What’s in store for the world of broadcast in 2017?

Chloe Pope
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I am an Account Manager and CCgroup’s broadcast and TV tech aficionado
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If you were to use one word to sum up 2016, what would that word be? Shocking? Disappointing? Unpredictable? The likes of Brexit and Trump’s election were the surprise political moments, and with the loss of so many much-loved celebs filling our hearts with despair and sadness, it’s fair to say 2016 is a year that many of us would like to dust under the carpet and pretend didn’t happen.

However, for the world of broadcast, 2016 wasn’t all doom and gloom. We’ve seen the rise of virtual reality, UHD fully making its mark, OTT TV continuing to take the market by storm, and some pretty significant consolidation (AT&T / Time Warner, anyone?!). But with so much happening in the TV landscape, what can we expect to see in 2017?

Source: mark sebastian

1.    The blurring lines between telecoms and broadcast

AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner in October, followed by the recent Sky and Fox takeover news, is evidence that the lines between telecoms and broadcast are blurring. With the new generation of TV service providers, a la Netflix and Amazon Prime, using IP networks to deliver unlimited hours of content, telcos are beginning to form partnerships with broadcasters and TV service providers to monetise the video opportunity.

We are only going to see more of this over the next 12 months - telcos will maximise the strong customer relationships they have, and combine this with the new video opportunity that today’s consumers are craving. These partnerships will be especially key to support the ever-growing second screen phenomenon.

2.    Devices to drive engagement

With more internet connected devices in the world than people, it comes as no surprise that the second screen phenomenon will continue into 2017. Whether that is viewers using smartphones and tablets to enhance the TV experience with social media, or solutions that enable audiences to enjoy the TV experience on mobile devices – second screening will play an increasingly important role in the world of TV.   

For the most part, the second screen has proven to be most popular amongst millennials. And while most view second screening as a distraction from the content on the screen, we are seeing more and more broadcasters and TV service providers taking to the second screen to actively encourage audience engagement. This year’s X-Factor for example, allowed viewers to cast free votes via the mobile app (even if people were voting to keep Honey G in the competition).

But we aren’t just seeing the second screen being used in the living room or the bedroom – in fact, according to Intel, 10% of all Wi-Fi video in the home is consumed in the bathroom (make of that what you will). With the smart home fast becoming a reality, it is clear that we will soon see second (and perhaps third, fourth and fifth…) screens in almost every room of the house – integrated into kitchen cupboards, or installed in bathroom walls, so consumers can enjoy their favourite TV and video content on a 24/7 basis. Anathema to some of us, perhaps, but that’s progress.

3.    Going OTT for more OTT

While Netflix et al are going to continue to hit headlines in 2017, they aren’t the only streaming services that will be making the news. In fact, we are going to see more broadcasters and operators responding to competition with OTT services of their own. We’ve already seen Sky do it in the UK with Now TV, as well Dish and HBO do it in the States with their own TV everywhere services. CBS is also reported to be providing access to its content to Hulu in return for some subscriber revenue. Some operators are taking a slightly different approach, and are integrating OTT services into their STB offering instead of launching their own services – like Virgin has done with Netflix.

The fact that OTT/VOD streaming is happening is not news; potential excitement lies in what business models will evolve. With streaming services still in their infancy, and with consumers happy to pay for two or three services to complement their traditional, linear TV service, there is still plenty of opportunity in the market for broadcasters take advantage of the OTT opportunity in 2017.

4.    Staying secure

While the trends above are all great for the evolution of the broadcast industry, the proliferation of OTT services does present challenges when it comes to security and piracy. With more streaming services coming to light, and more and more content available almost every day, the risk of piracy is greater than ever. In fact, it was recently announced that popular shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Westworld were some of the most pirated-TV shows of 2016.

And while the advent of affordable OTT services over pricey pay-TV packages may help to reduce pirate activity and allowing more viewers to access the content they desire, what we are more likely to see in 2017 is a rise in content security solutions, such as content encryption and conditional access for multiscreen, OTT content.

5. The rise of the cinema

The explosion of connected devices and streaming services has transformed how we watch content, but it has meant that the cinema has had a tough battle to fight. The lure of the sofa is keeping viewers at home, so cinemas have had to embrace a number of new initiatives that they have never had to worry about before, such as personalisation and mobile engagement, in order to keep the cinema experience relevant with today’s changing audience.

In 2017, the cinema will continue to welcome and embrace new areas, such as social media, data analytics, and even new trends like VR, to stay in step with the new content landscape.

Preparing is key for 2017

2017 is set to be another busy year for the world of broadcast, media, content, access and all their allied components. With the call for IBC technical papers now open, we will soon discover which of these trends – and others - will be discussed and debated at this year’s conference.  

What is clear is that the advent of new services and new solutions is healthy for the growth of digital TV. From second screen to OTT and content security, this increase means added competition to an already somewhat crowded market. In 2017, while it is important to pay attention to the trends the year has to offer, it is perhaps even more important for companies to ensure they stand out from the crowd. For tips on how to increase your marketing effectiveness, and to find out the content that sways broadcasters purchasing decisions, download our white paper here.

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