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.
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.
Larger networks and sports broadcasters are in the vanguard of IP routing, but local stations are following more slowly. Business needs are driving the pace of transition, and HD-SDI routers are far from disappearing. NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations’ new facility for WCAU-WWSI, its Philadelphia duopoly, uses Grass Valley control software and IPG (IP gateway) cards working with Cisco switches to bridge the HD-SDI and IP worlds.
The global news giant has built the first major broadcast facility to be completely based on the SMPTE 2110 IP networking standard. “The idea behind going IP was to get everything across CNN’s facilities connected,” says Bob Hesskamp, EVP of broadcast engineering for Turner. “The other reason we did this was we wanted to build a facility that wasn’t out of date on Day One, that was software-configurable, expandable and easier to make changes to.”
Playout has taken a leading role in early IP deployments around the world. As master control technology providers work to transition customers, they are focused on providing platforms that can operate on premises, fully in the cloud or in hybrid set-ups.
The new WCAU-WWSI facility, set for a grand opening sometime this fall, is IP-centric and is designed to not only give the two stations a more efficient space with a common technology infrastructure, but to give their personnel new flexibility in creating content for today’s multiplatform world.