In an increasingly crowded video landscape, user experience has become more important than ever. In fact, a report conducted by PwC shows that it does more for keeping viewers engaged and subscribed than offering top-class content. It is not surprising therefore that many broadcasters are looking to embrace new technologies in order to enhance the user experience. The implementation of high-value features is a good way of providing users with an experience that goes beyond the primary video content, ensuring that your service stays competitive over time.
At the same time, the implementation of next-generation applications, including Augmented Reality (AR), has hitherto been partially limited by the lack of quality connectivity. Will the introduction of 5G, therefore, open up a wealth of opportunities for video providers? We brought together panelists from Harmonic and Accedo to discuss this (as well as other related topics) in a webinar that aired last week. Here are our key takeaways:
5G is beginning to rollout across the globe and adoption is already picking up speed. Ericsson recently increased its estimate for the number of 5G subscriptions and forecasts that there will be around 190 million by the end of this year. With some 5G networks emerging, others are close on the horizon. In Denmark, for example, TDC has just launched its 5G network, and Telia and Telenor look set to be close behind.
5G opens up a wealth of innovation possibilities when it comes to content creation. In some cases, this may mean that video service providers launch fully immersive live experiences. We are also likely to see some interesting innovation with user-generated content, as it greatly reduces the cost barriers normally associated with moderating and streaming this type of material. The key challenge will center around making this a seamless part of the overall video experience.
We already know that the way in which video is consumed varies greatly from country to country - ranging from the type of device used, the type of content that is most popular, and the way in which consumers interact. It is clear that when it comes to 5G, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all use case.
In the short-term, there are a number of compelling use cases that will maximize current capabilities around 5G. However, there are certain things the industry still needs to figure out in order to deliver comprehensive next-generation experiences (one of these issues is real-time rendering). We won’t see fully immersive and reactive experiences until these types of technologies are finalised. but that shouldn’t stop the launch of other compelling use cases in the meantime. It will also be hugely important to focus on testing and discovering what works.
Next-generation experiences often create the “wow factor” but that doesn’t necessarily equate to people consuming the content. It is absolutely vital to have the data in place to measure if, and how, people are interacting with your service. Ultimately, this is the only way to evaluate the relevance of a monetization strategy and tailor it to your audience.
The Sports vertical is likely to see a lot of attractive use cases, as 5G will help content owners provide a more engaging user experience. It will also help them enable much more interaction amongst fans as well as between fans and their favorite sport heroes. A truly immersive experience also means that there are ways for viewers to immediately interact with the video service provider, and this is also something that will be better enabled by 5G connectivity.
Despite the initial excitement around Virtual Reality (VR), we are yet to see truly successful and scalable use cases. This is partly because, while the industry was excited by the technical possibilities, adoption of new technology takes time and also requires engaging content. 5G has the capacity to give VR the revival it deserves, as better connectivity will enable the delivery of truly immersive, virtual experiences. This will also have to be driven by different and engaging use cases such as, for example, within the Education vertical. Imagine school children visiting museums or attractions in the other parts of the world or teachers using VR technology to showcase real-world examples.
It is clear that 5G is coming and is set to revolutionize the way content is consumed. If you would like to understand its impact in greater detail and get a better sense of what this means for the video industry, please get in touch.