Next-generation TV: Making anytime, anywhere content a reality

January 18, 2018

By Itai Tomer

The television experience has evolved tremendously over the past hundred years. What was once a singularly linear broadcast offering, fixed at the heart of the living room, has turned into a highly fragmented, multi-platform and mobile experience. Yet over this period, younger generations have continually helped to set the trends that have been later adopted by their parents’ generation. With each new generation of TV viewer comes more emotional, social and explorative methods with which to watch content, in increasingly immersive and personalized ways.

Younger on-demand, versus older linear

A recent catalyst for this split has been the internet era, and the emergence of a new generation of TV viewer that has grown up with almost ubiquitous access to on-demand content, music, and increasingly, video. As highlighted by this year’s Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media report, today’s 16 to 19 year olds spend over half (54%) of their time watching on-demand content compared to their grandparents generation of over 60’s who spend almost 80% of their time viewing live and scheduled linear TV.

The younger age group is also accelerating further towards on-demand with share of viewing expected to reach over 25 hours per week by 2020 – a 180 percent increase since 2010. When we look at viewers exclusively between the ages of 16 and 34, the big drivers for on-demand content viewing are movies and TV series – with user generated content and e-sports a close second.

Mobile momentum

Increased mobility, a proliferation of devices in broadband providers and the growing presence of cloud technologies is helping to accelerate innovations and generating unprecedented speed across the media ecosystem. Today, almost three-quarters (70%) of consumers now watch videos on their smart phone – double the amount from 2012. In terms of content consumption, we can see that there is a growing preference for more streamlined consumer experiences that deliver services and content across multiple platforms.

The increase of multiple on-demand viewing devices including laptops, smartphones and tablets is forcing operators to think in a more agile way. Indeed, cloud technologies are now enabling greater efficiencies with which to adapt services towards meeting these rapidly evolving consumer demands, and to support more time-shifted, on-demand, mobile-centric content. For broadcasters and service providers the challenge is now how to get as much content from the linear, scheduled driven world onto these newer platforms while building a sustainable business model.

Cloud driven approach

There are several challenges for operators to consider for making on-demand a seamless experience for younger consumers. The first is getting content prepared quickly for on-demand across a wider range of media formats, encoding schemas, digital rights management (DRM) frameworks and – in some cases – the need to insert or pre-roll targeted advertisement. The need for speed and efficiency is paramount for scheduled programing, but this requirement is even greater need for speed when it comes to getting live content such as talent shows, sports or news alerts from live broadcast and into on-demand platforms.

In this area, a growing number of operators are turning to cloud-based video processing platforms that can support in both the technical aspect of media conversion but also have the ability to quickly scale-up to meet demand without having to build expensive methods of capacity. Having an end-to-end cloud solution also has significant efficiency benefits as content is involved in less time consuming steps between different processes from ingest to delivery to on-demand hosting platforms and streaming services.

Through our MediaFirst Video Processing solution, we are providing a software-defined, media optimized cloud-based platform responds to the need for compelling premium service. The solution enables service providers, broadcasters and content owners to evolve their infrastructure and deliver a straightforward and consistent user experience across multiple devices and resolutions, using the best media processing for every application. Through its on-demand encoding capabilities, we are able to provide high performance file based transcoding, specifically tuned for services such as VOD content and catch-up TV.

Personalized content and ads

Business models need to change to fit the TV everywhere demand. Millennial and post-millennial audiences are spending a lot more time on social platforms including e-commerce purchases; TV service providers have a unique opportunity to work with subscriber and viewing data to help create a more immersive TV experience and also to increase the relevancy of advertising content.

In a world where on-demand content rules, this means offering not only a full set of features such as Cloud-DVR, on-demand, catch-up and Time Shift TV – but also tailoring the advertising to a specific audience profile to give the best experience. Again, scalable cloud based technologies are leading the way by offering an easier way of unifying and scaling the multiple servers and applications required for storage, video streaming, over-the-top video streaming, transcoding, and many more process steps.

Our cloud-native Video Storage & Processing Platform (VSPP), offers a modular architecture that helps to address the complexity, cost and time-consuming process of delivering these next generation TV experiences. 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. With these capabilities, the Ericsson VSPP solution responds to the need for broadcasters and operators to optimize their storage options and increase multi-screen performance for the benefit of consumers.

Ready for change

The past history of younger generations embracing transformative new technologies is only going to accelerate further. For broadcasters, this will likely see the rise of new virtual reality and augmented reality media experiences that may test the boundaries of traditional broadcast technologies. According to Ericsson’s ConsumerLab TV and Media Report, by 2020 a third of consumers will be virtual reality users, and it’s estimated that half of all TV and video viewing will be done on mobile devices. As such, the move to more agile cloud based platforms will be vital in order to lay the foundations to adapt to the next wave of change in our industry for generations to come.