Stephen Fridakis, Vice President, Media and Tech Ops, HBO
The future of the media and broadcasting business is facing technological convergence: a phenomenon to integrate services, content offerings, and means of communication under one core technology or ecosystem. It includes cultural, society, business, service, technology, regulatory, and content aspects that need to be considered.
Telecommunication providers and broadcasters complement each other to deliver content across devices and networks. The media supply chain is completely digitized, 4G and 5G broadband speeds are becoming broadly available, and new services are evolving.
End users access media using a broad range of equipment. Unlike traditional broadcasting, IP networks do not require transmissions specific to end-user consuming devices. The same network can offer content to smartphones, tablets, computers, game boxes, and TV sets. Furthermore, services are now truly personalized and accessible across various countries. In addition to remote controls, the interaction between consumers and content is also handled with TV dongles (e.g., Roku, Fire TV) or directly on mobile devices.
As broadband availability varies between locations, these new services will require increased transmission capacity and video encoding efficiency. Devices such as smartphones require less bandwidth due to their limited size. The HTTP protocol has been used for video-on-demand embedded in web pages for certain applications, such as YouTube. This approach uses progressive downloads of media files which are played when sufficient data has been reached. A lot of that depends on the device and its buffering ability. New streaming solutions are using adaptive bit rate, which provides secure and smooth video delivery, as well as Content Delivery Networks that provide delivery to various devices.
The future includes multi-screen and connected screen access, including mobile apps offered by broadcasters and content providers. Currently the number of internet connected devices with screens per household averages six to seven. Several models handle media content in a multi-screen delivery setting. Examples include, chatting in parallel, which provides an app with some method to interact in the context of a program and meshing media which is conducting activities or communicating via other devices, while watching television.
The trend is for the consumer to move towards “cord-cutting”. In this context, cord-cutting is where a consumer is not bound to a cable agreement but instead maintains multiple content delivery and consumption relationships with OTT (Over the Top), multichannel and mobile carriers. This attitude together with the multiscreen environment is developing a new eco-system. This eco-system contains smart device manufacturers (TVs and others) who provide the means to content consumption and an applications platform. It is anticipated that the dynamic of content or service provider and device manufacturer will become more competitive as both will strive to develop subscription-based services in a developing market. We will also see regulatory controls in the application development area that are similar to the ones network operators face regarding net-neutrality and mandating local content in broadcasts.
We live in an era of digital immediacy. Printed content is only applicable to those consumers who have the willingness and desire to dive deeper into an issue. Formal TV news no longer informs viewers of events. Instead, it tends to confirm something that has already happened. Typically, the initial notice of an event is via social media or short custom messages delivered on our smartphone. Formal TV and printed media provide information in a highly stylized way. Consumers use apps that allow them access to information in a curated manner that promotes quick and effective consumption. An individual may favor news with a high emphasis on weather events and travel while someone else may favor politics followed by athletics. Apps support this unlike the current format seen on formal TV and in printed media.
The future includes multi-screen and connected screen access, including mobile apps offered by broadcasters and content providers. Currently the number of internet connected devices with screens per household averages six to seven
While a curated approach may sound effective and efficient, it also promotes the current media-driven filter bubble. In choosing news, consumers are more likely to miss a report on Greek immigration woes which could have been interesting, educational and relatable to local matters.
This is an exciting time of change in TV media and broadcasting. As over-the-top streaming of video content continues to grow in popularity on big screens and small screens, new and exciting content is being developed and becoming more on-demand/on-the-go. While this exponential demand for content creates challenges to broadcasting business models, it also develops new companies and the business as a whole. Quality programming will always be in demand. It is the successful innovation of distribution and broader synergies that will play a key part alongside this content evolution.