Eric Deniau from VITEC talks about the way forward for broadcasters challenged by IP video advances, competition from OTT services and AI processing, poised to transform the industry.

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Growing competition from OTT streaming service providers, changing consumer expectations and other emerging challenges to conventional operations – including artificial intelligence – are converging to transform the broadcast sector.

Consequently, according to Eric Deniau, SVP of research and development at VITEC, broadcasters are continuing to update their investments in production and information technology to support new workflows and operations that will enhance their market positions.

Industry in Transition

“The broadcast sector is an industry in transition. As well as competing with other broadcasters, organisations face challenges from streaming providers with lower operational costs, and simpler distribution mechanisms, through the strategic application of IP-based infrastructures,” Eric said.

Most broadcasters still operate in fragmented environments that have evolved to their current state over decades. Essential elements of the production process are often executed in siloed environments and managed in islands of automation that are not integrated. As a result, disconnected processes are often cobbled together manually to capture content, process and edit the material, and then prepare programming for distribution to audiences.

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To address this complexity, several technological developments over the past half-decade have led to the rising viability of high-quality IP video production and distribution processes.

“Advanced compression standards have created gains of about 50% in asset file-size efficiency every seven years. This, combined with greater internal network capacity, is making the development and distribution of compressed and uncompressed video feeds accessible to more players,” said Eric.

Reducing the Barriers

While this is good news for broadcasters, it also reduces the barriers to entry for OTT streaming providers. So do advances in encoding/decoding and efficient routing algorithms, which have reduced screen-to-screen latency at the frame level over standard IT networks.

New protocols enabling the heof full broadcast-compatible data over IP networks (such as SMPTE2110) further increase opportunities to integrate production workflows with distribution mechanisms,” Eric said. “This means organisations can use their corporate networks to support full broadcast-quality video with compressed low-resolution proxies. Production operations become simpler and broadcasters have opportunities to remove costs and speed up time-to-market.”

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Finally, the digital nature of video over IP makes it compatible with the way AI-powered algorithms work – that is, repeatable steps leading to a predictable outcome. When the video data is combined with metadata, AI creates powerful management tools for storage, retrieval, editing, mixing and all sorts of computer-based processing.

New Tools, New Processes

“Such tools have laid a foundation for production managers to achieve higher output levels with lower efforts while also developing more targeted content. But it is not enough to simply apply the technologies. Broadcasters should revisit their processes to ensure optimal efficiency from a technical and financial perspective,” he noted.

Taking advantage of these new technology-enabled operations demands human effort as well, and will require executives and IT leaders to adapt their current strategies.

Broadcasters must ensure that their corporate IT networks are upgraded or re-designed to handle the volume and complexity of new video applications and traffic flowing over corporate infrastructures. They must also decide on interfacing capable of managing interactions between corporate and external distribution networks. Making these decisions will challenge conventional practices because broadcast production facilities have traditionally been siloed from corporate infrastructure.