As the year draws to a close, we simply can’t help but wonder which trends will be rocking the digital TV industry in 2019. Click on the icons below to reveal the twelve trends that our industry experts predict pay TV players to be embracing next year.

As the year draws to a close, we simply can’t help but wonder which trends will be rocking the digital TV industry in 2019. Read on to discover the twelve trends that our industry experts predict pay TV players to be embracing next year.

Adapt in order to survive. These days, digital TV operators are reaping the rewards of an enviable position: a long-term relationship with the user, established content distribution agreements and control over a network that provides the consumer with a window to the digital world.

However, just like Alice in the novel by Lewis Carroll, to remain where you are is to fall behind, leaving the business in the hands of the competition. To address this threat, operators must focus on securing loyal customers by offering services that take into account insights from the usage of their digital window; designing and maintaining a unified and intuitive environment for entertainment; and coming to agreements with third parties for new business models such as advertising or IoT-based services.

Below, we will analyse various trends which, through an intelligent and disruptive application of the technological resources within our reach, we believe will improve the lives of subscribers and, as a result, consolidate operators’ digital TV business in the future. And finally, on behalf of Mirada, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very prosperous 2019.

José Luis Vázquez

With the ground-breaking popularity of new market players including Netflix, Prime and Hulu, there is very little doubt that OTT broadcasting will continue to grow in the upcoming years. However, the success enjoyed by these video giants is not only restricted to on-demand video content. Live events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games and Formula 1, together with increased bandwidth and improvements to the quality of data networks, will provoke a drastic increase in streaming via OTT. Therefore, new solutions that use bandwidth more efficiently will become essential in the near future, and the operators that are prepared to use multicast ABR will be the winners in the long-term.

In the IoT society, wasting a few seconds to type the name of a movie is frustrating. The solution? Virtual Assistants. Over the last four years, we have seen many failed attempts to introduce these digital assistants into the world of content consumption. The main reason for their failure – other than the usual privacy-related controversies – was down to the terrible user experience. Using a voice assistant caused even more complications than a remote control, with recognition errors, complex phrases required for simple actions and more.

However, such issues are merely technological, and the transition towards this paradigm is now inevitable. With this in mind, operators who successfully manage to position themselves at the forefront of this market will enjoy great competitive advantages until the solution is adopted globally. One of the biggest remaining question marks is to see which of the existing solutions (Google, Siri, Alexa…) will become the de facto standard.

Advertising is based on positioning messages wherever the target audience is. Gone are the days of when audiovisual advertising could only be found during commercial breaks or as part of the content on TV. Nowadays, thanks to digitalisation, there are more ways and formats for advertising than ever before. The role of the digital TV operator has also changed from being a mere channel aggregator and distributor to being the gateway to digital entertainment.

This new role, along with the possibilities offered by technology such as analytical tools, helps an operator to understand its audience enough to create more effective advertising formats. The creation and commercialisation of these models will tip the balance of the advertising world in favour of those who take on the role to manage the entertainment of end users.

Over the last year we have seen Android TV explode within the BYOD field, allowing consumers to access over-the-top content from their own television sets and STBs. In 2019, we will see whether or not there is a massive adoption of Android TV by pay TV operators to motivate Google to keep evolving it. Google is currently striving to promote its Operator Tier program and adapt the platform to suit the needs of operators with a model based on the rental of STBs.

Given our experience in the sector, we are aware that this model requires much more than just the publication of an app for OTT consumption: big operators are demanding a higher level of customisation and control than internet standards. Next year, we will see if this gap becomes filled and if the interest of both Google and operators will determine Android TV as the technology base for pay TV.

Faster, safer and more efficient. Automatic deployments of applications across a high-availability infrastructure based on Kubernetes enable software providers to comply with operator and client expectations to reduce the time necessary for deployments and updates. As a result of increasing demands to reduce deployment and operational costs, we expect to see a further rise in the use of these technologies in the upcoming year.

The implementation of these virtualized architectures allows horizontal scaling of both infrastructure and services, making it possible to adjust the sizing of the system in the event of unexpected loads or peaks of traffic, while still guaranteeing a high redundancy and availability of data. Rolling updates allow a seamless transition between versions while also minimizing downtime. Finally, thanks to canary testing, the coexistence of stable versions with beta versions is possible… and all of this complexity being controlled from the simplicity of one single command line. Checkmate!

User Experience focuses its efforts on designing user-centered products to help boost sales and maximise user retention. Previously, techniques such as user tests and prototyping were carried out to achieve these objectives, however in recent years a new element has come in to play: user behaviour analytics based on Big Data.

The internet has been dominated by Google Analytics for over a decade, but such a powerful and universal tool for the app sector simply doesn’t exist, hence operators’ lack of such valuable user information. Nevertheless, the big data market is set to reach $160.1 billion in 2019, which will no doubt lead to the increased use of analytics for decision-making within the UX field.

In the telecom industry, software ecosystems with multiple interrelations are becoming increasingly complex, cross-used and less deterministic. What is more, the number of users continues to grow in parallel with their expectations and requirements. Going forward, it will be more relevant than ever for companies to consider Quality (QA) as a culture and not just a tactical safety net.

We are all important actors in this process and we must all become QAware. The knowledge, attitude and engagement of every member of an organisation will determine the quality of the outcome (both in terms of the product and the process used to create and deliver it), while simultaneously maintaining flexibility and agility and respecting deadlines and budgets.

The rise of SVoD platforms such as Netflix, along with the boom of other service-based products, is dramatically changing consumer demands. This has resulted in operators looking to expand their offerings, with many already investing heavily in the Internet of Things, or including energy and other utilities in their package of services. Next year we will see many more industry players moving in this direction.

Also, with consumers able to access content from apps on any device, operators might want to encourage the use of their hardware by converting the STB into a multi-service home hub that goes beyond pure TV entertainment, similar to those available with Amazon or Google’s smart speakers. After all, these companies have long-term billing relationships with end consumers, making them a natural choice for users who are looking to manage all their services through one subscription.

As change in digital TV markets accelerates, we face a huge challenge. Traditional architecture solutions cannot keep up with demand. Microservices architectures, with dedicated components for the new capabilities offer a more agile approach. We can quickly build a portfolio of services to provide the new capabilities and deploy it at scale using Kubernetes. But this comes with an exponential increase in system complexity. This often means that production systems do not behave like pre-live systems and we cannot “design out” all the failure scenarios.

Chaos engineering accepts this. Instead of waiting for unexpected major system outages, chaos engineering conducts proactive, planned tests that force failures in the live system and observes the outcome. This allows us to detect the brittle points in the architecture and take the appropriate action to significantly improve system reliability and resilience and give end users a better experience.

Machine learning and deep learning are two branches of Artificial Intelligence that will continue to boom in the entertainment sector in 2019, as a result of the success enjoyed by giants like Spotify and Netflix in their respective markets. With the huge (and growing) amount of content available to consumers, one of the key business aspects is being able to predict the content that a user wants to watch, based on their preferences and habits as well as the time, day of the week and the device they use.

This level of personalisation would be impossible without the intervention of AI. While it is true that it is far from being a perfect science, there is no doubt that in the near future we will see more industry players opting for a trend which is well and truly here to stay.

Content consumption habits this year have shown a growing preference towards the use of connected devices which facilitate video streaming on traditional television, to the detriment of personal devices. As a result, more and more pay TV operators are seeking solutions to extend their service across smart TVs, Android TV, video game consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV and more.

To provide services for these connected devices, in addition to smartphones, tablets and laptops, 2019 will bring with it new challenges to every player of the video streaming chain, due to the heterogeneous requirements imposed by each platform in terms of coding, packaging and DRM. Reducing the time taken to access content will become more relevant, and will require optimisation on every level: video segmentation, paying special attention to the size of both segments and playlists; CDN; and the adjustment of different video player parameters.

In a constantly changing pay TV ecosystem, it is necessary to secure both the adaptability and scalability of the service. Being able to minimise costs and deployment time is vital, which makes the role of the system integrator and the existence of a partner-friendly environment very important.

The SaaS approach meets all of these requirements, meaning that the migration from a technological architecture to one of services is, therefore, essential. This implicates changing the development to create an ecosystem of APIs to facilitate the deployment and total integration of an innovation in a user-centric environment, allowing personalisation, market synergies and minimise risk for the operator.

Which trend do you think will have the most impact? Vote now!