When MediaKind asked me to write down my regional industry predictions for next year, it was tough not to focus exclusively on the impact of Covid-19 as it has been the underlying theme that has impacted every industry in 2020. Hopefully, I have not done so here! But although the pandemic has brought enormous challenges for broadcast, media, and entertainment, we should see constraints as a good thing for innovation and creativity. And we will see the benefits of this innovation and creativity in 2021!
1) Sports and Esports – the rise of remote production will show no sign of stopping
We’ve already started to see the benefits of remote production in 2020, enforced – in part – by the Covid-19 pandemic. Content owners and rights-holders in EMEA will need to decentralize their workflows. Next year we will see the rise of ‘anywhere operations’ capabilities because workers will continue to work remotely. Even in the medium and longer-term, we simply will not have the same numbers on-site in a stadium environment – certainly not at the 2019 levels. This remote working world will impact the content supply chain and the way that it is automated.
2) Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) services will impact multiple verticals
The rise of D2C was already apparent in 2019, but the impact of empty arenas and stadiums this year has changed the outlook for content owners worldwide. But I think our industry often forgets that the effect extends beyond arenas and stadiums – it’s conference centers, classrooms, theaters, and cinemas too. Any content owner working in sports, the events industry, education, or the arts, must now react and find direct methods to reach their customers. The traditional way of doing business has irrevocably shifted to digital, with an audience that is now remote. Content owners must find new ways to interact with them.
What does this mean for 2021? Brands need to recognize their links and ties with their customer or subscriber has changed forever. Going D2C represents an opportunity – it means maintaining connections with the customer and giving them access to an extensive catalog of interactive, highly compelling content, which can help compensate for the reduced number of live, physical events. The importance of archived content was critical during the height of the spring lockdown this year – it kept sports fans engaged during a very dull period. Now, whether it’s a ballet, a football match, a lecture, or a conference events program, archived content will be vital to entertaining fans.
But this requires innovation. Rights-holders will need to find new ways to interact with their fans digitally. People want to see each other, whether talking through a sports game or learning from one another in a classroom. And that’s why I think AR/VR will start to take off for mass audiences. We will start to see these technologies become more mainstream to compensate for the loss of interactivity from the physical world to the digital world. Next year will be about the gamification and socialization of an audience – and AR and VR will help build that momentum.
3) The cloud will drive streaming
As streaming becomes universal, cloud adoption will not be an option next year. It will be a requirement – if it wasn’t already! That’s the case for any operator, content owner, or service provider so that they can scale and reach their diverse and multi-platform audiences. The cloudification process will play an enormous role in addressing several key challenges, including delivering high-quality viewing experiences, reducing time to market requirements, and enhancing operational efficiencies.
In the final part of our series, my colleague Steve Payne, SVP and Regional Head, Americas, will be dusting down his crystal ball to see what the future might look like for his region over the coming 12 months!