Television is dead, long live broadcast television!

Uninformed pundits have been predicting the death of traditional television ever since the launch of OTT streaming services. Luckily, the rumors of the demise of traditional broadcast TV have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, broadcast distribution is not only surviving but in many areas, especially developing markets, it is thriving. According to Digital TV Research, the global total of Pay-TV subscriptions is expected to reach 1.08 billion by 2024, adding 26 million new subscribers since 2018. 

India and China are seeing the most significant growth in Pay TV subscriptions and the sheer size of the installed base of compatible TV-receivers and set-top boxes in these markets is massive and still growing. The transition to replace existing technology in several markets is decades away and, in fact, in many cases, analog broadcast distribution is still seen as the only viable option.

Times change and technology evolves

Compared to broadcast distribution, OTT streaming services are still very much in their infancy. Variable picture quality, video buffering and other live streaming related annoyances are commonplace. The technology is limited by end-users internet bandwidth, ISP contracts, and the proliferation of data caps. Meanwhile, broadcast distribution technology has matured to the point where traditional television stands as the main source to watch live content, including sports, events and TV news. It offers the most consistent and uninterrupted delivery of services to the majority of the global market. For this reason, linear television remains at the core of service offerings for operators. This core offering is now been supplemented by, subscription-based VoD-services and increasingly popular network recording services as well as OTT streaming services.

Consumption habits driving advancements in technology

Service providers and television networks have launched their own VoD and OTT streaming services to keep up with modern content consumption needs. However, these services are often struggling to compete with the likes of Netflix, HBO, YouTube, Amazon Prime and the soon to launch Disney+, who are investing billions of dollars into platform-exclusive content. Content is clearly king, but the best content is getting increasingly fragmented across various services. Consumers are now discovering the harsh reality that their favorite content is becoming gated behind individual service subscriptions.

Subsequently, operators are facing a need to provide their customers with a growing expanse of video content services through their existing networks. Simultaneously, picture quality requirements are increasing alongside television panel size growth and 4K resolution is soon becoming the standard; in the short term for OTT, long term for linear TV. These factors combined put new demands on cable networking hardware. It increases pressure for service providers to update their network technology to be able to keep up with ever-increasing bandwidth consumption and service variety demands.

Look to the future, but focus on the present

While we, at Teleste, have our sights adamantly set to the future, we also want to keep our eye on what our customer’s needs are in the present. Research data suggests that broadcast television isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and as we see it, traditional and distributed access networks will go hand in hand for the unforeseeable future. 

We will continue to offer our customers solutions and support that drive current network requirements in a way that is future proof and scalable for data demand growth and emerging new technologies. Teleste’s headend solution Luminato represents our commitment to provide the best-of-breed in video headends for operators today as well as during and after the big step to distributed access networks. Our new Luminato 4×4 platform allows operators to freely scale up their video services when the need for channels like 4K resolution increase while simultaneously offering access to a flexible selection of services.  Read more about  the Luminato 4×4 headend solution:


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Julius Tikkanen

I'm currently heading Video Service Platforms business at Teleste. I joined the company in 2005 and have since had an outstanding position to follow how video processing solutions and consumer behavior have developed into where those are today. See my LinkedIn.