Published July 31st, 2017
Consumers who have dropped their cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of over-the-top access to their content can use an antenna to get their local over-the-air content for free. But that’s not enough in today’s environment. For those broadcasters who want to follow the consumer to OTT, the technology is easily available, but the business models are still evolving.
“It appears that the industry is trying to bring local broadcasts to the internet, given the change to viewing habits of today’s TV content consumer,” said Jim DeFilippis, CEO of TMS Consulting, Inc., in Los Angeles.
However, some content may still need to be tailored for the right audience. “For mobile viewing, shorter content—such as news clips—is more acceptable to the mobile viewer,” he added.
While the traditional model of “if you build it they will come” may still hold true, viewers are heading towards OTT even if there is still building to be done.
“A lot of viewers are moving to OTT and they’re not waiting for content providers to go there,” said Louis Gump CEO of NewsOn, an Atlanta-based company that provides local newscasts on OTT and mobile platforms. “The question is, are you there in a way that’s relevant to those viewers. And if you are, then you either retain and grow your user base and if you aren’t then it isn’t going to be quite as relevant to those viewers. We see it as strategically essential for a large portion of the media companies that produce long-form video, to be there, and maybe for all.”
Disney Media Networks recently announced that it had signed on more than 160 stations for its landmark “Clearinghouse” initiative that could jumpstart digital distribution options for its affiliates. This will mean that ABC-owned stations—which are part of the Disney/ABC Television Group—could soon offer live programming via the ABC app, MVPDs and OTT access points to 90 percent of U.S. TV households.
“Disney/ABC has been delivering stable live local/national programming streams almost identical to OTA and MVPD feeds—to desktop, mobile and connected TVs for the last several years,” said John Rouse, executive vice president, affiliate relations at ABC in Los Angeles. “We are also in the process of transitioning our linear broadcast operation to IP so our team is both broadcast-centric and fully versed in IP, which gives us the ability to really re-think and re-invent a consumer experience that is stable for OTT platforms. We want local programming to be available to as many people in as many ways as possible.”
Across the board the industry is adapting to these changing viewing habits, and addressing the continued move by many to OTT platforms.
Richard Brandon, CMO of Edgeware, says the U.K.-based company’s customers include traditional broadcast and cable operators, as well telcos who “operate like traditional broadcasters.”
With so many different players there has been fragmentation in the delivery of content, Brandon added. As a result people are opting to pay for smaller bundles where possible and even ditching what were traditional delivery methods entirely.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK (AND ANYWHERE ELSE)
With Hulu’s recent launch of its $40 per month live TV service, it appears that the biggest change with OTT this year—the ability to handle that live content—has been overcome. This allows streaming companies to begin to operate more like the telcos and even the cable providers—not to mention the broadcasters.
“Many OTT operators in general either have started or are planning to start live streaming channels in the near future,” said Alex Holtz, director of market development for news and content delivery at Grass Valley. “Basically it is going to be a very competitive managed service that is similar to the cable and ITV businesses.”
Just as cable struck deals for the carriage of local content, so too could OTT offer that content.
“It is a natural transition,” added Holtz. “And it will in turn change the content, notably with the 24/7 news cycle. Breaking news is going to Twitter Periscope, Facebook Live and even YouTube. There is already a tremendous outreach to ‘cord cutters’ and ‘cord nevers.’ And over time you’ll see local carriage going to pure-play OTT providers.”
To accommodate local audiences, U.S. broadcasters may need to work with MVPDs and virtual MVPDs to provide an OTT-ready version of the live, linear feeds; and the MPVDs can package these channels into their OTT offerings.
“U.S. local broadcasters want and have to provide their linear channels over-the-top so that they can reach mobile viewers, but there are two main difficulties,” said Jean Macher, director of market development at Harmonic in San Jose, Calif. “From a technology standpoint, local broadcasters are too small to tackle the complexity of setting up an OTT service. From a content standpoint, local broadcasters can stream the content they produce but for content that is aired and not owned—i.e., network programming, syndication, even some ads—the rights to the content are often for over-the-air only. Thus, they cannot take their existing 24/7 linear channel and make it available over-the-top.”
Already many local broadcasters are connecting with their respective audiences in other ways, and this includes streaming live to websites and mobile apps.
“For the consumer they get alerts on their devices and that takes them to a mobile player,” said Holtz. “You click on a news story and go straight to the stream.”
OTT has advantages for content providers to reach an audience even as fragmentation continues, but exactly what it means for traditional revenue streams is still being determined.
“We are seeing behavioral changes and how OTT can accommodate it,” said Ian Young, product manager at Snell Advanced Media. “What is important to note is that when a broadcaster gets into OTT, revenue may not be the primary motivator… there are new costs involved.”
These costs can include the need for IT staff, as well as different architecture and equipment. “It is sort of an inefficient way to do this as it requires different equipment, so as a company we recognize this and want to empower operational staff to keep the usual broadcast efficiency,” Young said.
At the same time, revenue streams from advertising could prove to be more effective as ad content can be more tailored to the audience.
Referring to the earlier days of streaming. “even when content was sent over the internet everyone got the same ad,” said Edgeware’s Brandon. “But now streams can be unique, and this means ads can be much more targeted to the individual. However, it takes a number of factors to get it to line up and it is more complicated than it looks at first sight.”
Metadata is an important part of the equation. “OTT provides better monetization of content through improved targeting driven by better utilization of customer metadata,” said Yuval Fisher of Imagine Communications in Dallas. “This is part of the sophisticated targeting of content that happens online, and it is now starting to happen in targeted forms of broadcast video.”
This could also provide a needed opportunity for broadcasters to get back revenue that they had been losing to online platforms, but it will require culling data from various sources.
“Today your local food chain [grocery store] may know more about you than the broadcasters,” added Brandon. “Broadcasters need to understand their audience so that they can better target the ads that streaming can provide.”
As this evolves, OTT could become another entry point for viewers to access a robust national as well a local programming experience.
“The platform we are building for delivery to OTT platforms has a great deal more functionality, including the ability to replace content in real time, dynamically insert ads, and add markers and triggers for things like cloud DVR or instant VOD,” said ABC’s Rouse.
Source: TV Technology
According to new research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), binge viewing — that is, viewing more than one episode of a TV series back to back — is rapidly becoming universal, with nearly nine-in-ten ABUs binging at least occasionally. But the frequency of binge viewing skews strongly in favor of younger adults.TDG's new analysis, Binge Viewing - A Consumer Snapshot, identifies and profiles three groups of adult broadband users in terms of their binge viewing habits.
Heavy Bingers (binge daily, comprise 14 percent of ABUs),
Medium Bingers (binge monthly but not daily, comprise 51 percent of ABUs), and
Light/Non-Bingers (21 percent of ABUs that binge less than once a month, 14 percent that do not binge at all).
Importantly, TDG analysts found that the frequency of binging is strongly correlated with the viewer's age. For example, 58 percent of Heavy Bingers are between the ages of 18 and 34, while 56 percent of Light/Non-Bingers are age 45 and older."The fact that 31 percent of Heavy Bingers are between the ages of 18 and 34 further illustrates just how different millennial viewing habits are from those of older generations," notes Michael Greeson, President and Principal Analyst at TDG. "For more than a decade, TDG has predicted and observed a structural transformation in what it means to 'watch TV,' with viewing behavior slowly changing from an activity defined by flipping between different live shows on different networks, to one characterized by on-demand binging of individual series."As these consumers age and younger generations steeped in quantum habits follow behind them, Greeson argues that this behavior will only become more prominent, further impacting programming and distribution strategies.View TDG's latest analysis of contemporary viewing behavior, Binge Viewing - A Consumer Snapshot for an insight into the different segments of binge viewers — who they are, how they behave, and what drives their decisions and preferences.
Source: TDG Research
Jan 13, 2020
By: Matthijs Langendijk, Lead Smart TV Developer, 24i.
The beginning of each year is always a joy, as we get to see the latest developments in the world of television. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), many companies showcase their latest and greatest. It is also an opportune moment to look at the year ahead — which televisions we can expect, what technologies are pushing the boundaries and if anything is clearly standing high above the others. In the blog we take a look at the TV announcements and demonstrations we’ve seen during CES 2020.
This time last year, we saw the first 8K televisions getting announced by LG, Samsung and others. Well, they are back with more. But before we dive into them, maybe it’s good to evaluate what 8K televisions actually can offer.
The amount of 8K content is still virtually non-existent. So that’s not what you should be getting it for. SmartTV apps are generally also still running in Full HD, so what is the benefit there? In terms of pricing it also definitely isn’t mainstream yet. With 4K televisions starting around the €1000 mark, don’t expect 8K televisions to be cheap, yet.
Maybe it is still a bit too soon for 8K. But that doesn’t mean the progress on 8K television isn’t good. 4K started out the very same way, with there being virtually no content for it. The 8K association did announce a certification program at the end of last year, which will hopefully accelerate the adoption of the technology. Manufacturers are also definitely on board, so let’s take a look at their TVs.
You could say that LG and Samsung have been in a bit of a battle when it comes to 8K. With LG claiming to offer a ‘Real 8K’ experience, they are definitely betting big on 8K televisions. They announced a whopping 8 models featuring an 8K screen. Two of them are OLED screens, coming at 77 and 88 inch. Next to this, there are 6 LCD models sporting LG’s NanoCell technology. That’s a lot of 8K. But are they more than just a screen with a high resolution?
Well, yes and no. The televisions are supporting most of the codecs you would expect; AVC1, HEVC and VP9, and you can also expect the relevant HDR technologies you’ve seen before. But that doesn’t make it interesting. What does however make it interesting, is their insanely thin television. As demonstrated in the image above, it is basically just a frame (ring any bells?) you put on a wall. If they manage to put all this technology into such a small television, I would be very much impressed.
Samsung obviously can not stay behind in this warfare. And they definitely don’t, with their demonstration of the 8K QLED Q950-series. It is to most extent a pretty ‘normal’ 8K television. Supporting the AVC1 codec for 8K video, a custom SOC called ‘AI Quantum 8K’, so it basically hits the marks you would expect.
There is however a really interesting feature that makes it stand out: there are almost no bezels. The screen to bezel ratio is a whopping 99%, where you typically see a ratio of 94%. So you get more screen for the TV that you have, which is definitely standing out among the 8K televisions announced.
LG and Samsung are obviously not the only manufacturers showing their 8K goods at CES. We’ve seen 8K televisions many of the manufacturers you know and love. Sony has joined the party with a single 8K model, that sadly still features the same processor as last years’, which is a bit disappointing. TCL demonstrated their 8K models sporting their new so-called Vidrian Mini-Led technology, which seem promising.
The odd one in the bunch, is a to me previously unknown manufacturer: Skyworth. This Chinese company, last evaluated at 19 billion dollars, has made a big effort to make their debut on the US market known. They had previously been selling budget televisions in the US already, but their name hasn’t been big. Until now, perhaps. With their announcement of various 8K and OLED televisions, it is yet another party trying to take a chunk of the television market. Which means yet another brand to get your apps on.
Nice resolutions are great and everything, but what about the technology behind them? I’ve already mentioned some of the video codecs supported to get 8K content going, like AVC1. But besides this, what more can we expect that content owners should be wary of?
I have to admit, I am a bit pleased by this fact: there is no new operating system announced! As a Smart TV developer, we already have to deal with a lot of operating systems and their variants. The operating systems we all know and love will continue as expected: Samsung still puts all bets on their own Tizen, and LG following the same with their WebOS platform.
On the other hand, we have Roku and Android TV which both are doing very well in gathering more support. Roku boasts many partners using Roku on their TV, with TCL, Hisense and others announcing multiple TVs this year. Oddly enough, the same brands also have announced televisions with AndroidTV. Philips is another manufacturer betting on two horses, having both televisions with Saphi, their own operating system, and others with AndroidTV.
At CES last year, we have seen the same thing as we have this year. A version-up with minimal changes here, another TV with AndroidTV or Roku there. Given these limited changes and additions, I don’t expect any issues for current-gen applications. Most will continue to work with minimal effort on the new televisions announced.
The new kid on the block has to be ATSC 3.0. In short: ATSC 3.0 is the latest version of a standard, describing how television signals should be broadcasted and interpreted. Dubbed as ‘NextGen TV’, the standard is a big step towards getting a clear interface for bringing 4K TV, HDR and other new technologies into your home. Many TVs announced at CES, support the standard, opening up the way for a broad adoption of the standard.
Given that many manufacturers have opted to support the standard in their new product lines, this can potentially make app-development for SmartTVs a lot easier. If the standard is properly implemented on all brands, the possibility opens to develop an application once, and deploy everywhere. Now, we’ve seen this before with HbbTV, where the application standard was ‘loosely implemented’, so time will have to tell if the application standard is going to work well. But it is definitely worth investing into, as many brands have started supporting the standard in their new line-up.
Like last years, most manufacturers showcased their new line-up sporting 4K, OLED, QLED, HDR and other technologies. Panasonic is one of them. And their new 4K OLED flagship is definitely very beautiful, which will definitely be favoured by many. Philips also announced a bunch of televisions in sizes ranging from 43 to 75 inch, catering to basically everybody, including gamers. Vizio, third highest selling manufacturer in the US, is finally adding OLED models to their line-up, making OLED yet a bit more accessible.
Last year we also saw LG showcase their upwards-rolling television. It was expected that they would launch last year already, but they sadly haven’t yet. At CES this year, they showcased more rollable televisions. And now they can also roll downwards from the ceiling. LG expects to have some of these models up for sale somewhere this year, starting around €60.000. Given their price, they are sadly not for the masses yet, but hopefully the technology will develop further over the next few years.
So LG has the rolling televisions. Well, now Samsung has rotating ones. Yes, rotating. It still boggles my mind that this is now a thing. I am not sure if there is even a use case for it, but it is definitely interesting. Samsung showcased their rotating ‘Sero’ series. More details regarding the price and release date are still uncertain, but the feature is definitely an eye-catcher.
OLED is also finally getting smaller. Previously, the smallest OLED screen was 55 inch, which for many homes was too big and too expensive. However, both LG and Sony announced 48 inch 4K OLED televisions. With the smaller size, the entry price for OLED televisions will hopefully decrease as well. This could decrease the barrier a lot for people to finally move over to OLED televisions, and might have some interesting effects on sales, as Samsung still bets on QLED.
Appwise, there is also some news from CES. Apple has announced that their streaming service AppleTV+ is coming to LG, Sony and Vizio SmartTVs in the near future. Demonstrating Apple’s growing intent to reach more users with their service, regardless of which device is used.
Yet another year where many manufacturers are betting big on 8K. I doubt we’ll see the prices drop much though, so 8K will definitely be one bridge too far for the big public. 4K however will become a lot more mainstream with the addition of cheaper 48 inch models.
ATSC 3.0 could cause a shift in application development, as many brands have opted to already support the standard in their new line-up. However, Roku and AndroidTV are still big and used by a lot of manufacturers. LG, Samsung and Philips also still put a lot of focus on their own operating systems (WebOS, Tizen, Saphi). So don’t expect to be able to develop only one app for the foreseeable future.
In short, many developments could have an impact on the world of television. We will just have to wait and see what the upcoming year has to offer, when the TVs announced make their way to market. If you would like to know more about SmartTV, ATSC 3.0, HbbTV or anything else television, feel free to reach out through email or LinkedIn. Thank you for reading!
Also published on MEDIUM
Aug 28, 2017
Apr 06, 2020
In just a few weeks, all our lives have needed to adapt to a new way of working - in the broadest sense of the word. The focus of our work has had to shift several times already and is sure to change again as the needs of our customers and their subscribers change.
We are all adapting to working at home, each having our own very individual environments and complications. From finding space for additional TVs for development and testing, to combining conference calls with home schooling, or even simply adjusting our situation after the workday ends. We need to work on staying connected with each other while practicing social distancing and, most of all, we must stay safe.
These circumstances can bring out the 'Darwinian' in all of us. Since founding 24i over 10 years ago, our team has always used shifts in consumer behaviour to accelerate, adapt and innovate. Little did we know that change would take on such a dramatically new perspective in 2020.
I could not be more proud of how the entire Amino and 24i family is showing strength and solidarity during this new kind of disruption. Not only are we helping each other to stay connected but also providing extra support to our customers and communities while keeping ourselves and our families safe at home. It is not a surprise, but certainly inspiring, that some of our team have put technology to work to help their local communities tackle the COVID-19 virus where they can. In many countries, there is a problem with a shortage of protective tools, especially in the medical field. In our Brno office, in the Czech Republic, we have a team working together with Industra Lab to 3D print protective face shields for hospital medical staff, dentists and paediatricians. We have already printed over 60 shields and we are looking to find ways to accelerate the process so we can get more into the field.
While we may not be on the frontline fighting this terrible virus, we are doing what we can within our communities and by helping our customers provide streaming video services. Through these efforts, we hope to make the lives of the people now staying home a little bit more comfortable.
Finally, I look forward to when we can meet in person and look back on how this truly testing time has brought us together, made us take greater care of each other, and inspired us to use technology and creativity to innovate for a better future.
Until then, thank you and stay safe.
Martijn van Horssen, Joint-CEO, 24i