The DVB arrived at IBC with renewed vigour and a big plan – to provide the standards-based, multi-vendor interoperability that could make streaming more like television. In a world-first demonstration, it combined DVB-I, multicast ABR and low-latency streaming – what it believes are the building blocks for the post-broadcast age. If you want a simple analogy for what DVB is offering, it is a DVB-T type initiative, except the Internet replaces terrestrial (and satellite and cable) as the delivery mechanism.
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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.
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.
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.
An IHS Markit report shows that 40% of Pay TV customers in the UK first look somewhere other than their Pay TV provider for content – although they may well find their start-point via the operator STB. Onboarded broadcaster and OTT apps are one important destination. The report also highlights that, perhaps for unique local reasons, one-in-five German Pay TV homes use their service less than once a week – yet keep paying. And in the U.S., social media video viewing has overtaken long-form online viewing.
The DVB will use IBC 2019 to unveil its DVB-I efforts, promising a standardised release by year-end. This suite of specifications is designed to improve scale and costs for OTT and, among other things, it tackles content discovery in a hybrid IP/broadcast world where a broadband-delivered service may not be linked to a broadcast channel. The DVB thinks the standardised DVB-I model can benefit Pay TV just as much as free-to-air broadcasters.