The conclusions of Ofcom’s third review of public service TV broadcasting throw into sharp relief some crucial issues facing broadcasters and media companies right now. Among other findings, the review shows that only 50% of viewing among 16-24 year olds is through live TV. The rest is via online streaming services, such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
This simple statistic speaks volumes about the fundamental and complex transformation the UK broadcasting sector has been going through over the past few years. The onset of digitisation and the transition to high and ultra-high definition content, combined with the convergence of IT networks and content delivery platforms – intrinsically linked to the proliferation of devices consumers use – are challenges industry players are still tackling.
The statistic also shows that a tipping point has been reached: the era of internet TV is here. This new era is typified by the ongoing fragmentation of content, channels, viewing habits and audiences and the rise of over-the-top (OTT) services, such as YouTube and Amazon Prime.
It’s also an era of ongoing industry consolidation. ISP’s are buying Content Owners and service providers are building their own content platforms and making quad plays. BT’s reinvention as a media and broadcast company is a prime example.
And, of course, it is defined by the transmission of more content via the internet and less via traditional networks. The implications of this are as far-reaching as the business transformation required of many in the industry to adapt to it.
As Ofcom’s review suggests, the challenges facing broadcasters and other players in the media industry are not going away. Current debates and decisions about net neutrality, in Europe at least, look likely to heighten them. With the recent announcement from the European Union that there is a precedence for a two-tier internet “provided it does not impinge on other traffic”, it seems inevitable that the internet will rapidly replace the traditional transport method.
The European Commission’s proposed Digital Single Market would further support this move by, among other things, enabling collective rights management – the ability to buy rights to content across Europe as a whole, rather than by country. This would allow content to be pushed out over the internet and consumed across Europe, regardless of where the consumer is located.
Naturally, more internet TV activity means growing bandwidth demands across Europe and further afield. This means that having broadcast-quality network technology and the right support in place is key to making these services a success. The slightest delay or inconsistency in transmission can badly affect the viewing experience and be commercially damaging for broadcasters – especially those charging a premium.
Our dedicated media teams work with leading broadcasters across Europe to tackle this challenge and the many others they face at the moment. For example, the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth in the broadcast and media industries is one reason why, earlier this year, we launched our European Supercore network, which supports the rapid provisioning of 100G Ethernet services.
In today’s content-hungry, on-demand world, high-capacity private networks like ours have become a cost-effective means of transmission, as well as necessary. Our network stands out because it’s connected to all the major media and internet exchanges in Europe, US and Asia, which enables us to support content creation, transmission and consumption across the globe.
The reliability, capacity and flexibility of our network services enable broadcasters to meet current and future needs for high-definition transmission over the internet and new value-added services such as file-based, second-screen content. In doing so, it helps them to succeed in the era of internet TV.