The broadcasting industry often operates at the forefront of cutting-edge technology
However, the shift from analog to digital operations has been slow and is still ongoing. Determining how to maintain profitability in the internet age is tough for many traditional media outlets, and even newer media companies are having to adjust to changing consumer preferences and new technology.
Is Technology Killing Traditional Television?
Cable television presented a threat to traditional broadcast stations in the United States and Europe, but broadcast stations survived. The concept of “cord cutting” has gained some traction, yet studies show that traditional television, including broadcast networks and cable, still reign supreme. As networks are typically the only source of local broadcasting and news, they still have an inherent advantage over newer technology. Furthermore, the simplicity of plugging in a digital antenna to receive free programming will likely retain some appeal, and the brand recognition of broadcasting television means it’s likely to survive even as newer media providers grow.
Basic Security Measures
Before investing in new technology, media companies need to ensure their basic security is strong. Would-be pirates are great at hacking servers hosting content, and the leak of popular programs can cost media outfit, such as Netflix, subscription money if they’re not the first to broadcast new content. Making platforms easy to access is important, but so it ensuring those streaming the content have legitimate accounts.
Technology to Reduce Bandwidth Costs
Although bandwidth is growing at a dramatic pace, so are the demands of media. Already, streaming services are offering bandwidth-heavy 4K content, and 8K content is likely not far away. Investing in better compression technology can lower costs, as can re-encoding media for different devices; mobile screens, for example, might be better served with a different compression technology than large televisions. Peering agreements can help as well. By storing content on internet service providers’ servers, for example, media companies can reduce the cost of delivering programming.
High-Tech Subscription Services
Netflix has been a bigger hit than many anticipated, and the company is now a giant in the media field. However, many competitors, some with large libraries of content, are trying to replicate its success, with mixed results. While established subscription-based platforms will likely maintain a strong position, newer players will have to find ways to differentiate themselves from the competition, as consumers won’t be willing to pay for more than a handful of subscription services.
Although consumers are willing to pay for their media, free services are great for building an audience. One of the drawbacks of traditional television is that stations can’t target their ads towards individual viewers and homes. Tracking viewing habits and inferring demographic information can help companies provide more effective advertising. Another technology to consider is watermarks for a show’s sponsor. By avoiding traditional television ads and instead leaving up a small watermark noting that that the program is sponsored by a particular company, new media outlets can reduce the annoyance people often feel with advertisements.
Although Netflix and YouTube have made tremendous inroads in media, traditional outlets still stand tall. Furthermore, broadcast and cable stations are aware of changing tides, and they’re investing heavily into new technology to ensure their relevance. Although new media players are establishing a firm hold, more traditional outlets still have plenty of time to make adjustments as viewing habits evolve.
Even the most established players can be disrupted in any industry, just ask Blockbuster Video. We recently met David Ingham from IBM to find out how new devices, viewing habits and data sources are transforming media and entertainment.