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The Future is Continuing Change for the Broadcast and Media World
By Peter Bruce, Director APAC- IABM
2016 was a year when disruptive technology truly came to the fore front. The onward march to ever higher resolutions is only part of the story; High Dynamic Range also adds enormously to the viewer’s experience – some would argue providing a more compelling reason to move to 4K/UHD than just the increase in pixel count. A long side these developments, we are beginning to see more and more applications – and demand – for VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). All this while there is a fundamental change taking place in consumers’ viewing habits, with any where / any time OTT and multiscreen viewing now taking a prominent place alongside traditional linear broad casting. In summary, the Broad cast and Media industry is moving to adapt to an interconnected world.
The push to 4K and onto 8K in Japan for the 2020 Summer Games is moving at a rapid rate. The industry is clearly investing heavily in R&D to produce hi-res images, then to be able to store, manipulate and distribute them at a necessarily very high data rate. It is not just a competition to get higher resolution images, but also the challenge of intelligent pixels with higher dynamic range and higher frame rates.
NHK unveiled a new 4K/8K ‘Super Hi-Vision’ Ultra-HD cable decoder box at the CEATEC Japan 2016 technology show. The public broad caster is focusing on 4K and 8K adoption in order to achieve full-scale diffusion ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games. As a result, the supply industry is developing many solutions for working with such high quality media. The capture of high resolution pictures is being tackled, with many broadcast camera suppliers launching 4K/8K cameras in 2016. However, the bottle neck is how to store and transport such large amounts of data with in the studio or TV station and then onto the home for consumption.
Broadcasters in Japan are starting to invest in new 4K/8K facilities to broadcast in the new formats with in the next two years; Japanese broadcasters’ investment in 4K/8K technology is set to increase in the coming years as a result of government stimulus.
In the Asian and Pacific region, IABM noted the diversity of technology choices across various countries. While Japan and South Korea are focusing on higher resolution and transmission at 4K / 8K, it should also be noted that only these two countries in Asia have so far achieved analog switch off. In the region the transition has been complicated by a myriad of factors including: government commitment; household finances; suppliers and broadcasters’ commitment. This presents many opportunities for broadcast and media suppliers over the coming years.
As Japan focuses on the 2020 Summer Games and South Korea on the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, TV stations will need to understand changing viewing habits and learn from the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil.
The opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games drew 26.5 million viewers on Comcast Corp.’s NBC on Friday night - a 35% decline from the record-setting audience for London’s opener in 2012, which attracted 40.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That trend continued on the Saturday night with 20.7 million tuning into NBC to watch the games, down 28% from the 28.7 million that watched the first night of the London 2012 games. Viewership among people ages 18 to 34 – the so-called millennials - has fallen 32 percent.
Although overall linear TV viewing wasat its lowest since the 2004 Games in Athens (and an 18% decline in linear TV viewing compared to the London Games), NBC reported that 2.25bn web-streams were supplied via its website - 3.3bn minutes (live transmission + replays) downloaded by over 100m users (29% up compared to the London Games). Akamai delivered more video data in the first eight days of Rio than it did for all 34 days of London and Sochi combined.
In 2016 the transition to multi-platform delivery continued to disrupt the traditional broadcast landscape. Changing viewing habits have forced broadcasters to launch new media offerings and transition to an infrastructure capable of delivering both linear and non-linear channels.
We saw in 2016 the opening up of SVOD services such as Netflix. This followed the announcement at CES in January 2016 where Netflix declared its intention to bring its services to another 130 countries around the world. This shocked the broadcasting world; Netflix is almost at a stroke a totally global operation and without borders (with the exception of China, Syria and North Korea) - and because Netflix’s SVOD services are instantly available thanks to the power of the internet, it incurs no major extra distribution costs in doing so.
To summarize, 2017 is going to see continuing dramatic changes in how our audiences consume media. As the broadcast and media industries adapt to the convergence of technologies from IT, telecommunications and the internet, TV stations, cable networks and media suppliers will be fundamentally changing their business models to adapt as fast as the technology advances.
“Change is the constant and the rate of change will never beso slow again”