IBC 2018 shows that the online video industry has transitioned from getting a service up and running, to building a profitable business. Here are four themes at the show that illustrate the change.
Moving business to the Cloud
More than half of video business executives are still uncomfortable with the idea of moving their video business into the cloud. Notwithstanding customer reluctance, many vendors we spoke with were proposing they do just that. The enormous savings in equipment and maintenance costs could help many businesses boost profitability.
A good example of the trend is Veset, which provides a complete solution for linear channel playout hosted entirely on Amazon Web Services. The company says there are some limitations, like the ability to produce complex live 3D graphics. However, for mid-tier, non-live content, the speed and low cost required to launch a new channel are more than worth it.
Leveraging data to improve a video business
Its hard to underestimate the impact data is having on media businesses. Every step in the customer journey generates it, and it underpins every aspect of the service experience. Companies like Nice People at Work (NPAW) are helping video businesses to mine their customer data to improve their business performance. The company’s Youbora suite is combining quality of service (QoS) and user data in an analytics platform capable of predicting things such as when a customer may be about to churn.
The subject of metadata is often forgotten when discussing the impact of data on a business. It shouldn’t be. Nothing affects content discovery more. Gracenote was previewing how its enhanced movie and TV show descriptors can aid search, discovery, and voice systems. The company is adding intangible concepts such as scenario, theme, mood, and characteristics to its metadata. It was also demonstrating how the enhanced metadata can be used to optimize a show or movie image shown in a content guide. For example, a Woody Harrelson fan browsing the movie Zombieland might see an image containing him while a horror fan might see a gruesome shot of a Zombie.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is finding a home in many areas of video businesses. Because the technology can be trained to spot trends across massive data sets, it can help improve the business performance of any media business. It can also track objects in videos, translate speech to text, and even figure out the best time send an email to the customer. Some of the applications we saw at the show include:
- Automating the transmission of a high school football game by tracking the action in a video image (Pixellot)
- Identifying video subscribers that may be getting ready to cancel a service and providing the best strategy to keep them (Wicket Labs, NPAW)
- Tracking actors, objects, and action to enhance metadata (Piksel)
- Reducing video bandwidth without reducing quality by optimizing video encoding (Bitmovin.)
Blockchain also received much attention at IBC. Though many panels debated the use of the technology, vendor solutions employing it were rare. Moreover, nScreenMedia was unable to find any examples of meaningful deployments in media businesses.
Open pay TV platforms to the fore
In the U.S., over half of households have both pay TV and at least one SVOD service. The story is the same in Europe. For example, in Denmark, 54% of homes have pay TV and SVOD. Moreover, the average SVOD home has 2 or more services.
Service operators seem ready to do something about the fact that their customers are using pay TV less and SVOD more. Many pay TV technology vendors have crafted solutions around Android TV operator edition. Operators are also beginning to deploy the solutions. Com-Hem in Sweden has deployed it with the help of 3SS. Finish operator DNA Oyj has also deployed it with Amino’s assistance. Subscribers to these pay TV services now have access to most SVOD services in their region through the included Google Play Store. nScreenMedia expects these types of deployments to be common by IBC 2019.