Sushil Khanna, Global Chief Operating Officer, Media Guru
2018 will see broadcasters streamline their content, technology, and operations for a new segment of customers who consume content on-demand. Driven by the changing content consumption, we foresee media organizations looking at several features.
Dawn of the OTT Era
Industry reports reveal that an average Indian consumes 8.5 hours of video content every month on Facebook and YouTube, which accounts for 47 percent and 42 percent of market share. Add the popularity of Over the Top (OTT) platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Jio TV, and VOOT to that, and you would realize that the way Indians consume digital content has changed over the years.
In India, the popularity can be attributed to access to faster and cheaper Internet, affordable smartphones, and the wide range of content on offer. With over 460 million Internet users, India is the second largest online market whose smartphone penetration rate is expected to reach more than 28 percent by 2018. While some broadcasters have already launched their platform like Ozee, others will pick this trend in 2018 and look at launching their platforms. Some may also look to optimize and produce their content on commercially successful OTT operators. Broadcasters will be seen investing in tools and technology to prepare their content and distribute it to CDNs.
Solving the Content Conundrum
OTT has changed the way content is created and consumed. As viewers consume content anytime, anywhere, and on any device, the demand for short-form, high-quality snackable content has been on the rise. Citizen journalism is gaining momentum, with viewers recording events and posting live on social media for the global audience. Original, consistent, and addictive content is on demand. With players like Apple planning to invest over USD1 billion in original content and Facebook spending a chunk of its marketing budget on content, fresh content production depending on current affairs, mood, and preference of the viewers is on the rise.
However, creating fresh consumable content is only one side of the story. To retain subscribers and provide a shared experience across devices, OTT providers also need to recreate the legacy content with proper archiving, metadata and tagging, and digitization. For this, broadcasters will need to dig into their archives to sort, organize, digitize, restore, and optimize legacy content to enable easy search, access, and distribution of content across channels.
Newer digital broadcast avenues like OTT are creating pressure on traditional broadcasters to lower their Broadcast Operations and Engineering (BO&E) budgets. A survey by Devoncroft reveals that more than 40 percent M&E vendors have products that operate in a virtualized environment. While it is debatable if virtualization refers to only IT infrastructure or the entire content supply chain, the fact is – new, small, and medium-sized broadcasters are gradually migrating their infrastructure to cloud-based solutions. Moving to IP comes with the benefits of using a standardized connectivity and infrastructure to transport videos from locations to the central facilities and on to distribution.
Enhanced User Experience with 4K, HD Formats
A 2016-report by Chrome Data Analytics and Media reveals that 8.34 million households in India have HD televisions, of which 89 percent have DTH HD connection and 11 percent have digital cable HD connection. However, only 9 percent or 91 channels out of 857 permitted private satellite television stations and more than 190 government channels in India are high definition (HD). With the market share of OLEDs, 3D and 4K television increasing every day, viewers often forget to ask – does India have enough 4K and 3D channels? Wikipedia lists only five 4K channels and one 3D channel. To address the change in viewership, media organizations will continue to upgrade their technical infrastructure to broadcast in HD or beyond (4K). With 2019 general elections in sight, it is expected that news broadcasters will upgrade their technology, investing in workflows and solutions for presentation and analysis of election results in HD.
To summarize, 2018 and 2019 will be the year of digital transformation and adoption of technology focusing at improving the viewer experience.