Continuing our look ahead to 2019, TVBEurope asks which major developments will impact the broadcast industry in the coming year. Will 5G revolutionise our lives? Will we see the arrival of the world’s first ‘smart city’? Or should everyone invest solely in esports from now on? We ask experts from across the industry for their views and predictions.
The topic on every broadcaster’s lips is 5G, but the extent to which 5G will be adopted in the coming year is an ongoing debate. “Over the last few years, 2019 was hailed by many to be a big year for mobile connectivity and video delivery as 5G services began to roll out,” explains Ian Munford, director of product marketing, media services EMEA at Akamai. “The argument was clear: as 5G develops, so too does the ability to deliver higher-quality video, both to mobile devices and to viewers who are ‘off the grid’ for fixed broadband connectivity. Many have even proffered that the future of linear broadcasting will be determined by 3GPP. But, as we dig under the skin of the promise, we can see that serious adoption of 5G services for linear delivery won’t happen until after 2023 at a minimum. We can predict however that 2019 will see more trials and a better understanding of what the technology can really bring to the table.”
Tech, media and telco analyst Paolo Pescatore agrees: “5G will not be hugely impactful in 2019. It’s still early days and supply led. The business model is unproven despite the huge investment telcos need to fork out in acquiring licences and rolling out networks. Consumer uptake will be lacklustre given their unwillingness to pay a premium for a service that will not be widely available. Therefore, expect to see telcos and specific verticals explore 5G opportunities in other areas such as media creation and distribution through remote production and video contribution link, ultimately to provide greater efficiencies.”
One major effect of 5G’s development would be the introduction of ‘smart cities’, which Ian Watterson, 5G expert and head of Americas and Asia-Pacific at CSG, expects to arrive next year: “The proliferation of the IoT and the impending development of 5G connectivity in 2019 will open the floodgates for the first truly smart city. The major impediment to moving the smart city from the theoretical to the practical was the sheer speed and bandwidth to handle the amount of data generated by the IoT and process it in real time. From public transit to law enforcement, 2019 will see the first truly smart city, powered by building blocks laid this last year.”
However, Pescatore thinks 2019 might be an ambitious prediction for the first smart city: “Many cities have strong ambitions to be the first smart city. However, the reality is that we are still a few years away. It all depends on definition as some cities already claim to be the first one.”
Another area bound to benefit from 5G is esports, as Pescatore explains: “Esports will become truly global thanks to support across many industries, more so from major sports leagues as well as broadcasters. Furthermore, the arrival of 5G will provide esports with a new way to play/compete on the go.”
“Last year, esports was gathering momentum with substantial growth in viewership. Today, esports has undoubtedly burst into mainstream consciousness,” adds Tom Williams, CEO at Ostmodern. “The current $25 million prize pool at The International Dota 2 tournament is indicative of the rapid rise of this form of entertainment. In 2019, we will see more organisers experimenting with enhanced interactivity, such as allowing viewers to vote collectively on a player’s next move in a game, through the use of polls that appear on the screen during the live feed.”