The future of broadcast and digital confluence
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
NAB 2019 was the best NAB Show I've been a part of since I started coming to Vegas a decade ago. Here’s why:
A lot has changed in our industry in these past 10 years, but the pace of change has increased tremendously. Going to NAB always gives you the benefit of looking at snapshots of what everyone’s doing, all in the compressed space of 3 days.
Rewind to 2001: Satellites were the star of the day. HD wasn’t on our radar. 16:9 wasn’t yet the standard but was getting wider adoption.
Fast Forward to 2010: IP-based digital video made its debut at the show and it took some time for everyone to pay attention. It was a nascent technology and people were dubious about how it could help hardware-based broadcasters going forward. Online video vendors were ushered to a corner of the floor, alongside the small booths of emerging-market technology vendors.
A couple of years went past, and online video and IP-based delivery were what everyone had to be talking about to be hip and cool -- but few really understood what they were talking about. Most vendors that wanted to be seen as innovators, or as keeping pace with the times, mentioned online video in their marketing collaterals -- but few, if any, could manage the requirements of a large-scale operation.
Fast forward to 2019: Everything is HD -- or more -- and streaming is everywhere. Cable companies don’t know how to stop the bleeding from people jumping onto connected devices to view video, live or not. The era of how I want it, when I want it, where I want it is here to stay.
But what happened in the background?
When I first came to NAB in 2010, much had already been achieved: the internet was already robust, reliable and sufficiently fast; every single piece of equipment had a ready Ethernet cable connection and an identifiable, unique mac address. A lot of things that were once a nice dream were finally becoming a reality.
This 2019 NAB was a good chance to confirm how these gradual changes have finally reshaped our whole industry -- impacting not just how we deliver stuff, but also how we produce and collaborate, how we leverage hardware and software to operate jointly and efficiently, and how we eliminate silos between IT and engineering inside a broadcast operation.
Today we can witness first-hand how it is now mandatory that the industry as a whole embraces IP delivery and software and cloud-based operations. Transformation is here to stay; something that had been building for at least a decade -- the confluence of the digital and traditional worlds -- has become a single, convergent operation..
So what in the beginning was just a glitch, something that showed up uninvited, became something everyone had to acknowledge. Today this glitch is something no one can avoid embracing.
IP-based broadcast technology is now going beyond its promise, offering tangible efficiencies, cost reductions, improved output, and faster turnarounds. More video is being produced in a single month than was produced in a whole year a decade ago. In this new world, operations, more than ever, need to be efficient, lean, and able to shift quickly in response to changing consumer behavior. Ultimately, our whole TV mindset needs to adapt to a fast, pulsating beat that few know how to dance to.
NAB 2019 confirmed that the latest trends in workflow orchestration, metadata management, the emergence of artificial intelligence and automation will allow media companies to put more content out more quickly, at a lower cost -- and that these trends will help them cross the chasm from the old world to the new … and not die trying.
Things will continue to evolve. We still have another rocky 2 or 3 years ahead of us as an industry, as the market continues to understand and embrace these new technologies. There is more consolidation coming around digital ventures. We will have fewer, but holistically better, companies, and more and better solutions. Artificial Intelligence will also have a greater role in our day-to-day operations, to the point where a TV broadcast will become fully automated for all tasks that don’t need creative or editorial input. In today’s connected world, with an ever-increasing appetite for content, this can only be good news for content creators and distributors.
Meet Patricio Cummins at Broadcast Asia (18-20th June) to discuss more on the great media revolution...