When you sit down and write these end of year columns you have the fear that you might predict the same things that you did last time around.
And while we might have predicted Liberty Global becoming the dominant UK cable operator after the Virgin Media acquisition – we didn’t predict that but thankfully no one else did either – the one thing that was off the radar was Vodafone’s swoop on Kabel Deutschland. Yes, they had been hovering for a while, but telcos fusing into the cable sector.
It will also presumably put an end to the telco bashing so beloved of cablenets, unless they separate them out into good telcos and bad telcos.
On the consumer side we’ve seen a significant change in the delivery of content, it was already there at the turn of the year, when the BBC reported a massive surge in demand for its iPlayer through tablets as soon as the wrapping came off the new toys.
This has been reflected in the pay-TV market with an ever-growing number of apps to access content on the Go. What seems to be happening is that the pay-TV providers are starting to act as aggregators for pay and mini-pay content in their individual markets. What you almost need is some sort of free-to-air version that brings together the channels on Europe’s various terrestrial systems. But that, or the lack of it, is another pay-TV differentiator.
Netflix has gained considerable ground. It is on the lips of so many of my industry and non industry friends. I’ll just catch that on Netflix they say. My impression is that it has opened up a new market of people who are being brought into pay-TV. Opportunity rather than threat.
Then there are the technologies. 3D lies in the corner, murmering from time to time, while 4K, Ultra HD and HEVC are all looking to become the new black.