The convergence of telecoms, IT and media is helping to shape and change everything we see around us, influencing how we interconnect, capture, distribute and access content. OTT, on-demand and TV Everywhere services are helping to expand the very definition of TV, creating a highly competitive and diverse media landscape which is helping to evolve and change consumer-viewing expectations forever. There’s even more to come, as new immersive innovations such as augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), voice control and real personalization continue to evolve the audience experience.

In short, we are in the midst of dramatic change and entering the transformation of television. If the media industry is to continue to ride this wave of change, it is something we will all need to harness in order to compete and grow. Yet this is also a time laden with opportunity and our industry is increasingly getting to grips with what this change will look like in the future. Broadcasters, content owners and services providers are following the lead of the digital industries before them and employing software, cloud and data technologies to help them compete and drive a new era of connected and intelligent consumer experiences, with access to content anywhere, any time.

There are many avenues to differentiate too. Fixed and mobile telecom networks are increasingly being used to distribute media content to consumer devices. We can see the potential of 5G, particularly at a time when network capacity is dominated by video. In addition to transforming how video services are delivered to viewers both in and outside of the home, the arrival of 5G will accelerate innovation across multiple industries and use cases in areas such as automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). The building blocks of the broadcast industry are evolving from hardware/proprietary specific, to a much more open set of tools and technologies, enabling a plethora of opportunities for industry collaboration and ever more intuitive and immersive audience expectations.

Software, Cloud and Global platforms

Indeed, rising consumer expectations are at the centre of this transformation. We believe it is imperative to understand not only the needs of our customers but also the needs of the end consumer. In these rapidly changing times where consumer loyalty is far from certain, the ability to seamlessly deploy new services and launch new channels for linear and on-demand is a huge boon. The key to competing with today’s web players is to make the transition from hardware to software, develop cloud-native infrastructure, simplify operations and enhance media production and delivery, to enable a more united and integrated offering.

The result is the opportunity to change the way new products are created, new services are deployed and bring new disruptive technologies to the fore. Thus providing consumers with fresh ways to interact and access content across multiple devices. This symbiotic relationship has ensured that cloud and software has transitioned from high-stakes to table-stakes; underlined by the dominance and success of new ‘cloud native’ service launches by both Netflix and Amazon in the past year. Where siloed IT infrastructures simply cannot keep up with the pace of change in the media, hybrid cloud solutions are helping to drive service delivery scale and provide unrivalled agility, delivering services to consumers faster than ever before, with unmatched flexibility and scalability.

Delivering smart data driven outcomes

Yet the value of media can only truly be realized if the consumer is able to find the content they want. 2016 Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research highlights that while average viewing TV and video-viewing time has increased by 1.5 hours per week worldwide in the past four years, finding content to watch is a huge frustration. In the US, the average viewer will spend 23 minutes every day trying to find something to watch on broadcast TV- equating to 1.3 years of their lifetime.

Consumers want TV on their own terms and by leveraging smarter analytics and data, the media industry has the tools and the potential to reverse these trends. By understanding consumer preferences, there is an opportunity to secure their loyalty and increase overall viewership There is an abundance of data out there – including systems data, content metadata, device data, access data and even editorial data – the challenge is to accurately measure the way consumers choose their content and use this knowledge to deliver truly personalized content options which prioritize their likes and dislikes.

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report research states there will be 29 billion devices by 2022, of which around 18 billion will be related to IoT. By collecting and analyzing every activity each IoT device generates, we can combine big data to enable better content recommendation and search facilities using real-time information, such as the length of time content is consumed, the time of day it is being watched and by whom it is being recommended. We even have the scope to tailor the content based on the consumer’s mood or on variations of the weather. Enhancing the quality of human predictions also has exciting implications for how the media industry could approach future human machine interfaces, real-time machine learning and network AI.

By transforming big data into smart data, we can broaden the value of services such as captioning and differentiate in areas such as content discovery. Smart data driven intelligence, enabled through an extensive mixture of metadata, analytics and advanced algorithms, is helping to not only change the way media players connect with consumers, but also the way they connect and adapt to their experiences, preferences and patterns of viewing behavior. Enriched media content will improve monetization prospects too, as advertisers will connect to digital audiences in a cleaner, more dynamic and streamlined way. By understanding the consumer’s willingness to pay for content and their response to certain ads, our industry can use intelligent capabilities to enhance the overall user experience and ultimately maximize the value of programming.

Innovation and immersive experiences

Another influential factor in the consumer’s willingness to pay for content lies with the quality of the experience itself. We are increasingly connecting, sharing and generating social conversation and engagements around a program, using multiple screens at the same time. As audiences evolve further, the next generation TV experience must be immersive, interactive and engaging, while also retaining its social, congregative quality. Broadcasters and service providers are continually seeking new ways to differentiate and compete in the world of video processing and delivery. Yet to meet the wants and needs of a multitude of demographics, a balance must be struck between monetizing the user experience, the cost of delivery and the combination of services provided.

The objective is to create the most seamless, personal and intuitive experience possible. VR, for example, has the potential to help shape the future television experience but to enable its immersive quality, the experience must be close to actual reality. To ensure this, the picture quality must be optimized and this is especially important when you consider that consumers consider video quality to be the most important feature when choosing a pay TV service (Ericsson Consumerlab TV and Media research). The influence of AR and VR technologies will also play an influential role in integrating video within the smart home, enriching the content with additional programmatic information, commentary and immersive sports graphics, without disconnecting the viewer from their primary viewing.

Enabling transformation at NAB Show 2017

Throughout NAB Show 2017, we will be addressing all of these key trends and demonstrating our strong progress in solving them. In a period of unprecedented change, our customers need to move faster than ever before and have access to innovative, simple technologies that reduce complexity and drive down costs. Our goal is to provide you with actionable, tangible insights into how Ericsson’s solutions and services can help your organization exploit new opportunities to compete and grow.

By bringing together an end-to-end portfolio with wider organization capabilities for data, cloud and mobile, we are changing not just how our customers deliver video to available devices, but also how they enable the audience experience, making it more personally relevant, more engaging and more easily monetized. Transforming television is our purpose in this industry; stop by our booth (SU720) and step into the future of TV and Media to discover how we are doing it.

Stella Medlicott, Chief Marketing Officer