There’s been a video streaming outbreak: bring on the control systems

via Flickr © Retrogasm (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © Retrogasm (CC BY 2.0)

  • Major B2C video streaming action creates opportunities for vendors
  • Vendor-agnostic systems are favourite as players see a rising need integrate with multiple systems
  • Content aggregation will be a major force, coupled with better content search and discovery

It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that so-called B2C IP-based video streaming is on a  roll and taking on a global dimension. Big names - Disney, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and more - are  preparing to accelerate the so-called cord cutting trend and snap up the customers peeling away from the established entertainment providers and gravitating towards what appears to be focused and often original content. It’s all in cut-throat competition with diversifying big telcos many of whom have eyes on the same prize, hoping too that streaming video will become a major use case for 5G.

IP streaming services: there are lots of them and most are currently priced at between $5 and $12 per month. Here are the major ones. 

Disney+     $6.99

AppleTV+   $4.99

HBO Max  $14.99

Netflix       $12.99

Hulu          $11.99

Showtime  $10.99

CBS          $9.99

Prime        $8.99

Starz         $8.99

Too many?  Probably not. The calculation is not that viewers are going to try and buy all of the offerings, but that household viewing habits will dictate a mix of providers to suit different tastes. But if this is the calculation then there will be much launching, merging, content sharing, shuffling and deal making as the streaming industry sorts itself out. 

And where there’s industry upheaval there are usually opportunities for equipment and software providers. One of those seems to lie with ‘broadcast control systems’ which, according to Futuresource Consulting, increased its value as a segment by 3 per cent last year to reach nearly $88 million.

Essentially, as IP networks gain a foothold within broadcasting,  control system complexity is creating an opportunity for vendors and is the primary  driver of market growth according to Adam Cox, Senior Analyst for Imaging & Pro Video at Futuresource Consulting. 

“Combine that with the new facilities being built in emerging markets and the growing live sports segment and market value will grow to more than $103 million by FY23, he claims.”

Both Europe and North America are enjoying about 3 per cent growth in the segment while APAC is up at 6% from a lower base.

Futuresource says that broadcast control solutions fall into  two broad categories. Firstly, ‘single vendor’ solutions, which were historically designed to control a manufacturer’s own hardware and provide a certain level of integration with other vendors’ equipment. 

The second type are referred to as ‘vendor agnostic’ systems and they’re growing in popularity as end users are becoming more comfortable with IP,” says Cox. “These have specifically been designed to integrate products from multiple different manufacturers, allowing people to select best-in-breed hardware for the job, without being tied to a particular manufacturer. 

Vendor agnostic noses ahead

‘Vendor agnostic’ solutions accounted for 52 per cent of revenues in 2018 and will continue to take market share from ‘single vendor’ solutions in the short to mid-term.”

“Our feedback suggests that wherever a multi-manufacturer workflow is being installed it is becoming more likely that a "vendor agnostic" control solution will be utilised. This comes as experience with IP grows and end users are becoming more comfortable stepping out of a single manufacturer's ecosystem. 

“That's not to say that the more traditional brands cannot provide integration with other vendors' equipment through their control systems, it's just that they often haven't been designed with this in mind and, crucially, they are often not perceived as being the best option if multi-manufacturer integration is required.”

The rise of 4K is also sustaining the broadcast control market, albeit indirectly. “By and large, broadcast control systems are not concerned with content resolution, but higher bandwidth requirements force a choice between quad 3G-SDI, 12G-SDI and IP architectures.” says Cox. “4K is therefore one of the drivers towards IP adoption, opening the door for more complex and expensive broadcast control solutions. Eighteen per cent of broadcast control installations were 4K in FY18.”

So what happens to the underlying infrastructure with players like Disney and Apple, for instance, now entering the streaming market and making big bets. Are the analysts anticipating  lots of service aggregation and even consolidation as B2C services are sliced, diced, bought and merged in the future?

In the short term Futuresource is actually expecting continued fragmentation of SVoD services, but for these services to all coexist there will need to be aggregation, it claims. 

For that to be successful, however, it must be accompanied by better content search and discovery on  the existing platforms.

“The winner amongst the aggregators will be whoever can devise and market the best cross-platform search and discovery,” says Cox. “That’s where we expect the next major battleground to be. We can see  Apple, Roku, Amazon, Comcast/Sky and others driving into this area in order to remain central to the at home viewing experience.”

Futuresource says it’s seeing voluntary consolidation already with broadcasters and content creators engaging in joint ventures such as the Joyn service (Discovery and ProSieben in Germany), Britbox (BBC and ITV in the UK) and Salto (France Télévisions, TF1 and M6 in France). 

You can find Futuresource Consulting here

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