Global Tech Insider – Furious at NAB – to be distributed to publications May 31, 2017, to over 60,000 dailey readers: Streaming Will Be a Rough, Uncertain Ride for Many
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this!” Miller, “The Fate of the Furious,” Universal Studios, 2017
The ATSC (Advanced Television Standards Committee) 3.0 had a lot of positive attention at NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) this year, although it hasn’t been implemented globally quite yet.
Yes, it’s well established in Korea with preparation for the Olympics; and is slowly being rolled out in the Americas, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and the rest of the Asia-Pacific area.
While there have been minor upgrades over the past 50 years, ATSC 3.0 is a worldwide next-gen TV/broadcast content distribution standard.
The IP-centric standard has advantages for both broadcast and broadband firms to deliver “seamless convergence” of OTA (over-the-air) and OTT (over-the-top) content that consumers expect/demand.
Of course, the service providers (cable, broadband, wireless) will have to deliver universal, inexpensive service so folks won’t go elsewhere.
It’s hard for people to understand that when the device (flat screen, computer, tablet or phone) is buffering, it’s not Netflix’s, Amazon’s or Hulu’s fault; it’s your ISP (internet service provider) or telco that isn’t delivering the downstream or bandwidth speeds they advertised.
Media companies (Viacom, AMC, 21st Century Fox, Disney, Comcast; oh heck, everyone) have already seen ad sales drop.
In an attempt to offset these losses, some networks and studios have trimmed their ad loads. Other streaming services are implementing native videos, in-show sponsored content and interactive ads so ads look less and less like…ads.
Deal with It – With everyone trying to get their ads in front of consumers as quickly and effectively as possible, consumers have learned how to self-filter the content to meet their needs.
Since viewer research consistently shows that ad-supported, free content is preferred by viewers of all ages, the industry has to focus on providing better ad environments and more relevant ads.
When the ads are less disruptive, higher quality and more tailored to the viewer, they are more readily received. This is mainly because better IP-based content delivery and more meaningful data is available to the content developer, service provider and advertiser to satisfy individuals, whether they view the show immediately when it’s aired, four-five days later or even a month later.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, TenCent, Alibaba and streaming organizations around the globe have convinced people to change their viewing habits; and traditional organizations are experimenting with new and added service offerings.
It’s clear that IP-based solutions are driving change at both ends of the entertainment chain.
Finally, content creators have distribution opportunities outside of the cable bundles and consumers are finding more options to locate and enjoy quality content.
While broadcasters like to flaunt the fact that they originate 90 of the top 100 most-watched TV shows each week, they realize the gross number of viewers is shrinking. Increasingly, viewers are using “non-traditional distribution” for on-demand, catch-up and unique viewing services.
CDNs (content delivery networks) like Akamai, Level 3, China Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, SingTel and Limelight have become masters at moving content around for suppliers and consumers.
Then there are social-serving folks like Google, Facebook, Snap, TenCent, Weibo, Youko, Kosovarja, vk.com and a horde of others who serve up ads; or, increasingly, entice you with “a better offer.”
That doesn’t sound “too” bad; but when the eyeballs shift, so do the ad dollars!
As a CBS executive said, “It’s the wave of the future and you have to be everywhere.”
In addition to releasing their content on a managed service (paid or ad-supported); networks, stations, shows and studios increasingly have to carry out aggressive social media trailer and short-form campaigns that build a bridge with people for their long-form content.
When the short digital video goes viral, viewing ratings are stronger and for a longer period of time.
Universal – In increasing numbers, people of all sexes and ages have moved to OTT viewing so they can enjoy their entertainment/news/information when they want it. And the trend continues.
Time-shifting TV, the hallmark of OTT VOD (video-on-demand), has become a standard for most viewers. A recent NBCUniversal study reported that 67 percent of people don’t watch a show when it first airs.
SVOD (subscription VOD) is quickly surpassing DVR (digital video recorder) use in the U.S., distancing people even further from linear TV.
Since Netflix launched their SVOD service in 2010, more than 50 competitive services have been introduced; and in the Asia-Pacific arena, more than 150 OTT services are available.
The biggest question all of them have is how to package the service – fat bundle (lots of channels), skinny bundles and even a’ la carte. No one has an answer as to the best balance of content offerings and price yet.
All Packaged – To entice viewers to stay with their streaming service, firms are negotiating to develop bundles that are feature-rich for the consumer. Now, they’re playing a chess game to determine the magic price people are willing to pay.
What all of the broadcast services know is that consumers are demanding video the way they want on their time, their terms.
The industry seems to be responding by recreating the traditional TV experience on every screen.
Consumers are platform-agnostic–content selection, cost and convenience are their paramount concerns.
In other words, the news, education, information, entertainment experience is becoming more and more individualized.
In the U.S., 41 percent of adults said they plan to shave or cut the pay-TV cord in the next year. In Brazil, 16 percent said they are cutting their cord.
Beyond the cord cutters, cord shavers and cord nevers, there is a new (younger) group industry execs are trying to understand. Rather than weighing the pros/cons of small/large, thin/fat bundles; the new cord cobbler builds his/her customized content package across streaming services and platforms.
The consumers’ primary concern is value in the content they view.
That’s sorta, kinda the same concern every industry player wants — find a really complete, really innovative content distribution/management/monetization model they can use now! Viola!!!!
Despite missed sales targets and record losses, Ericsson launched their “extensive universe, best- in-class, cutting-edge, pre-integrated, semantic data” rich TV and movie ecosystem.
The power word-rich announcement left broadcasters, content owners and service providers with more questions than answers.
There’s too much black ice on the road to commit to a single solution.
TV Time – Different age groups view their TV content at different times and using different screens, which enables marketers to target messages more effectively, more efficiently.
Mobile is growing rapidly around the globe and is destined to become the screen of choice for casual and short-form consumption.
Younger generations expect premium content to be available through connected apps and Wi-Fi connections to their tablets and smartphones.
Millennials start with their connected TV at home and add 2nd/3rd screens for interactive activities.
Boomers focus on the large screen and glance at their other screen(s) for stuff.
A separate Ericsson report found that globally, 40 percent of consumers were very interested in unlimited streaming as a part of their mobile data plan. Australia’s telcos are offering unmetered plans to attract consumers, as is England’s Tesco Mobile.
Telcos will experiment with new solutions to attract subscribers so they have a broader potential audience to attract content service providers and advertisers. They know a silent dark pipe or unused airways don’t produce any return for investors.
At the same time, broadband speed and bandwidth capacity are expanding to deliver high-quality content.
Video consumers are sending the industry a clear message though – they want and expect to control their own viewing!
Welcome Assistance – Taking advantage of the data streaming services and personalized TV options, the smart ones are using augmented technology and providing smarter recommendations to viewers on content they should consider. And, it works.
OTT gives broadcasters an opportunity to evolve the entertainment from watching to engaging and sharing. Much like Netflix and Amazon, it will provide them with a chance to win over new audiences with high-quality content of their own making.
But no one said it would be a slam dunk, one solution fits everyone.
It’s clearly a time of trial-error; experimentation with different technologies, different approaches and thinking so far away from the box you forget there ever was a box.
For example, Finons Group brought Ireland’s RTE channel to NAB to show attendees what tomorrow’s broadcasting “might” look like. The online, Netflix-style, multi-screen platform will let users tap into large (and constantly growing) libraries of content and view them on any screen, any time.
Akamai, an experienced global player in the arena, showed off their multiple layers of media service redundancy that replicates content at multiple locations across the network and around the globe for immediate failover if performance degrades.
Increasingly, all of the OTT service/product providers are also using AI (augmented intelligence) to analyze content metadata on what an individual has viewed to recommend similar storylines to keep consumers from clicking away.
It can also enable advertisers to target ads to “friendly” environments or the content genre most likely viewed by specific individuals or groups so the ads are more in tune with the viewers’ wants/interests.
All of the participants want the same thing – match the audience’s demands, grow their video business and provide a welcome advertising message environment as rapidly and economically as possible.
Bypassing old-fashioned Nielsen ratings, content distribution/management people have learned a lot by observing and analyzing Netflix and Amazon as they focus on enhanced data collection and analysis of OTT viewing. They are finding new ways to reduce risk in content investments, as acquisition and commissions are more tightly aligned to consumers’ viewing preferences.
As Allan McLennan, president of PADEM Media Group, noted, “Multi-platform content delivery is placing tremendous pressure on organizations to be more ambitious and judicious in their early investments while seeking out alternative deployments and monetization strategies.
“It’s difficult but not impossible to be alert to everything 360 degrees around you and evaluate options openly and honestly so the firms can execute quickly,” he added. “Then, if something does fail; discard it just as quickly, learn from it and don’t look back. Flexibility at this stage is key.”
Today, content organizations are dealing with global audiences. As a result, broadcast/OTT providers have to remain nimble to maximize their resources and revenues.
Offering a breath of fresh air at NAB, several organizations announced plans to evaluate HEVC (high- efficiency video coding) as well as other software alternatives that can upgrade existing systems in order to deliver UHD/4K/HRD content across all screens– especially mobile devices- -quickly, efficiently and economically.
Involved Viewers – Because they control what they watch, when and on what device, consumers are also multitasking during the process, using all of their screens to interact with the show, advertisers and others in their community.
Unlike many who see streaming and digital multichannels as the precursors to the demise of traditional TV, McLennan said they’re proving to reinvigorate the audiences’ love of TV.
“Audiences are now able to discover/rediscover old favorites; binge on high-quality originals developed by fresh, new, exciting creative talents; and catch up on trending shows they might have otherwise missed,” he explained. “It’s a tremendous time for the video/TV industry – broadcaster and OTT alike. Certainly, mobile is important and getting more so; but the new connected TV set can still hold its own in being the home base for a great entertainment experience.
“A big viewing experience is still the best viewing experience,” he emphasized. “And people don’t care if it comes to them over cable, broadband or over the air.”
Be taking advantage of today’s data analytics and algorithms, content generation can be guided and experiments with new technologies can be carried out that enrich the entertainment experience for the consumer.
Great Ride – With the wide range of content types available to today’s content viewers, they can ride the waves and find content they can enjoy to the optimum. And, they can switch waves just as easily.
Over the next few years, broadcasters and content producers will learn how to develop and deliver content in different, profitable ways for the creator, the deliverer, the advertiser and …the consumer.
It’s all going to be based on real-world usage, real-world data, real-world trends and with real- world uncertainty.
When it comes to enhancing content delivery and consumption, Cipher said, “One thing I can guarantee… no one’s ready for this.”