January has only just come to an end, but we are already looking ahead to the next IBC, which takes place as usual at the Amsterdam RAI in September. In the meantime, Content Everywhere companies are polishing their crystal balls and making predictions about what might lie ahead for the video services and streaming industry in the next twelve months.

It seems inevitable that the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to remain front and centre in 2024. After bursting out of its previous, more niche existence and onto the global stage in 2023 following the arrival of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, AI has dominated conversations ever since, and is clearly set to do so for some time to come.


Brad Wall, LTN

As commented by Brad Wall, CTO at LTN, the rise of AI “has been pushed heavily in 2023 and will remain a major talking point for the industry in the coming year as media businesses unlock the potential of automation to drive operational efficiencies”.

The hardest element of any automation project, Wall adds, “is typically the translation layer between different teams, tools, services and business logics. Fuelled by new evolutions in AI, we’ll see an increased ability to tie together complex technologies and ecosystems via automated workflows, empowering media companies to drive new levels of efficiencies while simplifying processes in ways that were unthinkable before.”

Gatis Gailis, CEO of Veset, also notes it’s clear that the “implementation of AI, automation and machine learning (ML) will continue to dominate the broadcast and media industry in new and exciting ways, providing an insight into the integration of AI in broadcast workflows. This includes addressing mundane tasks, assisting in improving content quality and even delivery.”


Gatis Gailis, Veset

According to Marc Baillavoine, CTO, video network at Synamedia, “technologists across all industries, including ours, will start using AI to transform the user experience and business operations. AI-based dynamic ad insertion will play a bigger role with AI analysing viewing behaviours to understand individual tastes, habits and preferences. For example, in a future Tour de France, expect to compare notes with your neighbour on what ads you see on the yellow jersey cyclist’s shorts.”

Jane Sung, COO of Cinedeck, also sees a “continued development of AI integration in broadcast workflows, seeing many more content providers and editing organisations implementing these solutions.”

Paolo Cuttorelli, SVP, APAC & EMEA at Evergent, says that while AI has been used in the subscription management space for the last decade, “in 2024, we’ll see media businesses harness new AI-powered tools not only to predict the likely causes of subscriber churn, but also to automatically enact the engagement methods proven to combat churn as it happens. This includes intelligent payment retries or personalised offers to maximise retention.”


Marc Baillavoine, Synamedia

Ultimately, Cuttorelli adds, “AI is meaningless without high-quality data; streaming operators that can tap into proven expertise and large data sets based on the behaviour of hundreds of millions of global subscribers will be in the best position to gain a competitive edge.”

Meanwhile, Michael Lantz, CEO at Accedo, sees video services increasingly using AI-powered processes “to run their operations much more efficiently. The use of AI for quality and efficiency improvements is going to accelerate over the coming year as video services across the board realize AI-powered efficiency gains.”


Jane Sung, Cinedeck

Martin Prins, head of product at Media Distillery, thinks we will move beyond the hype and see real applications of generative AI in 2024, specifically around metadata, content discovery, and viewing experiences.

“The use of automatically generated, adapted, or translated metadata with large language models (LLMs) will increase, complementing editorial-created metadata,” Prins says. “The first services will introduce LLM-enhanced content discovery, providing viewers with better results based on natural language queries as well as semantic understanding of content. Lastly, services will give viewers a better user experience by allowing them to quickly jump to topics of interest, which is a great feat for programs with multiple topics such as sports shows, talk shows, actuality, and the news. This leads to higher engagement but also increases the reuse of long-form content.”


Michael Lantz, Accedo

The last word on this topic goes to Bart Lozia, CEO of Better Software Group (BSG), who believes there is no doubt that AI will continue to be the dominant trend in 2024.

“Thanks to advanced algorithms, we can create more personalised user experiences on streaming services. AI enables more sophisticated and targeted advertising strategies. By analysing viewer data, streaming platforms can deliver personalised ads, increasing their effectiveness and revenue potential. This allows advertisers to reach their desired audience more precisely and effectively,” he says.

Not so FAST

AI is course not the only topic in town, as Content Everywhere companies highlight. Indeed, business models remain a preoccupation, including discussions over ad-supported versus subscription services.


Bart Lozia, Better Software Group

Free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) has been a major buzzword in recent years, and although it continues to be an important area of focus, there is a sense of reality setting in over what expectations should be.

Indeed, Accedo’s Lantz sees FAST channels reaching market saturation. “If users cannot easily access these channels on an aggregated service, they are a lot less attractive to consumers, and this limits revenue potential. Alongside the challenge of discoverability, FAST channels also fail to provide a user experience that is interactive and personalised to the level that users have grown used to. I think this gap is only going to become more noticeable over time,” he says.

Johan Bolin, chief emerging business officer for telco, media and broadcast at Agile Content, agrees that it’s time for a FAST reality check.

Johan Bolin-Agile Content

Johan Bolin, Agile Content

“A big buzz over the last couple of years has surrounded FAST, but reality has shown that it’s challenging to monetise and get enough viewing minutes. So, the gold rush will likely slow down with more efforts being directed towards understanding how to use FAST successfully,” he says.

Meanwhile, Kai-Christian Borchers, managing director at 3 Screen Solutions (3SS), points out that advertising is becoming more relevant in the streaming industry.


Kai-Christian Borchers, 3SS

“This is largely driven by advances in dynamic ad insertion. But it’s also connected to the growth of FAST, and the fact that streaming services, apart from Apple so far, have decided that there is value in establishing AVOD product tiers. I believe that traditional super-aggregators like cable operators will be next to fully embrace advertising, in partnership with broadcasters,” he says.

Borchers adds: “Linear advertising insertion is increasing, and 2024 and beyond will very much see an emphasis on targeted advertising. With the introduction of ad-supported tiers rapidly becoming a well-trodden path for the streamers, I expect the incumbent operators to go that route too.”

Media Distillery’s Prins further notes that ad-based video is all about video engagement. “After all, the longer viewers are engaged, the more ads can be shown. This also means as an industry, we shouldn’t frustrate viewers with poor ad experiences,” he says.

Prins expects to see several enhanced ad experiences. “For example, FAST and AVOD services will adopt AI to have better placement of ads in content, making sure ads don’t pop up in the middle of a scene or worse, a sentence, as well as offer contextual-relevant advertising,” he says.

In addition, he expects TV operators to replace outdated ad experiences for catch-up and replay TV. “The six-minute broadcast ad break is replaced with shorter individual ads in line with online ad experiences, as well as offering skippable ad breaks; a premium add-on package that secures more revenue for the operator and the broadcaster, while also improving the user experience for the viewer,” he says.

Synamedia’s Baillavoine notes that technologies that enable adaptive advertising will be “top sellers with ads becoming more subtle yet more engaging”.

“This year, we expect ad buys to be made based on time plus placement on screen. This means there could be a lower ad rate for a snack positioned on a counter at the back of the scene compared to the main character eating it. Brands will benefit financially from this new data-driven ad placement strategy. Performance marketing, where brands pay based on the success of their ads, is a hot CTV trend. Insights about click-throughs and even purchases mean brands will pay the appropriate amount based on the exact reach of their advertising,” he says.

Sporting chances

Moving beyond some of the more common themes, industry players provide a fairly broad set of topics to keep an eye on this year.

Having said that, live sports remains an oft-cited area of focus. Indeed, Venugopal Iyengar, COO, digital at Planetcast International, says live sports will continue to be a key driver of growth for the industry.


Venugopal Iyengar, Planetcast International

“As rights valuations continue to rise, rights owners will need every part of their tech stack to be as efficient and flexible as possible to enable new business models and monetisation techniques. Sports fans have a strong appetite for novel viewing experiences, which may range from interactive elements, such as fantasy sports, betting, athlete interactions and merchandising, to AI-enhanced content delivery that selects, amplifies and monetises the most exciting moments from a sports match in real-time,” he says.

LTN’s Wall sees the sports broadcasting market continuing to grow in competition and complexity.

“In recent years, new players have entered the market and digital-native tech giants are dipping their toes into the water of live sports. Today, live sports rights are becoming a real tug-of-war and rights holders who have primarily delivered on-demand video content are re-imagining their workflows and architecture to deliver high value live content at a global scale. It’s never been more important for traditional sports broadcasting giants to pivot towards an IP-first future to shift away from limiting satellite and fibre-based distribution models — it’s the only way for them to keep up with digital-first competitors,” he says.

Bolin from Agile Content talks about a re-definition of sports, noting that in the last couple of decades, video games have strived to emulate real sports as closely as possible.

“Now it’s time to reverse the trend. In a market where sports viewing is declining in many regions, the exceptions lie with those (mainly in the US) who have innovated and evolved the sports viewing experience with more interactivity, more data and stats as well as additional cameras and effects. It’s time for sports to be inspired by video games,” he says.

Cuttorelli from Evergent also notes that globalisation will present increased complexity and opportunity in the live sports market in 2024.

“Sports organisations’ pioneering direct-to-consumer streaming strategies are building closer relationships with their fans than ever before, moving beyond transactional engagement with subscribers and toward a community membership model that unlocks new revenue streams. As sports brands get closer to their global audiences, flexibility in subscriber management will be critical,” he says.

Sergio Carulli, chief innovation officer at MainStreaming, comments that broadcast-grade streaming will continue to be a subject as live streaming audiences grow, ad-supported streaming services attract more viewers, and more connected TVs are purchased and plugged in.


Sergio Carulli, MainStreaming

Media Distillery’s Prins concludes that richer sports experiences lie ahead, with video services creating more engaging experiences for sports fans.

Here, he cites access to real-time match statistics, either in the app or on a companion device such that viewers can follow all the actions; dedicated fan zones in the UI, where viewers can discover and follow all content about their league, team, or favourite athletes; and more interactive viewing experiences, where viewers can quickly jump to key moments such as scoring attempts or fouls, or when viewers tune in late to a match, quickly catching up on highlights to continue watching the rest of the match live.

Simon Harrison, VP delivery at M2A Media, was in whimsical mood as he argues that children of the 70s and 80s “had confidently looked forward to a future of hoverboards, interplanetary travel and meals in pill form, but the only unarguable advances have turned out to be hand dryers and sports production”.

“The most amazing thing I saw last year was full production brought to a game of school rugby. This could only happen due to the lowering of two major barriers to entry: cost and complexity of use. I predict growing audiences and fan engagement for lower and non-league events in 2024. Not enough to topple the mainstream but enough to make one feel warm and fuzzy,” he says.

5G, personalisation and more

Attention will also be paid to improving OTT content personalisation this year, as outlined by Accedo’s Lantz.

“The challenge, in my opinion, lies in the fact that viewers are inherently complex; past usage and preferences don’t necessarily predict current desires. Additionally, viewers often watch content as a household or friend group which further complicates how to present a personalised experience. I don’t anticipate that the industry will solve the personalisation challenge in 2024, but I do expect to see heightened focus on personalisation as enhanced loyalty and engagement become more important for video services,” he says.

BSG’s Lozia comments that the emphasis on creating original content is anticipated to become a more defining aspect of the streaming industry.

“Platforms are expected to channel significant investment into the production of their own distinctive shows, films, and documentaries. This strategy aims to differentiate them in a highly competitive market. The availability of exclusive, original productions is likely to play a crucial role in drawing and keeping subscribers, offering unique experiences that aren’t available on other platforms,” he says.

Lozia adds: “In 2024, the streaming industry will be significantly influenced by interactive and immersive content, enhancing viewer engagement and offering personalised experiences through technologies like VR and AR. This trend not only captivates audiences with non-linear storytelling and gamification but also opens new avenues for business, including data-driven content customisation, unique advertising opportunities, and competitive differentiation in the market. The shift towards interactive content represents both a technological advancement in how content is consumed and a strategic move for streaming services to attract and retain a diverse and global audience.”

5G also gets a mention. Veset’s Gailis says the introduction of 5G into broadcast workflows and infrastructure, will provide a “re-imagined approach to bandwidth and latency for content delivery and cloud playout. The increasing integration of 5G into every aspect of broadcast and media will completely transform the way that we create, deliver, and consume content, perhaps opening the door into new and undiscovered realms for the industry.”

In turn, he adds, “this development in the content delivery sphere will allow for continued popularity of hybrid and remote workflows, seeing more cloud playout and content delivery organisations shifting their infrastructure to the cloud. This industry-wide shift will not only provide a foundation for the broadcast and media industry to evolve further but will set the tone going forward for the development of AVOD and FAST channel popularity.”

Sung from Cinedeck also singles out the ever-evolving capabilities of 5G in the cloud sphere.

“With more and more post-production organisations moving their workflows to the cloud and adopting a primarily hybrid or remote work ethic, the addition of 5G into these workflows will prove invaluable for the productivity of broadcasters. With endless opportunities spanning from faster content delivery and higher broadcast quality to easy integration of high-end solutions and increased bandwidth – this development will undoubtably have a huge impact on broadcast in the upcoming year,” she says.

Meanwhile, LTN’s Wall says media organisations will accelerate their shift toward IP-based video distribution in 2024.

“Business leaders are realising the tremendous benefits of embracing IP-first technologies – including enabling greater flexibility, scale, and monetisation opportunities. We’ve moved far beyond the early adoption phases and media companies no longer need convincing around the reasons to kickstart their IP transition. But, in order to stay ahead of the competition, organisations need to act now and secure their long term future with flexible technology foundations,” he says.

Importantly, Synamedia’s Baillavoine points to ongoing sustainability efforts.

“Energy-inefficiency will start to become extinct and those who haven’t caught on with the greening of streaming will be left behind. We switch off lights when we leave a room because it saves energy so why shouldn’t we do the same for video processing?” he says. “Thinking about carbon emissions is an absolute must. We’re already seeing more RFPs – especially from public companies and large corporations – requiring demonstrable energy efficiency factoring heavily in rating and decision making. This coming year we will see the launch of more energy-efficient solutions without impacting viewer experience.”

Relating to this theme, Borchers at 3SS says operators are increasingly keen to breathe new life into their legacy set-tops boxes.

“We began to see this in 2023, but now it’s gathering pace. Operators now want to provide their customers who already have set-top boxes in their homes with a sophisticated user interface, and to make these STBs more performant,” he says.

Borchers notes that new technology paradigms like Lightning “are transforming how to develop for multiple devices”.

“Advanced user interfaces are being delivered to brand new set-top boxes and at the same time the UI on legacy devices is dramatically enhanced. Pure economic need is driving this change. But additionally, a huge benefit of this new approach is that it’s demonstrably sustainable. Operators have huge populations of deployed legacy set-top boxes and the cost of swapping them for new ones is astronomical. The application of new technology to transform the user experience on old consumer premise equipment generates huge savings in both costs, and in environmental waste. The set-top boxes that have been sitting on a shelf — sometimes unused and simply gathering dust — are effectively upcycled, and everyone benefits,” he says.

Other predictions come from Carulli at MainStreaming, who says edge architectures for delivering video and media applications will become more important, reducing latency to the viewer by distributing the workload away from centralized clouds.

He also notes that capacity-based video delivery services will become more popular as broadcasters and content providers look for more predictable costs. “The requirement for guaranteed capacity to underpin service performance will grow as broadcasters transition more of their audience and revenue to streaming,” he says.

Meanwhile, Peter Dochterty, CTO and founder at ThinkAnalytics, says the end of third-party cookies is in sight “as Google Chrome joins Firefox and Safari in their elimination by the end of 2024. This means that targeted TV advertising will become an even more attractive option for advertisers seeking a targeted, effective yet brand safe environment.”


Peter Docherty, Think Analytics

Planetcast’s Iyengar thinks a major focus area for media organisations will be finding solutions “that alleviate the technical demands of coordinating their intricate web of post-production, content delivery, and monetisation. We call this the ‘complexity challenge’ as media companies struggle to manage the various stages they have to get through to deliver their content to today’s fragmented audiences through more distribution networks while serving content on a wide variety of devices. To overcome these hurdles, industry players increasingly understand that they need a unified service layer architecture that supports greater flexibility delivered by a cloud-first approach.”

Bolin from Agile Content cites the evolution of news, noting that news “is one of the absolutely most important formats, but it has been losing audience and trust for a long time”.

“To compete with numerous internet-based alternatives, broadcast/TV news must evolve and adapt to an internet-centric consumption model. This includes more personalisation, moving away from the idea of a ‘linear’ 30-minute news show to a more on-demand, personally curated model that encourages exploration and curiosity,” he says.

Sung from Cinedeck sees increased uptake and popularity in live editing, “aided by the existing popularity of hybrid and remote spaces due to cloud-based workflows. With post-production teams adopting more capable solutions for on-site editing, live and remote editing will continue to grow in ability.”

M2A Media’s Harrison also says that advances in automation will become more obvious in broadcast in 2024.

“In the aged hardware world of discreet, specialist kit doing discreet, specialist things, advances in technology capabilities could only be realised by chains being rebuilt when it was affordable or unaffordable not to. The shift to IP definitely shortened the cycle. The shift to cloud will increase the speed and ease. I think initially what we’re seeing is an explosion of content that looks and feels the same through application of automation to production, but to keep viewers that will have to shift to automation removing the drudgery and allowing greater space for individual creativity,” he says.

Eric Black, CTO at Edgio, points to the fact that OTT platforms face the ongoing task of tackling the issues of piracy, latency, and scalability to ensure an optimal and enjoyable viewing experience for their customers 

“The unauthorised distribution and illegal streaming of copyrighted content remains a significant challenge for OTT platforms. Companies must implement robust measures to protect their content and combat piracy effectively,” he says.

Profitability challenges

Finally, the impact on the industry of macroeconomic factors, and how they affect subscriber wallets, is expected to remain a major challenge this year.


Eric Black, Edgio

Borchers at 3SS says economic pressures are forcing operators to be more efficient, and to embrace and recognise the benefits of co-development.

“We see that operators are having to create, develop and manage products and services that are better, and give a better user experience than in the past. But they need to do this with fewer staff and lower budgets,” Borchers observes. “On the other hand, expectations for innovation, and the speed of that innovation, are high.”

To resolve these incompatible forces, Borcher says, operators are more open-minded about the possibilities for co-development.

“They are devising long term product and technology roadmaps, and as they support their in-house teams, they’re recognising the benefits of working closely with trusted vendor partners. With co-development. the operator knows they’re getting something unique, as they strive to create the perfect UI and seamless experiences,” he explains. “Meanwhile their own staff are learning and growing through close collaboration with technologists who have deep and long-term subject expertise.”

Evergent’s Cuttorelli agrees that the ongoing cost of living crisis means subscribers are thinking carefully about which types of subscriptions they retain.

“As a result, streaming businesses are under constant pressure to find ways to monetise and retain their existing subscribers. Increasingly, operators are looking for ways to enhance retention and create stickier revenue streams through service aggregation and bundling,” he says.

In his view, in 2024 “we’ll see a lot more streaming businesses re-assess their approach to subscriber management. For many, that means questioning if their current billing, monetisation and retention tools are capable of delivering the flexibility their users need, and the scale to support their organisation’s next phase of subscriber growth.”

Lantz from Accedo comments that last year, the OTT video industry focused on increasing profitability, achieved primarily through price increases and cost-cutting initiatives rather than by increasing ad revenue and subscriber numbers.

“I think this is going to change in 2024 because, although there remains a lot of uncertainty around the industry’s growth potential in the long term, I expect to see ad markets bouncing back, and this will stimulate growth. I’m also a firm believer that the long term trend of consumers signing up to additional video services is going to continue, although at a slower rate than we have seen in the past,” he says.

Lantz adds: “Overall, I feel optimistic about industry growth 2024, and I expect we’ll see a growth rate on the consumer side of around 10-12%. I also believe that we’ll see a renewed focus on innovation which will do much to enhance the overall experience for end users.”

Iyengar from Planetcast also believes the industry will continue to be profitable and grow as media companies demand fresh approaches to take advantage of the revenue opportunities that are open to them.

“The industry in 2024 will be shaped by new tools that give audiences the freedom to consume content in the way they choose and enable media companies to monetise them to their full extent,” he says.

Edgio’s Black concludes that managing costs will be crucial for OTT platforms to thrive in 2024. “Expect a mix of strategies, including content diversification, pricing adjustments, technological advancements, and strategic partnerships to attract and retain subscribers in a competitive and cost-conscious landscape,” he says.