By Vidya S Nath, Global Industry Manager, Digital Media Group
Of late, I have come across several requests from the industry to understand ‘video optimization’, its framework, its benefits and its applications. The phrase sounds generic, but it is key to the way video convergence is taking shape.
Video convergence (we probably have beaten that phrase to death for years now) essentially implies “simultaneous video delivery anywhere, anytime and to any device.” However, despite efforts across the media industry globally to mould that mirage into reality, there have been few successes and on the contrary, far too many roadblocks for content providers and distributors to bring that to fruition – technical shortcomings, bandwidth challenges, lack of business models, conflict of interest in the value chain, so on and so forth.
But no more. Consumer interest is over-riding these challenges and forcing content providers and service operators to sit up and accelerate their digital strategy.
Today there are billions of consumer devices worldwide that enable a consumer to access video. According to Frost & Sullivan, over 1.2 billion video consumer devices will be shipped globally in 2010 alone (excluding television sets and including mobile handsets, PCs and media players), many of which will support Internet access. Besides these, there are millions of set-top boxes, game consoles and other devices which can stream content from Web portals, providing the consumer a super-large repository of content they can search through and choose from. This trend has spurred the concept of over-the-top or OTT content – basically content that consumers can access over broadband, and possibly stream to their television sets.
The significance of these numbers is huge and impossible to ignore if you are a service provider or a broadcaster. One, it illustrates the emergence of a new audience that is possibly going to end watching less television. Two, it signifies a change in the way video will be consumed, very different from the unilateral distribution of television broadcast. Three, these video consumption habits are redefining advertising and business models. It is true that these numbers could hardly make a dent in the television services market, but the viability of the new media opportunities cannot be doubted.