By Gowton Achaibar, COO & Head of R&D
As 2017 comes to an end, the continued transformation of the TV and media industry is taking shape – and the consumer is at the heart of this new era. Their expectations and demands for wider choice, higher quality and more personalized content are driving change, forcing broadcasters, content owners and TV services providers to enhance the overall viewing experience to ensure future differentiation and competiveness.
Consumers have access to more video enabled devices and services than ever before. The 2017 Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media Report showed the time consumers spent watching video has reached an all time high of 30 hours a week, across scheduled linear TV, live and on-demand and internet services, downloaded and recorded content.
Addressing the content discovery challenge
Despite this enormous growth in video, the challenge of content discovery has markedly increased; the average time spent searching for content has swelled to almost one hour per day. To overcome this sticking point, there is a need for service providers to offer more accurate, relevant and engaging recommendations.
MediaFirst TV Platform, our software-defined, media-optimized cloud-based TV platform, tackles the need for TV Everywhere content, by delivering premium, pertinent content to connected devices. At the heart of the solution is an emphasis on learning more about the consumer, their viewing needs and enabling integration with social networks and Pay-TV, so as to enhance content discovery and provide a more personalized viewing experience.
The importance of the immersive experience
Increasingly, consumers are expecting more opportunities to immerse themselves in the premium quality services they love. The provision of higher levels of picture quality and differentiated experiences are now table stakes for the TV Everywhere generation.
For instance, through our ConsumerLab TV and Media research, we can already see demand for great quality of experiences through the uptake in 4K/UHDTVs, which are already present in close to a quarter of households worldwide. VR technologies are growing too; our research suggests a third of consumers will own a VR headset by 2020.
Yet, to realize this demand, service providers need to provide greater flexibility, superior low latency and the ability to repurpose processing functions cost-effectively. Streamed live content delivery, for instance, requires every viewer to be able to see the same content simultaneously and this requires consistent and coordinated social interactions across every screen and device.
TV Everywhere – but where can we store it?
The growth of OTT, TV Everywhere viewing has left the industry with the challenge of managing large storage and transmission costs, while ensuring efficient content delivery to a myriad of devise in the right resolution and format. Advanced data analytics must be adopted too, in order to withstand the vast array of personal content selections and preferences. As on-demand network traffic continues to increase, service providers and broadcasters must find new methods with which to optimize their storage solutions in order to enhance the performance of their multi-screen delivery and ensure consumers have access to their content.
Our Video Storage and Processing Platform (VSPP) solution offers a next generation, modular architecture that helps to address the complexity, cost and time-consuming process of delivering these future TV experiences. As a cloud-native video-optimized storage and processing platform, this multi-network, multi-device, multi-server solution enables scalable ingest and storage of video content from small origin servers for VOD through to huge distributed private copy cloud DVR systems, combined with media processing capabilities such as content packaging and encryption.
The move to all-IP: A new standard way of thinking?
The growth of all-IP and agile cloud solutions are playing an essential role in the evolution of TV and media. This year it has been encouraging to see increased industry collaboration towards new standards, to ensure a more unified approach to achieving interoperability. The establishment of common standards will allow the industry to build flexible systems that can scale up and down more easily and respond to the evolving demands of this market.
In 2017 we saw the publication of the SMPTE ST 2110 Standard for Professional Media over IP. This new suite of standards specifies the carriage, synchronization and description of the spate of elementary essence streams over IP for the purpose of live production, content contribution and primary distribution. In the coming year, we will see further development towards all-IP, which will drive greater operational efficiencies and cost savings.
Another important factor towards realizing the next generation of TV viewing will be to continue the drive towards more software flexible architectures, from content contribution and playout through to delivery to the consumer. Earlier this year we launched MediaFirst Content Processing, which was designed to address the high bitrate and uncompromising quality needed for contribution networks, enabling media players to lower costs and deliver flexible carriage of high date-rate content. Crucially, at a time when the transition from legacy equipment to IP raises a number of challenges, our solution is agile enough to operate in all environments, either through hardware, virtualized or hybrid approaches.
Moving into the 2018
As the industry moves closer towards realizing the transformation of TV and media, we are dedicated to bringing together the power of software and the cloud to provide true innovation that the entire industry can use to enhance the viewing experience.
Moving into 2018, the industry must overhaul their existing infrastructures to support the delivery of these new services and platforms and take advantage of the new monetization opportunities on offer – and ultimately respond to the consumer driven era of media.