Predictions for 2019: Viewers will have to wait to see wide-reaching 5G impact

With a roster that included the World Cup, the rise of eSports and the Winter Olympics, it’s safe to say that 2018 was a momentous year for the sports media industry.

However, in order to ensure that viewers are always given the best service possible, it’s important to be looking ahead to the technologies and trends which will dictate their experiences in the future, writes Ian Munford, director of product marketing, Media Services EMEA at Akamai (pictured, right).

Viewer demand will drive tech adoption

100m 4KTVs were sold, globally in 2018 and viewers will be questioning where’s the content? With successful 4K OTT trials this summer and some premium SVOD players providing 4K content (albeit a limited catalogue and at a cost), viewers will probably be looking for a wider choice from broadcasters – certainly for on-demand content.

But, the jury is still out on 4K and it won’t be prevalent across every platform or genre. High Dynamic Range (HDR) however, has been shown to have an immediate impact on viewers.

Better pixels, instead of more, improve the TV experience immediately and doesn’t have the same cost challenges in production. The good news is that many of those 4K TVs also support HDR, so we may well start to see the technology come into play before 4K has a chance to bed in.

Viewers will have to wait to see any wide-reaching impact of 5G on video delivery

If you listen to any current presentation relating to 5G and broadcasting, you will be excused if you come away feeling less than enthused. Over the last few years, 2019 was hailed by many to be a big year for mobile connectivity and video delivery as 5G services began to roll out.

The argument was clear, as 5G develops, so too does the ability to deliver higher-quality video, both to mobile devices and to viewers who are ‘off the grid’ for fixed broadband connectivity. Many have even proffered that the future of linear broadcasting will be determined by 3GPP.

But, as we dig under the skin of the promise, we can see that serious adoption of 5G services for linear delivery won’t happen until after 2023 at a minimum. We can predict however that 2019 will see more trials and a better understanding of what the technology can really bring to the table.

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