Broadcast, media sector presents telcos with digital transformation opportunities

Analyst sets out potential winning strategy for telcos in entertainment sector with 5G, multi-access edge computing and network slicing, as well as virtualisation and cloud

The huge uptake of streaming services makes it appear that broadcast and media companies have avoided serious harm from Covid-19, but the pandemic has delivered a massive hit to film and TV production and to cinema chains, spurring them to transform their operations through digital solutions, says GlobalData. This is creating big opportunities for telcos.

The data and analytics company believes that against this backdrop, there are several opportunities for network carrier telcos to help broadcast and media companies, particularly with the emergence of 5G and the deployment of cloud services and virtualisation.

GlobalData added that such companies, which are adept at leveraging mobile, cloud, analytics and automation, will gain significant competitive advantages in terms of cost of business, ability to reach a wider audience and providing new ways of consuming content.

They are likely to join online entertainment platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney, which benefited from the surging demand for content as people stay at home during the lockdown and are likely to do so for a considerable period.

In its latest annual results, Netflix announced that during 2020, it had smashed the 200 million mark for subscribers, far exceeding expectations of Wall Street analyst and even itself.

GlobalData’s study highlighted Asia-Pacific (APAC) as the largest online video-on-demand market in terms of subscribers, expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.7% from 231 million subscriptions in 2018 to 420 million in 2023. Yet despite this growth, the pandemic has also impacted content supply in the region, from the delay in production of new films to the cancellation of major sporting events.

This has resulted in a loss of revenue from both content and advertising, impacting mostly content producers, pay-TV operators, cinemas and broadcasters.

GlobalData believes that to mitigate these business issues, providers need to adopt and/or hasten digital transformation plans. It says virtualisation of IT and broadcasting technologies and the migration of on-premise systems to the cloud will facilitate this transformation and simplify operations.

It adds that 5G technology, global fibre networks and remote facilities will continue to reduce the need for large on-site production crews, facilities and expensive on-site equipment, and will also increase the coverage of live events.  

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Also, 5G, multi-access edge computing and network slicing are seen as playing a key role in enhancing broadcast and media experience across the value chain in the not-too-distant future. And as the media industry moves further into the cloud, GlobalData says there will be a need for more partners to collaborate on content creation, distribution and aggregation from anywhere.

“The telecommunications networks play a crucial role in delivering content to consumers around the world,” said GlobalData research director Siow Meng Soh. “Increasingly, network carriers are building stronger relationship with broadcast and media companies to provide services beyond the transmission network. Some carriers have developed a practice dedicated to the broadcast and media industry, offering solutions tailored to the needs of this industry and going beyond the content delivery network.”

The research cited network carriers such as BT, Tata Communications and Telstra as having a dedicated business unit to support the broadcast and media industry and offer solutions beyond connectivity, addressing different aspects of the broadcast media industry, including content creation, distribution, aggregation and user interfaces. 

Soh advised telcos to look at use cases that were specifically beneficial to broadcast and media companies. “5G will become a key driver in enabling remote production,” he said. “The technology can also be deployed at stadiums to enhance spectators’ experience, including the use of augmented reality, connected devices to assist umpires, in-stadium streaming. Growth in streaming over 5G is likely to be realised in markets that are heavily tilted toward mobile viewing, such as China and India.”

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