The evolution of TV

Bryan Hill, Director of Marketing and Business Development - Digital Media 

TV and video have undergone a rapid evolution over the last 30 years. In the 1980s, we saw a significant boom in cable television which was followed in quick succession by the advent of satellite TV and the rise of digital TV. Today, the streaming of TV is taking centre stage and the media landscape is set to see continued disruption as OTT services expand and grow market share further.

Just last month it was announced that Apple would join the likes of Netflix and BBC iPlayer and launch its own TV service this autumn in order to meet the on-demand viewing desires of today’s video consumers. Gone are the days when broadcasters dictated what people watched. Viewers want the ability to watch what they want, when they want, wherever they are and on whatever device they want. Now they have the capability to do so.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s new TV service would make content from various broadcasters such as 21st Century Fox and Disney available across all Apple devices including iPhones and Apple TV set-top box – making this on-demand desire a reality for many Apple users. And if this service mimics the uptake seen by Netflix, the cracks in the traditional ways of viewing TV will become much larger.

You just have to look at the numbers to see how this much of an impact streaming is having on audiences. In 2013, Netflix grew its subscriber base in the US by 33% to over 44 million members – more than double the subscriber base of ComCast, the world’s largest pay TV operator. Back in the UK BBC iPlayer requests reached a record 248 million requests in March. And it’s not just the platform people watch TV on that is changing, it’s the devices they watch them on as well. Mobile phones and tablets are now the source of nearly 50% of iPlayer requests.

The impact on broadcasters

Audiences today are much more fragmented and less predictable than they ever were in the linear broadcast world. This market shift is impacting not only the traditional existing broadcasting model, but also the way that content is developed and brought to the screen. It requires a greater use of technology and this requires an appropriate infrastructure to enable it. Companies in the production chain need to ensure they are using appropriate technology to get content out as quickly as possible and to deal with the huge complexity of devices and formats (be that compression, streaming, drm etc)

But it’s not just increased choice and flexibility that viewers want, they also have high expectations when it comes to quality. With Sony launching a 4K download service in late 2013 and with Netflix streaming its 4K catalogue in May last year, other providers will soon follow suit.

Such changes to how we consume content today and the quality we expect means that we have to pay increasing attention to the network infrastructure. Connectivity has never been more important to successfully facilitate today’s on-demand culture and network optimisation. Peering and compression improvements will all help but the infrastructure needs to be looked at as a whole – from the networks to the data centres to the routers in our homes.

To find out more, download the Interxion whitepaper today.