In 2018 it is the user experience – not content, nor distribution – that differentiates services. Broadcasters need to go beyond one-size-fits-all personalisation, which means they must make it easy to update services across device and app types. Then content schedulers and the editorial and marketing teams can take control over the UI/UX in real-time and use their judgement as well as data points (like individual preferences) to create unique experiences that keep viewers engaged. Personalisation does not mean giving up your brand identity to an algorithm.
MWC is more than just another telco show; it is a milestone in the journey towards the Connected Entertainment era. Some of the issues that surfaced this year were the need to reduce 5G latency and the opportunity for even lower priced phones to become a content hub for the home using casting technologies. There is an opportunity for mobile operators to position themselves as super-aggregators, while their proximity to big data, AI and machine learning positions them well for voice-activated personalisation. A phone chatbot could remind you that your favourite football team is on TV right now.
Voice is a hugely important interaction for the TV industry but only offering ambient ‘always-on’ set-ups is not the ideal approach in terms of either privacy or usability. Research by ruwido shows that while a standalone ambient voice UI can bring a feeling of freedom, users prefer button-based voice interaction. The majority of respondents said this latter approach gives them the control on when they speak to the device, rather than it listening to them. It is important that consumers are given the freedom to choose.
No longer seen as low-quality, user-generated content has shed its amateur skin and has made its way into even the most professional of productions. The Snapchat generation of video-first consumers want to showcase their clips and Instagram and Facebook allow everyone to be a creator. Smart producers have found a way to capitalise on this, using groups of everyday people to gather collections of clips that combine to tell the story they want to portray.
We live in a disparate and disrupted landscape of content sources and interfaces that make it difficult to create a truly happy medium that satisfies all users when developing a Pay TV UI. Different viewers have different preferences about how they access content. Dynamic, agile, responsive solutions are the answer, working for all users across all generations and demographics. We will see non-graphical interfaces compete with the GUI, including the VUI - Voice User Interface - and VR navigation. Because these technologies are new to all users, they are unlikely to drive a wedge between generations, as other UI concepts have done.
Premium digital video advertising is advancing beyond the desktop and becoming firmly established on the living room TV set. While desktop accounts for 35% of digital video ad views in Europe, OTT and set-top box VOD devices are not far behind with a combined share of 34%. As a result, the TV industry will start to embrace the experimentation and format development more commonly associated with digital advertising. Networks such as Fox and AMC are testing ultra-short six-second TV ads to improve the viewer experience, for example. As premium (digital) video gets comfortable in the living room, 2018 will be a year characterised by convergence, automation and collaboration in advertising, as well as experimentation.
In less than three months, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect. The potential penalty for non-compliance is an astronomical 4% of annual revenue. This analysis shows that most media delivery companies in the Nordics are not following the requirements of GDPR. Only 19% of the companies studied give an opt-in choice for the collection of private data, and only 33% offer opt-out. Local Nordic media companies are not as good as Netflix or YouTube when fulfilling the right to be forgotten, either.
With growth stalling in many markets across the Pay TV industry, operators need new strategies to attract and retain customers, and avoid revenue-crushing price wars. They need to maximise the value of different consumer groups, including the demanding and big-spending ‘Content Connoisseurs’, who love everything that is new, and the middle-aged, middle-income ‘TV Traditionalists’ who are the stalwarts of big-screen consumption. Operators must use the right content, tech and UEX to move beyond a one-size-fits-all strategy.
400 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute and compete with broadcasters for our attention. Live streaming could be the key to winning the battle for viewing time as it drives reactions and provides an incentive to comment. Live streaming also provides ways to engage viewers with content they are familiar with, but in new ways, like motor racing where the presenter is shown in 2D but the rest of the feed is 360-degree video. 4K could be the springboard for more 360 video.
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.