The media broadcast industry continues to evolve at warp speed. Consumers are watching video differently than ever before and they expect to be able to view video content anywhere, at any time and on any device. This TV Everywhere culture has put consumers in the driver’s seat and traditional media companies are racing to keep up.
Don’t expect things to slow down in 2016, which is shaping up to be a pivotal year when it comes to putting your business on the optimal path to future success. It is also the year that we will see many proof of concepts reaching the marketplace as media companies look to realize the massive benefits of IP, software and the cloud to more effectively move, manage and monetize video content.
Crucial to the long-term success of media companies transitioning operations to these more agile environments is the development, standardization and adoption of open protocols for media over IP. The recently announced Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) was launched to do exactly that – through the promotion of standards that foster the transition of the broadcast and media industry from SDI to IP.
An open and multivendor approach avoids vendor lock-in and encourages innovation and interoperability to facilitate the modernization of broadcast and media facilities. It ensures that investments – made today or tomorrow — will be fully realized and that media companies will be able to navigate future technology transitions, including the following, seamlessly and at a pace that best meets their business objectives.
Cloud and Virtualization
Media companies around the world are beginning to transition channel origination, processing and playout, including master control, to virtualized environments. The flexibility of cloud software allows the easy launching of “pop up” channels for events (think sports, award shows), binge watching of popular content or even to hyper-localize content. Locating operations in the cloud also allows media companies to eliminate geographic boundaries and enhance the customer experience.
Progress toward moving your operations to generic computing and networking resources in 2016 will likely be influenced by several factors, including your level of confidence in a software-only solution’s ability to provide adequate security, reliability and operational transparency. And if you do decide to make the move, your next assignment will be to prioritize the order in which you transition operations, including encoding/transcoding, editing, master control, playout or distribution to a private or even public cloud environment.
On the surface, the transition from HD to Ultra HD seems like the most pedestrian of all the technology transitions confronting media professionals. The broadcast industry, after all, is marked by continuous advancements in resolution and picture quality. But one confounding factor is reconciling the relationship between UHD and IP, and deciding if the transition to these technologies should be done at the same time. When and how to move to higher resolutions and adopt advanced compression schemes may turn out to be the most difficult riddles for media companies to solve in 2016.
Today’s video consumers want a mix of live/linear and on-demand services. Cable operators and other content distributors will continue to embrace cloud-based DVR (cDVR) and dynamic ad insertion technologies that enable them to deliver all of a consumer’s content — live/linear, VoD, recorded – from a single device, anywhere in the world. In 2016, they will also face decisions about when and how to migrate recording capabilities to a datacenter environment and how to best navigate legal and storage optimization barriers.
2016 and Beyond
Content distributors and aggregators are in a prime position to deliver the personalized and unified TV experience that consumers increasingly crave. This coming year, however, will present service providers and the entire media broadcast industry with multiple technology crossroads. By choosing the open and multivendor route to an agile and versatile operating environment, media companies will make significant progress toward the modernization of their infrastructures in 2016 — and beyond.
-Charlie Vogt is CEO of Imagine Communications, a global supplier of video and advertising solutions for the media and entertainment, multi-channel video programming distributors and enterprise markets