Telecoms Helping to Drive the Future of Broadcast
Over the last few years I have seen massive changes in the way my family and I consume broadcast media. We now watch far more on-demand television than linear television, and where we do watch linear television we expect to be able to pause, rewind and fast-forward it. Indeed, my children don’t understand why we can’t fast forward through the advert breaks when we are watching live sports!!
In addition, I expect to be able to pick content from wherever I want, this might be from traditional broadcasters, cable companies, traditional OTT players like Netflix, new entrants like Google and Amazon, video from social media platforms like youtube and vimeo and even my own videos. And with my Smart TV I expect to be able do this from some very simple widgets on the TV screen.
For recorded content like music and videos, I no longer buy physical media; I stream music rather than buy CDs and buy digital rights to movies rather than buy DVDs.
So what has driven the change?
In short this change has been driven by the availability of ubiquitous, cheap, reliable, high-speed internet connectivity providing enough bandwidth to link TVs to high-quality content from multiple sources.
How will advances in telecoms change broadcast in the near future?
I believe that this is just the start of the changes that telecoms is driving in the broadcast industry. Some potential advances in the near future include:
- Network (cloud) video recorder (DVR): Advances in networking technology now make the network DVR a reality. The network DVR can provide almost unlimited storage and can act as a one-stop shop for all a consumers content needs. When integrated with an intelligent scheduler and EPG (Electronic Programming Guide), the customer can generate their own customized schedule from a mix of linear or time delayed programing and content from the network DVR
- Virtual set-top boxes: When the network DVR is used in conjunction with a virtual CPE (vCPE) the need for expensive set-top boxes (and DVRs) are eliminated. A further advantage of this centralized approach is that it allows new services and modifications to services to be rolled out to customers almost instantaneously
- Content from anywhere on the planet – With the internet, broadcasters are no longer tied to the geographic footprint of the transmitters, content can become truly global
- Ubiquitous Service Delivery – Advances in networking technology provide the ability to move broadcast media seamlessly between and across any customer “screen” fixed and/or mobile
- New revenue streams from Location Based Advertising – using the location based services provided by mobile devices the network should support the insertion of Location Based advertising into the media stream (e.g. advertising for the local takeaway, car salesroom etc.)
- New service opportunities – One example could be managing the customers “Smart Home”. Video will be a critical component of the smart home concept. Broadcasters can build on their their ability to handle video to offer a “Smart Home” service, using the network DVR to store the video (and other) smart home information and present it to the customer
So what can broadcasters do?
Broadcasters need to start to evolve to become what is being defined as a Virtual Multi-channel Programing Distributor (vMVPD). These vMVPDs will offer customers the ability to mix linear, on-demand and self-generated content to build their own customized viewing schedule. They will use a mix of transaction and subscription based charging alongside “free content” supported by targeted advertising. Traditional broadcasters that do not embrace these telecoms enabled changes will start to fade away as revenues from traditional advertising are in rapid decline and state funded broadcasting is no longer in favour. Those broadcasters that embrace the new technology will be in a unique position to monetize the new opportunities offered by high speed access (mobile and fixed) as we enter the era of “Video on the Go”. They will be able to extend their existing capabilities and provide a fully integrated always on, anytime, anywhere experience for their customers. So in conclusion, I believe we are now at a tipping point for broadcasters. Fuelled by advances in telecoms, viewing behaviours have fundamentally changed. This in turn has changed the entire broadcast ecosystem with it the business model around how revenue can be made from broadcast media. We have seen telecom Service Providers and the music industry experiencing similar changes, and those that remain successful have been those willing to embrace change