Northern Sky Research

MSS SNG – A Steady Opportunity amidst a Changing Market

Feb 12th, 2014 by Brad Grady   More from this Analyst | Profile

A recent study of American news programming by the Pew Charitable Trust found that on the three large 24/7 U.S. cable news networks (Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC) 2007 – 2012 saw a steady decline in the overall amount of ‘live event’ coverage for daytime TV.  Instead, packaged content such as footage recorded from a remote crew transmitted back to the news room saw a steady increase.  Meanwhile, amateur footage from YouTube captured on mobile phones with grainy, shaky video have come to symbolize truly ‘breaking news.’  Similarly, webcam based interviews have become almost commonplace for news programming.  This all begs  a key question for MSS-based SNG applications…. If mobile phone video capture is acceptable, does that limit the market for the higher quality delivered from an MSS terminal?

For markets with robust terrestrial infrastructure (including access at a remote reporter’s hotel room for a webcam interview), there might not be a need to burn MSS airtime.  With less ‘live at the scene’ footage, more crowd-sourced footage, and better terrestrial infrastructure, MSS-centric SNG could have tough times ahead… or do they?

According to NSR’s latest study on SNG markets, Contribution and Occasional Use TV Markets, MSS SNG/OU hourly uptake will decline only slightly on a global basis for the foreseeable future.  At the same time, there is a slight uptick in the number of In-service units.  Just as terrestrial services have impacted the larger VSAT-based SNG market in terms of utilization, cellular access has impacted the per-unit utilization of MSS SNG services.

Additionally, emerging regional news programming continues to increase the number of media outlets, crews, and reporters.  With more demand for content from more places, there continues to be demand for high quality footage from breaking news events.  These are locations where terrestrial infrastructure is either non-existent, or not practical.  Mobile coverage of disasters continues to be a heavy-consumer of MSS SNG airtime, as well as forward-deployed reporters in hostile environments for the developed media markets. 

In emerging markets, having an on air personality at major regional events can be a significant differentiator in a highly competitive, rapidly developing market.  Looking forward, as consumers continue to demand more bandwidth to their personal mobile devices, it is easy to imagine a scenario in a highly dense or bandwidth-constrained location where terrestrial wireless streaming is simply not an option for news crews – where MSS SNGs are the only option for a small, highly mobile production crew.  Even leading cellular based news broadcast equipment still typically can easily interface with MSS SNG terminals, further support for the MSS SNG sector.

Bottom Line

MSS SNGs continue to be a part of the ‘go-bag’ for breaking news crews, and will continue to see steady yearly in-service unit figures.  Largely immune from even-odd year trends found in the VSAT-based SNG/OU markets, MSS SNG services will continue to be a steady corner of the SNG market – not posting significant global growth, but not seeing the peaks and valleys found in the VSAT SNG/OU market.  Bottom line, the MSS SNG market will continue to ride-out the changes in news programming, content acquisition, and video quality.

Information for this article was extracted from NSR's report:  Energy Markets via Satellite, 3rd Edition