The world of broadcasting is changing rapidly, with new technologies, audience needs, competition, and funding models redefining the industry.
Over the next few years, the way TV content is produced and consumed will evolve, as broadcasters integrate new production technologies and distribution methods. At the same time, external pressures from competition, funding and political sources will have a significant impact.
For European public service media (PSM), the mid-term presents both challenges and opportunities. We take a look at five key disruptors to the market and how they might affect the media landscape in 2023.
The renewed remit of advertising was a prominent feature of 2022 as FAST (Free Ad-Supported Television) channels continued to perform and streamers moved to hybrid.
Linear channels carrying advertising are not a new concept, but recent growth has been significant in the form of FAST channels offering a familiar solution for audiences and content owners.. In the SVOD space, both Netflix and Disney moved to hybrid models to improve margins and the pipeline for new subscribers. For Netflix, end-of-year results were mixed, but ultimately well-received with more subscribers moving to the platform but profits not quite matching expectations.
However, these are not global trends, as more than 90% of FAST channel revenue is currently generated in North America (Omdia). Here entertainment costs are high and free options are limited, driving consumers to these platforms. Europe, with digital spaces now populated by linear, and often free content, is inherently hostile to these business models making 2023 the acid test for success or failure.
Young audiences have shifted, not only in terms of the platforms they use and the type of content they consume but, in their attitudes, and ways of interacting which can be very different to previous generations.
Gen Z audiences have been brought up fully immersed in the digital world, saturated with information and, crucially, aware of the insincerity of online content. They look to individual content creators as their trusted source of information, over brands. For news organizations, this clearly presents a challenge: to create a personal relationship, while maintaining a brand and, importantly for PSM, values.
Favoured platforms – such as YouTube, TikTok and Instagram - are more aligned with the desire to be closer to the content creator. This is less the case for Facebook which has a serious problem with the younger generation - Pew Research shows just a 2% share of the US teen audience.
Meta has moved its key AI technologies from research, to implementation, moving its heavily invested technologies into product design and recommendation teams for product teams 2023 will be a key battle ground of AI tech, pitting new deep-learning methods against traditional (TikTok) machine-learning.
In the digital age, trust is increasingly challenging, as misinformation can spread quickly and easily. Misinformation can be accidental, spread through misunderstanding, or spread deliberately, with some of the most concerning examples being passed-off as legitimate PSM content.
To build trust, broadcasters need to be transparent about their sources and processes as well as maintaining quality. As social and digital platforms increasingly become the main portal for news and information, broadcasters also need to be aware of the way their content is shared and discussed; changing from passive distributors to taking an active role in monitoring and engaging and providing tools and solutions to help individuals counter misinformation themselves.
2023 must be the year where new tools, techniques and collaboration are brought to bear to tackle deliberate misinformation. Beyond causing direct social harm, misinformation has deep implications for the effective functioning of our democracies.
New policies and mandates from governments as well as cooperation from platforms will be essential but PSM, impartial by design, stand as one of few entities able to attempt the role of moderator.
A true Metaverse doesn’t yet exist, however, for current ‘proto metaverse’ platforms, or open-world experiences, 2023 will be truly telling.
At the end of 2022, both Meta and Microsoft pulled the rug from their metaverse efforts, cutting around 10,000 jobs each. The pipeline for revenue generation in these spaces is still unclear and untested, and post-pandemic climates have forced hard decisions.
Established open-world experiences had a better year with audiences remaining loyal and demographics aging; platforms are slowly evolving beyond a child’s playground.
Content creation is starting to reflect these changes with independent content creators able to work full-time in these spaces. Professional productions are also able to draw significant attention, if not revenue comparable to industry standards just yet.
Crucially for broadcasters, existing distribution techniques can be compatible with these platforms. For example, AC Milan broadcast its match against Fiorentina last year using ‘The Nemesis’ as a platform, using a simple replication of its Broadcast feed.
2023 will show whether metaverse-like open-world experiences will start to become the new, general-purpose digital platforms, for content and audiences or remain a niche gaming-space for young audiences.
The future of broadcast production in Europe will be driven by new technologies. 5G has established use cases for live content, while cloud and remote production is revolutionizing the needs placed on staff, transportation, and overall workflow.
As these technologies develop, more sophisticated and real-time virtual production techniques are possible with deep-learning AI likely to have the largest overall impact. A key function of this AI will be (after development) to simplify the skill requirements within production. Rather than needing editors with specific understanding of editing suites, AI can be trained to perform this task and then directed by a relatively unskilled user. New skills will likely by more transferable and concerned with ideal ways to communicate and instruct AI.
AI will also have a wide range of applications, outside of the production process, from copywriting to fact-checking and research. As an example, the EBU project "A European Perspective" uses, amongst other technologies, AI to automate transcription and translation, to allow content to be used seamlessly in multiple languages.
In distribution, AI tools are well-placed to replace cluster-based algorithmic recommendation engines and instead will use deep-learning techniques to generate user preferences of their own design.
2022 saw a wide range of consumer-ready AI tools deployed, including the infamous ChatGPT and image tool DALL·E 2. While these tools were interesting and, in the hands of some, produced some amazing content, 2023 should be the year where AI tools move from a novelty to specific and widely applicable tools for the workforce.
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