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OTT: No longer just a buzzword Broadcasting predictions for 2014 by David Hochner, SatLink Communications 2 013 has seen a huge array of developments within the broadcasting and satellite space ranging from the rise of connected devices, OTT and Smart TVs becoming commonplace in the home, the emergence of Ultra HD, or 4k as it is commonly known, through to some broadcasters starting their 3D screenings and those, such as the BBC, who have decided that 3D is not for them. 2013 has certainly been a year where broadcasters and providers alike have not been able to take a step back and admire their work, instead that have taken a deep breath and prepared themselves for what the future holds. With new technologies come new challenges and as audiences expect greater quality and greater customisation of services, broadcasters, content providers and solution providers are preparing themselves for a busy 2014. The top industry trends that we see for the forthcoming 12 months are... Less linear consumption of TV content In a busy society, the way TV is consumed has been changing as audiences play catch-up with their favourite TV programmes on their mobile devices, laptops and TVs. So it is no real surprise but with On-demand TV and associated apps making it easier to watch TV whenever and wherever you want to, and not when prescribed by the TV channel itself, it means that VoD platforms are competing with the traditional concept of linear TV. Whilst linear TV may remain as the habit of choice for some audiences, ultimately 2014 will see the increasing rise of mobile consumption of content, and even the development of content specifically designed to be watched on a mobile or tablet device. 72 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 85 JANUARY 2014 Admittedly everyone has been talking about OTT for a while. What was once seen as far-away idea has become a very real reality as the technology is now available and broadcasters and content providers are having to adapt and change the way they provide content to their audiences. One of the biggest challenges so far with the OTT model is that businesses have not been seen to be making any money from it, particularly if you take into account issues such as distribution and rights management. However, as more and more players enter the market, particularly the content management area, then next year will be the commercial kick-off for the technology as increasing focus is placed on it. Additional consideration will also need to be given to how to monetise this content through advertisements etc within the technology. What the rise of OTT has also done is open up the market for smaller, sometimes more niche broadcasters. There is a growing trend amongst these smaller broadcasters to make use of cloud-based managed services and offerings from specialist providers. This technology is effectively lowering the financial entry barriers to smaller and start-up broadcast and content providers as well as levelling the playing field in terms of giving smaller players access to leading edge technology that would previously have been available only to large multinational broadcasters. The OTT customer base will be large and varied, but we dont envisage it competing with the 4k market but instead it predominately will be used to reach out to ethnic communities across the globe and those seeking more interactive content. With the US market leading the way, the African region is actually more than ready for OTT as they are able to skip previous technological incarnations and jump right into the next generation solutions that are available. It is also likely that due to the rise of Smart TV and Apps that we will start to see the demise of the Set Top Box (STB) as users will want less and less boxes in their home. This means that providers will need to work alongside TV manufacturers so that technology is incorporated into the standalone TV set.