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Making Content Anywhere a Reality

The television experience has evolved exponentially through the years. What was once a singularly linear broadcast offering, fixed at the heart of the living room, has turned into a highly fragmented, multiplatform and mobile experience. With each new generation of TV viewer comes more emotional, social and explorative methods of watching content, in increasingly immersive and personalized ways.

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

The younger age group is also expected to view more than 25 hours per week of on-demand content by 2020 — up 180% from 2010. Viewers 16-34 are the big drivers for on-demand content, mainly watching movies and TV series, with user-generated content and eSports as close second choices.

Mobile Momentum

Increased mobility, a proliferation of devices and broadband providers and the growing presence of cloud technologies are accelerating innovation and generating unprecedented speed across the media ecosystem. Today, almost three-quarters of consumers watch video on their smartphone — double the amount from 2012. In terms of content consumption, we can see that there is a growing preference for streamlined and continual consumer experiences that deliver services and content across multiple platforms.

The increase of multiple viewing devices is forcing operators to think in more agile ways. Cloud technologies now enable greater efficiencies to adapt services towards meeting these evolving 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 and maintaining a sustainable business model.

Cloud-Driven Approach

There are several challenges for operators in making on-demand a seamless experience for younger consumers. First, there’s the need to prepare content quickly for on-demand across a range of formats, encoding schemas, digital rights management (DRM) frameworks and, in some cases, the need to insert targeted ads. The need for speed and efficiency is paramount for scheduled programing, but even more so when it comes to getting live content such as talent shows, sports or news alerts from live broadcast and into on-demand platforms.

A growing number of operators are turning to cloud-based video processing and storage platforms that can support the technical aspect of media conversion and have the ability to quickly scale up to meet demand without having to build expensive methods of capacity. Operating an end-to-end cloud solution has significant efficiency benefits, as content is streamlined between processes from ingest to delivery to on-demand hosting platforms and streaming services.

Personalized Content, Ads

Business models need to change to fit the TV everywhere demand. As younger audiences spend more time on social platforms, TV service providers have a unique opportunity to work with subscriber and viewing data to create a more immersive TV experience and increase the relevancy of advertising content.

In a world where on-demand content is key, the offering must include not only a full set of features such as cloud DVR, on-demand, catchup and time-shifted TV. It must also tailor advertising towards a specific audience profile to give the best experience for both the consumer and advertiser. Scalable cloud based technologies are leading the way, offering an easier way of unifying and scaling multiple servers and applications required for storage, over-the-top video streaming, transcoding and more.

The embrace of new technologies by younger consumers will only accelerate further. For broadcasters, this will likely see the ascendancy of new virtual and augmented reality media experiences that test the boundaries of traditional broadcast technologies. According to Ericsson’s study, about one-third of consumers will be virtual reality (VR) users by 2020, and an estimated half of all TV and video viewing will be done on mobile devices. Therefore, the move to more agile cloud based platforms will be vital to adapt to the next wave of change in our industry for generations to come.

(About the Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media report: Quantitative data was collected from 13 countries. This study is representative of more than 1 billion respondents, with about 20,000 online interviews held with people age 16-69 in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the U.S.)

Itai Tomer is the head of the Centre of Excellence, Video Storage and Processing Platform, Media Delivery, Ericsson Media Solutions.