Video: Digital Media Trends of 2020

Research from before and during the pandemic paints a clear picture of how streaming has changed. This Deloitte research looked at ad-supported and subscription VOD across demographics as well as looking at how the film industry has faired as cinemas have remained closed in most places.

Jeff Loucks presents the results of surveys taken in the United States before the lockdown and then again in May and October 2020. The youngest demographic tracked is Gen Z born between 1997 and 2006, the oldest being ‘matures’ who are older than 73. The most critical measurement is the amount of money people have in their pocket. Around half said their finances were unchanged, up to 39% said their pay packet had reduced either somewhat or significantly, though this reduced to only 29% in October.

When including streaming music, video games audiobooks, US consumers had an average of 12 entertainment subscriptions which reduced to 11 by October. Concentrating on paid video subscriptions only, the average grew from 3 to 5 over the period of the research, with millennials leading the charge up to 7 services. However, churn also increased. Jeff explains that this is partly because free trials come to an end but also because people are judging services as too expensive. It seems that there is a certain amount of experimentation going on with people testing new combinations of services to find the mix that suits them.



Jeff makes the point that there are around 300 paid streaming services in the US market which is ‘too many to stick around’. Whilst it’s clear that streaming providers are giving consumers the types of services they’ve been wanting from cable providers for years, they are bringing a burden of complexity with them, too.

Hulu and YouTube are two services that give the flexibility of watching an ad-supported version or an ad-free version of the service. Across the market, 60% of people use at least one free ad-supported service. Whilst Hulu’s ad-supported service isn’t free, giving these options is a great way to cater to different tastes. the Deloitte research showed that whilst Gen Z and Millenials would prefer to pay for an ad-free service, older ‘boomers and ‘matures’ would rather use an ad-supported service. Furthermore, when given the option to pay a little for half the ads, customers prefer the extremes rather than the halfway house. Overall, 7 minutes of ads an hour is the number which people say is the right balance, with 14 being too many,

Films have been hit hard by the pandemic, but by the end of the pandemic, 35% of people said they had paid to watch a new release on a streaming platform up 13% from May and 90% said they would likely do it again. Theatrical release windows have been under examination for many years now, but the pandemic really forced the subject. The percentage of revenue made during the ‘DVD release’ period has gone down over the decades. Nowadays, a film makes most of its money, 45%, during its theatrical release window with the ‘TV’ revenue being squeezed down 10% to 18% of the overall revenue. It’s clear then, that studios will be careful with that 45% share to ensure it’s suitably replaced as they move ahead with their 2022 plans.

Each genre has its own fingerprint with comedy and dramas making less money in the box office, proportionally than animations and action movies, for instance. So whilst we may see notable changes in distribution windows, they may be more aggressive for some releases than others when the pandemic has less of a say in studios’ plans.

This video is based on research that can be read in much more detail here:

Digital Media Trends Consumption Habits Survey

Future of the Movie Industry

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Jeff Loucks Dr. Jeff Loucks
Executive Director,
Deloitte Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications

Video: Esports Production During COVID

Esports continues to push itself into to harness the best of IT and broadcast industries to bring largescale events to half a billion people annually. Natrually, the way this is done has changed with the pandemic, but the 10% annual growth remains on track. The esports market is still maturing and while it does, the industry is working hard on innovating with the best technology to bring the best quality video to viewers and to drive engagement. Within the broadcast industry, vendors are working hard to understand how best to serve this market segment which is very happy to adopt high-quality, low latency solutions and broadcasters are asking whether the content is right for them.

Takling all of these questions is a panel of experts brought together by SMPTE’s Washington DC section including Christopher Keath from Blizzard Entertainment, Mark Alston from EA, Scott Adametz from Riot Games, Richard Goldsmith with Delloite and, speaking in January 2021 while he worked for Twitch, Jonas Bengtson.

First off the bat, Michael introduced the esports market. With 2.9 billion people playing games globally and 10% growth year-on-year, he says that it’s still a relatively immature market and then outlines some notable trends. Firstly there is a push to grow into a mainstream audience. To its benefit, esports has a highly loyal and large fanbase, but growth outside of this demographic is still difficult. In this talk and others, we’ve heard of the different types of accompanying, secondary programmes aimed more at those who are interested enough to have a summary and watch a story being told, but not interested in watching the blow-by-blow 8 hour tournament.

Another trend outlined by Michael is datasharing. There are so many stats available both in terms of the play itself, similar to traditional sports ‘percentage possession’ stats, but also factual data which can trigger graphics such as names, affiliations, locations etc. Secondary data processing, just like traditional sports, is also a big revenue opportunity, so the market, explains Michael, is still working on bigger and better ways to share data for mutual benefit. More information on Deloitte’s opinion of the market is in this article with a different perspective in this global esports market report

You can watch either with this Speaker view or Gallery view

The panel discusses the different angle that esports has taken on publishing with many young producers only knowing the free software ‘OBS‘, underlined by Scott who says esports can still be scrappy in some places, bringing together unsynchronised video sources in a ‘democratised’ production which has both benefits and downsides. Another difference within esports is that many viewers have played the games, often extensively. They therefore know exactly what they look like so watching the game streamed can feel a very different experience after going through, portentially multiple stages of, encoding. The panel all spend a lot of time tuning encoders for different games to maintain the look as best as possible.

Christopher Keath explains what observers are. Effectively these are the in-game camera operators which talk to the head observer who co-ordinates them and has a simple switcher to make some available to the production. This leads to a discsussion on how best to bring the observer’s video, during the pandemic, into the programmes. Riot has kitted out the PCs in observers’ homes to bring them up to spect and allow them to stream out whereas EA has moved the observer PCs into their studio, backed by hefty internet links.

Jonas points out that Twitch brings tens of thousands of streams to the internet constantly and outlines that the Twitch angle on streaming is often different to the ‘esports’ angle of big events, rather they are personality driven. The proliferation of streaming onto Twitch, other similar services and as part of esports itself has driven GPU manufacturers, Jonas continues, to include dedicated streaming functionality on the GPUs to stop encoding detracting from the in-game performance. During the pandemic, Twitch has seen a big increase in social games, where interaction is more key rather than team-based competition games.

You can watch either with the Speaker view or this gallery view

Scott talks about Riot’s network global backbone which saw 3.2 petabytes of data flow – just for production traffic – during the League of Legends Worlds event which saw them produce the event in 19 different languages working between Berlin, LA and Shanghai. For him, the pandemic brought a change in the studio where everything was rendered in realtime in the unreal game engine. This allowed them to use augmented reality and have a much more flexible studio which looked better than the standard ‘VR studios’. He suggests they are likely to keep using this technology.

Agreeing with this by advocating a hybrid approach, Christopher says that the reflexes of the gamers are amazing and so there really isn’t a replacement for having them playing side-by-side on a stage. On top of that, you can then unite the excitement of the crowd with lights, smoke and pyrotechnics so that will still want to stay for some programmes, but cloud production is still a powerful tool. Mark agrees with that and also says that EA are exploring the ways in which this remote working can improve the work-life balance.

The panel concludes by answering questions touching on the relative lack of esports on US linear TV compared to Asia and eslewhere, explaining the franchise/league structures, discussing the vast range of technology-focused jobs in the sector, the unique opportunities for fan engagement, co-streaming and the impact of 5G.

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Mark Alston Mark Alston
Technical production manager
Electronic Arts (EA)
Christopher Keath Christopher Keath
Broadcast Systems Architect
Blizzard Entertainment
Jonas Bengtson Jonas Bengtson
Senior Engineering Manager, Discord
Formerly, Director at Twitch
Scott Adametz Scott Adametz
Senior Manager, Esports Engineering,
Riot Games
Richard Goldsmith Richard Goldsmith
Deloitte Consulting