Broadcasters across the world are looking over their shoulders as online streaming services coupled with mobile internet are taking over audiences. Younger people have been at the forefront of viewers’ migration from linear TV to mobile on-demand. Their first port of call is YouTube, Twitch, Facebook and major streamers like Netflix consumed anywhere on mobile devices and away from traditional television channels and living room hardware.

What’s more, streaming-first companies like Amazon, DAZN, Twitter and Facebook are shaping up to challenge pay-TV broadcasters in the battle for the live audience. Once again, the advantage they offer is anytime anywhere viewing coupled with immersive and interactive experiences.

Capitalizing on trends

Sports franchises know this too. As their revenues dwindle from behind-closed-doors events the digital fan experience has risen to the fore. The NFL, for example, is putting more exclusive live games on Twitch and Amazon Prime Video and offering a viewing experience that includes interactive features such as statistical overlays and user-selectable audio options.

When US broadcast group Sinclair was forced to write down the value of its regional sports networks by U$4.23 billion last November, CEO Chris Ripley insisted there was still long-term value in the rights provided the group “reinvent” its sports assets “around gamification, around community-based fandom and around Direct To Consumer.” [source: https://www.nexttv.com/features/steve-rosenberg]

Some media companies as well as public and commercial broadcasters have sought to capitalize on these trends by offering their own streaming services – Disney+, Peacock, Joyn, BritBox and Discovery+ among them.

To boost take-up, Discovery has a multi-territory and multi-platform partnership with Europe’s largest mobile and fixed network operator, Vodafone. This deal advances Discovery’s broader strategy of expanding its existing linear distribution relationships with direct-to-consumer distribution for the first time.
In addition to a highly competitive market and higher complexity in consumer behavior, new consumer technologies such as AR/ VR and 4K/8K video bring additional challenges for the broadcasting industry. Bandwidth requirements are increased for both production and distribution; the use of public clouds to collect and use data is a prerequisite if content is to be generated at scale; and there’s is a need to adapt production assets for UHD. There’s even a strong case to be made for reinventing certain program concepts to integrate AR/VR.

Build the transformation on cloud and data

However, the profound changes in media consumption habits offer broadcasters an opportunity. The shift from linear to non-linear viewing increases the necessity of using big data to develop a deep understanding of consumer habits and preferences in order to create increasingly tailored content.

The critical transformation broadcasters must make in 2021 is to address the intensely personalized model of digital content delivery to individual devices.

Consultancy Arthur D Little pinpoints [https://www.adlittle.com/en/BroadcastIn5G] three key capabilities that public and private broadcasters can capitalize on to strengthen their market position and fight back against the tech giants:

  • Create more local content to differentiate from the global players at a competitive cost
  • Create more specialized and next-generation content (e.g., AR/VR, 8K, mobile) for a tailored audience by fast learning from an individual’s consumption habits
  • Distribute content anytime and anywhere (an omni-channel approach) to regain reach and relevance in young and fragmenting audiences

Broadcasters are forced to act urgently and quickly – both in terms of running the right digital transformation programs as well as finding ways to fund the transformation.

Don’t underestimate the crucial role that technology and vendor partnerships will play in helping broadcasters to consolidate their traditional business with the new while streamlining the cost of operations.

Crucial partnerships

For instance, only a year ago cloud was perceived by some as a lower performance alternative to satellite or dedicated fibre that could not meet the security and quality needs of high-end broadcast. The pandemic changed all this, demonstrating that cloud does work, is reliable and can meet the quality and reliability requirements that media transport demands when implemented correctly.

Net Insight’s cloud-first Nimbra Edge represents the start of next generation global content media delivery. It is already allowing media service providers such as Tata Communications to launch elastic cloud-based live media transport to service the needs of Tier 1 sports. At the same, Tata is integrating and leveraging its existing network infrastructure in tandem with Net Insight to provide a complete end-to-end media delivery and processing platform for both broadcasters and content owners.

The Nimbra platform delivers an open virtualized media ecosystem, capable of providing exciting end-user experiences and services that give customers a competitive edge match-fit for today’s dynamic market.

With global IT, consulting and outsourcing company Wipro, Net Insight has formed a strategic partnership to enable service providers, broadcasters and rights holders to unlock the benefits of cloud-centric media ecosystems and enable new ways of creating content, including remote and cloud-based production.

We are very proud to move forward with this partnership and excited to give more organizations access to our transformational technology.

Previous blogs:

The evolution of distributed live production

Microservices and advanced orchestration drives personalized streaming

Real-time streaming takes live sports to next level

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