By Valéry Bonneau, digital marketing manager for broadcast solutions
The Media Entertainment and Technology industry is highly dynamic, with each year seeing new trends – some of them novelties. Of course, there are also trends that we see fading away but we’re going to concentrate on the new for this blog. Among those that the industry will see this year, we’ve picked nine to discuss here.
Vertical video is hardly new as it was first proposed by Sergei Eisenstein in 1930. Nobody really listened (indeed he lost the aspect ratio battle with Hollywood engineers of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences). But nearly 90 years later, with some experiments during the 60s and 70s, vertical video is back.
Snapchat is a great example of a platform that’s moved to including vertical video (since 2015) and viewership has grown, from 5% of the video watched to 29% in 2015. In 2018, the majority of the videos are vertical.
This is only the tip of the iceberg as other major players have announced, or launched, trials or services including vertical video. We’re talking big names here like Netflix, YouTube and Instagram with its IGTV.
Why? Because it works with the younger generation? Yes, that’s undoubtedly true. But when you see vertical ads benefit from nine times more completed views than landscape video on Snapchat, then it becomes clear why YouTube said yes to Vertical video.
But it’s not only GAFA (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook). Broadcasters – let’s call them media groups – are also embracing or looking at this format: National Geographic uses it; PwC highlights it as a growing trend too as it gives you the chance to reach Gen Z (if you’re confused about the naming of the generation between millennial, Gen X or other digital natives, you’re not the only one).
Will it mean more problems when you consider the entire value chain and workflow? We’ll come back to that soon because there’s a lot to say!
Artificial Intelligence has been trending for the past three years and it keeps growing, as Shakunt Malhotra, our VP Operations in Asia, agrees. He recently wrote a blog on 10 powerful applications of AI in broadcast: QC, editing, compliance, subtitling, presenting the news, for example. AI will be everywhere again in 2019. There are, however, some wider societal questions about the broader adoption of AI and what it means for us all.
First there were silent movies, then came sound, then color, then 3D. OK, 3D has had more lives than a cat, including in the 50s, 80s, early 2000s. And then VR. So, what’s this immersion all about?
VR might not be as consistently impressive as we first thought but immersive technology comes in many forms today. It can mean VR, but also MR, AR, 360° or even olfactive. Some even invented the term XR to refer to all these new formats. This year, much like we saw at IBC 2018, a key trend will be more immersive experiences.
There are already a lot of trials and deployment ongoing and it’s no wonder that sport leads the way: Tour de France, Daytona 500 and UFC, for example.
But also, maybe more surprisingly, the Weather Channel
If you feel like you need to get up to speed, there is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) from Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism: VR: IMMERSIVE 360 DEGREE VIDEO STORYTELLING.
Why is it important to the industry? Well, when properly done, it helps to increase audience size as well as audience retention. But it also requires new production tools and it can have an impact on automated playout, delivery and bandwidth: the streaming of immersive video formats, such as 360-degree YouTube video, consumes four/five times as much bandwidth as a normal YouTube video at the same resolution.
Obviously, to succeed, immersion, like so much in 2019, needs to work on mobile. What’s required to enjoy these new experiences on the go?
5G was already trending in 2018 and we even included it in our 2018 broadcast trends. This year we’ll see more 5G trials, more applications and more… smartphones! The first ones will hit the market in 2019, which is sooner than expected. Xiaomi will start the race with a Mi Mix 3, then OnePlus, LG and Samsung. Apple is yet to announce its plans.
In terms of deployment, the trials will get bigger: Orange will run 5G trials in four cities in France; EE across the UK; Verizon and AT&T in the US; and also the three operators in South Korea. You can get a full picture here.
Regarding applications, there’s streaming, obviously, and, if not the end of latency, certainly a vast amount less (the promise is under 1ms); the improvement in video quality (we’re talking up to 10 Gbps download speed) and the ability to stream VR and play eSports. Telcos are on the field in this to allow more immersive viewing on the go.
If you have time, check out this video on the promise of 5G. 5G is a trend that will keep on growing and is likely to reach its peak between 2022 and 2025, depending where you are in the world.
As Shakunt Malhotra, our VP operations in Asia, said:
5G is at an experimental stage and several applications are being debated. While IoT using 5G will be a primary driver, using it for things like video contribution or eSports will test its capabilities and value.
But there are dissenting voices out there. Technology Business Research says: “5G will be an evolution, not a revolution.”
Remember when the industry starting tossing around the phrase “cord cutting”? Ten years later, pay-TV is still going strong with revenues of just under $195bn globally in 2018 (against $175bn in 2010). That is not to say there hasn’t been a decline since its peak in 2016 when it reached $206bn.
The picture, no pun intended, is more complex than just revenue figures: in the US the number of traditional pay-TV subscribers has fallen from 100 million in 2012 to 90 million in 2018.
So where does Skinny Bundle as a term fit in then? This describes pared back pay-TV subscriptions, which are predicted to continue growing (see below). These reached a new high in 2018 and are expected to explode in 2019 and 2020 and should represent 25% of Pay TV Subscriptions by 2022 (US).
Because ARPU is obviously not as high for smaller bundles, the growth of these smaller subscriptions will not overcome the loss generated by cord cutting until 2020. If you’re not too familiar with Skinny bundles you can read a definition here
You could argue that it’s always been about exclusive content, and you’d have a point. How many times have we said, or have you heard, the phrase “content is king”? But as the years go by, you also have to ask just how many kings are there out there.
And in case you thought the pace slowed down in 2018, it didn’t: we’re talking 520 scripted series last year! As far as 2019 is concerned, it’s hard to predict but what is for sure it is that Netflix spent $13 billion dollars in 2018, Facebook $1 billion and Apple $1.5 billion.
According to Ampere Analysis, those budgets could double by 2023 (Netflix was expected to spend $8bn in 2018 but actually spent the $13bn noted above).
And that’s before Disney+ hits the market as v-net reminds us:
“Disney’s direct-to-consumer offer will shock Netflix and Amazon.”
Chris Wood, CTO, Spicy Mango
What about sport? Well, one thing’s for sure, sports rights costs continue to grow and grow significantly. Depending on where you are in the chain, this can be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing.
One thing’s for sure, content protection is only going to continue to grow in importance.
This segways easily into our next trend:
What’s that again? This, of course, is not a new subject so it’s not in any way a brand new trend, but it’s importance continues to grow, especially as we’re now moving toward fully digital content chains.
More threats also mean more defense mechanisms, like preventive tracking and monitoring and use of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). We’ll come back to the threats and solutions later this year but meanwhile, we leave the final say for now to Renaud Presty, our new Director of Security:
With the increasing content redistribution threat, with new forms of video piracy via live streaming, peer-to-peer video delivery, credentials sharing and Kodi applications, for example, on set-top boxes, smart TVs, or other access devices, traditional content protection measures need to be revisited, with premium content online enforcement programs and new forms of security services programs.
Writing about Brexit is very difficult as it it’s fair to say that the situation is somewhat fluid (as we write this, the Brexit deal negotiated by Teresa May has been roundly defeated by parliamentary vote). But, at this stage, the UK is set to leave on Friday, 29th March. It’s top of the agenda in the UK and is making waves in other parts of Europe and the world too.
So where does the broadcast industry fit within Brexit plans? Adam Minns, COBA’s Executive Director, explains via his latest address to MPs:
International broadcasters have faced huge uncertainty ever since the Referendum in 2016. The UK is Europe’s leading international broadcasting hub for good reason, and no broadcaster wants to restructure their operations. Some broadcasters have been forced to so do already, but many have waited until now before taking this immensely complex and difficult decision. The costs and uncertainty of a hurried relocation will be felt by businesses, their employees and the supply chain. COBA urges MPs to consider the importance of avoiding a cliff edge, whatever ultimate scenario they favour.
Meanwhile, you can have a look at this study from O&O that discusses how the UK could become leading international hub by 2025.
Having said that, we have offices in the UK and outside the UK.
It’s maybe early to mention it but our VP operations in Asia and the UK have a word to say on the subject:
“The trend to move away from on-premise Data Centers will accelerate with remote hosting locations and the cloud taking over. This is greener as we’ll as we see more and more use of renewable energy to power hosting sites.
Shakunt Malhotra, VP Operations in Asia”
“With the advent of the cloud and AI, companies are able to re-imagine the way they work from the ground up. As we start to outsource key activities to the cloud, we have the opportunity to use some key staff differently as they will no longer be preoccupied with the day-to-day configuration of technical platforms on-premise – this will be taken care of as SAS in the cloud. This will allow us to re-deploy Engineer/Imagineers, with the ability to rethink the way we currently work and, beyond that, review other work methodologies.
Jonathan Morley, VP of Engineering”
Is that it? Yes, and no! We also identified hybridization, collaboration, orchestration, and customer experience as trends that will grow during the coming months and years. Not that they’re all new, but they’re all more and more important as the industry keeps changing. See you in 2020!