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A look back at the broadcast industry through 2015
With 2015 now over, it’s worth looking back at what’s happened over the past 12 months, and ahead to what’s still to come for the broadcast industry in 2016.
It’s been nine years since the Sky+ HD box was launched, and today there are thought to be some nine million of them in operation across the UK. Meanwhile, Freeview has offered an HD service for pretty much six years exactly. Little surprise, then, that broadcasters both at home and abroad are saying that HD is no longer a nice-to-have, but truly business critical.
The reason for this, of course, is advertising revenue. Big TV audiences means big potential revenue streams, for Sky, Freeview, Freesat, the broadcasters and the advertisers.
Firstly, TV platforms such as Sky or Virgin Media want to get the big shows and broadcasters to attract the largest audience shares. This will then create a much more attractive package for broadcasters to air their prime shows. These two points combine to make for huge audiences, which command the biggest ad revenues.
What we’ve done this year
This drive for HD services is something that we’ve had to keep up with over 2015. It started as a year of transition for the UKDTH satellite platform, with a new satellite entering service. Thankfully our operations team excelled themselves, moving over 30 transponders serving Sky and Freesat.
We also helped 23 new channels launch on the Sky platform. This growth in channels means we have added two more Eutelsat transponders to our fleet this year, with the most recent supporting our new HD product that delivers services to both Sky and Freesat. Three slots were snapped up in the last two months. As a result we’re looking at adding a further HD platform in the new year.
Of course, it’s not all about getting broadcasters signed up; the output quality needs to be of the highest calibre in order to meet the exacting standards set by the platform operator.
It’s understandable that Sky would want its HD channels to be of the best quality possible – it’s always been their strategy to provide high quality programming. An important part of our role is to work with customers to ensure their channels match the quality levels it expects. Our unparalleled broadcast engineering experience is something that customers have relied heavily on this year, and has developed our business relationships even further.
The HD revolution
High Definition broadcasting is, of course, nothing new. As mentioned already, Sky has been in on the act for almost a decade now, What has changed in the past year, though, is perceptions around HD from broadcasters. It’s becoming much more business-critical, as broadcasters assert that customers have simply now come to expect an HD service – something they have to match. Overseas broadcasters, especially, have been looking at the UK market and more specifically the £4.9 Billion Television ad revenue and are keen on launching new services for the UK or upgrading their existing SD service with us to HD Daystar is one such example, as it’s the first Christian TV network to go HD. Following the success of its SD service launch in 2011, Daystar introduced an HD channel on free-to-air TV very recently, just in time for Christmas.
Looking ahead to 2016
It’s all well and good looking at our new transponders and slapping ourselves on the back for a job well done in 2015, but we shouldn’t rest easy. Instead, it’s worth turning our attentions to the year ahead. There will be challenges lying in wait, but also plenty to get excited about – with Sky Q being arguably the biggest.
2016 will see the delivery of Sky’s new Q Box, I’m very excited about this as both an industry professional and Sky customer.
Sky customers will be able to use the box in a different way to what they’re currently used to. For example, if you download a TV show onto your Sky+ box today you won’t be able to watch it on your tablet or laptop. You could stream it, but not watch the recording. With the Q Box, this looks like this is all about to change, meaning you can watch episodes you’ve downloaded on the box at home, when you’re on the train to work.
I’ve not had the chance to play with the new Q Box yet, but given the potential it could offer – as well as the competition it will create means 2016 is certain to be an exciting time for the broadcast world.
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