At the turn of the year, TV Connect asked its past speakers and industry influencers for their predictions for 2018. The response was overwhelming and is a reflection of the passion that Media + Networks’ community has for the business its in.
While we could run a series of predictions from the 20 or so respondents over the next month, we decided to break it down into the major topics affecting the industry. To kick this off, this week we will look at the technology changes predicted from the use of AI and machine learning, personalisation and data security to network virtualisation and the continued cloudification of content delivery.
Jeff Webb, Principal Streaming Architect, SKY
2018 is a very exciting year with the continuing trend in video compression playing a major role. For example, it will be very interesting to see how AV1 is adopted across multiple clients and operating systems, especially with Apple joining the Open Media Alliance last week.
(tech) (content delivery) (compression)
Charles Dawes, Senior Director, International Marketing at TiVo
Specialist voice services
With the proliferation of devices, both in pay TV and out of pay TV, there is a need for re-simplification of the discovery experience.
For pay TV operators, voice has become table stakes; as soon as one provider in the market gets it, the other providers start to look lacking. However, it will be the ‘specialists’ in the pay TV market that come out on top. Indeed, many voice services outside of pay TV – such as home smart assistants – are considered ‘generalists’ when it comes to voice; they have knowledge of a lot of topics, but not in a lot of detail. Whereas in the pay TV space, voice services understand queries in a great amount of detail so that consumers don’t feel the need to hold back when it comes to entertainment discovery.
It’s this that will separate the wheat from the chaff in 2018. Critical to this will be the expanding voice services in other languages besides English.
(tech) (content discovery) (voice) (personalisation)
Entertainment is all about emotion; it is how an audience connects to content. For the entertainment industry to tap into this, AI needs to become more than just anticipating consumers’ interests and merchandising back catalogues to reference related content – it needs to become more ‘emotionally intelligent’. What this means is voice assistants developing a personality in terms of understanding the emotional factors within a piece of content and the person it is interacting with, and being able to tie those two together. It is also about voice assistants having a constant personality for a consistent entertainment discovery experience. In 2018, AI will realise the need to bring in ‘emotion’ to voice services.
(tech) (content discovery) (AI + Machine Learning)
Mobile in sporting and special events
There has been a rapid uptake of streaming in Europe, particularly when it comes to content consumption. Take, for instance, the Wimbledon 2017 tennis tournament, which served 24.1 million stream requests this year via BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer, making it the most streamed Wimbledon to date. The most popular match was Rafa Nadal versus Gilles Muller, which brought in 1.4 million requests in total.
With global events to look forward to in 2018 – such as the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the Winter Olympics – it’s likely they will also be watched live from mobile devices across the world.
What’s more, with events such as Formula One – which is hosted in countries including France, Dubai, Australia and China – mobile device viewing will be highly dependent on location, with time zone playing an important role in how viewers will watch these key events. Indeed, this could lead to an uptake in device viewing on catch-up services.
(tech) (mobile) (sports) (live streaming)
Phil Moore, VP of Northern & Southern EMEA, Deezer
Voice recognition will start to dominate everywhere from cars, to smart homes to tablets and TVs, in addition to giving consumers greater freedom and capability to interact with their tech. This will lead to a fantastic Voice Platform Operating System competition that will drive capability and user uptake, as has already happened in the PC / Phone operating system and eco-system.
(tech) (content discovery) (voice) (personalisation)
Contextual content will move everywhere as we start to live more of our lives online. Everything from TV / films to music, food choices to restaurants, clothes to holidays will all start to be recommended to you across all devices ensuring you can search more accurately and get to what you love quicker, wherever you are.
(tech) (content discovery) (personalisation)
Digital assistants will become much more intuitive so phone operators, customer service agents will be replaced initially by computers and AI, meaning everyone can receive much faster, better service across all media types.
(tech) (content discovery) (voice) (personalisation) (AI + Machine Learning)
GREG FURBER, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, RWD
Having recently come out of stealth mode to reveal their headset in Rolling Stone magazine we are finally starting to get a glimpse behind the very expensive curtain. With so much investment coming from so many big-name companies, raising another US$502 million at the end of 2017, it's going to be interesting to get hands on and see if it can live up to the hype.
The two biggest challenges levelled against virtual reality's mainstream adoption are cost of entry and dependency on another device. Oculus Go is due out early this year and priced at US$200 should help make VR available to a wider audience. Whilst the experience will be closer to that of a Gear VR than the Oculus Rift, the low cost and convenience should see a spike in both interest and adoption.
2018 will see big steps forward in delivering experiences that feel closer to reality. With Lytro making large steps forward in capturing spaces as well as talent and Microsoft opening Holo-capture studios in more locations, VR and gaming experiences will increasingly start to blur the line between experience and reality.
Augmented Reality: More than just a gimmick
Apple’s AR Kit and Android’s AR Core made a big splash in 2017 and in part are responsible for that hefty iPhone X price tag. As with all new capabilities for mobile, the announcement was quickly followed by a flurry of apps that functioned as little more than a tech demo, with a few notable exceptions from the likes of IKEA. 2018 should see developers starting to get to grips with what AR can really offer.
(tech) (VRAR) (mobile)
Long-form VR experiences
As creators and developers grow in confidence with what VR can offer and hone their skills we will see more long-form experiences. At the moment, the VR experiences with the longest run time are usually traditional video games adapted to the platform. As developers continue to discover what is possible with VR we will see the number of VR-native experiences growing and complexity and continuing to carve out their own place in the broad spectrum of entertainment.
(tech) (VRAR) (content)
Michael Underhill, Strategic Media Consultant – EMEA, OOYALA
More useful MR/AR apps. Following the introduction of iOS11 we will start to see more apps integrate AR/MR (plus face mapping on iPhone X) in a meaningful way. We left 2017 in the 'Carling pint pouring' phase; 2018 will see the start of the Uber/Instagram phase.
(tech) (VRAR) (content) (mobile)
Bjarne Andre Myklebust, Head of Distribution, NRK Norwegian Broadcasting Corp
Voice and artificial intelligence
The rise of voice controlled AI will help users control their media experience. Amazon, Google and Apple are all in.
Yasir Mansoor, GM Content and multimedia, PTCL
Tom Weiss, CTO and Chief Data Scientist, Dativa
With US$1BN spent on addressable advertising during 2017, the need for an alternative currency that can measure not only linear, DVR, and OTT, but also addressable advertising has never been more significant. At the same time, the amount of census-based TV data has been exploding, and we expect 2018 to be the inflection point where dollars start shifting from Nielsen to other datasets. In particular, the combination of Smart TV data and set-top-box data should provide a uniquely powerful dataset that is nationally representative, richer, and more granular than Nielsen.
(advertising) (analytics) (personalisation) (tech) (big data)
Smart TV data will start to disrupt the European ecosystem
European Smart TVs are already equipped with automatic content recognition, and we expect this service to be switched on over the next few months pushing a massive new dataset into the market.
This data will challenge the dominance of industry joint ventures (Barb, AGF, SKO) and walled garden OTT measurement. The lack of data in the European ecosystem has hampered the development of next-generation advertising models from retargeting from TV to mobile to attributing conversion from a cross-platform buy that includes TV.
A few of the Pay TV platforms - notably Sky - have dipped their toes in the water with set-top-box data but they’ve only really used its data for their internal purposes and advertising sales.
We expect this to change in 2018 as Smart TV data begins to become available in European markets. Smart TV data has already disrupted the US market creating whole new categories of advertising products that are not tied to platform providers, and we expect these to thrive in Europe.
(tech) (big data) (audiences) (analytics)
Matthias Maurer, Head of Product management Internet & Content Deutsche Telekom AG
Steven C. Hawley, Principal Analyst & Consultant tvstrategies™, Advanced Media Strategies
There will be a massive data breach against a major Internet player like Google, Amazon, and/or Facebook, which results in the release of sensitive private information of millions of consumers – such as home security, content usage, and financial data – into the wild. It will be so big that it will cause irreparable damage to their business(es) and reputation(s); and perhaps even geo-political consequences in the real world. It could dwarf the famous Yahoo and Sony breaches of recent years.
(tech) (content security) (big data)
Dom Robinson Co-Founder, Director and Creative Firestarter, www.id3as.co.uk
If 2017 was the year of live streaming 2018 will be a year of the CDN
In periods of changes of capacity of the internet the CDN environment always changes and sees a lot of M&A activity and consolidation.
In 2002, a massive amount of Intercontinental fibre was lit, resulting in 2003 to 2005 showing a significant consolidation – with Akamai, Limelight and CDNetworks surviving to become the market leaders with little or no competition until around 2009-2011.
At this point, as mobile video networks took off, operators began to take a renewed interest in CDN architectures. For much of the past decade operators have experimented and tried to move from an IPTV operator mindset (including their own content deals in their bundles) to a participant in the OTT market.
With Netflix having the weight to bring OnConnect to market, operators have seen that offering premium providers access to their internal network QoS management in something like an infrastructure-as-a-service mode (and also mindful of the runaway success of traditional IaaS providers such as Amazon EC2).
These operators have, for the past three years or so turned their minds to how to best offer their infrastructure as a service. This has required investigation into orchestration, distribution and caching architectures, and in many cases with transcoding, security and ad-insertion propositions too (given many operators have large subscriber networks and subscriber audience relationships.)
In the autumn of 2017 some of the most trailblazing telco network operators began to bring service propositions to market and move beyond proof of concept and field trial into commercial service.
2018 will see a maturing of those models. With many operators embracing micro service architecture, technologies such as OpenStack, Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker are spreading quickly and forming an environment for service developers to deploy.
By NAB we should be seeing an increasing number of vendors showing compliance to these technologies. However, some of the most familiar vendors have challenges themselves to address, in that they are typically 'release cycle' product engineering.
The culture of the traditional vendors will need to change to deal with true micro-service architecture deployment, and so a schism will appear between legacy vendors attempting to fit their business models to a totally new environment and those who are native to that environment who may be much smaller, less familiar vendors, but who have no technical or cultural baggage, and will compete hard against traditional and much more established vendors.
Again, this will cause consolidation and change, but along the way we will see some significant disruption - and I wouldn't be surprised to see a few very familiar names in the sector struggle, be acquired or even disappear altogether by the time IBC or Content Delivery World comes around in the autumn.