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IBC 2014 Preview: The Storm Before the Hurricane?

by User Not Found | Sep 10, 2014

The television industry is in the middle of the greatest period of change in its history. It has been long predicted. My dusty old client presentations from the late 90s predicted the convergence of broadband and broadcasting: 15 years later that convergence is being felt in every segment of the value chain. This weekend at IBC we will hear how key industry players think  television will emerge from this period of disruption and what they are planning to do about it.

Several themes encapsulate the challenges which lie ahead:

Cloud: no longer just a reassuring/confusing buzzword to throw into management presentations, cloud-based television services are now the talk of the town and represent the future of television delivery for incumbents and new players alike, if tech vendors are to be believed.

Multiscreen: What is “a TV”? As our recent groundbreaking consumer analysis has shown, viewers from many, but not all, market segments are now engaging with television content in multiple ways on multiple devices, including viewing the content on any video-capable display and communicating with and around that same content. Content owners and providers cannot afford to think of a “first” or “second” screens: all are equal in a well-crafted strategy.

Social TV: Television always was social, but technologies continue to drive the concept to new levels. Some viewer segments (primarily moderate, manic and indifferent multiscreeners) are heavily engaged with TV content using social media and before long technology will enable them to click straight from one TV show to another on the recommendation of a social communication. Emerging players like Netflix recognise this, while even advanced legacy players like Sky are struggling to embrace it. They can’t afford to do so for much longer. One question: when we see the first successful rollout of a true transmedia TV experience?

Advertising: The missing link for so long in advanced television experiences. Some day this will all come together and television advertising will be revolutionised. Programmatic buying is likely to be part of the mix, as we reported recently. A seamless multiscreen advertising experience will surely emerge sooner or later: if incumbents continue to resist it then an OTT player will step in to create a new multi-billion dollar opportunity.

Wireless: Television started out as a wireless industry but was overtaken, to a large extent, by wires (cable, copper) and satellite (still wireless). Now that airwaves in many parts of the developed world are being perceived (by some) as less useful for broadcasting those pesky cellular communications people are muscling in on its space as they begin to look more and more like video distributors (mobile video service providers?).  And ironically, they want to use them to start broadcasting again, this time using LTE Broadcast (eMBMS). Our recent report on eMBMS cast doubt on the technology’s impact but this is a topic which will dominate debate for some years to come and whose outcome could have wide strategic ramifications.

Ultra HD: Do people really want better-than-HD TV? Yes, according to our research. And now they are buying UHD-ready TVs the broadcast industry is starting to believe, even some, probably many, will baulk at the cost. OTT, of course, is already doing it. We’re expecting to hear more confirmations, if only unofficial, of 2015 launches for broadcast UHD services.

Exciting times, no doubt about it. The storm is raging, and it’s difficult to see how it will be replaced by calm rather than becoming even more turbulent in the years ahead. Our IBC schedules are packed as usual and I’m looking forward to hearing perspectives and insights from all our industry colleagues.

David Mercer

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