While the entire planet is taking action to slow the impact of COVID-19, media technology is playing a major role in disseminating information and knowledge. In fact, media has become more critical than ever; whether it’s breaking news, informing populations or bringing much needed distractions and entertainment into our homes, our entire industry has a role to play in helping people to connect with one another. By acquiring and dynamically delivering high quality content to millions of people, our industry is bringing the power of media to communities, inspiring, influencing and helping them to discover, interact and experience the world from home.
COVID-19: New viewing habits triggered by stay-at-home strategies
This dramatic shift in our daily lifestyles has had a seismic impact on our recent viewing patterns – with already popular OTT based services becoming substantially more so. IBC 365 has reported that Nielsen predictions suggest streaming will rise by 60% over the coming weeks because of COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders and physical distancing, with three quarters of consumers adding new streaming subscriptions and TV connected devices. Nielsen has also compiled statistics from both South Korea and Italy, based on viewing activity in the second week of February to the fourth week (aligning with the surge in the viral outbreak), which show:
- TV viewing increased 17% in South Korea – a jump of around 1.2 million viewers (2019 saw a rise of just 1% in the same time frame)
- TV viewing increased 6.5% in Italy, with a rise of almost 12% more in the Lombardy region – the hardest affected region of the country.
Preliminary findings from Alfonso Marone, Head of Media Strategic Advisory at KPMG, also suggest that “where self-isolation policies are at their peak in Europe, the spike in internet traffic has reached as high as 70%, which is indicative of what the traffic surge could like in other regions in just two to three weeks’ time.”
Immediate challenges for the pay-TV industry
Conversely, the surge in demand for new streaming services could see paid TV advertising revenues decline by 15%, with industry recovery only starting 18-24 months’ time, according to Omdia. For content owners and content producers, there are pressing challenges too. According to MIDiA analysis, “although audiences will increase time spent with media at home, the disruption to the production component of the supply chain will have mid-term implications for media consumption. Companies with the largest portfolios of content and also stores of yet-to-be-released content will fare best.”
There is understandable delay in longer term transition projects within the broadcast industry, for example ATSC 3.0 deployment, where operators have suspended non-essential tasks to refocus on core delivery. These major projects are not going away but have understandably slowed down and more organizations are likely to shift towards pure-software and cloud centered technology – a pre-COVID 19 trend that is likely to accelerate.
How MediaKind is responding to COVID-19
This new ‘stay-at-home’ culture means we need to find new ways of working with our customers so that we can help them to continue delivering the media experiences their audiences want in a more reliable and affordable way. Our services delivery offering covers an extensive catalog of services that can adapt to operator needs, spanning pure integration services around our product portfolio, to complex ecosystem integrations where multiple components are present. At this time where demand for services and capacity is drastically outstripping the increase in provision, our Aquila Streaming solution is helping to enable efficient, broadcast-quality media delivery across all networks, offering 10% year-on-year gain in video quality with end-to-end low latency.
At a practical level, we are working closely with our media customers to help them meet short-terms business constraints. For instance, we are providing over-provisioning on platforms such as our Video Storage and Processing Platform to enable operators to meet recent demands for features such as catch-up and Cloud DVR services. We are working with other customers to rapidly deploy broadcast services using local resources to increase the access to public education services, enabling education to continue and saving precious streaming bandwidth.
We are also working with content owners to provide specific solutions for content distribution, such as pop-up VOD services. By virtualizing the management of such an experience, we are providing the tools with which to manage resources with greater agility, enabling users to scale up or down a lineup of services in a matter of seconds and faster than any conventional hardware-based approach.
Through the MediaKind Universe Alliance, we are continuing to encourage collaboration amongst our ever-expanding ecosystem of strategic partners, which already includes the likes of Tiledmedia, Evergent, Telestream, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Together, we are working tirelessly to enable new joint solutions and innovations that can advance video delivery and user experiences.
Stay home & keep the lights on – necessity is knocking
Our response to the current COVID-19 crisis has been to focus on protecting our staff, our partners, and our customers, both from a health and a business continuity perspective. At present, over 95% of our staff are working remotely worldwide and are successfully maintaining the same standard of uninterrupted service to each of our customers and their ongoing operations.
We have taken a number of measures to work with our manufacturing partners to ensure our supply chain continues to deliver and maintain critical support requirements. We are tirelessly committed to the greater global good and continuously better media and as such, we are in constant dialogue to ensure that we are tracking short term and wider industry needs.
This may be anything but a time of business at normal, but this is a time of purpose. And while we all doing our best to keep things moving from home, let’s not forget that home has been the birthplace of some pretty incredible things.
So, stay at home and keep the lights on, Innovators! Necessity is knocking.