Tom Williams is the CEO of broadcast content delivery expert Ostmodern (www.ostmodern.com). With NAB 2018 approaching next week, he muses on what will likely be the hot topics of discussion on the show floor.
1. How Web VR can drive widespread VR adoption
Undoubtedly VR will be a major discussion point at this year's NAB. Web VR opens the door to VR content for the masses because content through this platform can be accessed from channels where audiences already spend their time. Slipping a phone into Google cardboard is a low barrier for audiences wanting to try out a VR experience. Web VR headsets are now becoming more and more affordable, which is set to drive adoption further in 2018, so it will be interesting to see what other opportunities in this area are being developed at the show.
2. The potential of blockchain
Blockchain is now as much discussed, and hyped, as VR. As momentum builds, 2018 could be the year where blockchain really adds value to VoD services. This is something we expect to hear mentioned a lot around the LVCC. Netflix, Amazon and other large video services are currently the main gatekeepers for video distribution and monetization. Sites like Vimeo and YouTube may enable easy distribution of content, but don't allow content creators to control their content and track how it is being used. Blockchain, with its secure, decentralized network, will allow creators to track and monetize their content, while building a direct relationship with their audience.
3. Live sports rights changing the game
Sport has long been considered the last bastion for live TV, but audience behaviours have changed and many viewers are moving away from large cable packages where they're forced to pay for channels they simply don't watch. Social media networks and tech giants like Amazon are only fuelling this further by disrupting an already fragmented sports broadcasting arena, purchasing the rights to several major live sporting events. With this in mind, it remains to be seen what future live TV packages might look like. Sports broadcasting always features heavily at NAB as a discussion point. This year will be no exception.
4. Kids TV becoming a focus for major VoD players
Younger audiences are now consuming most of their video content on demand, with Netflix and YouTube serving as their main interaction point for video instead of traditional TV. This presents a huge opportunity for VoD service providers: to build potentially long-lasting relationships with this demographic; and to become the place younger viewers go to for video over the long-established broadcasters and cable companies. There is a clear opportunity for VoD platforms to capitalize on this. At NAB this year we expect to see that more and more service providers will be moving into kids' TV to open up new revenue streams.
5. How content providers can keep pace with OTTs
Discussions on how industry players can adapt and evolve, to keep up with the disruption that services such as Amazon and Netflix have caused, will continue to be at the core of NAB as in previous years. This is very much still a hot topic. Disney's recent removal of all its content from Netflix is one of the earliest warning signs for VoD platforms that the industry has changed. Netflix has developed its business by completely winning over the audiences of content producers. It has now become a media powerhouse that challenges those content producers directly. This has, and will, further force content producers to consider how they can build the same brand affinity with their material, while also providing a convenient access point for consumers.
6. The need for content discovery to shape broadcasters' strategies
Netflix is the market leader in personalization. The business model it has driven from personalization has become attractive to other companies. Don't however underestimate the investment and resources Netflix has dedicated to personalization. The OTT giant has centered its whole platform on this concept and was the first to bet big on it. While having features that keep pace with competitors' is obviously important, most providers neither have the necessary resources nor the content catalogue size to justify personalisation features that match those of Netflix. This year's NAB is likely to feature conversations on the broader issues of content discovery and how there is much more to serving an audience than merely personalisation as we know it today.