The future of TV is hybrid

The future of TV is hybrid

What if we’re looking at the linear TV vs. non-linear TV debate incorrectly? What if it’s not a matter of “or” but of “and”? As we examine TV viewing patterns and viewers’ experiences and preferences, it becomes clear that both methods offer unique benefits that are not mutually exclusive, but in many instances are complementary. Perhaps what we need is a hybrid solution.

The road to hybrid

Portable IP devices and the advent of video over IP networks have transformed the way video is consumed. Now, consumers watch video anywhere and anytime, across a myriad of devices. While this might suggest that viewers are turning away from the rigidity of traditional linear TV, the reality is more complex.

Rather than eliminating the need for linear TV altogether, the emergence of non-linear platforms is driving the need for hybrid networks that integrate satellite into terrestrial infrastructure. This enables broadcasters to deliver seamless video experiences that are both linear and on-demand. In Africa, the lack of affordable high-speed broadband connectivity makes this solution even more relevant.

How HbbTV is changing the face of broadcasting

In the Asia-Pacific region, several countries have pioneered a way forward by augmenting their direct terrestrial TV services with hybrid broadcast broadband. Also known as HbbTV, this platform brings a new range of possibilities to consumers, including the use of broadcast-related apps that provide additional programme information, show a programme guide or provide a menu with access to additional programming. Other options include real-time interaction and games, in which users can compete against other HbbTV viewers. 

The African context

While HbbTV, video-on-demand and streaming content to mobile devices might be the trend internationally, these applications all rely on the availability of reliable, high-speed, and affordable broadband connectivity. In Africa, this kind of connectivity is simply not the case for most people. 

Internet access in Africa lags behind the rest of the world: indeed, fewer than one in three people has access. Speed is the next crucial factor. The worldwide standard for effectively streaming SD video is a download speed of 3Mbps. To achieve this consistently requires an average download speed in the order of 5Mbps. Only seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa have the infrastructure required to support this data rate – the rest fall short. Finally, Africa has some of the most expensive Internet connectivity in the world. Even if an Internet connection is available and supports an adequate data rate able, this connection is often not affordable or the cost outweighs the perceived benefit.

In this context, satellite transmission is one of the very best ways to give African TV viewers access to the video content they require. Fortunately, relying on satellite to deliver broadcast TV does not mean that the global trends of viewing video across multiple devices or having video-on-demand are impossible – not with the innovative solutions adopted by SES.

For consumers without access to broadband Internet, SES’s VoD Everywhere is the perfect solution. VoD Everywhere enables broadcasters to offer an attractive and affordable alternative to linear TV, regardless of whether their consumers have broadband access or not. For more information on VoD Everywhere, visit the SES website.

There’s no doubt that the future of TV is hybrid: linear and non-linear TV both have their place, and both are growing markets. To access these markets in Africa, a continent that lacks the necessary connectivity, requires an established satellite network and innovative products. To find out how SES Africa can keep your consumers connected to hybrid TV no matter where they are on the continent, contact an SES representative today.