Technology leaders on the IP transition

HolcombeParksHow will Turner Broadcasting, NBCUniversal’s CNBC and Sinclair Broadcast Group navigate television’s transition from baseband SDI to an IP environment? Senior engineering executives at all three companies participated in a roundtable interview Fastookabout how they are making the move. Matthew Holcombe, VP, Turner Production Broadcast Engineering; Del Parks, SVP and CTO of the Sinclair Broadcast Group; and Steve Fastook, SVP of technical and commercial operations at CNBC, revealed how they’re currently deploying IP, why they are doing so and where they hope IP-based technologies will take their operations in the future. Highlights of that interview, produced for Grass Valley by NewsCheckStudio, are here. Full interview here. 

From live contribution and signal routing to studio production, playout and distribution, broadcasters increasingly are turning to IP to enable new workflow efficiencies, produce more content and position themselves to take advantage of unfolding business opportunities, such as over-the-top, mobile and next-gen TV transmission.

By making it possible to leverage the IT industry’s economies of scale, IP also enables broadcasters to leverage common, off-the-shelf routers and switches, relatively inexpensive Ethernet cabling and commodity blade servers to virtualize broadcast-specific operations once only possible with proprietary black boxes.

Despite the advantages of IP transport, however, obstacles still exist, including a lack of agreement among vendors on a common, open IP standard for media. A shortage of IT personnel with a passion for broadcasting and in-place SDI equipment with years of life ahead of it also give broadcasters reason to pause and carefully consider their IP transition.

Even so, the most significant technology transition the TV industry has navigated in decades has begun.

Here are highlights of the roundtable interview with Turner’s Holcombe, Sinclair’s Parks and CNBC’s Fastook.

Matthew Holcombe on Turner’s IP transition:
“We are going to replace the core SDI routing with IP routing for … CNN Center, …Net Ops… and Turner Studios.”


Del Parks on the benefit of using IP to distribute a digital subchannel to Sinclair stations:
“…because it is IP, we can have an East Coast feed and a West Coast feed at no additional cost.”

Steve Fastook on IP contribution:
if I can reduce my transport cost from location to location, I can take that budget and apply it to more locations and more content.”

Holcombe on moving IP to Broadcast Ops:
We really want to be more flexible in how we can spin up channels and the speed with which we can do that.”

Parks on standards:

The real question is: Will IP infrastructure take off unless there is a single open, interoperable standard?”

Fastook on staffing:
“Most of my team are very IT agile because of the nature of having so much data running through the plant.”

To read the IP Transition Roundtable Interview, please click here

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