By Maxwell Loko
Developments in the media industry have created a very different strategic environment from stable environment mass media models were based on. The present emergent environments were characterized by new opportunities and challenges. The new media ecosystem especially the broadcast digital era, have provided more and better opportunities for African broadcasters. There is no doubt that access to information for the general population would be enhanced as well as providing opportunities for locally produced content developers.
This scenario will ultimately lead to new job opportunities. A KPMG study suggests that digitalization will also positively impact GDP growth, unemployment rates and literacy levels.
The present emergent environments are characterized by uncertainty:
- Industry boundaries are unclear; ongoing convergence among the media, telecoms, and personal computing industries;
- Business models are evolving (e.g free news paper format or television formats that generate income from calls and viewers)
- Consumers preference are not well known;
- Competition can come from hitherto unknown players (internet etc)
The emerging environment present an extra complex management challenges. Existing players need to embrace new strategic direction to master new content competencies. Media managers need to strategise more rapidly and make their organizations more flexible. There is also no doubt that media organisations are operating with rising costs, declining revenue, increasing competition for audience attention and evolving technological platforms and media models.
The challenges is adoption with ever scarcer resources, stretching of all kinds of resources across a wider range of content categories and a broader range of platforms
Internet of things (IoT): The concept of the internet of things (IoT), or a truly interconnected world, where every device and system is smart and can communicate with other device and systems without human intervention, has been in existence for a number of years and is already present. Charles Davies, senior Director, product marketing at TV Technology provider Rovi SAID, “for instance, with wearable technology, we can finally understand who our audience is, and use the combination of their presence, plus other environmental indicators that the devices are communicating, to give content recommendations”.
While the opportunity to offer a range of new IoT and related services from home security to remote healthcare is clear in the case of telecoms and cable operators, there are also opportunities for broadcasters and content owners to capitalize on the Internet of Things. The opportunity to understand who is actually watching based on information from other IoT devices could also be of crucial value to the advertising world. While privacy considerations should remain at the top of the agenda, getting the right advertising content around our favorite programme offers a huge business opportunity.
Over-the-top (OTT) and direct-to-consumer offerings are becoming increasingly common among Pay TV and Channel operators alike. As television market continues to evolve, more and more services providers are turning to Over-the-top technology to deliver packages of both live and on-demand channels.
In broadcasting, Over-the-top Content (OTT) refers to delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet without the involvement of a multiple system generator in the control or distribution of content. in the UK, Sky fist launched its Internet Protocol (IP) delivered TV in 2012 as a stand alone service – a concept that appears to be gaining momentum elsewhere in the TV industry.
With service providers starting to move to OTT delivery, what does this spell for the future of the Set-top-box? Will it be dead on arrival in Africa? Or will they remain an essential piece of kit for many years to come? Kristian Bullet, global head of Software architecture at OTT TV technology specialist claims that while operators are already working on or updating their next-generation STB, “I don’t think we will see the STB go away, because it’s powerful part of the branding for these providers …. Yes, the STB is going to remain and I think slowly we’ll then see the number of other people that use OTT only start to climb”.
Though traditional linear TV is not at risk of disappearing overnight, the Internet is already having a profound effect on the Broadcasting Industry.
New Identity of Content
Media content has taken a new identity. In the past, content was king, one content package could fit all. Now, you can say that content is king, it has to be individualized in an age of remix and remixability. The Internet tends to disaggregate media products, breaking music album into tracks, splitting Newspapers into articles and news show in their various items. The bits and pieces are remixed and presented in mash-up (e.g Google Maps) to create new content collections.
Content today takes a variety of shapes and sizes:
- Content a la Carle, made on demand for niche or even individual;
- Content everywhere – multiple formats, multiple channels;
- Content for free;
- User generated content (UGG);
- Content about content, (advertising, marketing communications, promotions, self branding of media companies, etc)
Gamification as content: Over the next generation, hundreds of millions will become immersed in virtual worlds and online games. More and more people play games and enter virtual realities; more and more serious games are being used for information, education and development purposes in all sectors of society. The attractiveness of games is because they are more motivating than activities in daily life.
Therefore, media organizations may have to learn from games and reflect upon the way they can include game element more effectively in production processes, and services.
Policy and regulatory environment
With the proliferation of commercial broadcast all over the world, public broadcasters find themselves struggling to identify their unique position, with reduced resources or at least uncertainly at the level of continued public funding.
The development of access to internet has also created new problems with respect to privacy, copyright, and safety issues. Amateur video footing are frequently used by news channels without consent of the person on the video. Downloading music and video is a major issue for the media industry. Cybercriminals hack into software systems to steal personal information like credit card numbers, and log-ins. Ordinary criminals use the information from the social media to identify new victims for robbery. More and more organisdations including media organizations will have to be accountable to their audience in order to maintain credibility.
Changing phase of Television
That television has moved beyond the living room is stating the obvious. Many programmes can now be watched on computers, mobile phones, and tablets devices. However, the appeal of mobile television is not so much that it is potable, but that it is personal. You do not have to agree with other family members on what to watch.
The image of the family, clustered around the living room set is an accurate depiction of how most people watch television in most countries. The most popular television programme tend to be the most heavily recorded and the most watched on computers and mobile devices. These days you can hardly watch TV programme without being invited to visit a website to see some extra footage, to react or to discuss the show with other fans on face book, twitter, Myspace etc. People are watching TV and are surfing the web at the same time. Apps are also emerging to open new windows between programme and mobile audiences.
However, the future of television will be more than integrating tweets or hastag into the programming to start a “global conversation”. The future of television will be driven by innovations and a vision for more meaningful entertainment and engagement.
Right now, viewers are tuning to multiple screens without any cues or direction. What it is you want to do or say requires explicit design for each screen. Doing so will inspire more informed and creative ideas through the entire broadcast ecosystem, including the original programming on the main screen.
Maxwell Loko is the Managing Director, NTA TV Enterprises, Nigerian Television Authority,