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Five Predictions for the TV Industry in 2021

Our CEO Chris Parsons recently contributed an article to Advanced Television, outlining his predictions for the TV industry in the year ahead.

Here are his top five forecasts for 2021:

1. Efficiencies created by the pandemic are here to stay

The broadcast industry in 2020 wasn’t exempt from the huge disruption created by COVID-19, including a brutal impact on advertising revenues. However, it wasn’t all bad news. Broadcasters have found ways to adapt and lower operating costs. Our industry, traditionally built on face-to-face meetings, adapted to working from home successfully. Now, major broadcasters are saying that homeworking is here to stay. Many of them have seen that remote production is possible and the costs of traditional monitored playout are no longer necessary when 100% reliability can be achieved from a server in a data centre. We did just this last year, in conjunction with Pace Media, for a number of channels including Court TV and Extreme. 2020 was just the beginning, 2021 will see even more creative and technical solutions for efficient remote production and distribution moving forward.

2. Opportunities in OTT

The UK market has always been trickier for smaller UK TV channels to gain a foothold on the Sky platform. Similarly, content owners have often found it harder to get bigger deals on streaming giants Amazon Prime, Netflix and Disney +. With an ever increasing number of platforms and aggregators, OTT now offers more opportunities than ever. Smaller players can either broadcast their own digital channel relatively easily on an existing platform; or create their own app and move into the digital space that way. We see lots of opportunities for smaller broadcasters and niche content owners, particularly in aggregation based on thematic content. We are in the process of launching one of our clients through an OTT platform at the moment - watch this space for an update!

3. Changes created by opening up of Freeview

The current ongoing DUK consultation, if successful, will allow brokering of Logical Channel Numbers ‘LCNs’ and the enabling of IP only channels, using the Freeview Play App. If this happens, we can expect to see movement on the existing Freeview EPG, with the market for brokerage opening up. MPB has brokered a range of EPGs and capacity deals on both Sky and Freeview and expect to be able to help channels over the coming months, both directly and alongside our partners Expert Media Partners. The enablement of IP only channels on the platform would mean an opportunity for broadcasters to get onto Freeview set top boxes despite not being on DTT. All of these changes could see potentially reduced costs for channels and the costs of traditional Freeview capacity coming down.

4. Small specialists to trump bigger players

The UK broadcast services market has traditionally been dominated by big players such as telecoms giants Encompass, Globecast and others who tended to bundle managed services and sell on the perceived efficiencies of a ‘one-stop-shop’ However, DMC going into administration and companies like Arqiva moving away from playout has created an opportunity for smaller companies to come in and fill the void. These specialists, who have the flexibility to deliver bespoke solutions, will be favoured by broadcasters and content owners looking to find expertise, agility and increased value. As mentioned above, we partnered with Pace Media on a number of launches in 2020 and are actively working together to offer tailored solutions to broadcasters.

5. USA to eye UK as affiliate opportunity

Recent years have seen a number of US broadcasters coming across the Atlantic with Smithsonian proving a success on Sky, followed by Scripps Network’s Court TV who we launched on Sky and Freesat last year and who launch on Freeview in the next few weeks. With the US market being so fragmented and complex, it makes sense that US broadcasters should start to view the UK as another affiliate opportunity, rather than an intimidating international expansion. With our experience in this area, the working relationships we’ve discussed, and our position in the market MPB is perfectly placed to help new broadcasters into the market and plans to start actively approaching the US market to promote these services in the coming months. Whether it is localisation of an existing feed or the rollout and launch of a full UK based service, we can help.

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