As we get ready for The Connies 2019 awards, with two weeks until the first deadline for entries, our judges (for the international categories) tell us what they expect to happen in TV and media this year. First, Steve Hawley, Founder, Principal Analyst and Consultant for tvstrategies, and Ian Nock, Managing Director and Founder at Fairmile West, give their predictions. You can then see nine forecasts from David Price, Principal at Scala Advisors. Finally, William Cooper, Founder of informitv, gives some advice to awards entrants.
2019 prediction: the trend towards vertical platform-content integration could turn sour (Steve Hawley)
Current efforts at vertical integration between Pay TV operators and content providers are not guaranteed to succeed. In the US, top-tier premium programming owned by a top Pay TV operator has disappeared from a competing Pay TV service because the former changed business terms for the content. Unless content-owning operators reconsider such practices, moves like this will only reinforce consumers’ generally bad opinion of Pay TV, reduce demand for this particular content, accelerate cord-cutting as a whole, and potentially even force regulators to take action.
2019 prediction: new direct-to-consumer offers will perform below expectations, meeting consumer resistance (Ian Nock)
A number of direct-to-consumer offerings will arrive in 2019 and onwards, but they will underperform compared to expectations due to a number of reasons: the need among consumers for varied content, rather than single content provider offerings; the competitive response of traditional aggregators/operators who bring a mix of content to the consumer; and the resistance by consumers towards having a number of different subscriptions to fulfil their content needs. Consumers will also notice that the overall cost of the SVOD packages, when combined, is higher than the old cost of their traditional subscription.
2019 prediction: middleware and SDP vendors who neglect Android TV will lose market share (Steve Hawley)
Operator adoption of (free) Android TV has forced middleware and service delivery platform (SDP) vendors to respond with compatible products. But Android TV was not designed for traditional or hybrid set-top boxes. Middleware and SDP vendors that don’t fill those gaps by providing custom launchers and other client components to accommodate Android TV will lose deals and lose market share.
Market trend: it is not an HD-to-4K transition, but HD to 4K/HDR/HD/SD, focused on achieving best results subject to display, network and content (Ian Nock)
UHD services will continue to grow on top of the baseline of UHD from SVOD service providers, who have led the charge since 2013. More linear content will become available, but this is evolutionary and not revolutionary, cementing the view that this is not a transition from HD to 4K/HDR but to a more diverse content mix of 4K/HDR/HD/SD services. The transition will be based on getting the best quality to the consumer depending upon display and network capability, as well as content availability and consumer factors.”
2019 prediction: AI will be used to improve UIs and identify unusual behaviours as a piracy risk (Steve Hawley)
AI will become increasingly important. Two examples are to measure and evaluate end-user navigation in the user experience and identify areas for UI improvements, and to identify out-of-profile usage of consumer authentication credentials as piracy risks.
2019 prediction: consumers will question how much they are targeted, and the industry will question the performance of highly targeted ads (Ian Nock)
Addressability of the consumer will be a controversial point in 2019, as consumers become more aware of how much data is being gathered from multiple sources to target advertising and recommendations, and just how much they are the product in today’s world. I can see some pushback on this from normal consumers, not just privacy advocates, and questions being raised about the performance of this level of ad targeting compared to more traditional and less tailored targeting. Already we see reports questioning the performance of more targeted ads; some already recommend that the human factor be reintroduced and that a ‘less is more’ approach is adopted with regard to the value of the advertising.
Technology to watch: content aware encoding (CAE) is one of the great hidden treasures (Ian Nock)
One of the hidden great technologies today are the advances that encoder hardware/software suppliers are making in improving the efficiency/effectiveness of encoding to suit the content, the type of display and the network over which the content will be delivered. CAE (Content Aware Encoding, or Content Adaptive Encoding, also sometimes used for Context Aware Encoding) are applying a lot of new understanding in algorithms, methods and machine learnings to optimise for the visual quality delivered to the consumer, whether it is for a 4-inch or 80-inch screen, or whether the content was sports or a documentary. This is a real enabler for ensuring the best quality video (HD, 4K or even 8K) is given to the consumer.
2019 prediction: anti-piracy solutions will hit their stride, enabling punitive actions and creating marketing opportunities (Steve Hawley)
To combat the theft of both live and on-demand programming, anti-piracy solutions will hit their stride. As these solutions mature, they will become fully integrated solutions that include watermarking, monitoring, chip-level security, the tracking of password-sharing, and professional services. They will be able to simultaneously enforce punitive measures against pirates and enable marketing opportunities for operators.
2019 prediction: consumers evaluate new TVs for their apps, as well as UHD provision (Steve Hawley)
If you buy a TV today, it will be a smart TV with an ecosystem of apps and other software built in. Consumers are evaluating smart TVs not just as upgrades from HD to UHD, but also for the apps. Roku and others have been successful here. Will Apple go beyond licensing just AirPlay to smart TV manufacturers?
A service that excites: the new Freeview app, as an aggregator of OTT content, on the road to ‘IP’ification’ of TV services (Ian Nock)
The launch of the new Freeview app as an aggregator of over-the-top content, starting with iOS, is a good first step that hopefully will result in the Freeview service and user experience being available on every device, whether it is a mobile one or a retail IP stick, or even another full service operator. This represents the ‘IP’ification’ of TV services. There is still a long way to go in the IP’ification of TV services, but the signs are promising. My vision of the IP future, which I think is only nine years away, is where a home will have access to any MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor – or Pay TV operator) service over their common IP connection, allowing them to have one, two or more services, depending on their needs, without any tie-in to their broadband connection.
2019 prediction: non-hybrid set-top boxes will be displaced from HDMI1 (Steve Hawley)
Your TV’s HDMI1 connector will increasingly be likely to have a streaming video device connected to it, instead of a traditional TV set-top box. The primary exceptions will be hybrid STBs that combine IP and non-IP sources in a single user experience, and smart TVs with the streaming electronics and apps already built in. With a diminishing number of exceptions (such as live sports), the most popular Pay TV programming is distributed over broadband, anyway.
2019 prediction: security vendors will diversify, offering creative new solutions, leveraging their existing assets (Steve Hawley)
Because Google offers Widevine CAS (conditional access) and DRM for free, and because online video is now the norm and not the exception, vendors in the Pay TV security category will accelerate their plans to enter new market opportunities that are on the upswing by leveraging existing assets for new use cases – even use-cases outside of Pay TV. NAGRA leverages other Kudelski Group assets in creative ways, including in an effort to increase consumer engagement at events. Think of cross-connecting the ticket that you received when you parked at a venue (with the ticket dispensed by a machine from Skidata, a Kudelski Group company) with video content about the event. Scan the QR code on your ticket and receive pre-game highlights, in-game replays, game summary videos (securely) to your smartphone. Meanwhile, Irdeto has been pursuing the connected car opportunity and revived its middleware for Android TV. Verimatrix has expanded into OTT security workflow and authentication for content owners.
Market trend: we are heading for an all-IP world in less than a decade, but 5G will under-perform (Ian Nock)
The consumption shift from broadcast/cable to IP-delivered video will continue, although not explosively, with a trend that is driving towards an all-IP delivered world in less than a decade (except where there are bandwidth ‘have-nots’). 5G will underperform as it struggles to find consumer adoption and applications, other than for high-speed connectivity (which is already well served with 4G, but with much greater coverage).
2019 prediction: tech vendors will continue dumping businesses that do not perform (Steve Hawley)
The TV technology vendor communities will continue to shift like tectonic plates, as companies attempt to shed low-producing assets while pursuing new opportunities.
Nine predictions, including “OTT providers will become factionalized, and they will turn to 1080p HDR ahead of 4K” (David Price)
Our newest judge for the international panel at The Connies is David Price, a past-President of the MPEG Industry Forum who was also a Founder and Board Member of the Ultra HD Forum, among many other things. He is Principal at Scala Advisors. Based in the U.S., David has cut the cord, now combining YouTube TV + Netflix + (Amazon) Prime [Video] for his TV entertainment. Here are his predictions for 2019:
- Consumers will become increasingly aware of the data caps that are hidden from view in the service details at their ISP.
- Moving to 4K will further highlight these caps and will cause a backlash from consumers
- As a result, OTT providers will increasingly look for content that is 1080p HDR to provide attractive content, rather than 4K
- In addition, the next generation of flat FTA [free-to-air] antennas will become a hot consumer product for 2019 [in the U.S.]
- As content owners review the different ways they can accrue revenues, direct-to-consumer (D2C) [or DTC!] will emerge as an additional and significant OTT source. Studios will be able to monetise the remnants of their vast libraries, i.e. the titles that are not part of a package resold through the conventional resellers like Netflix, Prime, Hulu, etc.
- OTT providers will become factionalized into: Movie and serialized TV based non-real time aggregators; Movie and serialized TV based non-real time direct-to-consumer from the studios; Live feeds including local news and national sports (which will be increasingly important, with OTT providers bidding and winning rights to carry premium games)
- AI will be increasingly applied to dynamically optimise CDN characteristics, allowing for faster ‘time-to-view’ times, more accurate ad insertion decisioning and greater CDN efficiencies (and so even lower CDN costs)
- In the technology supplier space there will be continuing consolidation, with the major service providers acquiring key technology such as content security, encoding and ad-tech
- Roku will continue to be a better stock pick than Apple!
What one judge is looking for from your 2019 entries
Long-standing Connies judge William Cooper (on the international panel) has a message for this year’s potential entrants. He wants to hear from companies with practical solutions for media-related problems, including those who can help improve the user experience and provide tangible media uses for AI. He is also keen to learn how connected networks can be used to change the way people engage with media, not just the way we deliver it.
“As an advisor and strategic consultant to companies large and small, I am always looking out for interesting applications of technology to television and video,” says William. “When judging awards entries, I find the most persuasive submissions tell a clear story, simply and succinctly.
“This year I will once again be looking for examples that improve the user experience or that solve a particular practical problem. No doubt there will be lots of references to artificial intelligence and machine learning, but all too often these terms are being applied to anything involving an algorithm of some kind. I want to understand how an innovation is applied in practice and what difference it makes.
“The theme of The Connies is connection, and I am especially interested in developments that use connected media in novel and innovative ways. Connected networks provide more than an alternative way of delivering traditional media; they are transforming the ways in which people engage with media. I look forward to seeing the entries this year and joining the other judges in our discussions and deliberations.”
William Cooper was Head of Interactive at BBC Broadcast before becoming Founder of the independent consultancy informitv.
More about The Connies
The Connies reward innovation and recognise best practice across all sectors of the media landscape from content distribution to advertising planning and media research.
Here is the full list of categories for 2019:
- Best Research Project/Initiative
- Best Use of Connected Data
- Connected Campaign of the Year
- Video Technology Hero (International)
- The ‘Premium TV’ Award (International)
- Excellence in Analytics & AI for TV and Video (International)
- Best User Experience – All Channels & Platforms (UK + International)
- Best Use of Connected Technology
- Connected Agency of the Year
- Connected Media Owner of the Year.
Our entry forms ask for a maximum of 1,300 words explanation and the entry price (by the first deadline) is £99 per entry. You can read the full entry guidance for each category, find out more about the awards, and enter The Connies, here.
Mark Cross, Director at Chartroom, is the Chair of Judges again and is joined by:
International category judges
- William Cooper, Founder and Chief Executive, informitv
- Steven Hawley, Principal Analyst and Consultant, tvstrategies
- Ian Nock, Managing Director and Founder, Fairmile West
- Benjamin Schwarz, Consultant, CToic Consulting
- David Price, Principal, Scala Advisors
- John Moulding, Editor-in-Chief, Videonet.
Judges, all other categories
- Richard Marks, Director, Research the Media
- Stacey Anklam, COO, autograph
- Anne Tucker, Head of Research and AV, Mediatel
- Tracey Follows, Founder, Futuremade.
The Connies are supported by Videonet and our sister publication, Mediatel Newsline. Both magazines will report on the publication of the awards shortlists and eventual winners.
You can read more about last year’s results, and see our profiles of the winning entries, here.