It is undeniable that the digital disruption of over-the-top (OTT) subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services has irrevocably altered the path of the television industry. In today’s TV Everywhere world, linear broadcast remains a big part of the entertainment mix, but its role is shrinking as younger audiences raised on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are changing expectations of how video content is consumed and delivered.
Research commissioned by TVT Media shows there are already 673 licensed OTT platforms in the European Union and Turkey. The research, summarised in a short report entitled ‘Mapping the on-demand revolution in Europe’ and illustrated by a vivid heat map, shows the wide prevalence of OTT VOD services across Europe. The report makes clear that the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the Netherlands are setting the pace for OTT VOD penetration, followed by Belgium, Poland, Spain and Sweden. What’s more, the research shows London and Amsterdam have emerged as far and away the biggest OTT on-demand hubs for content being exported to other markets across the EU.
For broadcasters, studios and other content owners operating in Europe, the reality of the emerging multiscreen, TV anytime marketplace is that it has become essential for them to design operations and workflows to deal with not just the complexities of linear broadcast, but the localization and fast-turnarounds of on-demand content.
Other figures suggest that, at the current rate of growth, on-demand video viewing is on track to overtake traditional linear TV within the next decade or so. A study by Digital TV Research estimated global OTT revenue would more than double between 2016 and 2022, driven largely by SVOD services along with advertising-based video on demand.
From a consumer perspective, VOD in all its guises offers many benefits in terms of convenience and choice. For the industry, the shift to on-demand is forcing players in most markets to come up with innovative new business models that capitalise on the consumer trend.
Traditional broadcasters and pay-TV operators alike are looking for new ways to compete with OTT-only SVOD services. For example, Sky, from its strong position in the UK, and Ziggo, the Netherlands’ largest cable TV provider, have both expanded their respective offerings to embrace SVOD, along with apps that can download most movies and series from their top-tier packages for viewing on tablets and smartphones. They are rapidly being joined by broadcasters’ own on-demand offerings and smart apps that are increasingly supporting targeted ads.
Behind the scenes, the broadcast workflow is undergoing a major change due the VOD phenomenon. The once relatively sedate pace of content dissemination is becoming a distant memory – where you would once see, for example, a film go from cinema release to premium cable and satellite subscription, to DVD and Blu-ray and then eventually standard TV over the course of two years. The gap between each of those stages is closing fast and we will even likely see more film releases like ‘Monster Family’, which in March debuted in 137 cinemas while simultaneously becoming available on SVOD.
Indeed, content owners and broadcasters are increasingly focused on just how quickly content can get from whichever form of debut transmission to every other possible monetisation option. The regional boundaries are also blurring: OTT has opened up new TV experiences to a whole host of consumers internationally with, for instance, English period dramas popular with US audiences and Nordic crime thrillers doing a rip-roaring trade with SVOD viewers in the UK.
For TVT Media, this means we are having a lot more conversations with our clients about versioning content for more territories and in more supported formats to cater for differences in culture and the growing range of viewing devices. Our teams in London, Amsterdam, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and Los Angeles are increasingly working with content that may have come from one regulatory zone and need to be edited for the sensibilities of a completely different audience – not to mention changing or eliminating ad-breaks and other formatting hurdles.
Broadcasters and other content owners already engaged in this level of processing will be aware of the challenges involved at every stage: from media onboarding; to enrichment, versioning and access services; through channel and asset management; all the way to linear playout and, increasingly, on-demand video delivery.
At TVT Media we have overcome many of the workflow and logistical issues involved in the end-to-end process through ContentSelect, our own innovative cloud-based workflow and media asset management platform – which is used not only by our compliance, editing and versioning team, but also by our clients to action content flows and approve decisions. Using the same universally accessible tool across every country and workflow dramatically simplifies and speeds up processes and, as such, makes them more efficient than the ad-hoc set-ups many broadcasters and content owners are or were using.
The on-demand revolution shows no signs of slowing down and, in fact, as broadband speed and mobile bandwidth increases, consumer demand for TV Everywhere, along with OTT-driven viewing behaviour such as binge watching, will likewise become more prevalent. For the TV industry, this means an accelerated workflow in which content going from live to on-demand ultimately will be measured in hours and not weeks.
By Mark Beard, SVP Commercial, TVT Media