Predictions for 2018: ‘Specialist’ voice services will win when it comes to the entertainment experience, with Pay TV operators benefiting from their ability to serve complex queries; AI will realise the importance of ‘emotional intelligence’, aiming to grasp the emotional factors in content that someone is interacting with; The ‘gig’ economy will foster more of a pay-as-you-go mentality, and media business models will need to reflect this; Mobile will fulfil a huge part of content consumption in 2018, particularly in sporting and special events; Regional OTT services will lead until global OTT harnesses localisation.
It was clear at FTVA 17 that broadcasters are rediscovering some of their swagger, after several years worrying about the threat from major Internet companies. Some of the biggest advertisers still have a preference for live and linear television and over-50s, a key target demographic that holds 40% of all consumer wealth, watch lots of TV. This gives broadcasters breathing space to get their OTT offering right and translate the unique selling points of TV advertising to the online world. Do not under-estimate the scale of this task.
On-demand services like Netflix are starting to over-shadow broadcasters, who have responded with their own OTT offerings. To succeed in this market, you need more than exclusive TV shows or movies – also good QoS, including for 4K, HDR and HFR content. Given the cost of upgrading networks, video compression can help make services sustainable, helped by codecs like HEVC. Now research is focused on how AI and machine learning can shrink the size of content, making ‘Constant Quality Rate’ rather than ‘Constant Bit Rate’ the target. Bandwidth savings of 30-60% are possible and this approach is codec and resolution agnostic.
The eighth edition of Ericsson’s ConsumerLab TV and Media report predicts that 50% of all viewing will be on a mobile screen in 2020, half of which will be on a smartphone alone. The analysis also suggests that by 2020, one in three consumers will be VR users. Around half of consumers are planning to get VR devices, although cost is still an issue. Meanwhile, time spent watching TV and video content has reached an all-time high of 30 hours a week.
More consumers are taking multiple subscription video services and their high levels of satisfaction with OTT means they should be willing to spend more for video, in total, not less. Meanwhile, the falling unit cost of set-top boxes means operators can use them as a competitive weapon against independent service providers. The VR headset market is going to come alive as all major tech vendors launch standalone headsets in the $100-250 range.
The options for marketers who want to use addressable TV advertising are expanding, partly thanks to technology and partly because of how we watch audio-visual content. Key developments include: Automated Content Recognition (ACR), where smart TVs identify available inventory in real-time; OTT devices that encourage more on-demand viewing and the possibility for broadcaster viewer log-ins and targeting opt-ins; and next-gen STBs from platform operators – some of which are going to provide more real-time data feedback.
In 2018, mobile will remain a discovery device, TV sets will remain the primary destination for long-form viewing, and their UI will be refreshed so it merges web and premium content. We could reach a tipping point for market uptake of voice control. OTT sports will become serious, partly thanks to the new ESPN direct-to-consumer service. And connected TVs will be the next frontier in digital advertising, despite challenges around frequency management and a lack of targeting cookies.
Only the largest operators can afford the IT and engineering teams to do everything in-house when launching or maintaining a subscription video service. Other savvy operators have recognised the benefits of virtually ‘extending the workbench’ to make use of specialists at trusted partner-suppliers, who sit alongside in-house teams. This collaboration improves agility, reduces time-to-market and exposes an organisation to new ideas.
Many media companies have been holding out in a 'wait-and-see' mode to see if Flash is really going away. So, now that it is, how do you prepare for a migration to HMTL5 video? How do you balance a quick transition with a good customer experience? Here are some of the things you must think about, from making sure that SSL security is applied end-to-end on your website to ensuring that advertising formats are ready. If done well, the migration to HTML5 video can have a minimal impact on both revenues and operations.
Devices like Amazon’s Echo and next-generation boxes from Sky and Virgin Media are turning attention to voice user interfaces. Is voice still a novelty or is it becoming an essential feature for TV platforms that are looking to keep up with competition? Tom Williams, CEO at Ostmodern, discusses voice as a means of content discovery and the potential challenges for those looking to implement it.