The television and video market continues to evolve in response to new technology and the new viewing experiences it enables. If anything, the pace of change can be expected to accelerate. So informitv Connected Vision looks forward to some of the technology trends and market developments that will characterise 2015.
Expect to see a lot more interest in 4K or ultra-high-definition television and video, as screens become more affordable and services begin to launch. Satellite services will be among the first to promote higher quality delivery for sports and movies.
Online players will pioneer the push to provide pictures with more pixels. It is comparatively easy for them to offer 4K video on demand but they will struggle to deliver equivalent quality over current connections.
A new generation of Blu-ray discs and devices will be help to take advantage of these displays. The question is whether consumers will be prepared to invest in yet another physical format or will prefer the apparent convenience of virtual online services.
Meanwhile consumers will be able to buy cameras that can provide exceptional image quality. 4K video cameras will be widely available and still cameras will approach 50 megapixel resolutions, but editing, managing and storing media will remain a challenge.
Programme producers and broadcasters will be obliged to embrace higher resolutions to remain relevant and protect their programming assets.
Even before 4K production becomes the norm, 8K will be on the horizon. Until then there are higher frame rates and colour depths to consider.
Broadcast brands will become truly multichannel and multinational, offering their programming directly to the consumer, following the example of HBO and others. Just do not expect this to be any less expensive than being bundled with a pay-television service.
Sony is expected to launch an online video service, initially to PlayStation owners. However, its recent security breaches demonstrate the importance of maintaining network security.
The BBC Shop will launch as an online retail initiative, but will face significant competition from superstores like Amazon and all you can eat subscription services.
Even Netflix will be challenged by the online services of established pay-television providers and will find it harder to grow its business internationally. It could be an acquisition target.
Global corporations like Google, Apple and Amazon will continue to look for ways to disrupt the dominant paradigm and have significant market capital to do so.
Live sport will remain crucial to pay-television operators. Sky and BT will bid aggressively to gain or retain exclusive football rights. Sky may be better placed to win at a European level but BT still has everything to play for.
BT has more to gain from its bid for EE and the convergence of fixed and mobile networks. That could enable BT to emerge as a serious competitor to Sky, which could respond by aligning with Vodafone or even Liberty Global.
There will be renewed interest in mobile television and video services, with networks that can deliver them and devices that can display them without compromise.
Cloud-based approaches to processing and storage will become increasingly important as broadcasters and service providers move from specialist equipment to general purpose computing platforms and software defined workflows.
Service providers will continue to develop multiscreen strategies. Over 70% of leading operators in the informitv Multiscreen Index will offer some form of multiscreen service. The focus will now be on providing a seamless user experience across multiple screens.
The merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is likely to be approved, subject to some concessions, enabling the merger of AT&T and DIRECTV, leaving DISH Network to do a similar deal.
These days it is all about achieving scale. Smaller pay-television operators will struggle as standalone operations. Beneath the top tier of platforms with five million or more subscribers, the Multiscreen Index shows there is a long tail of smaller players that are ripe for consolidation. More mergers and acquisitions appear inevitable.
The BBC will continue to lobby for special treatment in the run up to the renewal of the Royal Charter, which runs until the end of 2016. The current television licence as a funding mechanism appears more anachronistic each year. It will be a matter for the next government to resolve but some form of funding from general taxation appears increasingly likely.
Broadcasters in Britain and Europe will lobby for retransmission fees from service providers to support their free-to-air business model. The risk for previously privileged public service broadcasters is that they become just more channels in an expanding pay-television universe.
Freeview will launch a connected television platform to serve the free-to-air market. Smart television manufacturers will embrace it and extend their own services around it.
Consumers will increasingly expect to be able to watch and control television and video on any screen and move seamlessly from one to another.
Watching television will be but one use case for such screens, albeit still an important one for many.
Broadcasting will remain pre-eminent for live events and as a means of promoting and distributing programming but there will be no room for complacency.
Broadcasters will no longer be the ones determining the viewing experience, even if they are producing most of the programming that is viewed. Viewers will find their own ways of watching what they want to watch. The challenge for consumer electronics companies and service providers will be to make that as easy as possible.