2017 was a busy and transformative year for the Media and Entertainment industry, with huge strides made in the delivery and accessibility of digital content.
Consumers are increasingly hungry for faster speeds
So much of what happens in the provision of M&E content is driven by the consumer along with the organisations allowing publishers, programme makers and film studios to feed their appetites. Whether it's via social media, on the traditional web or across mobile apps, there is a significant market for content growing fast across all consumer devices. But this can only be driven by the availability and speeds of broadband, Wi-Fi and 4G.
Earlier in 2017, Ofcom announced the average download speed in the UK was 36.2Mbps, up 25% year-on-year.
Superfast broadband connections went up from 9.2m at the end of 2015 to 10.8m at the end of 2016.
I suspect we'll see an even larger rise reported for the end of 2017. With such significant speed boosts and adoption, the M&E industry has a much stronger foundation to take advantage of and serve the consumer with even higher quality content like UHD.
Big media companies have moved to the cloud
Faster fixed-line and mobile broadband speeds offer a huge opportunity for M&E companies to move from their legacy in-house hosting systems to the cloud. This more flexible solution can take advantage of the peaks and troughs in consumer demand, meaning the cloud is now playing a much more dominant role within our sector.
In 2017, we've seen huge companies like Discovery, Pearson and others, continue to move to and leverage the cloud. Amazon and Microsoft Azure are the two main hyper-clouds but five years ago hardly anyone had heard of Amazon Web Services.
Now it’s everything in media; Netflix moved to it and so has YouView. That is because everything you need to do, from preproduction to post production and then distribution, can be handled through the cloud so it’s no surprise to have seen adoption on such a scale.
Broadcast viewing is becoming less linear
Catch-up and on-demand have rapidly grown in popularity but figures from Ofcom in August 2017 showed how 79% of adults or 40m people use such services to watch multiple episodes of their favourite shows at a time. This binge-viewing phenomenon is ever more popular and it is why even the BBC is releasing whole series on iPlayer before showing them on its traditional channels.
The recent Gunpowder drama with Game of Thrones star Kit Harington saw all three episodes streamed on iPlayer just as the first was being aired on telly. This transformation requires backend M&E technology to be robust, scalable and always-on. Nobody wants disappointed viewers hanging on a buffering, or worse, a suddenly offline cliffhanger.
AI is driving Personalisation
Across the media supply chain, the growth in automation and AI is fueling a huge rise in the availability of personalised recommendations for consumers. Indeed, it is also being driven by customer-demand. At IBC2017 in September, all the talk was of connecting more deeply with viewers and giving them the tools to “discover and navigate” their way through the deluge of content that is out there.
In 2017, this has been driven by advances in data collection and processes coupled with the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence to identify trends and opportunities fast.
The use of personal data across all consumer devices, backed by hosting to safely process and store it, enhances data-driven commercial decisions on how best to monetise consumer offerings, searches and viewing habits.
Security methods are maturing but aren’t keeping pace with criminality
We have seen in 2017 how security has matured by building upon protection and prevention with more sophisticated detection, but there has still been a limited amount of response when it comes to stopping hacks, data breaches and theft of IP. Most budget goes into prevention, but despite this we know most IT professionals still fear - and even expect - a major data breach.
There is a real issue and danger of departments lacking the time, money or skilled staff to handle crisis.
Whatever you deal with, whether AR, VR, apps, software, cloud, IoT, Big Data or AI, it all has a need to be secure and a need for protection. This means there will be a call for more investment, more knowledge within companies and a greater use of trusted partners with specialist skills to complement IT departments internally.
M&E hacks this year have come from across the world and 2017 signalled these threats are growing fast because of the disruption it can cause to an industry in monetary and reputational terms.