As editor of a communications publication, I receive a number of press releases related to new research and forecasts on the satellite market. I often think it would be interesting to go back to all the research that was issued in, say 2002, and see whether some of those 10-year forecasts regarding pay-TV uptake, new satellites and transponder utilization came true. That, perhaps, could make a really good story. One thing is true though — statistics and forecasts can be a good pointer of things to come.
Broadcasting is still commonly seen as the lifeblood of the FSS sector, with key FSS operators generating most of their revenues from broadcasting and DTH. However, recent research seems to indicate that telcos may finally be getting their act together. According to a new IPTV forecast given by U.S. research organization, Multimedia Research Group (MRG), there will likely be 105.1 million IPTV subscribers in 2015, or double what there was at the end of last year. MRG goes on to say that in recent quarters IPTV growth in subscribers has outpaced both cable and satellite.
What does this all mean and should the satellite industry be worried? Sitting on the fence, I would probably answer yes and no. With HD take-up still rising, the ability to sell more capacity to fuel next-generation offerings is not going away, and DTH operators still remain the leading edge of bringing new services to customers. Take BSkyB’s recent announcement that it is planning to offer an OTT service to subscribers in the United Kingdom. It shows, if any evidence was needed, that DTH operators have to move with the times. Usually, when the likes of BSkyB start to launch these types of services, others around the world will follow. Companies like BSkyB and DirecTV remain the poster companies for DTH services around the world.
There is little doubt that the broadcast world continues to change and that there seems to be a new fad every year. We have had the ‘HD’ revolution, the ‘3-D’ revolution, then the ‘OTT’ revolution, and now perhaps the ‘Connected TV’ revolution. I keep thinking, what can possibly be next. I suppose it won’t be too long before we are talking about 4k television and ultra HD. But, it won’t end there. It never does.
One constant is that broadcast and satellite have to remain intertwined for a healthy and vibrant satellite sector. While there is no need to panic, the broadcast market is now characterized by being in a constant state of flux and fragmentation. In this issue of Via Satellite, we have four technology executives from major broadcasters talking about their technology needs and challenges, and they give insight into the changes occuring. It will be interesting to hear at NAB how companies see all this change impacting the satellite sector. We also look at the changing relationship between telcos and the satellite sector. This dynamic has been particularly interesting to watch in recent years, as telcos have looked to use satellite more and more in terms of extending the reach of their services, such as data and video.
On a different subject, as many of you have seen, there has been a lot of news regarding LightSquared this month, and it shows how things can quickly change. Ambitious business plans and entrepreneurship is another staple of this industry, and the recent events that have impacted LightSquared show just how difficult it is sometimes to get things off the ground.