COVID-19 has had numerous tectonic effects on broadcast technology vendors, from accelerating a move to IP- and cloud-based systems to making for much uncertainty and probable consolidations ahead.
The pandemic created an opportunity to stress-test distributed and virtualized workflows right now that stations and networks were already considering for the future. The industry’s shift may now be ahead of schedule because of it. Above, NBC Universal’s Boston Media Center is one of the latest all-IP broadcast facilities.
Next year should see broadcasters making advances in the continuing move to IP, greater use of cloud platforms and significant progress for two new wireless technologies: ATSC 3.0 and the various 5G services being rolled out by wireless carriers. Above, a Sony camcorder and prototype 5G transmitter were used to test camera backhauls over Verizon’s 5G network during a recent NBC NFL broadcast.
Experts say the broadcast industry’s transition to IP infrastructure is likely to dominate this year’s show in Amsterdam. But there’s still plenty of room for developments in the cloud, artificial intelligence, OTT, cybersecurity and more to keep technologists busy on both the show floor and in its conference rooms.
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IP-enabled production and playout models promise cost savings and increased flexibility. And once content flows through a data center, artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to generate metadata and direct the future distribution, repurposing and archiving of that content.
Sales of most media technology companies are basically flat while their R&D and marketing costs continue to run high, forcing some to reexamine how they sell in a traditionally demanding and rapidly changing market. Above, a Vizrt virtual set demonstration this week at the NAB Show.
The list of gear and technologies expected to command broadcasters’ attention and wallets next year includes the transition from SDI to IP infrastructure using clouds; transmitters and other RF gear to handle station migration to new channels; ATSC 3.0; plus a lot of activity involving cameras, bonded cellar, multichannel workflow and virtual sets.
Television broadcasters may wish to leverage IP technology, but they cannot simply abandon their paid-for baseband infrastructures. Rather, most will look for ways to introduce islands of IP into their existing workflows with the help of IP gateways. Four early applications for IP in this type of hybrid environment have emerged. (Graphic: Imagine Communications)
The 1,700 companies that populated last week’s NAB Show exhibition continued to experience relatively slow growth in the aggregate in 2016. But they look forward to spending resulting from the spectrum repack, ATSC 3.0 and the much discussed transition to IP.