viewers are actually watching more TV than ever before. They’re simply shifting to on-demand options from cable operators and broadband services.
Over the last five years, an influx of new broadband-delivered offerings has driven changes in audience behavior that challenge the businesses of traditional broadcast and cable television channels. Likewise, cable providers find themselves scrambling to adapt to new competition from leaner channel packages that offer flexible pricing options. Contrary to what the headlines often suggest, the internet—or rather, broadband distribution—hasn’t come to kill television. Instead, it’s radically improving it.
Netflix has been moving huge portions of its streaming operation to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for years now, and it says it has finally completed its giant shift to the cloud. “We are happy to report that in early January of 2016, after seven years of diligent effort, we have finally completed our cloud migration and shut down the last remaining data center bits used by our streaming service,” Netflix said in a blog post that it plans to publish at noon Eastern today. (The blog should go up at this link.)
Netflix operates “many tens of thousands of servers and many tens of petabytes of storage” in the Amazon cloud, Netflix VP of cloud and platform engineering Yury Izrailevsky told Ars in an interview.
The broadcasting industry will generate an additional $20 billion a year, effectively doubling its current annual revenue, if it fully deploys the ATSC 3.0 next-generation broadcast standard, according to the Pearl consortium of leading TV station groups.
The first ingredient in the physical layer transmission standard for next-generation TV broadcasts is now an ATSC “Candidate Standard,” marking an important milestone in the process to develop the ATSC 3.0 standard, the Advanced Television Systems Committee announced today.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Justice Department evidently saw enough legal entanglements (and consumer descent) to foil Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable, but officials at both agencies are of a different opinion when it comes to the other massive communications merger on the table. The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T’s proposed $48.5 billion merger with satellite television provider DirecTV seems likely to win federal approval.
Infrastructure vendor Ericsson has said now that convergence is finally taking off, it is ready to bridge the gap between the broadcast and telecoms industries. Talking at a an event in London, the Swedish firm’s Head of Broadcast and Media Services Thorsten Sauer said the firm predicts by 2020 50% of all content viewed will be on mobile devices and on-demand.
As multiplay gathers pace in the UK with BT leading the way with its bid for EE, as well as heavy investment in premium sports rights by BT and Sky and the latter’s planned move into the MVNO market, Ericsson said it is grabbing the opportunity presented by convergence.
“One thing is clear from talking to our telecommunications customers and our media customers: on the media side very high on their agenda is how to translate their business onto new and mobile platforms,” Sauer said. “This is extremely high on their strategic agendas. And on the telco side the role of media is very high on their agenda. So convergence is truly happening, and that puts us,Ericsson, in a very interesting position.”
As part of this strategy, Ericsson has made several acquisitions in recent years to build up its TV portfolio, including that of UK-based broadcast service firm Red Bee Media last May. The vendor claims it now handles 1.6 million media assets annually for numerous broadcasters.
Also talking at the event, EE’s Senior Manager of Network Strategy Matt Stagg said operators have to accept LTE networks need to be largely geared towards video streaming. “3G was a voice and text service with data, which was high-speed data for browsing, and it did some video,” Stagg said. “Now [with 4G] we’re talking of a video distribution network that needs to support communications.”
According to Stagg this requires a significant shift in thinking from operators’ part, and ultimately will push LTE broadcast at the forefront of the industry. “The biggest fundamental shift we will see in the next decade for mobile distribution of TV is LTE broadcast. EE’s vision for LTE broadcast is that it will be better than TV,” he said.
However, Ericsson’s recent survey looking at consumer behaviour around TV and video found data and content costs are still barriers for mobile viewing. But at the same time 4G and the popularity of unlimited packages are lowering the bar for users.
According to Michael Björn, Head of Research at Ericsson’s ConsumerLab, consumers increasingly want much more personalised TV viewing, and on-demand and catch-up services, multiple devices per user and 4G adoption are driving mobile video.
“All this means it is indeed time to change the structure of TV services,” he said. “We hear people saying that they would like to have a totally personalised experience of pick and mix [content] but they would still like to have help with the aggregation of that. 48% of the [2,000] people we interviewed said they would be willing to pay for that package: personalised but a single-aggregator service.”
The UK Culture and Communications Minister Ed Vaizey also made an appearance at the event. Echoing Sauer’s words he said: “we are in the cusp of convergence.”
In his short speech he also listed some of the things the government is doing to help the industry move forward: “we as government are working with companies like Ericsson, we are supporting the roll-out of broadband across the UK, we’ve got our mobile infrastructure project which is designed to cover not-spots with mobile, we’ve got the new geographic target for mobile operators to reach 90% of the country geographically by 2017.”
Meanwhile the UK Finance Minister George Osborne in his budget speech pledged a £600 million boost to clearing spectrum to be auctioned for mobile networks. He also promised funding for public wifi for libraries, and provision of broadband vouchers to more cities. He also made promises on ‘ultra-fast broadband’: “we’re committing to a new national ambition to bring ultra-fast broadband of at least 100 megabits per second to nearly all homes in the country, so Britain is out in front.”
The big thing for LTE broadcast is that it makes it possible to simultaneously deliver the same content to virtually unlimited number of users without using up the full capacity of a network. It will be interesting to see how this space develops as providers and operators alike seek for new revenue opportunities in the converging marketplace.
The Internet giant is getting interested in building next-gen cable boxes.
Claude Seyrat's insight:
Google is increasingly interested in building an alternative to the traditional cable set-top box, according to a top exec for Google Fiber.
Milo Medin, vice president of access services at Google, predicts that the Internet giant's own platform for smart televisions, Android TV, will "eventually build something" that allows consumers to abandon the black, bulky boxes that many currently rent from their cable providers.
We have talked to folks inside who are now getting interested in it," Medin told reporters at a Washington conference Wednesday.
If it moves ahead, Google's entry into the market for cable boxes would mark another turning point for America's rapidly changing media landscape as cord-cutting, skinny bundles and mobile devices give Americans all new ways to view high-quality shows.
YouTube revealed its first slate of originals during the Sundance Film Festival this week, showcasing three of the four programs the world’s largest video sharing site is set to debut under the banner of its shiny new YouTube Red subscription service in early February 2016.
YouTube’s Global Head of Original Content Susanne Daniels offered a packed audience at Park City’s Holiday Village Cinemas a sneak peek of three theatrical features
According to VideoNuze a great source of information and insights: "Overall, the quality of streaming of last night’s Super Bowl was strong, although I experienced inconsistent latency across different devices I was using. As shown in the images below, I set up an informal lab in my house, with the game on Comcast, via X1 (center), Roku TV (left rear), Amazon Fire TV on an Insignia (right rear), CBSSports.com (front left and right) and Verizon Go90 (front center).
As can be seen, each device is lagging behind the CBS broadcast feed on TV and to a different extent. I measured the latency at a few points and it seemed to get worse as the game progressed. For Lady Gaga’s national anthem, the Roku and Amazon feeds were approximately 40 seconds delayed, but by the end of the game, each was over a minute delayed. The online streams were approximately half this delay and the Verizon stream still slightly better."
rlier this year, Fusion debuted its first miniseries on the the social media app Snapchat's new content channel Snapchat Discover. Apparently pleased by the results, the company is expanding its offerings with five new series and a second season of its first project, "Outpost."
Cablevision made headlines as the first pay-TV provider to offer HBO’s new standalone service HBO NOW to its broadband customers, and today the cable company is again targeting cord cutters with new packages combining internet, a free digital antenna, and the option to bundle in HBO NOW if they choose. The “cord cutter package” as one bundle is officially called, is one of two new offerings the company announced today – the other combining a slower internet option, the antenna and a Wi-Fi voice service.
With services like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and HBO Now, 2015 is the year we can finally say goodbye to our cable TV subscriptions. But how much will it cost you to cut the cord — and what channels will you be leaving behind to do so?
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