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The Dawn of a New Era in Cloud TV- IBC 2019 Takeaways

The annual International Broadcast Conference (IBC) serves as a launchpad for new technologies and innovations in the media & entertainment space. The latest and greatest solutions are being unveiled, accompanied by major announcements from industry leaders across the board, aimed to enrich and revolutionize the way we experience content.

As our team makes its way back from this busy and exciting week, here are some of our key observations from the 2019 IBC:

 

Media prep migration to the cloud  

As we mentioned in our NAB post, the importance of the cloud is unquestionable. Until today, most of the cloud-based services in the media space were focused on video delivery at one scale or another (yes, not all of the platforms were created equally). Now we are witnessing more demand for migration of live linear media creation and processing to the cloud as well. Introductions of new cloud-based content creation tools have been made, accompanied by an inspiring panel discussion of Hollywood executives sharing their vision for the future of production that, not surprisingly, also relies on migration to the cloud. On the demo floor next-generation video processing and encoding solutions were showcased, in addition to solutions that utilized cloud capabilities to enable significant cost savings in on-prem infrastructure  and to improve workflows for low-latency content delivery, which is crucial for live streamed events, mark this as a solid trend at this year’s IBC.

 

Re-aggregation of disaggregation

The broad variety of video streaming services makes it difficult for users to choose and stick to one service. But why would they choose, if they can subscribe to several services at the same time? Research points out the average number of 4.6 video services subscriptions per household, with some projecting that the number is as high as 10 services per household.

The aggregation of content began a few years ago. To win the consumers’ hearts and feed their appetite for myriad of instantly available options, operators started to bundle their Cloud TV services with content offerings from 3rd party service providers. The inclusion of SVOD apps, such as Netflix or HBO in hybrid STBs, to complement the Pay-TV package, has developed into the utilization of deep linking technologies to combine metadata of the joint offering for easier content discovery.  Subsequently, there were also introductions of micro-bundles of specific SVOD libraries/packages (e.g. drama or TV series packages) from sources outside the operators’ network. Now we have entire Cloud TV services based on the aggregation of numerous content partners and production houses as well as operator’s STBs with multiple aggregations of external sources that are not limited to video only, such as social and news platform as well as interactive experiences like quizzes.

Indeed, this can sound quite overwhelming when all you want is to kick-back and relax in front of the TV. Which brings us to the next trend:

Data and TV: AI-driven Cloud TV experiences

A lot can be said about the importance of data in our digitally infused world of streaming media. Through data, users can discover relevant content easily, and service providers can learn their users’ habits to provide them tailored recommendations and offers while serving targeted ads at the right time using the right communication vehicle.

Meaningful personalization can only be achieved through smarter and more efficient data processing and analysis, hence implementation of cognitive technologies in the TV industry has been crowned as the “Next Big Thing” in this year’s show. AI-based video and metadata processing, content aware encoding, and ML solutions for real-time user experience optimization were broadly discussed during this week. The implementation of those novel technologies to generate actionable insights for better understanding and prediction of user behavior is essential to increasing engagement and monetization.

Cognitive TV

The infusion of AI into the Cloud TV will revolutionize both the consumers’ and the service providers’ worlds. We are right at the beginning of a new era of Cognitive TV. It is still uncertain how those future experiences will look exactly, but we are likely to witness the transition from Cloud TV to Cognitive TV in the next few years. Envision smarter TV services, capable of learning and evolving with the users, being aware of the context, and able to anticipate viewers’ behavior while recommending content from multiple sources and presenting only the most relevant ads for every single user. Omni-screen experiences, with all the devices being connected and aware of each other, while mobiles serving as a primary interface with the service, alongside natural UI that allows you to simply talk to the TV. These are only a few of the concepts that underline Cognitive TV and will represent the new epoch that definitely looks promising!

 

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