IBC 2015 wrapped up yesterday in Amsterdam having been the largest version of the show ever with over 55,000 attendees. After days of customer, prospect, partner and analyst meetings and the terrific conversations that happen on the show floor and off-site at social events – here are some of the recurring themes that are reverberating back at Brightcove HQ.
OTT services are strategic investments. Broadcasters may have experimented in years past with quickly creating websites and featuring whatever content they could given (1) their existing rights deals and (2) that they didn’t see a clear path to profitability with limited scale. Now, as content deals come up for renewal and direct to consumer services are taking off, these initiatives are being treated more strategically in all aspects including architecture, feature set, UX, monetization and content strategy.
In that sense, it was fortuitous that we had just published some consumer research leading up to the show because, directionally, we want to help our customers prioritize features and platforms of their services based on the expectations and behaviors of their target audiences.
As demographics tie to behavior in the research, so is geography (and market maturity) driving fluctuation in customer priorities. Just as some Hungarian broadcasters were lamenting to me the penetration of DOCSIS 3.0 in their market, limiting their IP distribution of longer form content and live, Switzerland saw 2 operators announce 4k capabilities for their set top boxes in 2016.
The German companies over-indexed with their concern about ad blockers in our conversations (Germany ranking 2nd only to Greece in EMEA for ad blocker usage at 35% according to PageFair). Those conversations naturally steered towards the merits of server-side ad insertion.
The penetration and public plans for Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV all differ by country and the focus on those platforms in our conversations varied accordingly. There was interest in our solutions for Opera TV Snap and HbbTV (we were nominated for a CSI award) and especially Brightcove’s comprehensive DRM support across all of these endpoints – in addition to browser and mobile app - in a multi-device, DASH, post-Flash world.
Sexier than the demo for, and conversation around, multidevice and multi-browser DRM support (we did have one) are visual demos of 360 video (we had one) and VR (we didn’t have one). There were a bunch of fun ones at the show but the topic rarely seemed to come up as a priority in customer meetings - except in the context of sports services.
Tackling innovative new presentation layers like 360 video is an area in which design/strategy specialists like Ixonos, Vigour and Accedo are shining. There were definitely great experiences heard about working with those types of firms and there was excitement at our booth around the demos of Al Jazeera's VOD service, which was designed and developed by Brightcove Global Services (BGS), the AJ+ channel iOS and Android apps, which were designed and built by Ixonos and BGS, and the Met Opera apps for Roku, Samsung, iOS, Android, and Web, which were designed and built by BGS in partnership with The Met Opera digital team.
With expectations being high for quality OTT, combining VOD and Live in an on-brand service, as Al Jazeera does, is an investment that other broadcasters at IBC are also starting to make. Some are doing it for the first time and others are recognizing this as a time to replatform and go bigger. No wonder so many people were in Amsterdam for this year’s show.
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