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2024 Half Year Report: What significant trends are developing?

We are now halfway through what is proving to be a very eventful year for the video industry. What can we say about the trends that are emerging in 2024 so far?2024 trends

As we enter into the summer months, it is interesting to look around the video industry and summarise what we have learned in the year so far. We have had three major trade shows in NAB, CABSAT and Broadcast Asia, numerous smaller events have taken place, and we are in constant dialogue with customers old and new as they look to adapt to the constant changes in the market.

Here are the three top trends that we have identified that we think will be important parts of the conversation as we head towards IBC2024 in Amsterdam in September.

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One of the most fertile parts of the industry has been in the way that it seeks to reinvent the ways it distributes content to viewers. Viewing habits are constantly changing as technology evolves, and broadcasters and operators are continually looking to engage with the audiences wherever they may be.

FAST was the buzzword of 2023 reflecting changing consumer viewing habits as streaming options and models have advanced, primarily the growth of Connected TV devices (see below) and the rise of cord-cutting. It has remained at the forefront of people’s minds in 2024 and the outlook continues to be promising. However, there are nuances regarding how it’s being presented this year. FAST 2024 is a more refined offering than previously, with less channels and more of a concentration on quality over quantity.  Advertisers proved to not be too keen on multiple channels, and while pop-ups and some niche channels will always be part of the landscape, on the whole offerings are far more focused.

There is also a growing understanding that FAST is part of the journey and not the final destination. It is a transitional format and is being increasingly used as a component of a wider multi-tiered and cross-platform content offering whose ultimate aim is to convert the viewer to a paid subscriber. It is valuable for onboarding new customers, and can help mitigate churn for existing ones, but the aim is always for them to move on to higher value services.

There are also questions over whether it will prove to be quite as popular in other territories as it is in the US. While it is growing rapidly everywhere, the US still accounts for the majority of the channels. It will be interesting to see if that will remain the case as the rest of the world develops its offerings.

2. Connected TV

There is also a continued amount of noise surrounding Connected TV, a related technology that also fits into the picture of an industry transitioning to streaming distribution. This is undoubtedly the technology that cements streaming’s place in the world’s living rooms, and is becoming more attractive to consumers as the TV sets become more capable and their operating systems improve and offer more features. They provide a premium experience, achieve good levels of engagement, and therefore are a very attractive environment for advertisers.

Connected TV is proof that content owners need to think cross-platform and have an offering that covers everything from the 65-inch 4K set in the living room to the mobile in the pocket on a mass transit system. As a result, broadcasters in particular cannot afford to ignore the latest generation of streaming technologies and need to catch up with the sophisticated multiplatform services that telcos have marketed and finessed over the past decade. Traditional linear TV is not dead, far from it, but an over reliance on it for retaining viewers would be a definite error in long-term judgement.

We have talked a lot about bundles in the past month, and for consumers they are increasingly important. But the real power for media companies lies in unifying all the content into a single, super-aggregated ecosystem. This unlocks even more features that play well with consumers such as single-sign on, single point of billing, and universal search. The business model is compelling as well. FAST, SVOD/AVOD, Social, linear TV… the more routes to content that a company can offer the stronger its ability to survive in a constantly changing marketplace. And, needless to say, aggregation provides media companies with the degree of access to customer data that they need to refine their offerings and offer increased personalisation to consumers.

3. AI

The clear trend toward owning audience data within a specific environment leads us to AI and the data-driven solutions that are seen as increasingly vital to ongoing business health and expansion. Hyper-personalisation is one of the most important goals of the current industry, and that is dependent on both the analysis of data by AI and the sort of detailed customer interaction that generative AI promises.

What is unexpected is that while there is much talk about AI and AI-based features, there is less visible deployment of these services than you would expect. Despite ever-more sophisticated AI tools being part of the core offerings of most vendors, and all media companies insistent on their presence in RFPs, many newly launched TV services do not have the full degree of personalisation that they could have, and some are even coming to market with traditional advertising models rather than the far more effective targeted TV advertising. 

We expect this to change soon. Everyone is working on AI and the likelihood is that once we see some high-profile deployments in the market than the floodgates will open and it will be all too easy for those not prepared for it to be left behind.  Generative AI is also likely to disrupt other areas of the industry at short notice, as this year’s rapid advances in generating video from text prompts have illustrated. 

Focusing on monetization

The first big transition of the digital age of broadcasting was to streaming. This is now overlapping with the second and more critical transition, the requirement to make streaming profitable in the long-term following the initial period of rapid expansion and investment.

There are proven ways to do this. A pivot to targeted advertising is one, maximising library content is another. This latter strategy ties all the trends we are seeing together; using AI to analyse a broadcaster or operator’s archive to identify long-tail content, which can then be streamed as part of a multi-tier streaming offer (including FAST) to each and every platform at high quality.

There is more to talk about, of course. We have not touched on developments surrounding sport and live events yet (we will cover that in the coming weeks), and there are sure to be new developments in AI the next few months that will further heighten the potential degree of personalisation that can be offered to the viewer. This is going to be very important. As viewers become more used to hyper-personalisation underpinning other aspects of their digital lives, such as with the forthcoming Apple Intelligence tools coming to iPhones soon, so they will increasingly look for it elsewhere. By the time we start to summarise what has happened in 2024 and look ahead to 2025 later this year, many things could have changed again.

Fatima Peñaranda

Fatima Peñaranda is VO's Sales Manager Content & Sports Europe in the EMEAR Sales team. She boasts over 20 years of expertise in the television and digital media industry. Having previously held the position of General Manager at Bloomberg TV, she possesses extensive experience in television, licensing, and content production. Her subsequent experience at Ericsson / Red Bee Media has equipped her with a profound understanding of the most current industry trends and solutions in an interconnected era, acquiring knowledge from both business and technical standpoints.