What trends can we expect to see in the world of broadcast technology? We ask some manufacturers and solution providers
Dominic Harland, CEO
I see 2020 as the year flexibility really comes into play in the media industry. Our challenge is that we have to process and store ever-growing amounts of data, because we are shooting with more cameras, at higher resolutions, for more programmes. And compressed production schedules mean that there is no time to sift the wanted footage – just get on with the edit. The shift towards software tools, running on standardised hardware, means that post architectures require fast, stable, flexible storage that connects to everything while offering in-depth analytics to keep track of workloads.
Remi Beaudouin, Chief Strategy Officer
With new OTT services expected to launch in 2020, we may see an increase in consumers ‘stacking’ and paying for multiple platforms. However, this saturation of the broadcast market could also lead to an increase in illegal streaming and torrenting as consumers struggle to cover the subscription fees. In turn, more broadcasters could begin to adopt initiatives such as BISS-CA to safeguard their most valuable assets – their content. Additionally, there may be increased uptake of cloud services among broadcasters and pay-TV operators in 2020 as they capitalise on the speed of cloud to innovate faster, store their content catalogue more effectively and add more personalised services, in order to keep up with and stand out from the competition.
Eric Bassier, Senior Director, Product Marketing
With the performance advantages of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express), and by leveraging new networking technologies like RDMA, we believe NVMe will erode the market for traditional SSD storage much faster than predicted. In markets such as media and entertainment, where higher resolution content combined with higher frame rates, more bits per pixel and more cameras per project are putting pressure on storage architectures, NVMe will prove particularly appealing.
James Robinson, Director
Remote production is transforming the way broadcasters and producers cover sport, and is sure to be a dominant trend in 2020. By carrying all the camera and microphone signals back to base for live production and post, sports coverage can be crafted better, with more engagement for the viewer and cost-efficiencies for the production company through higher equipment utilisation. Global events can be – and are – covered from a single dedicated facility for consistency and ease of distribution. The world of esports led the way in remote production, and now traditional sports are scrambling to catch up to reap the benefits.
Scott Davies, CEO
In 2020, the attitude to new tools needs to change – especially towards new engagement concepts and strategies. We are still seeing senior industry peers pushing back on technology that enhances audience engagement, because they either don’t understand the technology or they are happy with the status quo of traditional broadcast programming. Linear television still has a place, if it adopts new audience engagement technology – a huge opportunity to increase engagement, programme longevity, reach and new audience connections, not to mention stronger revenues.
Jan Weigner, CEO
The last few years have been dominated by the battle of the Ks – first everyone got excited by 4K, then the stakes were upped to 8K. My prediction for 2020 is that the businesses that will get ahead are the ones who realise that resolution does not define what we do; it is just one of the elements we have to consider when managing and delivering video. Sometimes HD is plenty; sometimes (out of home displays, say) you need 32K or more. If you have the storage space and the bandwidth, you can handle the right resolution for the job.
Charlie Horrell, CEO
Over the course of next year, when traditional broadcast deals come to an end, we will see some of the more niche sports go it alone and try the direct-to-consumer (DTC) approach. Launching a DTC platform is a fraction of the cost it once was and is increasingly getting easier to set up. However, despite this, many of these new platforms will struggle to attract wide audiences and will not be economically viable. Therefore, it’s likely we’ll end up seeing some of these platforms either being picked up by bigger sports organisations or consolidating to form groups.
Additionally, as broadcasters and brands cater to the growing generational divide in what people want from content, we will see the creation of short-form video increase. Nowadays, the younger generation does not have the time or attention span to watch longer-form content. A driver of the growth of short-form video in 2020 will be the Olympics in Tokyo, where the time difference could prove a problem for international audiences to watch events live. However, to cater to this, the Olympics has created its own platform for the provision of short-form video clips, meaning European and US audiences will be able to watch snippets of the highlights. This will be much more convenient for viewers worldwide to keep up with the action, and will allow social media sites to act as a distributor of this content.
James Gilbert, CEO
The pace of change in the media world continues to accelerate. Broadcasters and content providers need to react rapidly to new expectations from consumers and challenges from device manufacturers. The only way that the supply side can keep up is through collaboration and agility; technology alone is not the answer. By collaboration, I mean working closely with both customers and system integrators to create a solution with maximum flexibility while avoiding costly software customisation. By agility, I mean the ability to react quickly to new requirements and customer needs, supported by agile scrum-based development and project delivery methodology.
Simon Devereux, Group Head of Learning & Development at The Mill, and founder and Director of ACCESS:VFX
May the new year be a time full of action towards encouraging greater diversity, awareness and inclusion across our creative industry. We’re going to see an avalanche of ambitious students eager to get into fields such as VFX, animation and gaming. As a result, there’ll be more collaboration between professionals to create opportunities for young talent to enter various sectors of the media and entertainment industry. Let’s roll up our sleeves and equip them with practical tools, through initiatives such as e-mentoring and practical workshops. This is a recipe for a future the entire industry will benefit from.
Peter Maag, Chief Commercial Officer and EVP Strategic Partnerships
2020 is the year when advances in quality, latency and the use of low-cost public internet connections will satisfy the broadcasters’ objective of more content at a much lower cost. The most apparent shift will be the adoption of remote production solutions (also called REMI or at-home solutions). In 2020, broadcasters will save millions by backhauling all cameras and microphones from location to a central control facility, efficiently using resources and minimising travel and on-location spend.
Andy Hook, Technical Solutions Director
There has been an explosion of real-time rendering engines and real-time graphics production in powering virtual studios in broadcast, and 2020 will likely see further growth. Companies like Unity, Unreal and Notch are pushing more realistic and better graphics rendered through higher quality media servers for incredibly glossy and reflective virtual studios and sets. We are seeing a demand in how we can work with these ground-breaking tools and workflows to create more immersive, interactive and collaborative broadcasting environments using mixed reality over green screen. This allows thought leaders, presenters, children, politicians, lecturers – anyone – to be within the environment and immediately interact with it.
In 2020, we will see increased data integration and interactivity so we can do more with content. Rather than just a virtual set that looks pretty, we are working to evolve the technology to allow for interactivity with real-time live data. We are also likely to see increased haptic feedback, skeletal tracking, frictionless motion capture – things that allow us to track the people within the virtual space and create more innovative use of the tools and technologies to create more immersive and engaging content.”
OWNZONES Entertainment Technologies
Nick Nelson, Chief Product Officer
We anticipate the ‘next big thing’ will be the evolution of AI from being simply a buzzword to having tangible benefits across the industry. Content production and consumption is becoming more global every day. Version control, consideration for cultural differences, and attention to storage footprint are more important than ever.
AI is critical to achieving these by revolutionising the way media is stored, localised, and distributed in the cloud through technologies like speech-to-text, duplicate frame detection and consolidation, facial recognition, deletion of commercial blacks, and more. No longer a buzzword, AI will transform the content-to-consumer experience on a global scale.