(Brussels, 9 March 2017): The cable industry is enabling the growth of high quality content like ultra HD TV (UHD) and virtual reality (VR), through high speed broadband connections, and driven to invest in networks by the prospect of new services.
On day two of Cable Congress 2017, delegates were given a taste of developments in video technology and content provision that are set to impact the cable industry, not just in the home but also for education, business and leisure activities. Exponential increases in cable broadband speeds are crucial to the growth of these new services.
Yupeng Xiong, Chief Planner of the Access Product Line at Huawei, explained that the transition to superior UHD video and VR technology requires a high bandwidth capability – ultimately up to 5 gigabits per second for HD VR. “Virtual reality trends are set to increase and cable providers should be ready to meet this demand,” he said.
A whole new world of content is being opened up by over-the-top (OTT) providers, offering unprecedented choice. Alex Green, Managing Director at Amazon Video, said that “OTT is in unbelievable health, both for consumers who have choice, convenience and value and for the creative industry who are benefitting from investment and a move towards niche and ground-breaking content.” The market for niche content provision is huge, with platform services able to support content to reach a global audience.
This will change the dynamic between OTT providers and cable services. Bakori Davis, MD of Niche Media Global, said that “OTT represents a way for cable operators and content owners to reinvigorate that relationship, and connect with consumers in a different way.”
With the possible emergence of YouTube and other new players in the OTT market, there could be a confusing array of choices for consumers. But Eric Byoko, President and CEO of Stingray, expects that in the longer term this will mean “a return to bundle services, which work better for consumers and cable operators alike.”
Peter Roberts, SVP Business Development at Gaia predicted that “OTT and Pay TV will in the end be interchangeable – accessing a cable thematic channel and a thematic OTT will be the same. It will be seamless for consumers to move from one to the other.”
Cable operators were also encouraged to invest in more “digital first” content. Hala Baviere, SVP Business Development at Vivendi, noted that more people watch short-form videos on their phones, especially millennials, but that they continue to be fans of highly-scripted drama by Netflix or HBO, for example. The market has so far failed to provide content that matched both these trends. Gabriel Catrina, Chief Strategy Officer at MTG, argued that the definition of content as ‘premium’ did not matter anymore: “what matters is the relevance of the content or the story, content that people want to engage with,” which encompasses everything from user-generated content to e-gaming.
At the same time, content and services on both pay TV and OTT are threatened by piracy. According to Rory O’Connor, Vice President of Services for Irdeto, about two-thirds of Europeans still believe that it is legal to produce, share, stream or download pirated content. He argued that with younger generations relying most on OTT services, this issue woud only grow, and called on cable operators to understand and face the challenge now to slow the trend. “Content providers must work across all platforms and all devices,” he said, “or piracy will always be the easier choice for consumers.”
Cable Congress 2017 is taking place in Brussels on Wednesday 8 March and Thursday 9 March. Please visit www.cablecongress.com for the latest updates, talk to us on Twitter via @CableEurope, and follow the conversation live using #cablecongress.
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About Cable Europe
Cable Europe is the trade association that connects leading broadband cable TV operators and their national trade associations throughout the European Union. The regulatory and public policy activities of Cable Europe aim to promote and defend the industry’s policies and business interests at European and international level. The European cable industry provides high speed broadband internet, TV services and telephony to more than 63 million homes in the European Union.