What to expect at IBC 2023: consumer-focused content, FAST, AVOD, and Apple Vision Pro

1. More content, more solutions, more problems  
2. FAST channels aren’t very… fast
3. Ads, ads everywhere
4. The NFT hype is over, what happens now?
5. A return to gamification and the Metaverse
6. How to go OTT sustainably

It’s been an interesting year in tech and entertainment already, so quite what could happen between now and September is anyone’s guess. Global financial implications directly impacting the consumer and even tech businesses — looking at you, Silicon Valley Bank — have dominated many conversations. But the thing that those who attend the International Broadcast Convention (IBC) know, is that it’s not just revenue on the minds of exhibitors and visitors.

Vendors, technologists, broadcasters, and content owners will be placing a finger in the wind to find out ‘what’s next’ and take the pulse of the industry and the markets. Read on to see what IBC 2023 could have in store and equip yourself with some choice questions to ask peers and competitors. We’ll see you there, in Hall 5, stand #5.D62.

#1. More content, more solutions, more problems  

Content is what OTT and streaming services live to serve, and many are looking at how to differentiate what they offer in an increasingly competitive field. What does the consumer like to watch and how? Why should they choose to watch content X on one service over another? Finding out what the consumer wants from a streaming service is how these platforms will survive.

#2. FAST channels aren’t very… fast

You couldn’t move without overhearing a discussion around FAST channels (free advertising-supported TV) and their potential over the previous years, and most of this is still true. There is a problem that many won’t mention though, they take a while to create and distribute. It’s that last bit — distribution — which is the biggest barrier, and it’s down to their incredible popularity. Platforms which house these channels have had to start gatekeeping the ones allowed to be on their service, to ensure quality over quantity. Syndication is key, and it certainly isn’t easy.

You could launch a Virtual channel in as little as five steps, it’s really that easy. Cutting out the final hurdle of syndicating the channel makes it simple. However, if you add one additional step, then you have a FAST channel – but it’s going to take exceptional content and branding to convince a platform to host that channel.

#3. Ads, ads everywhere

FAST has been front and centre for a while, alongside AVOD (advertising-supported video on demand). The common theme here, of course, is advertising. Increasingly lighter wallets and tightening belts are driving a lot of consumers towards entertainment that doesn’t cost them anything apart from a piece of their time watching ads. The OTT industry has felt this effect as the demand for ad tech grows exponentially.

We’ve had numerous clients successfully implement ad-supported models for their services, with many asking whether AVOD or FAST is right for their business. One thing is for certain, SSAI (server-side ad insertion) is here to stay, as it’s the quickest and easiest way to insert advertising into content, whether live or on demand.

#4. The NFT hype is over, what happens now?

If you attended a tradeshow in the past couple of years, you’d have heard a lot of talk about non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Although the hype may be over and sales aren’t at their peak, there’s business to be done here. The tech that enables NFTs — Blockchain — could have a future in OTT, especially if you ignore the headline-grabbing million-dollar digital art sales and dig into the tech that enables it.

Transferrable skills allow people to move jobs and change careers, and now transferrable tech could give new life to NFTs in the world of OTT – find out how here.  

#5. A return to gamification and the Metaverse

While it feels like the head of the industry has been turned by AI — ooh, ahh, new tech and more revenue — many haven’t fully harnessed the potential of gamification. It can be a catalyst to increase engagement and build loyalty around your service and content. There’s a reason that the concept has been around for nearly 100 years.

If you’ve seen the Apple Vision Pro VR headset, then you’ll understand how this topic could be a focus at IBC 2023. New products are making subjects like the metaverse a reality, rather than a buzzword topic for panel discussions. If Apple is taking their first step into the Metaverse, then committed and fanatical fans are sure to follow. Come and chat with us to understand how gamifying your platform could be the key to success.

#6. How to go OTT sustainably

The cost of doing business isn’t just financial, and the issue of sustainability will be an ongoing concern. As the focus of the industry shifts under the burden of consumers looking to cut costs, lessening their impact on the environment can move down the priority list for smaller businesses. This will be a theme at IBC 2023, but it doesn’t have to be the reality.

We at Simplestream have moved our encoding systems to the cloud to lessen the impact of our business on the environment. It sounds like a small change, but we deliver over 22 million hours of content annually, so the effect is exponential.