We explore the top five shifts taking place in the MENA media and entertainment industry that are poised to accelerate in the new year.
AI’s Expanding Role
AI will continue to be at the centre of the conversation in 2024. Technologies like ML and pattern recognition have proven to be valuable tools in our industry, and generative AI is poised to do the same in 2024.
The Rise of SMPTE ST 2110
SMPTE ST 2110 will continue its ascent as the dominant global standard for live production, a trend that highlights the increasing importance of IP technology in our industry. And while the standard has traditionally been reserved for major events, we’re seeing a shift as the technology matures, making it increasingly suitable for routine everyday events. ST 2110’s rising popularity can be attributed to its cost-effectiveness and flexibility – especially when coupled with software control and network orchestration – and the ratification of JPEG XS, a significant milestone in enabling live, low-latency, high-quality contribution to the cloud.
Green initiatives that address power consumption and e-waste will be popular in the coming year. SMPTE ST and IP-based production is inherently more environmentally friendly than older SDI solutions, and the adoption rate is steadily increasing.
In the Middle East, we are seeing an uptick in customer confidence in the technology to go with full-IP infrastructure, particularly in new greenfield sites. In existing facilities, many are starting their IP migration journey by taking a hybrid approach with their current set-ups. Furthermore, evolving environmental regulations in a number of regions may force the issue by making it mandatory to consider carbon footprints when making technology decisions.
And in the pursuit of minimising e-waste, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment offers a longer lifespan and greater versatility than older modular equipment. As infrastructure continues to transition to ST 2110, this equipment can be repurposed instead of being rendered obsolete.
Rethinking CTV Advertising Models
From a business model standpoint, one of the most significant shifts in the industry is a renewed emphasis on profitability and efficiency for connected television (CTV). While CTV services initially leaned heavily on subscription-based models, they are now recognising the equal importance of capitalising on audience monetisation through advertising.
Evidence of this trend is demonstrated by the meteoric rise of FAST channels around the world and in the Middle East in 2023.
However, an increased focus on audience monetisation also leads us to one of the central questions our industry will confront in 2024: How can we seamlessly merge the advertising models of television and digital to create a new, optimised advertising model for CTV? We need to find the right balance that reorients CTV towards premium pricing, while simultaneously enhancing the viewer experience to increase the value of CTV advertising.
Regulatory Measures and Privacy Concerns
While looking for that balance, CTV services will also have to contend with a rise in regulatory measures, which is already underway. This year, the UK’s Ofcom revealed its intention to extend the same content and advertising regulations that have long been applied to traditional broadcast TV to the realm of CTV. I anticipate this will become a global trend in 2024, with regions like the Middle East following suit.
This shift will also apply to consumer privacy regulations. The GDPR has already established a baseline for European countries, while the CCPA in California has done the same in the United States. Again, other regions like the Middle East will follow, as will a number of challenges. These regulations will influence how we tailor content and target advertising, and their constraints will be an obstacle to leveraging technology. We must overcome them to continue advancing within our industry.
Challenge and Opportunity
As the industry faces a continuing shift from linear to digital, new regulations and pressure to improve carbon footprints, innovative media companies will use technology tools such as AI, ST 2110 and converged monetisation solutions to address these challenges and forge their own path to the future of broadcasting. It’s going to be an exciting year!
By Steve Reynolds the President of Imagine Communications.