Five video trends to watch in 2016

Rob Gallagher/Ovum

OvumAround the turn of each year, Ovum produces a series of reports highlighting key trends across the telecom, media, and technology markets that our analysts cover. Here’s my pick of five about TV and video.

One, direct-to-consumer TV will (kind of) come to pass. The buzz around HBO Now, DisneyLife, and other apps that allow consumers to access premium TV-channel content without a pay-TV subscription will not reflect the true impact of these direct-to-consumer (D2C) offers.

Launches will be limited to a few major content owners able to carry the strategy off. Plus, a significant proportion of (the small number of) D2C subscriptions will be brokered via bundles and special offers from new intermediaries, such as Internet companies and telecoms operators.

Two, there will be more SkyQ-like super-premium pay-TV. Cord-cutting hype has obscured the fact that many consumers value – and are paying for – TV more than ever, if you include spend on both pay-TV and OTT alternatives.

Major pay-TV operators in mature high-spending services will attempt to grow their share of big spenders by following Sky in launching bigger, better bundles of the best content and the most sophisticated technologies. But such strategies will be limited to pay-TV’s elite, as success will ultimately be determined by the amount of exclusive TV shows, movies, and sport the operator can afford.

The above may happen as, three, pay-TV becomes more nuanced. Super-premium launches will be part of a wider move by the TV industry to segment services more finely for the full spectrum of people prepared to pay to watch.

Expect less-is-more bundles of selected content aimed at young tech-savvy consumers who want more flexibility and choice. Operators that have already made such progress by launching low-priced, stand-alone OTT services in 2014 and 2015 will increasingly integrate these offers with their core product portfolios and brands in order to provide a smoother path to upselling customers to higher-value services.

Four, YouTube networks will evolve into multi-platform production houses. A big story in 2015 was about traditional media companies like Disney investing in multi-channel networks (MCNs) such as Maker Studios.

This year will see the rise of the multi-platform producer as existing MCNs and new entrants focus less on the brute aggregation of thousands of disparate YouTube channels, and more on helping more carefully selected talent to produce compelling content across traditional and digital media platforms.

And five, innovation will go around linear video. Despite the doom scenarios about traditional linear TV, smart media companies – both new and old – will recognize that broadcasting is just another form of publishing.

TV channels will create must-see TV events beyond news and sport to drive both linear and on-demand viewing. Operators will seek to blur the boundaries further; “start over” features prompting viewers to restart shows mid-broadcast will prove particularly popular. In the digital-first world, personal live streaming will heat up, with Facebook making waves despite Periscope’s head start.

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