The road to IP – should broadcasters follow in the footsteps of telcos?

Personally, I’m a huge fan of watching TV shows on my smartphone. Sometimes, it’s easier to just find something to watch on your phone and tune in, rather than start up the smart TV. Actually, when I think about it, it’s not just TV shows I’ll watch on my phone – I’m more than happy watching a film on my phone too. And no, the smaller screen doesn’t matter affect my viewing experience.

Maybe it’s because I’m “one of those millennial types”. Or maybe it’s because I’m a TV junkie. Regardless of why, it seems I’m not the only one who does it. According to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report, three quarters of all mobile traffic will be used for video in 2023. The report says that overall, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase to 110 exabytes per month in 2023 – that’s the equivalent of 5.5 million years of streaming HD video.

There is no doubt the rise of IP has completely changed how we watch TV and video content – and Ericsson’s report shows no signs of this slowing down, either. As mentioned by CCgroup’s Head of MediaTech Duncan McKean in a previous post on TVBEurope, “broadcast and telecoms no longer exist as discrete industries – both are striving to deliver some form of content over some form of network to their customers.”

It’s in this same post that Duncan goes on to say that broadcasters are in fact in a better position than telcos to take advantage of this phenomenon. With thousands of hours of content and millions of customer relationships, broadcasters are in a prime position to piggyback on the IP networks telcos have built.

But broadcasters have been a lot slower in adopting IP than telcos have – there is no doubt that IP has the power to deliver vast amounts of data with low latency, and broadcasters should take advantage of this to alleviate costs and deliver UHD content.

Ultimately, the road to IP is a huge opportunity, and more and more we are seeing the two worlds of broadcast and telecoms collide (take the AT&T and Time Warner merger, for example). To find out more, earlier this summer CCgroup conducted some research into the impact of IP delivery on broadcast service providers, to assess how far along the path broadcasters are in the transition to IP.

Overall, not one respondent believed that IP would never be a dominant technology. When combined, 48% believe that IP is already dominant, or will become so by 2020, while the rest believe it won’t be until 2021 at the earliest. This leaves a very short window for the IP transition, and inevitably, many challenges lie ahead for broadcasters.

In fact, broadcasters believe that offering differentiated TV services, the ability to monetise these services, as well as maintain subscriber loyalty, will be the biggest challenges they will face on the road to IP, and plan to invest more in content consumption, distribution and acquisition technologies as a result.

Which means if broadcasters are to be the ones that make the most of IP, they need to ensure they have the right technologies in place to do. Yet over half (52%) of broadcast service providers find it harder to identify technology partners that can support their needs. The road to IP therefore doesn’t just offer an opportunity to the broadcasters themselves – TV technology vendors have an opportunity too, but they need to make sure they’re heard.

With more broadcasters turning to IP, and more video becoming available on smartphones, tablets and the like, we are only going to see the lines between broadcast and telecoms blur even further. Broadcasters have the power to maximise this opportunity first – but should look to telcos to make sure they do it right.

Regardless of who wins, I’ll still be getting my video fix from my mobile, millennial style. 

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