The Evolution of Content Consumption

Nowadays, we are going through a change of paradigm in the way people consume audio-visual content. The increase of Internet access, and the evolution and penetration in the consumer electronic devices market have expanded the availability of both live and on-demand video content. The convergence of the IP world allows the customization of content and an advanced web experience. Furthermore, the ever increasing bandwidth available per client and the inclusion of mobile networks has made the new paradigm for content consumption easier.

In the past, content consumption habits were passive. People consumed what was available at that moment on a shared screen, usually the TV. Now, there is an active user who needs to be heard, who participates and who wants to be able to recommend what he is watching using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, forums, etc. At the same time, this user prefers content recommended by acquaintances rather than being influenced by the media.

Modern consumers have a strong dependency on technology, the tend to research and analyze more. They have multiple devices that allow them to consume more content at the same time in different devices, both outside and inside their home. They look for content tailored for their personal preferences, which is made possible by content generators that thrive when they include digital data recollection mechanisms for consumer. With that, they are able to determine user preferences and behavior. These powerful recommendation engines have the capability of offering targeted content to specific groups, according to their demographics, taste, lifestyle or online behavior. The concept of the season is lost, and habits like binge-watching arise. Therefore, networks are increasingly loaded by heavy-streamers.

These changing habits on content consumption are also enabled by the evolution of access network technologies (evolution of ADSL, evolution of DOCSIS, FTTH, 3G-4G-5G, etc.). In the early days, TV was directly accessed by cable networks with analog services; then the evolution went towards the services of Digital TV using digital STB, not only on cable networks but also on satellite and air networks.

Currently, content stops being exclusively in analog and digital networks and converges with IP data networks. The user begins to migrate, increasingly and exclusively, to broadband networks and the number of cord-cutters increases at the same time.

With the increased capacity of fixed broadband networks – and mobile networks – it is possible to incorporate content into the current universe of electronic devices. The increase in digital video compression capabilities makes it possible to transmit not only SD and HD content, but also UHD content over these networks. Being able to place all of these on IP networks makes it possible to use streaming techniques that enhance the user experience over these networks by using ABR and profiles tailored to different screen formats.

It’s evolved from having fully controlled analog or digital networks, to transmitting in uncontrolled networks like Internet, that is what is known as Over-The Top (OTT). Broadcast content has become individual content for each home or device or group of devices. From being played on controlled devices such as STBs to uncontrolled devices such as user devices (using applications and players that interact with the world’s operating system). Previously, content was totally controlled by the operators, who encrypted, compressed, and ingested it. Now, content is uncontrolled, hosted in the cloud and streamed directly to devices.

The amount of content available to users is growing exponentially. Increased value-added services, which were incorporated at the beginnings of digital TV, allow having programming grids embedded on on-screen guides. It also showed the possibility of being able to set parental control based on movie and TV shows ratings, as well as grouping favorite channels. Some other services have been added, such as multiprofiles, recording in the cloud, multiscreens and restarTV, allowing a comprehensive web experience. We have gone from consuming content inside the home in front of the TV, to a world where TV is everywhere – on any device, any place, anytime and always on.

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