IBC is the perfect meeting point for the converging worlds of media and telco, writes IBC Chief Executive Michael Crimp.

We are all familiar with the shift in the balance of power that has occurred, with viewers now in complete control of what they consume and where, and with more choice than ever before. We are served content in increasingly innovative and exciting ways, from sharper pictures in the form of ultra-high definition and high dynamic range to immersive experiences, such as virtual, mixed and augmented reality, while user generated content provides a visceral and immediate angle.

Michael Crimp

Michael Crimp

Viewing used to be by appointment only on one screen in the corner of a living room, but we now live in an era of almost endless possibilities. Mobile devices allow us to watch programmes wherever we may be, online catch-up sites allow us to stream shows we have missed, while subscription services serve up thousands of hours of new commissions and old favourites. And anyone with a smartphone has the ability to broadcast their own content to the world.

It is the image of someone watching their favourite show on a mobile phone that neatly sums up one of the biggest shifts occurring in our industry. Since we last gathered in Amsterdam for IBC, convergence between the once distinct worlds of media and telecoms has gathered pace, notably in the tussle between Disney and Comcast for Sky that dominated business pages over the summer months.

This isn’t just a response to the need for scale to compete with the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, which is available in more than 190 countries and is set to spend $8 billion on original programmes this year. In the digital age, the landscape for making, delivering and consuming media has changed; our industry used to be about ‘broadcast’, but now it is about production – and delivery – of all different types of content, with much of that change enabled by telcos. Added to that, telecoms giants recognise that content can provide them with a differentiator that will help to entice and engage customers.

Business case
It is against this backdrop that IBC has formed a collaboration with the TM Forum to drive innovation between the media and telecoms industries. TM Forum is an industry association for service providers and their suppliers in the telecommunications industry with over 850 member companies, including Vodafone, Telstra and Liberty Global.

Both organisations believe that through industry collaboration we can drive a new wave of innovation and growth. The TM Forum’s proof-of-concept Catalyst programme will be extended to explore the convergence of telecoms and broadcasting.

It’s an example of how IBC is working to make sure that we provide the setting for the media, entertainment and technology world and overlapping industries to come together to debate, collaborate and ultimately create opportunities for monetisation.

A good illustration of this is 5G, which will feature prominently on the agenda of the Telco and Media Innovation Forum which will take place on Friday 14 September.

The technology is well proven, specifications are being ratified and standardisation issues are being addressed, but questions remain as to the form of the commercial case.

One thing we do know is that content will provide an early use case for 5G. We are already seeing some exciting ways in which the technology has been used to capture and create content, whether it’s delivering footage from the World Cup or beaming data from a bobsled at the Winter Olympics. The technology also promises to propel immersive experiences by reducing latency and making them more mobile. And, of course, it will allow viewers to download high-quality content extremely quickly. By working together, both sectors can benefit by providing viewers with even more enticing content that continues the trend of keeping the consumer in control and at the heart of the action.

The rollout of 5G will be another stage in the ongoing development of how we capture and consume content, and no doubt this rapid pace of change will continue, but one constant will be IBC’s role in helping to provide the best setting for collaboration and business. I hope to see you in Amsterdam where the next chapter of this industry’s exciting evolution will be revealed.

Michael Crimp is Chief Executive Officer at IBC