Super-aggregation, sustainability and AI driven efficiencies join cloud deployment as key trends. 

Tim Sargeant-Landscape

Tim Sargeant

Tim Sargeant, Head of Product, Video+ Live, BBC 

“Could 2021 be the year where we see significant movement in sustainability and wellbeing? The power to deliver is driven by people, their expertise and the work they do. We’ll need to connect and cherish our people more. On sustainability, we’ll see increased momentum from industry forums – the DPP’s ‘committed to sustainability’, BAFTA’s Albert, new energy labelling for TVs, and calls for better environmental reporting on everything (power use, materials, embodied energy, delivery miles). But, there’s an increasing understanding of where the challenges lie. BBC R&D’s recent work with the University of Bristol evaluated the total energy use in the distribution of BBC TV services.  

Companies are making NetZero commitments and we’ll see more impact on our procurement decisions. My fear is these may be more a wish than a prediction. To make a real difference and a significant impact, technology sustainability will need to be a New Year’s resolution.” 

Richard Lindsay Davies Index image

Richard Lindsay-Davies 

Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO, DTG  

“Consumers will be put back in the driving seat by governments, and the industry will react with even great collaboration to create aggregated content and device experiences. In the UK, in particular, the new Digital Market Units will see us return to more open, cyber-safe and European harmonised technical standards 

Post pandemic, post Trump, post-Brexit, I predict rising consumer demand for authenticated news, and culturally relevant home country content.” 

Barbara Lange 2

Barbara Lange

Barbara H. Lange, executive director of SMPTE 

“The technology priorities list for leaders in media has included a move to the cloud for some time now, but where that item fell on the list varied widely. Media and technology professionals often found the time to move their infrastructure to the cloud in between their day-to-day responsibilities.  

This year, the pandemic shifted priorities demanding a fast move to the cloud. This means that technology leaders in 2021 will continue to focus on creating efficiencies. Many are looking to what is known as the sharing economy as a means for this needed boost in productivity.  

The sharing economy de-emphasizes the need for ownership where access to tools and equipment looks more like renting. For media technology, services in the cloud may replace hardware, experts might be hired ‘as needed,’ and unused space like a sound studio will not sit idle for as long as it had before this new economy.  

Challenges for which standards can provide a solution involve cloud and multi-cloud infrastructure. In parallel, microservices-based software architecture for media systems will gain traction. Both developments fuel the possibility of a shared economy and SMPTE and its members are prepared to bring order to these exciting, and at times chaotic, new technology advancements.  

As with all advancements, SMPTE offers its neutral ground for our members who are at the ready to make sure that new technology in 2021 interoperates. We look forward to continuing to be that platform for unbiased discussions within the media technology sector.” 

Darren Lepke, Head of Video Product Management, Verizon Media 

“Our number one priority is to expand our network and the quality of our video streaming with enhanced protocols like 4K and HDR to deliver a TV like experience over the public internet. Secondly, we’re addressing emerging use cases that we see broadcasters investing in including realtime video and interactivity, wagering and gamification.  We’re developing new video protocols that deliver realtime video at scale and integrating things like gamification engines and video chat features so you can watch an EPL match with your mates.” 

Priority three is to continue supporting our broadcast and OTT customers as the OTT business matures. Streaming and broadcast are now the same business for us it means helping them to retain more viewers through better quality and improved ad-tech.  

Specifically, on live sports betting I think this is still early days. I don’t think we’ve this the tipping point and we’re a few years before we get to laying money on whether or not someone is going to kick a penalty left or right. There is though gamification in which you can play with friends and ‘bet’ on the next play in US football, for example. That is starting to take place now. 

AI/ML is a huge business today with applications on the industrial enterprise side but we are statin to see some of those creep into the media and entertainment use cases. The most deployed use of AI/ML is for video analytics to enhance metadata generation and improve what is otherwise a very manual process.  

As we advance AI/ML we will see more use cases in live content such as being able to detect in a live stream if a goal or pass or shot was blocked. This will enable smarter user experiences though on-screen graphic overlays. 

We’re unlikely to see 8K streaming in 2021. We are still in early adoption of 4K. On a mobile device there’s barely a reason to stream 8K since you can’t tell the difference between that and the image quality of HD let alone 4K signal. That said, there is an ecosystem of device manufacturers and encoding partners working to build out 8K media.” 

Tristan Veale, Futuresource

Tristan Veale

Tristan Veale, Head of Video Content Research Team, Futuresource Consulting  

“By the end of 2020 there will be more than one billion smart TVs installed worldwide, as we continue to move towards a world where consumers are more reliant on TV delivered over the internet. Having an installed base of TVs with built-in smart functionality is the new entertainment battleground for vendors. It’s currently being contested by LG with WebOS and Samsung with Tizen, as well as Android TV, which is being adopted by many brands at a low cost, high quality interface, with some degree of customisation and personalisation.  

This has opened up the market for media streamers like Google Chromecast, Amazon Firestick and Apple TV box to improve the user experience. We expect that the installed base of media streamers will increase worldwide to nearly 300 million by 2024. 

Furthermore, the key companies selling media streaming devices are also selling access to an entertainment ecosystem, which aggregates content services, takes payment for media content, and integrates effectively with smart home technology. These platforms, including the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon, have a significant impact on how today’s consumer communicates, shops and enjoys leisure time.  

A TV is therefore no longer a siloed entertainment device and must at least work with these operating systems. The seamless ability to connect with the OS of choice for a consumer is fast becoming an important reason to choose one brand of TV or accessory over another, representing the next frontier of competition.” 

Peter Docherty, Founder and CTO, ThinkAnalytics 

“Super-aggregation and universal search have featured in predictions for the last three years and appear again this year – with a twist. Today a growing number of operators are reinventing themselves as content aggregators offering, say, Amazon Prime and Netflix alongside their own linear and VOD assets. But this is just the start.  Looking ahead, we’ll see more operators supersizing their aggregation ambitions. 

We will also see service providers start to broaden their capabilities to help consumers discover assets such as podcasts, games, books and related merchandising using a single platform. This opens up new revenue opportunities as operators start merchandising these and cross-selling, for example recommending tickets to concerts or fairs based on the TV shows viewers watch and the games they play. 

AI-powered UIs that learn every customer’s likes and dislikes will drive a new generation of ultra-dynamic, highly personalised user experiences. We’re talking about not just moving content within the carousels but also changing the carousels and the order of the carousels to reflect each person’s preferences and interaction with each carousel, with the goal of delivering maximum engagement. 

After a slow burn, the various addressable advertising roadblocks - ad insertion, dynamic pricing and bidding systems - are all falling into place. These new solutions match ads at the individual rather than segment or household level. This is made possible by using profiling data and intelligence gained from AI / ML algorithms to hyper-segment audiences and build a detailed picture of individual-level viewing behaviour over time.” 


Paul Lee

Paul Lee, Global Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications research, at Deloitte 

“2020 fast-tracked consumer behavioural changes that have made the entertainment market far less predictable. 2021 will determine which behaviours will remain, providing broadcasters with better insight to comprehend how to balance producing traditional broadcast content with bolstering on-demand services. 

With people advised to stay at home for much of 2020, VOD and SVOD uptake accelerated dramatically, particularly among older age groups. According to our research undertaken in May 2020, over half of 55-64 year-olds and 36% of 65-75 year olds had access to at least one SVOD service, up 12 and 10 percentage points respectively from the previous year. 

In comparison, the rise in linear TV viewing was limited. In April 2020, linear TV viewing was up 14% year on year, while SVOD consumption rose by 92%. One major hurdle broadcasters had to overcome was Covid’s impact in limiting the flow of content and the consequential rise in production costs, with high insurance premiums adding significantly to costs. 

Covid has been difficult for all content productions, but national broadcasters, with smaller individual budgets, arguably had less resource and flexibility to adapt than global streaming platform producers. 

Once restrictions have been lifted and people can meet up again, go shopping and take holidays as they did in 2019, media consumption behaviours will, no doubt, re-adjust, but not to pre-lockdown levels. In 2021 content providers, particularly traditional broadcasters, will need to be far more nimble and reactive.”