Multiscreen is here to stay, but in which format? According to our discussions at IBC 2016, the road ahead is still unpaved – although we are seeing the first signs of maturity. However, IBC was a perfect opportunity to debunk some multiscreen myths:
The set-top box isn’t dead
Ever since the advent of Over-the-Top (OTT) services, players around the industry have claimed that the era of the set-top was coming to an end. What we have seen at IBC proves that once more, these comments are premature. The set-top is undergoing a revolution, with local features being reassigned to the cloud, but it remains the most controlled environment – and as such, the most reliable and secure one – for operators.
Secure keys are being integrated directly within smart TVs, making control easier, while search and recommendation features are being handled from the cloud. Yet, consumers still see content as personal and save a lot of content to their PVR for future access as it does not expire in the same way as catch up services. This means that operators looking to offer multiscreen still have to take into account the importance of the set-top box as the user’s primary storage space for their personal library and look for ways to add value by providing access from other devices in the home.
Apps are not going to rule our video consumption in the near future
While it is clear that apps are becoming more commonplace, they are not replacing traditional TV viewing. Instead, different devices drive different use cases. According to audience measurement company Verto Analytics, consumers are mainly watching long-form video on smart TVs and games consoles, while smartphones and PCs are used to access short-form content. This means that, while operators need to have apps in place, such as YouTube on TV, there is no such thing as an app vs operator environment threat in a multiscreen world – instead, they should be viewed as complementary.
Now is the time for operators to look for ways to maximise consumer time spent in their environment, and the best way to do so is to ensure that all content sources can be accessed via a branded environment – be it YouTube, the consumer’s PVR library or any third party source. Consumers want to be able to easily access content; the shorter the journey, the more likely they are to use the operator’s platform. This is why HTML5 and responsive design are now the industry’s standard; while HbbTV, WebKit and Chromium Blink are replacing custom solutions to facilitate integration with a wider range of devices.
High resolution content isn’t limited to large screens … but it needs to be secured
Ultra HD is rolling out and slowly becoming a mass-market proposition, and while it was expected that only large physically sized screens would be appropriate to render it, it is already becoming appropriate for smaller screens as well. Now, operators can look to include UHD within their multiscreen service offerings such as sports and other premium content, all delivered to any device at an appropriate bitrate and resolution.
Even though operators can now extend their offering across the users screens they still need to ensure that all content transported over their platform is fully secure to satisfy the content owners requirements. Operators must be able to secure, monitor and analyse the security on their systems. This way, operators can ensure that they provide the required level of content protection for each device and network, in a completely transparent way for the consumer.
IBC 2016 confirmed our multiscreen beliefs. It is increasingly clear that operators need to bring their services together for ease of access by consumers and that seamless integration, most commonly enabled by HTML5 browser-based platforms is a key driver for mass adoption of multiscreen. We are now preparing for a future where consumers will be able to access all their content sources through a single, consistent application, watch content anywhere, at any time they like, and do this all securely.