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5G – The Next Generation Network Is Here

5G – The Next Generation Network Is Here

Pace is the pin-up word in today’s world. Everything should be speedy, efficient, clear with minimum latency time. And it won’t be inappropriate to say that 5G or 5th Generation best represents that. 5G, the much anticipated future network aims at higher capacity communication network which is faster, denser and provides ultra-high-definition output. In short, better implementation of the Internet of Things.

Going by the predictions, there would be 550 million 5G subscriptions by 2022 and 10% of the world population would be covered by 5G networks. 1

5G in Television and Media

Who can deny the impact 4G has made on media and broadcasting industry? It became the trigger point of television’s changing landscape where it brought television viewing from a television set or our computers to individual mobile interface. It paved the way for huge consumption of mobile videos and helped expand the market for everything be it films, music, news, television shows, or any other form of video content.

5G network aims to surpass 4G standards manifolds in terms of data bandwidth, frequency, technology supremacy, high-quality streaming and reduced network congestion.

  • Disruptions Foreseen in Broadcast Industry

While 5G will provide us world class viewing experience, it could also open the door for some serious industry disruption.

  • Innovative Content

Content consumption will bear a major impact due to huge technical improvements in terms of speed and quality. Consumers will enjoy huge improvements with a significant decrease in download and upload speeds.

Almost zero latency is surely going to feed the impatient DNA of the viewers’. This will also help narrow the gap between quality and speed and live streaming of content and virtual reality content will see an uprise in the market forcing its creators for more innovative, original and creative content.

  • Value Chain Effects

The Internet has made ‘Content its King’ keeping major profit margins towards the content innovators. The onset of 5G is predicted to divert the route towards distributors forcing content providers to pay more for efficient streaming of their content.

  • Consumption Effects

Streaming content has been a winner to date with low costs and inferior technology being the key reasons. 5G bringing a major change in download speed bringing it down to microseconds will make downloaded content more feasible and popular in coming times.2

Challenges

But there are two sides to a coin. On one hand, it provides an ideal environment for television broadcast with its top class features like enhanced network speed and technology advancements, it also hints at becoming a threat to the standard ways with which we have watched content until now through cable, satellite, IPTV and broadcast providers, market of which is approximately $500 billion. 3

Some of the challenges 5G would bring in are :

  • Out of the box, content has to be offered to leverage the huge shift from contemporary to mobility.
  • Data rates would be something to watch out for as all advancements lead to increase in costs.
  • Stability and consistency will play a major role in the network’s success keeping in mind the continuous increase in the number of users.
  • The efficiency of end-to-end providence will determine the real-time feasibility of 5G network.
  • Huge investments would be required to upgrade the technology and meet 5G standards.

The Future

It is too soon to comment or anticipate the future of 5G Network. If we look backward, each generation which has come up has aimed at fixing flaws of its predecessors. First mobile network in 1980’s was followed by GSM in 1990. 3G arrived at the onset of the century and LTE rolled out in 2010. 4G was introduced to make consuming data a less unpleasant experience. The work is still in progress and if we go by statistics, 4G is yet to be even launched in various parts of the country.

But the trail seems to break here. It seems difficult to think of any major challenge we can put across 5G which is worth such huge infrastructural investments and changes. Right now, 5G is only a concept whose standards have yet to be established. It is likely to take few years to finalize the whole 5G structure. The foundations are being laid with lots of funding coming from EU, South Korea, US, and the UK to build up 5G research facility.

The momentum is surely building up. A super-fast, super-efficient wireless network is all set to make its mark in the media world by 2020.  It promises to provide us the ability to watch television content over a 5G network connection rather than fixed broadband, cable or satellite in its best form. In fact, the conjunction of speed and technological advancements can create an ideal environment for the television market.

The industry knows what it wants. Internet of things, telehealth systems, smart city infrastructure are some of the features set to figure in 5G thinking. What finally forms a part of 5G spectrum, only coming years would tell. 4

Future of Linear Tape-Open (LTO)

Future of Linear Tape-Open (LTO)

In today’s scenario, so much content is being produced that handling it is the biggest challenge every company is facing. It won’t be wrong to say that every moment becomes a data for further reference from time to time. And where there is data, there is a need for its storage and preservation. The importance is one notch higher in broadcasting and media industry. There is already an ocean of heritage content to be taken care of and the volume is only increasing day by day. Innovators, over a period of time, have come up with various technologies to manage and optimize content to its best possible condition.

It all started in late 1990’s when technology providers Hewlett Packard, IBM Corporation and Quantum Corporation developed and finally introduced the first generation of Linear Tape-Open (LTO), a magnetic tape storage technology in the year 2000 which could hold 100 GB of data in a cartridge. The standard form factor of LTO technology is known by the name Ultrium which is highly scalable and adaptable on multi-platforms like MAC, Linux, and Windows.

LTO has proved revolutionary in terms of data storage with its outstanding performance, capacity, and reliability, combining the advantages of linear multi-channel, data compression, track layout and error correction.
Due to its high success outcome and market demand, regular enhancements have been done and 2017 could see the launch of its 8th generation which can hold data up to 12 TB in a cartridge of the same size. Although, between generations, there are strict compatibility rules clearly defining which drives and cartridges can be used together.

WHY HAS THE INDUSTRY TURNED TO LTO?

The word ‘Tape’ may sound old school but breakthrough enhancement features have made LTO the most suited backup storage medium. Every company needs a storage solution which is high on speed and capacity and has adequate protection levels. Content is available in various forms. LTO Ultrium, being an open format technology provides its users to source data from multiple platforms and store it in a very convenient and easily restored format.
LTO, with each version, have come up with better speed resulting in quick access and recovery. Capacity to store data has increased manifolds. Functionalities like WORM and data encryption provide adequate protection of the valuable data thus by preventing it from getting tampered.

LTO based archiving also proves cost-effective in terms of reduced energy bills and also since storage capacity is ever increasing with each new generation thereby further reducing the cost.

WHAT DOES LTO-8 OFFER?

LTO-8 was recently revealed in 2017, two years after LTO-7. It is obvious to get attracted to the new improved version but many factors go into this big decision making.If we look at the specifications, LTO-8 offers 12 TB of raw data capacity which is 50% more than what is provided by its previous version. The head channel count also goes up to 32 from 16. The compressed transfer rate has also increased from 750 MB/s to 1180 MB/s. The encryption and WORM feature remains the same.

A new feature which aces up LTO-8 is its ability to increase the cartridge capacity of LTO-7 by 50%. LTO-8 drives can also read and write to LTO-7 tapes thus by saving on the huge investments already made.2

So, before making any decision to consider the switchover, a lot of factors have to be considered in terms of budget, usage, last upgraded time and also to what extent the capabilities of new tapes can be leveraged.

To sum up, we can say that when we think of tapes as a storage and recovery solution, we are focussing on future demands of the ever-increasing volume of data which can be stored and accessed in an environment which is secured as well as cost-effective. And LTO, with its roadmap and growth capabilities, promises to be able to endure Big Data challenges with its continuous breakthroughs.

State of OTT (Over the top television) in India

State of OTT (Over the top television) in India

OTT or Over the Top Services has taken the broadcasting industry by storm and given a new dimension to watching content. There is a plethora of video content reaching consumers directly via internet bypassing traditional controllers or distributors.  In US, 57% of Wi-Fi households have OTT devices, Smartphones, most definitely the front runner of them all.1 Based on a recent study done in US measuring 12,500 homes and 150,000 devices, showed that four major OTT streaming services, namely Netflix (40%), YouTube (18%), Hulu (14%) and Amazon Prime Video (7%) account for 80% of viewing time rolling out programs from all across the globe.

OTT in India

OTT Services have climbed the popularity ladder rather quickly and has definitely come in a big way in India giving watchers a whole new experience. With the onset of ‘Digital’ becoming a national phenomenon across the length and breadth of the country, audio-visual content available on OTT platforms has gone viral. With more than 30 OTT providers and approximately 90 million active viewers, the temperature is only expected to rise in the coming times.

The launch of Star India’s Hotstar in 2015 proved to be a turning point in India’s OTT scenario. They were one of the first to have successfully blended world class technology with great content resulting in high viewership. And thereafter, many national and international players like Netflix, Voot, Amazon Prime Video, Viu, etc. followed, leveraging the ever growing popularity in this part of Asian Continent.

Furthermore, hi-speed 4G internet and free data packs with increased bandwidth being offered gave more power to consumers to view on the go. It upped the game forcing providers to aim for cutting edge content and seamless, high definition viewing experience.

Factors affecting OTT market in India

Multiple Players

The OTT market is segregated between original content creators, content aggregators and digital platforms owned by already established Television Broadcasters. For Voot from Viacom 18, where it is fiction and reality shows of TV on one side, they are going equally strong with tailor-made digital series as well. Also, Voot Kids and regional language content are equally big ROI churners. Foreign players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are banking high on investments made in acquiring videos and movies from across the globe. According to reports, Netflix has earmarked a whooping amount of $300 million to be invested in India in the coming times.

Cultural Structure

India’s social and cultural structure is an added advantage in this OTT content driven game. Being a multilingual market, it fuels up the demand for variety and compelling content. SUN TV Network has already launched its OTT platform, Sun NXT to facilitate viewers with portable content. But the early bird has been Viu which partnered with Annapurna Studios for Telugu originals Pilla and Pelli Gola with a surprise viewership of approximately 40% of regional language content. Foreign players are also not left behind. Amazon Prime Video are building a strong base of regional content through various licensing deals. Hooq, a joint venture of SingTel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. strategizes to offer Hollywood movies and famous US TV shows dubbed in regional languages. Increased investments pouring in non-Hindi market is expected to encompass close to 30% of total viewership in the years to come. As Indian language internet consumers surpass English content consumers, language-driven content will play a very important role in OTT players’ growth.

Demography & Infrastructure

With India’s urban market saturating slowly, the need to reach out to a wider audience is obvious to keep the business moving. Government’s initiative to connect the country digitally is just the right thing for OTT owners. Rural sector comprises a major part of India’s population and business experts have a major eye on them. Roll-out of 4G services, better infrastructure have aided in adding more viewership. According to statistics, internet use in rural areas which was 33% of the total internet population in 2013 is fast growing and is expected to reach approximately 55% by 2025 covering a major chunk of viewership. Smartphone users are expected to grow to 520 million by the end of 2020 which clearly means that individual content watching is going to outgrow the rest of the mediums.2

Pitfalls Faced by Platform Owners

  • Internet speed and its quality is the make and break point of OTT market. India, especially, will have to divert a lot of attention and finances to build up better digital infrastructure if it wants to break even in the global market.
  • New players will have to shell out more money to keep the business going. Entry costs are going to inflate. Also they have to keep the budget levels high for acquisitions in absence of library content which old players possess.
  • Technology is going to demand regular high investments in order to match up audience exposure and expectations. Today’s viewers expect seamless, high definition experience irrespective of the medium.
  • Content is the backbone of OTT world and originality and compelling and engrossing content would be the final winner. Repetitive or slackly produced content would be a strict no.
  • Irrelevant advertisements and micro second patience of viewers makes it a major problem where almost 60% revenue of the platform owners is lost in the hands of ad-blockers. Ad-tech company Amagi Media Labs is set to launch its Thunderstorm OTT Ad Insertion service in India, which is already working well in US and UK markets. It inserts ads seamlessly within the content stream and make ad-blockers ineffective. On the individual front, this nuisance can be controlled if advertisers start creating relevant and seamless ads which add some value to the consumers.

Future of OTT

Globally, OTT business is expected to grow from US$36.7 Bn in 2015 to US$158.4 Bn by 2025. 3

A major boom is foreseen in India bringing it closer to US which has always been the top contenders in content driven entertainment market.  Video accounts for India’s 51% data traffic which is set to rise to 75% by 2020. In terms of revenue, the Video-on-demand (VOD) market is anticipated to reach USD 168 million in 2021 from USD 64 million in 2017.4

Going by trends, it’s an exciting and an interesting phase in India, it being the second largest market for smartphones and having the biggest entertainment industry offering an entire ocean of content. But seeing how fickle minded Indian audience is, the onus would be completely on content, how original and diversified it can get. Infrastructure and high quality internet facility would also play a major role in it. Emphasis would be more on interruption free viewing at a lucrative price. It would be interesting to see how these entertainment carriers behave and strategies to be able to capture ever so changing consumer recall value and reach the winning end. 5

Social Platforms – Changing the News Broadcast Industry

Social Platforms – Changing the News Broadcast Industry

With rapidly evolving content consumption pattern and hasty rise in online video viewing, traditional television viewing has suffered a setback. The very format of content delivery in nano-seconds has completely shaken up the existing ways of content delivery for news broadcasters.

According to the Digital News Report 2017 by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, almost 33% of millennial users (aged 18-24) consider social media to be their primary source of news and information. It’s said that the current situation of legacy broadcasters is quite similar to that faced by newspapers in the early 2000s. Gone are the days when families sat together for evening bulletins, now it’s time for news anytime, anywhere with around 46% of people consuming news in bed on their smartphones itself. 1

Rise and Live on Social

The rise of platforms have opened newer avenues of reaching wider and demographically diverse audience. Audiences have moved to digital representations of news with mediums such as Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram and Facebook Live becoming regular tools of what was once a single source of information dissemination platform. Besides, there’s also a significant rise in news consumption from messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, FB Messenger, Vibe, etc.

Facebook dominates its reach with wider acceptability as a social network for news with 47% of people logging in for their daily updates. Taking cue from this favourability broadcasters have evolved their content delivery for digital platforms. Live events, particularly sports and election results are now being reported using Facebook live and Periscope along with traditional broadcasts.

The Associated Press (AP) works in partnership with Livestream.com to bring major news events live to customers, which is formatted for TV, mobile, or online. Similarly, while experimenting early on with the format, National Public Radio (NPR), USA decided to go “all out” with Facebook Live. It created a Facebook page entirely for live video with dedicated journalists to ideate and produce content so they can broadcast as the news breaks and deliver stories in a new format. 2

Finding New Audiences among Distributed Platforms

While the multi-platform world also puts forth a challenge of what new content will be engaging for the audiences and how to bring more audiences. As per findings of the Reuters Institute, Digital News Report majority of access to websites and apps is now via side-door routes (65%) rather than direct (32%) such as search, social media, email, mobile alerts and aggregators. 3

While there’s also around 29% of people who completely avoid the news as it is said to have a negative impact on their mood. To reach new and younger audiences, broadcasters such as Australian Broadcasting Corporation, are investing in news apps and partnering with news aggregators (Flipboard, SmartNews, Apple News, Google News, Snapchat Discover, Kakao Channel, and Line News) pushing notifications directly to user’s mobile screen.

For Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the country’s public broadcaster, Apple News has added up to more than 1.1 million subscribers who’ve enabled push alerts since September 2016. ABC’s audience on Apple News is younger and more female than its readers on other digital platforms, and 75% of the people it reaches there are new to the brand. 4

Citizen Journalists & Combating Fake News

The need to produce more content and be in active mode always has made broadcasters reliant to content offered by the public or ‘citizen journalists’ to some extent. User generated content on social platforms such as viewer reviews, polls, video stories of local happenings is driving audience engagement that becomes a backbone of content programming.

User submitted information has done wonders especially in times of crisis such as Arab Uprising or reportage about current conflict in Aleppo. Citizens armed with smartphones record and bring the stories from conflicted areas to center stage, putting their safety at stake. 5

While this has also given rise to the concept of fake news, around the world only 24% believe social media does a good job separating fact from fiction. Alone Facebook had 23 out 50 hoaxed news around US election in 2016 and it contributed to  10.6 million shares, reactions and comments 6. This incidence highlighted the power of social media platform and the viral algorithms that are encouraging low quality and ‘fake news’ to spread quickly. It is thus important to monitor the kind of news that is disseminated through social platforms to avoid any negative impact on society.

The Way Ahead

The best way to move ahead for broadcasters is by utilizing the data to understand viewer behavior and drawing analogies for the dissemination of relevant content. Fighting the algorithmic delivery of news, Broadcasters are also looking to break the echo chambers. This would not only help in building upon new audience but also retaining the existing ones.

Both television news and social media will coexist and broadcasters need a strategy to focus on both. The major impact, however, has been on print media where the time to report is much higher and they have to catch than wait for news to break in the morning.

Hot 100- System Integrators, MediaGuru

Hot 100- System Integrators, MediaGuru

We are pleased to share that MediaGuru got featured in Digital Studio Hot 100 Power list for the second time.The list was presented by leading broadcast media technology publication, Digital Studio under the aegis of ITP Publishing Group.

Sushil Khanna, Global COO, MediaGuru has been featured among most influential leaders in broadcast and media industry in the region. The nomination was analyzed by industry experts, followed by a detailed survey to select best in each category. The results were declared in July edition of Digital Studio magazine. Click here http://bit.ly/2vbHskt to know about the winners across categories such as film directors, cinematographers, film editors, broadcasters, technocrats, etc.

Blockchain And Its Impact On Media Industry

Blockchain And Its Impact On Media Industry

As we move towards digitalization, the world of media has also changed significantly. Different roles have been established along the media value chain. For example, artists and authors have become the primary creators of content, while platform providers and aggregators of content are donning the hats of royalty collecting body.

Blockchain technology can disrupt the industry structure further by bypassing content aggregators, platform providers, and royalty collection associations, thereby shifting the market power to copyright owners.

Derived from the Bitcoin, blockchain is ‘a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, secured from tampering and revision. Sealed in the chain, blocks can no longer be changed -preventing further deletion, edition, or replication, thus making it true digital assets.

This technology has the potential to resolve some of the current challenges prevalent in broadcast and media industry with ease. Listed below are some ways in which blockchain can benefit media.

Boost Revenue

Blockchain technology can generate revenues for fragmented content like news, blogs, and photos with micropayment-based pricing models. With targeted media usage that can be directly linked to respective content, budget allocation for advertising and marketing also becomes more targeted.

Centralized Payment

While the technology is still in its nascent stage, revenue distribution can be automated based on predefined smart contracts, thereby making payment transactions cheap and centralized. This can potentially reset pricing, advertising, revenue sharing, and royalty payment processes.

Protecting IP Rights

While digitization has altered content production and distribution, protecting the intellectual property of the content remains a major concern of the industry. Though several brands are charging to access digital content, consumers are looking for similar content elsewhere for free. Blockchain technology connects these brands directly to consumers who compensate them accordingly (and securely) for access to digital content

Ensure Authenticity

Blockchain records the history of every transaction. Therefore, it can be used as a potential application to ensure authenticity and transparency. Social media influencers, authors, videographers, and photographers can use blockchains for provenance and attribution.

OTT: The Way Ahead

OTT: The Way Ahead

Over-the-top content (OTT) service providers like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon are showing massive uptake by consumers who want to view content as per their choice of time and platform. According to Juniper Research titled Mobile & Online TV & Video: OTT, IPTV & Connected Markets 2015-2019[1], OTT subscription is forecasted to generate $31.6 billion in revenue by 2019.

As traditional broadcasters face increased competition from OTT service providers, let us take a look at the future of OTT.

New providers in the market

While countries like the United States have already adopted OTT and are on the verge of saturation, developing countries with high mobile penetration and adoption rates of pay-TV and broadband are witnessing increasing popularity of OTT services. A  Digital TV Europe Research[2] estimates that developing countries like Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa will see greater growth in revenues and that of Latin America will nearly triple from 2015.

Driven by rising mobile data usage, mobile is becoming an important medium to deliver OTT service in East European countries, Middle East & Africa. Pay-TV providers, mobile operators, broadcasters and media companies are expanding their OTT services in these regions either by launching their OTT services or partnering with regional OTT players. For example, UAE-based mobile operator Etlisat has introduced eLife ON, Saudi Arabian Mobily has mView, Times Media Group has an OTT service called VIDI in South Africa, and Pay-TV operator OSN has launched GO across MENA.

SVOD is catching up

Viewers are increasingly opting for OTT services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Video, which gives them the freedom to choose the content they want to consume across different platforms. Millennials are adopting subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services faster than their older counterparts. A report from BI Intelligence highlights younger viewers watch four times as much video content online than aged viewers. The popularity of SVOD services like YouTube, Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue further underlines this fact.

For SVOD services, usability is the key. Companies need to innovate to leverage OTT and SVOD services to reach out to more viewers. For example, YouTube has launched offline viewing for consumers to download videos and watch it at their convenience – even when there is no mobile connectivity.

With the first screen of the millennials being the mobile screen, digitization provides a huge opportunity for SVOD providers to grow their business. Content creators and marketers can reap the benefits from SVOD adoption. Content creators can profit from the surge in the short-form video, while marketers can capitalize on advanced product placements.

More connected TVs

Thanks to connected TVs, which include streaming devices like Apple TV, gaming consoles, Web-enabled TV sets, and TVs connected to the Internet by laptops in the group, monetization is also growing. According to FreeWheel, an ad-serving company whose clients include major video providers such as AOL, Crackle, Fox, NBCUniversal, Viacom, and Vevo, more than one-third of monetization was led by OTT devices. An eMarketer report[3] estimates that by 2018, 191.4 million or 58.2 percent of the U.S. population will use a connected TV device to access the Internet.

Changing fundamentals of content creation

OTT has unlocked transformational changes in how the content is created and consumed. The availability of unlimited content space has given more freedom to experiment and has provided audiences for all kinds of content. Although most are amateurs, some are earning millions of dollars, while contributing to the depth and breadth of content available to consumers.

Further, the increase of mobile and streaming access has enhanced consumers’ ability to choose what they watch and where and when they watch it. With the rise in mobile use, the demand for short-form, high-quality content, also called ‘snackable content’ has also witnessed a massive growth. Consumers are turning to live, user-generated video and “citizen journalists” for news related to developing events or stories. For example, The Young Turks, which offers short-form news videos on relevant topics around the world every day has become a key news destination for millennials.

The launch of Facebook Live in April 2016, which makes it easier “to create, share, and discover live videos” further highlights the changing fundamentals of content creation. Content creators are also focusing on introducing contextual parameters for content discovery. Factors like mood and current affairs are being taken into account apart from their viewing preference while making a content recommendation to the viewers.

To ensure successful adoption of OTT, service providers must address three critical challenges – aggregation, subscription churn, and transparency. As consumers look to fulfill the 3Ws – watch what they want, when they want to, and where they want – OTT providers not only need to manage content but also create new content and recreate legacy content to retain subscribers. Proper archiving, digitization and tagging of content will help in aggregation while generating content across various formats will provide shared experience across devices and help in customer retention.

[1] https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/ott-tv-market-to-increase-fourfold-reaching-32bn

[2] https://www.digitaltvresearch.com/ugc/Global%20OTT%202016%20TOC_toc_149.pdf

[3] http://digiday.com/platforms/ott-video-going-5-charts/