values. This, in turn, is driving up costs, and it is the content owners who will gain more influence.
Once again, this places pressure on traditional broadcasters as they strive to secure and invest in premium content. We have begun to see the emergence of partnerships between broadcasters and streamers – particularly Netflix and Amazon Prime – to invest in high quality content, and this will continue.
Linear TV is far from dead, however. Consumers in mature markets, where smart device and high-speed broadband penetration is high, tend to access content on-the-go or via multiple screens. In many Asian markets, linear TV still dominates. Despite the rise of SVoD and video-on-demand (VoD) services, audiences still value live TV.
Content producers and rights owners are now looking to leverage new value streams from markets such as eSports. 2019 will see eSports cement itself into the mainstream as more competitions are delivered via traditional broadcasters and digital platforms. We’ve already seen early signs of this – added to rising investments in dedicated eSports stadiums. This will be a key sector to watch in the year ahead.
Downward pressure on budgets and the rising cost of content – regardless of platform – has given rise to new, more efficient approaches to live production. Service providers and vendors are already trialling the use of remote production, providing efficient and reliable access to source feeds directly from cameras located at the venue. Thanks to the latest SMPTE IP standard, ST 2110, which enables more efficient bandwidth usage, 2019 will see an increase in remote production deployments.
Better compression technology and more reliable network connectivity are also helping to further drive remote production uptake. By only sending camera crews and minimal equipment to the live venue, production teams can cover multiple events in the same day. This type of efficiency, and the maximising of resources, will continue to grow as budgets get tighter, and as consumers become even more content hungry.
The need for greater efficiency will also drive enhancements to playout. Whether it’s cloud-based, a data centre approach or simple outsourcing, the need still exists amongst media companies to find a path that works best for its business to streamline operations, providing a lower total cost of ownership, and the ability to rapidly address evolving business needs. The industry as a whole will continue to move from Capex- to Opex-based pricing models as it strives for the flexibility and agility needed to take on the challenges of a fast-changing mediascape.