One of the basic tenets of today’s digital economy is that change is a constant. Network speeds are getting faster, our connectivity is increasing, and technology is moving at breakneck speed. All of this allows digital innovators to redefine value like clockwork.
Take streaming giant Netflix, for example. Seven years ago it was considered groundbreaking to offer original programming, and today its original content library now exceeds its number of acquired titles. Viewers now expect streaming services to offer easy to access content from any device they choose.
In addition, the streaming landscape itself has grown and evolved—Hulu, Apple, Amazon, Disney all joining the fray. Many are working closely with communications service providers (CSPs) to distribute their content. CSPs, meanwhile, are expanding their own digital offerings by actively acquiring content providers. End-users are hungry for the latest content, and CSPs are being challenged to meet and exceed their growing expectations.
But it’s not just digital content that’s changed—it’s also the channels through which we enjoy it. As smartphones have advanced, mobile has become a must-have in any CSP bundle. Consumers like to stream on-the-go, so most cable, satellite and telco providers are adding OTT (over-the-top) adjunct video stacks, since their proprietary solutions for home delivery aren’t necessarily mobile-friendly.
With so much changing at once, forecasting the next phase in the streaming lifecycle may seem daunting. However, there are a few major trends happening in the wider industry that give us a good sense of where we’re headed:
1. 5G Deployment
The impact of 5G on digital content is nothing short of seismic. With upwards of 10 times the bandwidth, lower latencies and higher speeds, it stands to make its mark on streaming as well. For example, the greater accessibility helps CSPs extend their OTT video capabilities to mobile consumers in more geographies. But what’s particularly interesting is how it will pave the way for greater flexibility in launching new services in real-time, based on market need. This type of flexible, 5G-driven monetization opportunitywill soon be a standard.
2. Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
One of the most interesting things I saw at MWC Barcelona this year—which I attended as part of CSG’s delegation—was Microsoft’s announcementaround the HoloLens 2. While nirvana for VR/AR is a mass adoption in the consumer realm (gaming for VR, retail for AR) Microsoft decided to focus their attention with HoloLens 2 on the enterprise use cases. They had many great examples of how AR will revolutionize the life of knowledge worker, industrial workers, students and the medical field. Really interesting. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution kicks in to full gear, it will be instrumental in helping workers re-skill—in a consumer friendly way—in preparation for smart societies.
3. Growing Role of Customer Centricity
At the heart of modern streaming and video businesses is the customer. Understanding their preferences, profiles and device usage is core to the personalizationCSPs need to be able to deliver, including how they pay for their digital services. For example, features like an integrated e-wallet can make it easy to subscribe, rent, purchase and upgrade through the method of their choice. The customer is driving not only the digital content CSPs create, but the very experience of engaging with that content.
The future of streaming relies on the seamless engagement with immersive and innovative digital content. For CSPs, understanding how customers respond to these trends is vital to building modern delivery strategies that meet their needs, while supporting sustainable growth. What top streaming trends are you seeing? Share your comments with me.