This year’s ANGA COM opens in what must be one of the most disruptive moments in the history of television distribution.
At this year’s show and conference the old world will meet the new world and it will be anybody’s guess who will be the winners, and who will lose out in the shake-out that its bound to happen.
Let’s take a quick look at recent happenings that will have an incredible impact on the business of television.
First – play-out from the cloud. Discovery Communications looks like setting the trend with its plans to move all global play-out to a central place, Sterling, Va., in the US.
Why is this important? After initial investments, it will cut costs. It will combine play-out for both linear, and on-demand – – increasingly important in a world where viewers expect to view any programnme at any time, anywhere and on any device they choose. Cloud play-out can cover this – and traditional satellite video distribution will be on the losing end (but still be needed for DTH services in unpopulated areas). Parties such as AWS will be the clear winners.
The move also means a choice for IP delivery, and that could mean bad news for transmission standards such as good old DVB.
Second – traditional set-top boxes will face a very difficult time and might even disappear. The past week saw two important developments: the M7 Group launching an app on Samsung smart TVs; and Apple TV announcing numerous platforms are offering Apple TV 4K replacing the old legacy set-tops.
Why is this important? Viewers will become less dependent on the platform to which they subscribe. When using smart TVs or agnostic devices (such as Apple TV, Roku and even Fire TV) they can access the ‘normal’ line-up of channels, as well as any on-demand content, but at the same time also access third-party OTT providers. A few clever operators have started offering Netflix, but what if your local provider does not have a deal?
In a related development, we see a party like Amazon Channels becoming an aggregator of OTT channels and in a way becoming an alternative platform with a la carte tiering.
Broadcasters are now setting up their own OTT services and are betting on all horses in the race – the traditional distribution platforms, direct to consumers offerings as well as new aggregators such as Amazon Channels. In the US, this is already happening with many major broadcasters, with CBS and HBO leading the way. Even in The Netherlands, the combined major private and public broadcasters (NPO, RTL, Talpa/SBS) have launched their own direct-to-consumer service NLZiet combining linear and on-demand content.
Looks like we will have many interesting discussions this year in Cologne.