Buyer sentiment, taken as an average, is far more positive towards television than it was even two years ago in Canada. There is an acknowledgement that TV works, including for short-term objectives, though a need to prove it more effectively. Media owner innovation is happening, but slowly. There are concerns locally about price inflation and price transparency.
The widely deployed 1.5 version of the HbbTV specification supports full replacement of broadcast ads with IP-delivered ads, but cannot guarantee frame accuracy. Workarounds have been suggested like inserting a broadcaster ident at each end of the ad break to give televisions and STBs more switching time. The 2.0.1 HbbTV spec introduces better synchronisation and pre-buffering, and work is ongoing to accelerate switching times. Device support, consistency and minimum standards remain an issue. The roadmap to HbbTV addressable is established, but there are notable hurdles to overcome.
Encouraged by the ITU, leading television advocacy and standards organisations have conducted a series of investigations into the future of television, with the most recent meeting taking place in Geneva in June. Attendees were focused on what TV represents in an era of personalised, app-delivered media. Discussions included how to keep the device landscape open and interoperable and how to level the playing field for broadcasters and on-demand services. There were renewed calls to complete the European digital single market - and then pursue a world digital single market.
UK public service broadcasters dominate creation of UK-made original content and the BBC and Channel 4 are commissioning more brand-new shows than other European PSBs, but that has not stopped global streaming services from taking a larger slice of UK viewing time. The global streamers have spread their local production thinly across markets until now, but the UK is taking a disproportionate amount of their non-U.S. OTT commissioning focus.
The momentum towards franchise and club owned OTT sports services is accelerating, according to new research. One-third of the top 25 football clubs now operate a paid OTT service, for example, although content typically complements existing broadcast distribution deals. The growth of DTC nevertheless puts pressure on Pay TV to retain tier-one rights, and operators are being urged to package content in ways that make it more attractive to cord-cutters and super-fans, and to innovate around pricing.
HbbTV gives broadcasters the means to test-and-learn addressable TV independently of Pay TV operators
RTL Group is among the most advanced users of HbbTV for advertising in Europe and is developing its addressable TV know-how and sales products for the broadcast marketplace without yet relying on Pay TV collaborations. When it comes to full ad replacement, HbbTV is limited by the penetration of devices that support the latest specs, however, as only these can guarantee full frame accuracy. Right now, ad-replacement using HbbTV is best described as a test-and-learn initiative.
Sky Italy is one of the first broadcast industry customers to make use of innovative Video Delivery Network technology that is designed to improve streaming video QoE and take pressure off origin servers. Milan-based MainStreaming can rewrite routing tables so video can use a different connection between a cache and end-user if there are local network issues. The vendor also intelligently directs users to caches where the content they want is already available.
Video Research, the Japanese audience measurement body responsible for running the country’s television industry currency, is behind a collaborative platform that measures broadcaster online viewing data at census level. Video analytics specialist Streamhub has provided the data platform to handle programme and advertising viewing data and fuse the census reports with an existing online audience panel. The new platform underpins trading of online inventory across all major commercial broadcasters.
The roll-out of 4K is nowhere near ubiquitous, but 8K is seen as the obvious next format progression. Right now, it is a non-starter on all fronts: screen price, content availability, consumer buy-in, production costs and bandwidth requirements. The newly formed 8K Association says the same concerns were voiced for UHD six years ago, and they were overcome. Meanwhile, the DVB will shortly reveal the results of its study mission on formats beyond UHD-1 4K, and the early noises are positive.
Leading media companies are rethinking how they manage their content pipeline, which is the context for the recent announcements that Netflix is moving into Shepperton Studios and Sky is creating a new Europe-wide development and production capability. As one analyst explains, competition for content is at unprecedented levels, driving stakeholders to be involved earlier in the process. Netflix can start making up for content losses when companies like Disney repatriate content. Sky has an easier ROI calculation as group distribution assets expand.