Nick Thexton, CTO, Synamedia, has offered his industry thoughts and predictions for 2021.
Thexton believes that consumers’ loyalty to content will play a big part in driving demand for business insights. He comments: As consumers we are loyal to content, not platforms. If you’re a Game of Thrones addict the chances are you will follow the content to whatever platform has secured the rights. For platform operators, knowing which shows are worth the investment and which aren’t is vital – helping to keep subscribers loyal while protecting and growing revenues. In 2021 we will see operators shift away from maintaining massive data lakes and performing basic analytics and focus instead on deriving insights about rights utilisation to inform business decisions and ensure they are monetising their investments effectively.”
Further predictions include:
Fighting subscription fatigue
It’s impossible to ignore the impact of Covid-19 on the market. OTT subscriber numbers that previously took years to achieve have been reached in months. But as we return to a new kind of normal there will be a real challenge to keep those subscribers, particularly because they will have consumed content at a higher rate than that modelled by the OTT vendors. Add to this a slowdown in content creation and there will be a significant push to keep those new subscribers. As a result, in 2021 we expect to see operators launching flexible pricing structures and new business models as they look to establish differentiators for their services.
A collaborative approach to streaming piracy
Media rights face further downward pressure in 2021 and this will be most visible with sports rights where it is easy to quantify like-for-like values across years. Content rights owner will need to fight back to combat this decline. Commercial teams and revenue protection teams will need to collaborate more than ever so they can better understand the efficacy and measurability of their anti-piracy actions and plan strategic investments in targeted anti-piracy efforts that achieve the maximum ROI.
The emergence of 5G TV and video bundles
In 2021, 5G operators will increase the focus on adding TV and video bundles as part of their mobile offerings. However, they will only launch 5G services once the consumer experience is seamless across all media distribution channels and a common back-office infrastructure is in place. TV content over 5G will become a differentiator with a choice of bundled live, on-demand and premium channels. This will further position mobile operators as the household’s primary service provider. We will also see mobile operators inking new partnerships with the OTT players to offer consumers more video entertainment options.
Reinventing the big screen
Most viewers still prefer to watch TV on a big screen in the living room. In 2021, we will start to see switched on service providers simplifying their UI designs to improve the user experience and offer a more engaging, ‘less is more’ experience. We will also see the main screen evolve to meet the needs of the next generation of TV viewers, becoming both an ambient accompaniment to our daily lives while cementing its position as the first choice for highly immersive viewing.
Addressable advertising takes off
2020 saw a challenging advertising market and surfaced the need for new, more robust advertising capabilities. Collaboration will be key to unlocking new advertising revenues and we believe that in 2021 we will see the first examples of localised advertisers, broadcasters and service providers starting to work together to prove the value of the addressable model.
Streaming service providers eye up the chance to be broadcasters
For years we have seen how pay-TV providers look enviously at streaming services and work hard to emulate their offerings. Now the tables are starting to turn. As subscriber growth slows, streaming services are looking enviously at the power of linear TV. While Amazon Prime has experimented with live sports and some French audiences have had access to a pilot curated channel, Netflix Direct, we expect to see other streaming providers following their lead over the next few years.
Zeroing in on caches
We will see more intelligence added to caches so they can handle video processing at the edge, as well as caching and storage. Moving just-in-time packaging to the cache rather than the origin server makes it possible to support unique copy playback with a cloud DVR service – essential for the US market. We may also see more content providers following Netflix’s lead and introducing dedicated cache servers into service providers’ networks to ensure a fantastic viewing experience for their content as part of an aggregated model. As live content streaming grows in popularity this approach may well become standard, alongside the use of multicast ABR and other technologies for the smooth delivery of multiple low latency streams as part of service providers’ managed services.
Cloud for the rest of us
The era of wholesale moves to the cloud will now be complemented by ‘cloud adoption for the rest of us’. Instead of throwing away existing platform infrastructure, operators start incremental cloud service adoption which really helps them overcome the core challenges of managing brown-field infrastructure. This approach will allow any genre of service provider to deliver broadcast-quality services while maintaining total control of complex, hybrid workflows, managing costs and benefiting from the insurance policy of cloud-based disaster recovery.