What can audiences expect in the future? And are we there yet?
Chairing a dynamic session at the Digital Broadcasting Symposium in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, Sameer Bahharib, Director of Thinking Tub Media, summarised the new, ‘demanding on-demand’ audiences as every consumer wanting their own chosen content “anywhere, anytime, on any device,” which he noted, “poses a challenge for broadcasters.”
WorldDAB Technical Committee’s Les Sabel (pictured) unpacked some of that challenge by sharing a vision for the future of broadcasting and audience engagement with media.
“[Audiences] don’t want to compromise,” said Sabel. “They don’t want to take what’s given, they want exactly what they want. So how do we deal with that?”
Broadcasters can and must integrate new technologies to remain competitive, Sabel explained.
Straker Coniglio from VIZRT shared statistics of smartphone use in Asia, for example – 97.9% of Malaysians are accessing the internet via their smartphone.
Advertisers are responding to this trend by reaching consumers via social media and internet advertising, which creates a significant and looming revenue issue for local broadcasters.
Advertisers are now able to target very specific consumers through social media. Broadcasters need to engage with new technology to deliver the sorts of content that audiences are looking for, and to start to be more savvy in how to help audiences to fulfil their desire and expectation to interact, without driving advertising revenue to other platforms.
Sabel went on to explain how broadcasters will soon, if they aren’t already, be using technology to collect specific data – about what content is popular and engaging, and importantly, demographic data about their audiences. Broadcasters will be able to promote or supply specific content that a particular audience member might be interested in directly to their devices.
“We’re seeing more and more emphasis on the personalisation,” said Sabel.
“Personalised advertising, personalised image display, personalised content.”
Are we there yet?
Picture a future where your voice-activated (and driverless) car radio will play your chosen audio or video segment on demand, then continue playing your favourite radio station while displaying a map with real-time traffic information. Hear a song you like? You’ll ask the radio to purchase the song, and you won’t be interrupted as the song downloads in the background, ready to play on any of your devices.
“We’ve got some way there but we’re not all the way here yet,” said Sabel.
“We’ve got a number of advanced features already defined in the standards. We’ve got alternatives for high resolution delivery, we can deliver those HD images to cars. We’ve got categorisation of those images for storage and later use. We’ve got click-through links, so we can activate links to advertising, to content, to programs, to all sorts of information.
“It’s up to the broadcaster,” he said. “We’ve got hybrid radio through RadioDNS. We’ve already standardised the linking of DAB with IP delivery.
“Combining streaming and broadcast… [broadcast] will give us the most cost-effective delivery of our primary content. But we want to use the IP to complement that to deliver alternative content, features and interactivity.
“It’s the best of both worlds. Minimum cost, maximum impact.
“We need to work together as an industry to get the technology there. That means working with the broadcasters, working with the receiver manufacturers.”
Gordon Gu, CEO of Adinno Inc summarised the need for immediate action by the broadcasting industry. “The technology all the time is moving forward,” he said. “The world is changing quickly.
“If you are ready, get in – or get out.” The next generation of customers “just want entertainment or the news” regardless of the platform the broadcast entity has traditionally used.
“The future is coming quickly so we have to be ready now.”
Implementing Digital Radio Mondiale: a case study
Alexander Zink, Vice Chairman of the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Consortium shared a case study of the implementation of DRM in India, highlight achievements during 2017.
“India is in the process of rolling out DRM on their medium-wave network first,” said Zink.
“Last year they had the big success of finally finishing the transmitter set-up and now it’s all about the content improvement, the service definitions, adding all the benefits of digital radio and finally starting the marketing towards the listeners with an official launch.”
In terms of offering more choice for audiences, Zink noted that “in the old world there was only one program to be transmitted on AM or FM per transmitter and per frequency. In the digital world, on that same frequency in that same bandwidth we can go up to three audio programs plus data.
“The public broadcaster in India has now finished the migration to the new transmissions.”
They are now on air with multiple audio and data services. Two of the five biggest metro areas are now on air, with others to follow very soon.
Broadcasters that have made the transition are now able to provide “the rich internet content [such as electronic program guides and traffic information] that they have in the past only provided on their website – now [they are also providing them] to the listeners on their radio sets.”
This means that “people no longer depend on internet connectivity or mobile devices, SIM cards and contracts, they can receive all their content in the different languages of the country right in their radio set without any additional cost.”
As well as more choice for listeners and multimedia applications, broadcasters that have made the transition are also enjoying excellent audio quality, good coverage area and a robust signal, energy efficiencies, automatic tuning by station name and the ability to take advantage of emergency warning and alerts via audio and text which can be sent to receivers remotely in the case of local transmitter outage.
“The text information which gives you the detailed information, what’s going on, where to find shelter… are in the different languages… and it’s important in multi-language countries like India, even while travelling you can find out exactly what’s going on in a case of emergency through the text information provided.”
Two weeks ago there was a workshop held in India to demonstrate the emergency services capability of DRM to a number of participants including their National Disaster Management Authority. As a result they are now working towards making sure that the digital radio network is a part of the emergency services information flow.