The broadcast industry has had a rollercoaster of a year. Brexit, acquisitions and changing viewer demands have set the foundations for some big changes in 2019. The team at Spicy Mango have put their heads together to come up with the commercial and technical trends and predictions that could impact broadcast in 2019.
The battle of OTT
Disney has already announced that their new OTT service will launch in 2019. This will inevitably send some shockwaves through Amazon and Netflix as Disney takes back its colossal back catalogue. With Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney and eventually 21st Century Fox, that is a formidable content library. With the two most prominent streaming services losing a significant selection of films to Disney, every comic book geek and parent is inevitably going to cancel those subscriptions and make the move to Disney. What will be most interesting is to see how consumers deal with the fragmentation of services.
Increased pressure on Amazon and Netflix
UK broadcasters will come together and pile more pressure on Amazon and Netflix. With the CEO of Ofcom, Sharon White, calling for the UK’s major broadcasters to unite and create a fully integrated platform, this can only add further stresses on Netflix and Amazon in the UK. Ofcom has offered support for this notion but all we can do for now is watch this space.
Unsurprisingly, Brexit is going to have a huge impact on UK broadcasters, unless there’s a second referendum and the UK ends up staying. It’s going to be a dominant theme for at least the next two years. UK based broadcasters will have to apply for broadcast licenses elsewhere in Europe in case they need to, but in the short term, there is unlikely to be a mass exodus. In the long term, there will probably remain a mutual recognition between the UK and EU of broadcast licences in some form, providing the industry can up its lobbying ability. The industry, however, remains steeped in uncertainty for the moment.
Glacial growth for AR and VR
Augmented and Virtual reality has been gaining momentum for a few years now. These technologies haven’t quite burnt out as 3D TVs did, but it’s not something going mainstream for some time. The nature of AR and VR means we can expect these technologies to be led by the gaming industry. Gaming users prefer to be immersed in their favourite video games unlike viewers of Strictly Come Dancing.
A Netflix Acquisition?
It’s a multi-billion dollar question of who could acquire Netflix. The rumours currently surround Apple or Microsoft but would either actually benefit from spending so much money? At the moment, the markets and shareholders are prepared to give Netflix more time to get out of the red. However, if those subscriber growth numbers start to tail off, they may find themselves under more pressure.
5G and 4K rollouts
We can expect to see more 5G rollouts in London in 2019. Although it’s a little way off from becoming a significant platform that replaces 4G, we can expect to see it driving 4K tablets. The new iPad Pro 12.9″ is slightly short of the 2160p (3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160) required for a ‘real’ 4K, being 2732 x 2048 at the moment but it’s not far off. Currently, 4K is more of a marketing gimmick that of real viewing use, particularly if the content isn’t being filmed in 4K. With Japan planning and launching 16K broadcasts then the bandwidth will be required but limited trials. Expensive rollouts and limited handsets for the foreseeable future mean that this is probably another technical innovation looking for a critical problem to solve.
Folding screen smartphones?
2018 was the year of edge-to-edge screens but foldable (or pull-out) screens are imminent. In 2019, Samsung or Huawei are most likely to bring a first generation device to market. However, will they challenge the dominance of current flagship smartphones such as the iPhone or Samsung’s own S9/S10 models? Like tablets, they will take their time to work out their purpose in the technology ecosystem but companies need to present them as more than media consumption devices to justify the hefty price tags.
AI in the Content Chain
Amazon has already started to develop an AI tool in the form of Amazon Rekognition which identifies people, places and objects to enrich metadata. Algorithms that provide better, more targeted recommendations will become more refined and therefore offer a better user experience. Service providers could be taking this one step further in the future – you might have seen BBC Four’s experiment which saw them attempt to create a programme using AI. It wasn’t a huge success in terms of providing a watchable TV show, but it does highlight how AI can start to develop in broadcast beyond recommendation features.
What trends do you think will impact Broadcast in 2019?