Top 3 pay-TV trends in 2016

Doug Lowther/ Irdeto

It is very evident from the CES show in Las Vegas in January that 4K is here to stay and will become increasingly important through 2016, with operators needing to carefully consider the opportunities and challenges that come with adding premium viewing capabilities to their services. In addition to taking advantage of new ways to bring video content to customers, operators must also consider a complex web of increasing threats, particularly from cyberattacks. 

The buzz around 4K UHD has continued unabated and is set to accelerate, with operators quickly realizing the speed at which they need to innovate to bring new services to customers. However, 4K UHD requires thoughtful market analysis before big steps are taken to bring it to customers.

Before hopping on the bandwagon, operators need to assess just how big the opportunity is for their current business and if it outweighs the challenges that will come with its implementation.

First, the impact on content already distributed in HD and SD format will have to be carefully reviewed, as operators who adopt the technology must consider how this will co-exist with customers using older services and hardware.

Second, MovieLabs specifications must be considered. Designed to protect early-release Hollywood content from theft, the specifications encompass a wide range of technologies that will take time to implement and test before high-value content can be distributed.

Additionally, MovieLabs specifications present a challenge to operators to simultaneously continue HD and SD offers in combination with the early release content adhering to the specifications. A possible strategy for bringing a 4K UHD service to market would be to first adopt 4K UHD content that is not governed by the MovieLabs specifications, in order to continue to serve a range of customers simultaneously.

Clearly, balancing these issues will depend on the market forces for each operator. However, one key element must underpin all 4K UHD strategy — securing the investment which businesses put into the technology and content and their brand against illegal access.

Thankfully, this is a concept that the industry is beginning to subscribe to, with VIDITY recently rolling out new security protocols to protect its business model and Twentieth Century Fox stating that “a proactive security strategy is vital to releasing the highest quality HD and Ultra HD content to the consumer.”

Threat from the Darknet     

The Darknet is already well known in the security industry, but it should also be on the radar for operators in 2016. Often associated with being a marketplace for illegal items such as drugs and weapons, the Darknet also offers leaked account details for pay TV services alongside the tools to extract user details, such as malware.

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