Industry Voices—Dixon: Business performance, live and eSports top of mind at IBC 2019

Amsterdam
IBC Show takes place September 13-17 at the RAI in Amsterdam. (Unsplash)

Hall 14 at IBC has been the center of the online video discussion, with new tech companies crowding the space.

This year, the online video conversation has spread to the other halls as the technology becomes mainstream, and the industry shifts its focus to video business performance. 

Here are some new areas of focus for IBC in 2019 and three new technologies that may help online video providers optimize their businesses. 

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Low-latency streaming

Live streaming events will be common online within the next several years. Global internet video traffic is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33% through 2022. Live internet video will grow much faster, at a CAGR of 73%, boosting its share of internet video from 4% in 2017 to 17% in 2022. The need for low-latency streaming will grow as the demand for live events grows.

Several companies have already announced they will be demonstrating low-latency solutions at the show. Wowza says it now supports Apple low-latency HLS and low-latency CMAF for DASH. Net Insight will demonstrate its Sye low-latency streaming solution. I’ll be discussing the topic at a breakfast briefing discussing broadcast-standard streaming. Expect many more announcements at the show. 

eSports

The market for eSports has become ferociously competitive over the last year or so. Amazon’s Twitch, the premier platform for eSports streaming, has serious competition from Microsoft’s Mixer and YouTube. The battle between the platforms went to another level in August when Mixer poached superstar Fortnite streamer Ninja from Twitch. 

The reason for the escalating platform battles is simple: money. eSports tournaments grow ever bigger while maintaining their youthful vigor. At the recent $30 million Fortnite tournament held at Arthur Ashe stadium in New York, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania named Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf emerged the winner.

IBC has only dabbled at the edges of the eSports phenomenon in the past. This year, it will be hard to miss. There is a conference track open to all attendees dedicated to eSports and IBC is sponsoring a tournament. Two professional teams will compete against each other in Counter-Strike, one of the most enduring first-person shooter games.

FAST and AVOD

The dynamics that have been driving the expansion of online free ad-supported television (FAST) in the U.S. are now at work in European markets. Penetration of SVOD services and longer online viewing times favor the discovery of new ad-supported services. For example, three in four homes in the U.S. have at least one SVOD service and streaming TV viewers watch about an hour per day on a connected TV. Nearly half of UK homes have SVOD and watch 45 minutes per day

What’s more, Europeans may more readily accept advertising-supported free services than in the U.S. National commercial broadcasters like the UK’s ITV and Sweden’s TV4 have aggressively moved online with free ad-supported services. Now, U.S. providers like Pluto TV are joining the battle for European advertising spending. Expect the rapid expansion of FAST and AVOD services to be a big subject of discussion and innovation at the conference. 

AI and machine learning

In the past at IBC, innovations in online delivery have been focused around improving quality, scalability and reliability. This year, the emphasis will shift toward technologies that can help improve the business performance of online video services. Three technologies I expect to hear about in real applications include artificial intelligence and machine learning, multi-CDN management and blockchain. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are past the hype-phase of their application to video. In previous IBC events, vendors talked about demonstrations and trials of the technology. For example, IBM Watson Media talked about the automatic creation of highlights for sports tournaments. This year, the technology may not be nearly as visible. However, it will pervade many business-enhancing features such as personalization, subscriber churn reduction and metadata enhancement.

Multi-CDN management

Many video services are already using more than one CDN in their everyday businesses. Multiple CDNs can help with improving streaming performance to weak regions, supporting a specific device or format, and lowering the cost of streaming.

Optimizing the use of multiple CDNs has been a struggle. However, new tools are arriving, such as Citrix ITM and Verizon Media Smartplay Stream Routing that allow providers to automate which CDN they use based on rules they establish beforehand. The rules define performance criteria to make the CDN selection for a specific streaming session. At the show, expect more vendors to allow bandwidth costs as a consideration, enabling video providers to balance performance against the price they pay for every stream they deliver.   

Blockchain

Last year, blockchain was at the peak of its market hype. There were many discussions of where it might be applied to help media services but no actual solutions employing it. One problem that has held the technology back in streaming applications is the speed with which it can resolve data transactions. For example, it simply isn’t fast enough to keep up with the blistering pace of programmatic ad exchanges. Pre-show discussions that we at nScreenMedia participated in suggest a resolution to the speed issue is at hand. If that is the case, we could see real solutions able to keep pace with the size and speed required for mass-audience live streaming dynamic ad insertion.  

There will be plenty of other news from the show, including highlights from the worlds of security, Ultra HD, and remote production. So, stay tuned to your news feeds September 13-17.

Mr. Dixon created nScreenMedia as a resource to the digital media industry as it transitions to the new infrastructure for multi-screen delivery. He brings a wealth of knowledge on the digital TV, over-the-top and IPTV spaces garnered from his 15 years working in those industries. Before founding nScreenMedia, he spent seven years as an analyst and partner with The Diffusion Group. Previously he held senior executive positions at Microsoft/WebTV, Liberate and Oracle delivering products and services to the cable, satellite and IPTV industries.

Mr. Dixon is the author of many reports and opinion pieces including What Millennials Want from TV. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering and has post-graduate business education experience from Stanford.

Mr. Dixon is a frequent speaker and moderator at many industry events such as NAB, CES, TV Connect, IBC and BroadbandTVcon. Mr. Dixon was also nominated one of IPTV’s Top 50 People by IPTV Evangelist.

Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceVideo staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceVideo.

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