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contents

March 2021 volumn 39, issue 3

11 16 30 9

Opportunities for All

Industry increases diversity outreach By James Careless

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Hard Choices: Sports and OTT Streaming could squeeze the last vestige of appointment TV By Mike Farrell

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Intercoms Become More Flexible for Remote Production

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New features promote user friendliness, cloud connectivity By Kevin Hilton

Keeping Connected at a Distance

A look at the ongoing shift to more remote and cloud-based production in 2021 By Robert Szabo-Rowe

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ST 2110 a Success in Review

IP video over transport standard needs to continue to evolve to remain relevant By Adrian Pennington

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Daylight Lighting With HMIs

They give the punch to balance exposure between interior and exterior By Julia Swain

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Solving Lip Sync Issues When Cutting the Cord

Broadcasters and streaming services bare the reponsibility in the end By Dennis Baxter

26

Broadcast TV’s Future May Lie in Single Frequency Networks

SFNs seen as important part of ATSC 3.0 equation By James E. O’Neal

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editor's note

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in the news

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eye on tech

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people

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guest commentary

Can NextGen TV Find Its Killer App? In mid-November 2020, I reported on a multimillion dollar NextGen TV promotional effort launched by Pearl TV and Phoenix Model Market partner broadcasters that proclaims “The Future of Television Has Arrived.” The campaign consisted of one 30-second and two 15-second promos for stations to run on air, a consumer website with helpful NextGen TV information, like where to buy sets and where to tune in, and resources for broadcasters to use on their own websites to inform the public about NextGen TV. While Pearl TV and the Phoenix partners should be commended for this effort, there’s a nagging question in my mind—and perhaps the minds of others in the TV industry. Is this enough? Granted, this is wholly unscientific, but anecdotes from industry friends relayed to me indicate the answer is “probably not.” One in particular recounted a recent interaction with a Best Buy salesperson who was friendly enough but couldn’t provide any NextGen TV information beyond what he read from a cheat sheet. What’s needed for 3.0 to succeed at the retail level is for consumers to go into the store or go online specifically with the goal of buying a NextGen TV because it delivers a unique experience they can’t get or find hard to get anywhere else. In other words, they want to run, play, experience—you choose the verb—a killer app on their NextGen TV. However, without a mid-air course correction, arriving at that destination will be tougher than it needs to be. Why? Because the app development strategy being pursued for 3.0 is a B2B model. In other words, when building a broadcast app a broadcaster will contract with a third-party developer. Or, an in-house development team employed by a broadcaster creates one. Pursuing this strategy to the exclusion of the broader developer universe seems unwise because it limits the opportunity for the emergence of a killer app, one that motivates consumers to learn about, buy and view as indispensable a NextGen TV. Thousands of potential developers steeped in W3C standards, HTML5 and JavaScript as is ATSC 3.0 (A/344), eager to pursue their unique vision and apply their own entrepreneurial energy will simply be cut off from participating in NextGen TV. To be clear, I am not advocating to give third-party developers access to broadcasters’ 3.0 OTA pipelines. Rather, I am focused on the OTT aspect of 3.0, and how it might be leveraged to enrich the NextGen TV experience. Beyond accelerating the discovery of a killer app or apps to propel NextGen TV adoption, the economic ramifications could be enormous as the library of available apps grows. Consider that in 2020 worldwide annual gross revenue of the Apple App Store was $72.3 billion, according to Statista Research. Of the total, Apple happily took its commission on app sales. Much is the same for Google Play Store where annual gross revenue approached $40 billion last year. Creating and managing such a “NextGen TV App Store” seems far beyond the mission of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, but even at this early stage in NextGen TV history it doesn’t seem too early to begin discussing how to and who should make such a store and third-party app development happen. Phil Kurz TV Tech Columnist

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Vol. 39 No. 3 | March 2021 FOLLOW US

www.tvtech.com twitter.com/tvtechnology CONTENT VP/Global Editor-In-Chief Bill Gannon, william.gannon@futurenet.com Content Director Tom Butts, tom.butts@futurenet.com Content Manager Terry Scutt, terry.scutt@futurenet.com Content Producer Michael Balderston, michael.balderston@futurenet.com Contributors Gary Arlen, Susan Ashworth, James Careless, Gary Eskow, Steve Harvey, Craig Johnston, Bob Kovacs and Mark R. Smith Production Manager Heather Tatrow Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban Senior Design Directors Lisa McIntosh and Will Shum ADVERTISING SALES Director of Sales, Media Entertainment & Tech Laura Lubrano, laura.lubrano@futurenet.com SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to www.tvtechnology.com and click on About Us, email futureplc@computerfulfillment.com, call 888-266-5828, or write P.O. Box 8692, Lowell, MA 01853. LICENSING/REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS TV Technology is available for licensing. Contact the Licensing team to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of Print Licensing Rachel Shaw licensing@futurenet.com MANAGEMENT Senior Vice President, B2B Rick Stamberger Chief Revenue Officer Mike Peralta Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance Head of Design Rodney Dive FUTURE US, INC. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036

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in the news Sony-Pearl Group Field Tests Demonstrate Robust ATSC 3.0 Mobility SAN DIEGO—ATSC 3.0 mobility reception was put to work in two field tests conducted by Sony in Phoenix, with Pearl TV Group, and Santa Barbara, Calif., with News-Press and Gazette. The tests, detailed in a recently released white paper, demonstrated the advantages of using ATSC 3.0 for mobile reception and providing software updates to future autonomous-powered vehicles.

The field tests specifically looked at the demodulator chips from Sony Semiconductor and related software for ATSC 3.0 created by Sony Home Entertainment and Solutions of America. The testing areas— mountain passes and urban settings in Phoenix and a route along the Pacific coast near Santa Barbara—provided their own unique reception challenges. Among the tests’ findings was that having a mix of active and passive reception antennas could be beneficial to accommodate all channel conditions of strong and weak signal strength. “Diversity reception has been around for years and has been used in situations like wireless microphones and microwave reception,” said Dave Folsom, Pearl TV chief technical officer. “The brilliance of Sony’s design is the reduction of this capability to a small chip and using it to enable efficient NextGen TV mobile reception.” The test result white papers are available to read on Sony’s website.

tech support and customer success in each respective market. All brands will continue to operate under the current ChyronHego senior leadership team.

This rebranding comes eight years after the broadcast graphics company, then simply Chyron, acquired Swedish-based Hego Group and officially changed its name to ChyronHego. A year later it acquired a majority stake in XYZ Sport Tracking AS of Norway and integrated its technology into ChryonHego’s Tracab sports graphic platform. A review of the ChyronHego brand began when Ariel Garcia was named president of the company in 2019. The Chyron division will continue to serve professional broadcasts across news, sports and beyond that require broadcast-graphics, data and content management, MOS-integration and control. Tracab will continue to help professional and collegiate athletic coaches and leagues with player tracking data, illustrated replay and virtual player lineups. Hego will focus on integrating broadcast services, including equipment and experienced personnel, to work with Chyron and other vendors’ equipment.

March 2021 | www.tvtech.com |

IBC Show Looking at ‘Fall Back Dates’ in December LONDON—IBC is taking precautions with its plans for IBC 2021 in Amsterdam, announcing that it has potential fall back dates in December if the in-person show can’t go ahead as planned in September.

Disney+ Jumps to 95M Subscribers BURBANK, Calif.—Disney+ ended 2020 on a high note, as The Walt Disney Co. reports that the streaming service had just shy of 95 million paid subscribers as of Jan. 2.

Chyron Announces New Branding

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z Michael Balderston

z Tom Butts

z Tom Butts

MELVILLE, N.Y.—ChyronHego has broken into three new corporate brands—Chyron, Hego and Tracab—which the company expects to cultivate greater product development,

span separating these two reports, Disney+ premiered the final three episodes of season two of “The Mandalorian” and the Pixar film “Soul” premiered on the service on Christmas Day. Disney’s other streaming properties also had solid growth compared to their previous years. ESPN+ nearly doubled its subscription base, from 6.6 million to 12.1 million. Hulu saw a 30% growth from 30.4 million to 39.4 million combined for its SVOD only and live TV + SVOD plans. In total, Disney’s DTC brands have more than 146 million paid subscribers, which generated $3.5 billion in Q1 2021 revenue. On the traditional TV side, Disney saw minimal growth (2%) across all of its linear networks from Q1 2020. Much of that growth came from international channels, which had a 5% growth year-over-year.

The last figures Disney shared for the Disney+ streaming service was that subscription had reached 86.8 million subscribers as of Dec. 2, 2020. In the month

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IBC 2021 is currently scheduled to take place in Amsterdam from Sept. 10–13. IBC CEO Michael Crimp announced that the backup dates for the show would be Dec. 3–6. Any decision is expected to be made by the end of May/early June. Because of the lingering effects of the pandemic, Crimp does expect to see a drop-off in international attendees, but IBC will be launching a digital offering alongside the main show. “We’ve had many challenges and many hurdles to overcome,” said Crimp. “Our aim is to reenergize and engage with the industry after a challenging year. We feel a sense of purpose of being the catalyst to get everyone back on track.” z Jenny Priestley


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in the news 2021 NAB Show to Host SMTE and Radio Show WASHINGTON—The 2021 NAB Show will play host to two other NAB marquee events this year, the Sales and Management Television Exchange (SMTE) and the Radio Show. SMTE is an event for television station-level managers and staff in small and medium-sized markets. It explores management and revenue-generating sales strategies to help stations increase their bottom line. SMTE will take place from Oct. 8–9. The Radio Show is NAB’s annual event for the audio industry, providing executive thought-leadership, creative business strategies and innovative solutions, as well as educational sessions and networking for radio professionals. The Radio Show will be held from Oct. 13–14.

streaming programs. “Audiences today actively seek out programs that highlight people who resemble them and experiences that reflect their own,” said Tina Wilson, head of analytics at Nielsen. “Under these circumstances, it’s critical that the entertainment industry create authentic

media interchange around the world. It supports many applications, including audio, written and timed text, such as closed captions and subtitles, accessibility, licensing, content localization and international distribution. LMT is now up to 239 languages. SMPTE Technology Committees (TCs) have begun working on the LMT register. They are expected to produce a SMPTE Public CD in the first half of 2021. The Public CD process allows the society to put the LMT register into the public domain quickly and begin gathering feedback and making improvements to both the register and guidelines for its independent management by multiple stakeholders. z Phil Kurz

All SMTE and Radio Show attendees will have access to the NAB Show Floor and to All Access Programming. The 2021 NAB Show is taking place from Oct. 9–13 in Las Vegas. z Michael Balderston

SMPTE, MESA Collaborate on Metadata Standard WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.—SMPTE has worked with MESA, a data IT and security specialist focused on the future of the M&E industry, to place the human- and machine-readable Language Metadata Table (LMT) into the SMPTE public review process. The process, an early step toward SMPTE standardization, involves publishing LMT as a SMPTE Public Committee Draft (CD), which is a vetted and approved list of language codes that are available for public comment, implementation and validation. LMT offers media companies and related enterprises a controlled vocabulary and standardized set of codes for accurately identifying spoken and written language, which is intended to enable more efficient

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Nielsen Launches Gracenote Inclusion Platform to Measure Diversity on TV EMERYVILLE, Calif.—Nielsen has created the new Gracenote Inclusion Analytics platform with the goal to better measure diversity and inclusion on TV. The new platform is designed to provide content creators, owners, distributors and advertisers with data around on-screen diversity and representation, so as to enable more inclusive content. Gracenote Inclusion Analytics combines Gracenote Global Video program metadata and Studio System celebrity race and ethnicity data with currency grade Nielsen TV ratings and Nielsen SVOD Content ratings data. This allows the new system to provide proprietary metrics assessing the degree to which different identity groups are featured in programming and how evenly this reflects viewing audiences. Data will cover gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation of on-camera talent appearing in popular broadcast, cable and

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content, which resonates with underrepresented groups.” z Michael Balderston

Sennheiser Emphasizing Pro Biz, Seeking Partner for Consumer Division WEDEMARK, Germany—Sennheiser is shuffling its business strategy, announcing that it will commit more of its resources to its three professional services divisions while seeking a partner to invest in its consumer business. Sennheiser’s professional divisions include pro audio, business communications and

Neumann. It’s consumer division works with consumer electronics, specifically the headphone market and soundbar business, including true wireless headphones. All of these divisions have different customer groups, customer requirements, product life cycles and market dynamics, per Sennheiser co-CEO Andreas Sennheiser. “All business units are to emerge strengthened from the planned repositioning. With a strong partner at our side to invest in our consumer business, we will be even better equipped to play to our strengths—and to continue to bring the benefit of these strengths to our customers,” said Daniel Sennheiser, the company’s other co-CEO. z Michael Balderston


industry analysis

Opportunities for All Industry increases diversity outreach

By James Careless

ONTARIO—As the U.S. population becomes more diverse and amid calls for increased awareness of fostering more high-tech career opportunities for minorities, many broadcasters and industry organizations are addressing this in their hiring and advancement (promotion) practices. However, much more remains to be done.

INDUSTRY-WIDE APPROACH Mindful of the importance of employment diversity as an industry issue, in January, the National Association of Broadcasters formed a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Committee, comprised of prominent industry executives. The DEI Advisory Committee’s mission is to assess radio/TV broadcasting’s current diversity and inclusion efforts, and to advise NAB and NAB Leadership Foundation boards on strategies, initiatives and partnerships to make these efforts more effective. The committee will also help NAB staff make recommendations to the FCC and Congress on diversity-related issues, and identify a diverse group of industry experts to speak at NAB conferences and events on a wide range of topics. “Our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are designed to assist broadcasters with ensuring their coverage, their business interactions and their team are reflective of the communities they serve,” said Michelle Duke, NAB’s chief diversity officer. “Over the past couple of decades, we have created initiatives including career fairs, programs and resources to advance this mission. NAB understands the importance of having a diverse, inclusive industry and understands the significance of taking an active role in assisting our members to reach their DEI goals.” Last year, NAB launched the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Center, a website that connects organizations with associations and consultants with expert knowledge of DEI issues.

WHAT’S IN A NAME The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers has joined with its frequent

partner, the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) to address diversity. Announced during the SMPTE2020 virtual event in November 2020, the two groups are harmonizing their goals and policies to increase membership through inclusion and corporate representation. The two organizations have created DEIfocused task forces and working groups in their respective associations and SMPTE has already taken steps to investigate the taxonomy used in its standards to remove terms and phrases that could be perceived as biased and/or offensive. That process is ongoing and will continue. They’re also working to increase inclusivity in membership, corporate representation, film and TV production, post production, VFX technology and more, according to Renard T. Jenkins, vice president of membership for

Renard Jenkins, vice president of membership for SMPTE and HPA board member

SMPTE and HPA board member. Jenkins is also vice president, content transmission and production technology at WarnerMedia. “We want to build relationships with colleges, universities, art institutes and DEI organizations to create a pipeline of qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds,” he said. “We want to be lighthouses and leaders in the creation of safe, diverse and inclusive places for all to succeed throughout the global media and entertainment industry.”

RISE UP

Sadie Groom, Rise founder and managing director for Bubble Agency

"Our advisory boards are made of women and men who are passionate about creating change for the women in the [broadcast technology] sector..." SADIE GROOM, RISE

At the 2018 IBC Show, a group of industry veterans announced the launch of “Rise,” an initiative designed to promote gender diversity in the broadcast technology sector. “Our advisory boards are made of women and men who are passionate about creating change for the women in the sector as well as making broadcasting an attractive and inclusive sector for women wanting to join,” said Sadie Groom, Rise founder and managing director for PR and marketing firm Bubble Agency. Based in the U.K., Rise expanded to Asia in 2019 and North America in 2020. This is no small challenge. Back in 2018, the number of broadcast technology CEOs who were female was 1.18%, “which is shockingly low and below average for other technology-led sectors,” said Groom. “We have seen this number increase slightly since then, but it is still around the 2% mark.”

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industry analysis To advance gender diversity in broadcast technology, Rise is offering mentoring programs for women (70 mentees to date), educational events, global awards and the U.K. education program Rise Up. “This program is supported by the U.K.’s main broadcasters and is focused on bringing the world of broadcast to children ages 9–11 through them building their own TV studio and making a game show,” Groom said. “Our biggest plans now are to launch fully into North America and get the mentoring program there underway and then see where else in the world we can go next.”

“We’re looking at our workforces at each of our stations and comparing them to the demographics of the markets they serve.” CANDACE ANDERSON, SCRIPPS

PRIVATE SECTOR TAKES THE LEAD NAB’s and SMPTE’s leadership in promoting diversity will supplement the efforts of private broadcasters who are already doing the same, Duke said. “Some organizations that have been pursuing this for years include Scripps, Hearst, Tegna and Meredith to name a few.” Scripps in particular, has been committed to promoting diversity for well over a decade, boosting those efforts with the hiring of Danyelle S.T. Wright as Scripps’ chief diversity officer and vice president of employment and labor law in 2018. Wright came to the senior leadership team with three things she thought were critical to having a valid and viable diversity inclusion strategy. “We’re going to need a budget. We’re going to need human capital, and most importantly, we’re going to need commitment from on high. I was heartened by the fact that I received a resounding yes, yes and yes on all three points,” she said. Today, Scripps is pursuing a wide range of managerial, educational and recruitment policies to achieve its “Four Pillars of Diversity,” which include racial/ethnic diversity, 50/50

Kenny Elcock, director of operations and engineering at the Black News Channel

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Candace Anderson, senior business partner for Local Media at Scripps

gender representation with equal pay and equal time to promotion for all, inclusion of the LGBTQ community, and being a destination employer for military reservists and transitioning veterans. The sincerity of Scripps’ diversity efforts can be seen in its local operations, according to Candace Anderson, Scripps’ senior business partner for Local Media. “We’re looking at our workforces at each of our stations and comparing them to the demographics of the markets they serve,” she said. This applies to the talent on air and everyone else behind the scenes. “We’ve been successful in diversifying the assistant news director ranks in recent years,” said Sean McLaughlin, vice president of news, Local Media for Scripps. “Because of this, we developed a training program a few years ago for these assistant news directors with the goal of moving them up into news director roles. We brought 10 of them to Cincinnati and gave them exposure to all of the aspects that go with that job. Since then, six of those 10 have moved up to news director roles within our company.” In addition to the group efforts, individuals within the broadcast industry are doing their

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part to promote meaningful diversity. Kenny Elcock is a 20-year veteran, serving as assistant and then chief engineer at local TV stations. In 2019, he became director of operations and engineering at the Black News Channel, which launched in 2020. Appreciative of the career opportunities he’s received over the years, Elcock is now trying to do the same for women and people of color. That said, many of the traditionally black colleges and universities that could provide broadcast engineers lack access to modern equipment to properly train them. “So I have partnered with Ross Video, Sony and some other broadcast equipment vendors to provide access to current TV production equipment,” said Elcock. “If the kids out there get to know and touch what’s really out there in our industry, they’re more likely to develop their skill sets and educational careers towards this industry.” Another example is Kate Templemeyer, also a 20-year industry veteran who currently serves as director of media services at NET (Nebraska Educational Telecommunications), a PBS/NPR station in Lincoln, Neb. She is a strong advocate for bringing more women into broadcast engineering, which remains difficult due to the low awareness of this option among current female students in high school and college. Tempelmeyer’s suggestion: “We need to find a way to combine broadcast engineering with IT engineering, in order to catch their attention and motivate young women to explore the industry.”

REAL PROGRESS While it is true that real progress is being made on enhancing diversity in broadcasting, “similar to many industries, we still have much work to do,” said Duke, who cited data compiled by the Radio and Television Digital News Association on newsroom employees and general managers to make her point. “According to the 2020 data, the number of people of color in our business increased for the third year in a row,” Duke noted. “That said, the percentage increase was 0.7 percent points. Currently, people of color reflect 39.3 percent of the U.S. population as compared to 26.6 percent of people of color in television newsrooms. Some progress, but obviously, there is still a journey ahead.” Jenkins adds that to achieve its goals, the industry needs to commit to change. “This is a complex and multifaceted problem that will not be solved by wishing it away,” he said. “We all must be committed to this change, and we must work toward it as an industry.” l


remote production

Intercoms Become More Flexible for Remote Production New features promote user friendliness, cloud connectivity By Kevin Hilton

LONDON—Developers of professional intercom systems have made much of the fact that while modern technology has helped enable remote operations and working from home, much of that technology was already available prior to the pandemic. Social distancing has forced broadcasters to accelerate their adoption of these technologies but with no indication as to how long the new ways of working will be in place, systems have been adapted and upgraded to offer features that were not immediately necessary a year ago. Some companies have even developed

brand new products during this time, although these are not all comms-oriented. Riedel Communications responded to the need for social distancing with its DisTag distance monitor. This alerts the person wearing or carrying it if someone gets too close through haptic (a two-stage vibration alarm), visual (a two-stage LED signal) or acoustic (a two-stage sound signal) methods. In addition to DisTag, Riedel has “made a lot of improvements” to its core comms products according to Intercom Product Manager Felix Kolls. Some of these concern the user interface more than connectivity and are targeting non-technical, creative staff working from home. The 1200 Series SmartPanel now offers touchscreens that support icons and an

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remote production eight-character main label plus 16-character sub-label per key, so that each function can be identified and explained. VoIP (voice over IP) has come into its own and is being used in conjunction with Virtual Intercom Panels for working from home, Kolls said. “This allows a regular computer or mobile device to function as an intercom end-point,” he explains. “The integration of panels or audio into an intercom system via long-distance connections is key for today’s distributed productions.” Catering to nontechnical users was also the impetus behind the design of Pliant Technologies’ new MicroCom full-duplex range, which allows multiple people to be on a system without the need for a technician onsite setting it up, configuring it or operating, according to Gary Rosen, vice president of global sales for Pliant. In general, Rosen adds, having more wireless intercoms “can be extremely helpful,” not just through connecting people without physical constraints but also in maintaining social distancing. “Before COVID restrictions, you could walk up to someone and whisper to them,” he says. “Intercom enables you to stay 30-feet away and still whisper to them.”

THEY’RE ALSO MULTITASKERS AEQ has combined several products from its different technology areas—intercom, communications and networking—to expand coverage over different platforms

and connectivity formats. In addition to intercom systems, which are designed with KROMA Telecom, AEQ also develops codecs to provide connections over either ISDN, standard telephone lines (PSTN) or IP. It also produces call-in/conferencing management technology and from this range the Systel-IP platform is being integrated with the Conexia intercom to provide more options for broadcasters.

“This new way of working in TV has taught us that the need for scalable, reliable and secure off-premises products and services will continue to grow.” MARTIN DYSTER, TELOS ALLIANCE

AEQ Sales Director Gustavo Robles explains that integration can be through SIP (session initiation protocol) or the Phoenix codec. “We can also offer Dante, RAVENNA and AES67 for audio over IP,” he said. “Also included are SMPTE ST 2110 interfaces, while our remote links can run over standard Ethernet or VPNs [virtual private networks] with intercom pan-

New features for RTS’ VLink software-based intercom include cloud service redundancy, recording, encryption, video capture/streaming, enhanced control panels and standalone capabilities.

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els in different locations.” John Kowalski, director of broadcast and network sales at Clear-Com, agrees that SIP enhances connectivity, particularly for field reporters or for those working from home. “SIP and VoIP are technologies we were supporting in 2019 and which increased in business applications, including being used to come in and out of intercoms, during 2020,” he says. “IP connectivity to mobile devices as well between studios is something else we are seeing.” Kowalski added that the need to improve connectivity for remote production existed prior to 2020 and was addressed by ClearCom through its LQ Series of AoIP interfaces. These have been adopted for working from home and also work with the Agent-IC mobile app, which allows iOS and Android devices such as smartphones and tablets to become mobile user panels.

IP IS CRUCIAL IP functionality has been able to adapt to the needs of working from home natively, said Martin Dyster, vice president of business development at Telos Alliance, but it needs to be more user friendly for less technically inclined staff. “We realized at the outset of the pandemic that the configuration was not going to be simple for all users, so we made some fundamental changes that made the Infinity IP intercom as close to ‘plug and play’ as possible,” he said. A more general trend brought about by the pandemic, Dyster notes, is the acceleration of TV studios migrating to cloud-based workflows. This is, in turn, pushing intercoms towards having some of its core functions located in third-party facilities. “This new way of working in TV has taught us that the need for scalable, reliable and secure off-premises products and services will continue to grow, with broadcasters becoming increasingly adept at these workflows,” he says. “We have accelerated our own transition to cloud-based products based on this demand and also adapted some of our hardware technology to facilitate work-from-home or remote use.” RTS has provided new features for its VLink software-based intercom that include cloud service redundancy, recording, encryption, video capture/streaming, enhanced control panels and standalone capabilities. “We have also improved our long-distance studio interconnection technology—RTS Trunking—which is now able to support volume control,” says Angelo Piga, global


remote production product manager for RTS Partyline. “This is a real game-changer because it allows users to adjust listen volumes for remote point-topoint and partyline assignments as if they were local assignments.” Away from technology, hygiene and cleanliness continue to be serious considerations in controlling the spread of the virus. Piga agrees that sharing equipment, particularly headsets and microphones, is still a concern for customers. “We have helped by giving instructions on how to keep things like that clean,” he says. “We’ve also seen a significant increase in headsets and microphone orders.” Rosen adds that sales of replacement foam mic covers and ear pads have increased, while noting that the days of having a “bin of headsets” and “just grabbing one are behind us.” Whether workflows and working practices will go back to anything approaching how they were prepandemic is still uncertain. As John Kowalski of Clear-Com says, any changes going through 2021 and into 2022 are likely to be “more subtle than abrupt.” The only constant will be the continuing need for communications and connectivity. l

Brain Hurst uses the Riedel Bolero-Artist comms system during the NBA bubble in Orlando.

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ip for media

IP video over transport standard needs to continue to evolve to remain relevant

By Adrian Pennington

LONDON—One of the two Technical Emmys that SMPTE will pick up at the NAB Show later this year (in person or otherwise) was awarded for its work standardizing 2110. Building on earlier work at the Video Services Forum (VSF), the first four parts of ST 2110 were published by SMPTE in late 2017, to provide for a standardized interconnect of media across an IP-based network. This has the additional benefit of providing a common backbone for the facility, instead of broadcasters having to worry about running the correct type of cable and signal to various locations. Engineering personnel can easily configure and control network switches and routers remotely, allowing them to work from wherever they are.

DUAL PURPOSE One purpose of 2110 was to get the industry onto a single standard, according to John Mailhot, systems architect for IP convergence at Imagine Communications. He edited ST 2110 documents through publication. “We watched what happened in the audio industry where vendors worked in different directions creating a dozen audio over Ethernet systems all incompatible with each other.” The premise of 2110 was to avoid similar fragmentation and to consign the proprietary nature of black box development—which had begun to hinder systems installation and business growth under SDI—to history. Rival approaches to video over IP, notably Aspen (championed by Evertz) and Sony’s Networked Media Interface (“and the prospect of more,” says Mailhot), were eventually sub-

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sumed under the 2110 umbrella. Also driving development was the desire to replace arcane point-to-point signal transport with an entirely new essence-based mechanism. “Studios built with SDI were constrained by what cables were used,” says Bruce Devlin, vice president of standards for SMPTE and chief media scientist for Dalet Digital Media Systems. “Trying to change a facility’s purpose involved physical uplift and fixing of patch panels. In no way was this giving the versatility you needed to be a responsive studio business. “The dream of 2110,” he adds, “was to put down cabling with enough bandwidth and then figure out what you were going to put on it and in what direction the streams were going to flow.” A key part of the work was to mirror the rock-solid timing of SDI by incorporating precision timing protocols derived from IEEE 1588. Devlin says, “We’ve gone from SDI—where timing, video, audio, some metadata and unidirectional routing were all locked together on one cable—to a general-purpose cable that has logically (rather than physically) separate flows for every flavor of video, audio and metadata. Each stream is separately routed and separately timed. “The beauty of ST 2110 is that it allows this complexity,” Devlin adds. “It does everything from SD all the way up to 8K RGB 12-bit uncompressed to a solution demanding a 100GB link streaming video in one direction. In either case you are using the same protocols, the same switching, the same standard IT architectures.” From that standpoint 2110 is about as

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successful as anything the TV industry has ever done, Mailhot says. “At the beginning [2110 compatible product] was built speculatively. Today, it is available because the market demands it.” For just about any piece of kit you could need in a TV facility—multiviewers, cameras, replay systems—buyers have the option of one whose primary interface is ST 2110. “Where 2110 excels is building large-scale facilities,” Mailhot adds. “Legacy projects were built around fixed sized matrices and almost no matter how big they were, six months you’d wish it was just a bit larger. In IP there are limits too but you can build an IP system with 2110 and evolve it over time to scale really extraordinary sizes.” The Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), an industry group focused on education and adoption of IP standards for media, also characterizes 2110 as a success and “a world removed from the market confusion of 2015,” according to AIMS Chairman Mike Cronk, who is also vice president for advanced technology at Grass Valley. “The number of systems deployed and the scope and breadth of companies deploying 2110 has increased.” It’s not all been plain sailing. “There was definitely a lack of education at the outset,” admits Devlin. “Today we’ve got quite a lot of education about the fundamentals of the technology but what is missing is the ‘junior Jedi’ level of apprentice training. With new technologies being introduced faster than educators can create courses, I don’t know where to send enthusiastic students to learn in-camera VFX or IP lighting control or ST 2110 operational needs. I can see the industry re-invigorating the apprentice type

Just_Super/Getty Images

ST 2110 a Success in Review


ip for media training in these cutting-edge technologies because it’s the only way to scale quickly.” Feedback from early 2110 installs is that the standard could use some simplifying. Cronk says, “Large facilities might have a 3000 input x 10,000 output IP equivalent router and while the switches are a standard Cisco, Arista or Mellanox, if you have to manually type in IP addresses in an excel sheet, it quickly becomes tedious. For every video source you might have 16 separate audio and eight data streams so one active goal is to make a 2110 system more plug and play.”

COLLABORATIVE EFFORT An under-reported success of 2110 is the collaboration that has had to take place among different organizations. Sharing the Emmy honor with SMPTE are VSF, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA). Together, they formed the Joint Taskforce on Network Media (JT-NM) to coordinate the effort. “These four organizations have made the

John Mailhot, systems architect for IP convergence at Imagine Communications

2110 ecosystem system successful,” commends Devlin. “The JT-NM meet every couple weeks to try to keep the super tanker moving forwards. The rudder movements have to be aligned early enough for the ship to turn.” The VSF is at the heart of the group exploring transport and connectivity issues. Its TR-03 and TR-04 recommendations were the building blocks for transporting essences (individual signals) rather than the composite media. AMWA took the lead on providing the core control and management software, which equates to straightforward interoperability between products from a wide range of manufacturers. ​The EBU’s role is to keep its finger on the pulse of users. “It is collecting user require-

ments for the next things we should look at next,” says Devlin. “They are trying to figure out, if we’re to use 2110 as an ecosystem rather than simply as a better piece of string to connect a camera to a screen, then what do we have to do to make it better?”

EVOLUTION OF THE STANDARD The underlying business model of broadcasters has been decimated by OTT. Finances for huge broadcast infrastructure projects, such as studio refurbs or new builds, has been curtailed. Add in Covid-era shuttering of near all live studio-based production—for which 2110 was principally designed—and its replacement by remote workflows, and ST 2110 faces something of an identity crisis. “It is not really that 2110 is the wrong standard, it’s that the means of content consumption has started to change rapidly,” Devlin says. “The global pandemic accelerated this when live sports and stage events, all the stuff that 2110 is dedicated to, almost vanished overnight. “The result is far less investment into live infrastructure overall and what investment there is is switched to remote live and remote scripted infrastructure. Investment in a lot of production is not hitting the 2110 nail on the head at the moment.” The JT-NM thinks it has a role to play in adapting 2110 for content shuffling between facilities (or between OB and studio) and more broadly in live remote scenarios. “We’re having to find ways to use the 2110 ecosystem to connect nano-second accurate studio environments with remote operations over the internet or in the cloud where hard and fast PTP accuracy may not exist,” Devlin explains. An option for this is the Internet Protocol Media Experience (IPMX), a proposed set of standards and specs designed to address the ProAV industry’s need for protocols that ensure interoperability for AV over IP. IPMX is promoted by AIMS and AMWA and is based on 2110. A quarter of AIMS’ 100+ members have a foot in both broadcast and ProAV camps. “It seems silly to have a hard wall between gold-plated 2110 excellence and the exuberance and creativity of the vast pool of those who can’t afford 2110 in the ProAV space,” Devlin says. “How do you bridge the two to make something that is better than both of those?” He adds, “Covid has forced us to look at this area. It helps to get more creatives included into what might otherwise be an ivory tower of exclusivity.” Mailhot points out that remote production actually involves equipment either virtualized

in the cloud or physically racked in a room and that 2110 while the operating team controls the kit remotely; “2110 still does its job of being the data plane even as the mechanisms the operations team uses to make production decisions are remoted.” He says there is increasing interest in compressed schemes in the context of 2110 with JPEG XS the frontrunner. Detailed specs for how JPEG XS can be mapped into a 2110-22 ecosystem as a mezzanine compression are all but complete at the VSF. Vendors like Imagine plan to add JPEG XS capability to product this year.

Bruce Devlin, vice president of standards for SMPTE and chief media scientist for Dalet DIgital Media Systems

“2110 in its uncompressed native form is built around the notion that bandwidth is free and cheap on a campus but we are working to use JPEG XS to get to and from cloud,” Mailhot says.

FUTURE POTENTIAL The pandemic may have stalled heavyweight infrastructure projects but demand for ST 2110 product solutions is expected to return. “The reason is that people get hooked on 4K,” surmises Devlin. “We can shoot, store and process in 4K and content shot in it has a long tail. As soon as you try and shoot in 4K, particularly a live event, a lot of other tools start to struggle.” He also points to the rise of game engines and virtual sets within mainstream production as the new benchmark for quality. “To generate VFX in-camera on multi-camera shoots like ‘The Mandalorian,’ you will need high bandwidth to work with uncompressed 4K and 8K,” Devlin said. “With shows of this calibre every bit counts. For this reason, even scripted content producers will realize that the network infrastructure they need will be 2110.” l

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

15


lighting technology

Daylight Lighting With HMIs They give the punch to balance exposure between interior and exterior

O

sion flavors. On a short form piece I recently worked on called “Mary, Meet Grace,” HMIs were used as soft pushes to extend the exterior daylight inward and to key actors. An effective method to use is light from the outside but HMIs can also be used on the inside of a set as well. On the interior of a location, EXPERTISE HMIs can help match with the Julia Swain intensity of the exterior daylight when the camera is pointed toward a window or open doorway. You not only have the necessary punch of an HMI SUPPLEMENTING DAYLIGHT to balance exposure between interior and Probably the biggest goal of daylight units is exterior, but also the ability to soften the HMI to give direction to the ambient daylight. HMI to the point of creating a very realistic effect lighting has been the go-to for supplementof return. ing daylight due to its efficiency at converting In other words, HMI lights are so powerful electricity to light. Their output is four times that you can soften them enough to have greater than that of a tungsten unit. They can them act as a key light that mimics a bounce push in from the outside to add highlights of the actual sunlight coming in. They will inside an interior location, either on the walls not look “sourcey,” in other words, too lit and or as backlights on subjects. They do not need obvious, when shaped and softened from the to be hard—they can provide a powerful but inside. There is enough output to knock down soft push as well by adding a variety of diffu-

n location during the day, whether shooting ENG or scripted, we often walk into a space and survey the existing light that is available. With regards to daylight specifically, this includes the general ambient light in the space, windows and the location of the sun. There are plenty of situations where crews just use the available light, however, in most cases you are looking to enhance it and actually light the scene.

Warm key light from an exterior par can tungsten light

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March 2021 | www.tvtech.com |

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their intensity a bit without losing too much exposure on camera. The only downside of this is that these units are large due to their specific bulbs and housing, so having space is key if you want to stick something like an ARRI M40 inside as a key light.

LEVERAGING OUTPUT Though LEDs are great at imitating daylight color-wise and currently super popular, they still don’t give the punch that HMIs do, simply because they’re an array. The way HMI fixtures are built is what really leverages output, with both fresnel and par options. The lens on an HMI fresnel creates a beam that can be narrowed or widened depending on a variety of lenses and a par HMI takes the light hitting the back of the housing and sends it forward for the maximum push. Each is basically a giant point source as opposed to a panel of smaller sources. LED lights can still be pushed through windows for a softer, wider beam. They are great for simulating streetlight at night and can still be used as daylight but will not give a specific shape like a streak of daylight on a wall. It is also much harder for them to com-


lighting technology pete with the natural daylight and they won’t read very well on camera depending on the strength of the unit. While HMIs are the choice for pushing daylight through a set, other units like LED or tungsten lights can be of use for certain effects. Tungsten units, if powerful enough, can also push through to give a feeling of warm daylight when the sun is lower in the sky. They are still hard like HMI sources if they’re a fresnel or par can, just not as powerful, so a much greater unit in wattage amount is needed.

Probably the biggest goal of daylight units is to give direction to the ambient daylight. I recently worked on a music video where tungsten came in handy. We placed a par can outside a smaller window to push a distinct warm shape for a particular performance take. If simulating something like sunset, tungsten doesn’t have to be made to match

Interior shot from “Mary, Meet Grace” with an HMI outside as the key

anything necessarily and it seems to do a beautiful job without needing to be corrected with gel. Bottom line, if you are shooting in daylight, having daylight units, particularly HMIs, will most efficiently allow the supplementing and shaping of light. Other units can serve other purposes in a daylight scenario, but these are

best for matching daylight’s color and extending its quality into an interior location. l Julia Swain is a cinematographer whose ork includes films such as “Lucky” and “Speed of Life” alongside dozens of commercials and music videos.  She continues to shoot on a variety of formats, seeking to create compelling visuals for every story and brand. She can be reached through TV Tech.

AVIWEST


streaming services

Hard Choices: Sports and OTT Streaming could squeeze the last vestige of appointment TV

By Mike Farrell

NEW YORK—Notwithstanding the cratering of viewership in last month’s Super Bowl LV—which collapsed quicker than the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line­—streaming services could be poised to snatch what has been the last vestige of appointment television: live sports, according to at least one influential analyst. According to Nielsen, 96.4 million homes watched Super Bowl LV on TV, the lowest number since 2007. About 5.7 million homes streamed the game, the highest level for that metric ever. In a research note that was issued before those ratings numbers were released, MoffettNathanson media analyst Michael Nathanson pointed to the growing trend of younger viewers migrating to streaming video, and that it would likely mean that sports would have to follow them. Nathanson didn’t expect big tent sporting events like the Super Bowl or the World Series to switch exclusively online, but he said games from various professional and college sports leagues, a staple of cable networks like TBS, TNT and regional sports networks owned by teams, could be in danger. “We would think that the NFL, NCAA, ‘March Madness,’ NBA and MLB Playoffs will remain the domain of broadcast and will have digital rights that are monetized via affiliated services like Paramount+, Peacock or ESPN+,” Nathanson wrote. “Fox, the odd man out without a paid OTT service, will have a decision to make about how they move forward.” Fox bought entertainment streaming service Tubi last year, which offers free ad-supported movies and shows from several networks, including Fox, but doesn’t have a sports component. On Feb. 9, Fox said it expects Tubi to reach $1 billion in revenue over the next few years. In 2021, it anticipates revenue at the service will double to about $300 million.

WHERE THE VIEWERS ARE Keeping tentpole sporting events on the four major broadcasters makes sense for now because that’s where the majority of viewers are. Even the worst-viewed Super Bowl in 14 years was watched on traditional TV by a

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MoffettNathanson media analyst Michael Nathanson

“If a Comcast-owned network decides the economics of a standalone national sports network no longer makes sense, what does this mean for other national sports networks?” MICHAEL NATHANSON, MOFFETTNATHANSON

nearly 20:1 margin over streaming. But for nationally televised sports like the NHL, NBA, golf, tennis and college sports, the staples of sports-based cable channels, networks may have to make some hard choices soon, Nathanson continued, adding they may have to adopt a hybrid approach like Peacock and NBCU, putting a limited number of events across a smaller number of networks. That, Nathanson wrote, in turn “would mean the end of FS2, ESPNU, CBS Sports Networks and a greater number of games carried on OTT products also now including HBO Max.” Analysts have been warning that streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and the like could disrupt the televised sports business for years, but so far they have only

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dipped their toes in the sports business. But as new services emerge, they are beginning to pay attention to sports, and that should have linear networks worried. In January, Peacock, Comcast NBCUniversal’s streaming offering, said it will assume sports programming from NBCSN at the end of the year, when that regional sports network shuts down. Peacock also reached a deal with WWE, where its WWE Network streaming service will be available exclusively to Peacock subscribers for $4.99 per month (free to Comcast Xfinity customers, who also get Peacock premium for free). In addition, WWE renewed its licensing relationship with NBCU’s USA Network, which airs WWE’s Monday Night Raw. Viewership on cable sports channels has been slipping as younger viewers cut the traditional pay-TV cord. ESPN has lost about 9% of its subscribers since 2015 because of cord cutting, while FS1 has lost 5% and the Golf Channel has dipped 11%, according to MoffettNathanson. At the same time, overall time viewed on cable sports channels like ESPN and Fox Sports 2 has fallen a collective 5% since 2015. For some channels the drop is more pronounced—ESPN2 dropped 12% and ESPNU fell 11% in that time frame. Also during that period, remaining viewers are getting older. According to MoffettNathanson, 65% of all cable network viewers are over the age of 50. “Obviously, if you are a sports league trying to build long-term connections with the next generation of fans, this is an increasingly terrifying outcome,” Nathanson wrote. Nathanson pointed to both the WWE deal and the NBCSN closing as signs of a sea change in the industry. “If a Comcast-owned network decides the economics of a standalone national sports network no longer makes sense, what does this mean for other national sports networks?” Nathanson wrote.

NOT EITHER/OR Sports consultant Lee Berke, president and CEO of LHB Media & Entertainment, said that while the business is changing, it won’t necessarily be an either/or scenario. Berke believes that most sports networks won’t pick sides in the streaming wars, but will instead continue


streaming services

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepares for the snap in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.

on a path toward multiplatform offerings. “I don’t see pay TV going away. I don’t see sports going away on pay TV. I think you see less of it,” Berke said. “I think you see a more consolidated bundle of fewer networks, that are general interest, sports, entertainment and news. Even in the worst scenarios, they’re still going to have 50–60 million TV homes that are subscribers to these bundles. So there’s still value there. There’s an audience there.” Berke added that networks will continue to beef up their direct-to-consumer services with sports. He pointed to ESPN+, which has added considerable content from its launch in 2018, and which he believes will be nearly indistinguishable from ESPN-proper in the next few years. “You’ll see this sag in the pay-TV universe,” Berke said, adding that some sports will migrate to streaming services, some will revert to broadcast and some will remain on pay TV. “I think the key is there has to be a multiplatform strategy. The idea of a linear-only sports network just is not going to work going forward.” Content companies already have started putting much of their linear content on their direct-to-consumer offerings. During the

Super Bowl, ViacomCBS spent a lot of money on ads for its upcoming Paramount + launch, mainly showing shows that are already available on their linear channels. Making all of a network’s linear content available to stream on a separate app hasn’t sat too well with distributors in the past, especially if the streaming app is priced lower than the rate the distributor is paying. That, Berke said, will have to be negotiated out. “There will have to be a reckoning,” Berke said. Programmers will have to start making those decisions soon. Although streaming has obviously been a part of at least some sports rights deals—and the major broadcasters have already locked up Major League Baseball, PGA Golf and SEC Football agreements recently— there are still several left to negotiate. According to Nathanson, ESPN’s MLB rights deals come due in 2022, as does NBC’s Premier League pact. In 2023, several NFL rights deals expire: ESPN’s Monday Night Football, Fox’s Thursday Night Football and Sunday NFC packages, NBC’s Sunday Night Football and CBS’s Sunday AFC football package. Also that year, Fox and ABC/ESPN’s Big Ten college football packages are set to be

renegotiated. Further out, ESPN’s and Fox Sports’ Pac-12 and ESPN’s UFC deals expire in 2024. In 2025, the NBA’s rights agreements with ABC/ESPN and TNT come due; as do Fox and NBC Sports pacts with NASCAR. While streaming is expected to play a big role in those negotiations, and sports has come under fire for driving most of the rate increases for pay TV, Berke said he still expects a robust rights market. “Because every technology, every new platform needs sports to drive subs, the key properties that are out there will have healthy increases in rights fees,” Berke said. “I think the NFL is going to come close to doubling. “The NBA, which has acknowledged that the one issue they have is that they haven’t established a strong streaming presence in a sport that skews young, when their deals are up in 2025 they will go much more heavily into streaming platforms and direct-to-consumer,” Berke added. Because these media businesses will have multiple screens and multiple ways to make money, and because they need to drive subscribers across all of them, the rights fees will go up substantially.” l

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

19


remote production

Keeping Connected at a Distance

A look at the ongoing shift to more remote and cloud-based production in 2021 by Robert Szabo-Rowe

The media and entertainment sector has experienced disruption on a level no one could have previously imagined since the Covid-19 pandemic began. It has forced many in the industry—especially those producing live event coverage—to rethink their approach, spurring an incredible drive towards innovation. Many broadcasters and other content producers have, as a result, opened themselves to adopting live production solutions that veered from their accustomed methods; yet were already proven and, critically, are safer than traditional approaches in light of health concerns.

Robert Szabo-Rowe

From scheduled sports and awards shows to ad hoc entertainment and enterprise events, live programming has been safely produced and delivered over the past year largely due to the advantages of remote and cloudbased production. What’s more, the industry migration towards these models has raised the bar for the future of live broadcasting and heralded a more permanent shift. The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward remote methods and the use of cloud technologies and will continue to do so. While the rollout of vaccines globally points

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toward the return of a more “normal” situation for the industry at some point, ongoing uncertainty and the emergence of new, more transmissible Covid-19 variants will continue to drive the uptake of remote approaches and cloud tools. Rightsholders and event producers worldwide are looking to remote production as a means of delivering high-quality coverage while ensuring the health and safety of every person involved, including production crews at every location, the talent and all personnel onsite at an event.

PIONEERING NEW WORKFLOWS FOR LIVE PRODUCTION The power of remote production was demonstrated by one of the largest and most complex projects in 2020: the move by CBS Sports—supported by The Switch—to use remote production workflow for Golf Channel broadcasts of a series of PGA Golf Tour events, including the [Tour] Championship. The production delivered feeds from 24 cameras and a multitude of audio sources from the site of each tournament, and connected teams from The Switch’s broadcast studios in Burbank, the CBS facility in Stamford, Conn. and other locations around the United States.

The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward remote methods and the use of cloud technologies and will continue to do so. Cloud-based production has also emerged as an invaluable tool for broadcasters, acting as a natural extension of existing remote production capabilities and providing significant benefits. The broadcast of a number of entertainment awards events, such as the

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livestreamed unveiling of the Grammy nominations last November, have leveraged cloud tools to safely provide and extend coverage. Live production in the cloud is now a tried and tested option that enables every element of the production pipeline—from clipping and editing to graphics creation to comms and talk-back—to be handled in the cloud. Production crews can use these innovative solutions to operate from anywhere globally —or spread out across an array of locations—working on one platform. This approach also opens up exciting new opportunities for broadcasters and rightsholders, such as the ability to instantly produce clips for social media and the rapid production of live shoulder programming, such as pre-game, post-game and highlight shows.

EXPANDING NETWORK CAPACITIES FOR A SAFER FUTURE While remote and cloud-based production solutions have formed the bedrock of live event broadcasting during the pandemic, it is clear that this model has now demonstrated its efficiency, flexibility and reliability for the long term. The more widespread use of remote and cloud-based production is here to stay. Looking beyond the pandemic, when conference centers, arenas, theatres and other venues are once again safe for crowds to return to, the use of remote and cloudbased production during the crisis has demonstrated its advantages. The potential for substantial cost savings, efficient use of resources and the ability to quickly adapt to any circumstance—regardless of an event’s location, crew members’ whereabouts and the distribution method—will continue to appeal to live content producers. The nature of remote production, however, involves a considerably higher number of feeds being sent between venues, various production facilities, crew locations and other sites. This means network capacities need to eventually be extended to provide higher- bandwidth capacity. Deploying


remote production 2020 French Open. The Switch utilized three dedicated transmit paths between Europe and North America—one created specifically for the tournament—and installed new hardware on-site at Stade Roland Garros. The deployment allowed the transport of high-quality HD feeds via dedicated fibre paths across the Atlantic with SMPTE 2110 hand-off to Tennis Channel’s new production and operations facility in Los Angeles. The project enabled an all IP-based production environment for the first time. The new media workflow permitted the separate transport of high-quality feeds from 17 courts at Roland Garros to Los Angeles. This type of setup offers the agility and efficiency more broadcasters and other live content providers are looking for to more efficiently deliver feeds in the highest quality—with no compromise on latency—while meeting viewers’ growing expectations.

EQUIPPING THE INDUSTRY state-of-the-art connectivity at event locations is critical to allowing the transport of high-quality HD feeds via fibre paths, linking stadiums, arenas and other event venues with production and operations facilities across the globe. The adoption of new industry standards and the shift to all-IP media workflows is also playing a crucial role in the industry-wide transition to remote and cloud-based production. Entirely IP-based production environments allow the flexible transport of video, audio and data across fibre and internet connectivity, meaning broadcasters can deliver more camera feeds from venues to multiple

destinations while also making simultaneous live streams available.

DELIVERING MARQUEE SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS GLOBALLY The need for significantly higher connectivity has become clear to the organizers of major sports events being broadcast and livestreamed around the world. Rightsholders are already putting in place the infrastructure they need to support remote and cloud-based production for coverage of major events such as tennis tournaments and awards shows. Tennis Channel for example, tasked The Switch with delivering connectivity for the

The pandemic has certainly tested the capabilities of broadcasters and rights holders. But at the same time, their ability to adapt and embrace new business models and technologies to overcome fresh challenges has been proven. With a strong roster of live events set to resume in 2021, the industry needs more remote and cloud-based production to continue to deliver the seamless, quality broadcast of live events amid ongoing uncertainty, and it looks set to build on the use of these methods and technologies long after the pandemic is no longer a major factor. l Robert Szabo-Rowe is the senior vice president of engineering and product management at The Switch.

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UF8 Digital Audio Workstation

Ninja V Pro Kit The Ninja V Pro Kit from Atomos is designed as a bridge between compact cinema and mirrorless cameras that can output Apple ProRes RAW via HDMI or SDI, record up to 12-bit RAW externally on Ninja’s onboard SSD and cross convert signals for monitoring and playout/review. The Ninja V Pro Kit consists of the Ninja V, AtomX SDI with activation for new RAW functionality, HDMI-to-SDI cross conversion, DC to DTAP cable and AtomX 5-inch Sunhood. The kit enables users to record RAW footage with Panasonic, Canon and Sony cameras. z For additional information, visit www.atomos.com.

The UF8 Digital Audio Workstation controller from Solid State Logic offers insightful displays, intelligent faders and control access in a production-enhancing control layout for production, mixing and post production. The controller offers highspec touch-sensitive faders, encoders and high-resolution color displays. The control surface can be expanded to 32 channels and integrated with all major DAW platforms. SSL’s 360-degree control software for Macs and PCs is part of the system, managing multiple controller configurations, customized user keys and DAW switching across multiple layers. z For additional information, visit www.solidstatelogic.com.

StreamFile Core New updates have been made to Pronology’s StreamFile Core cross-platform software application. StreamFile Core is now integrated with NewTek NDI and Haivision SRT support to enable increased IP and streaming capabilities to help with remote or at-home production. Additional codec support now allows for the recording of .mxf and .mov wrappers, turning NDI or SRT streams into edit-ready files. The software can also work as a cloud-based model using Amazon Web Services. New stability features allow for automatic resolution scaling, frame rate detection and correction. z For additional information, contact Pronology at 212-660-1600 or visit www.pronology.com.

AMS Express The AMS Express is a scalable network attached storage (NAS) system designed to expand storage capacity, particularly for small to medium-sized media operations dealing with remote production or outside broadcast deployments. Built on the StorNext operating system, the AMX Express storage platform combines compute, network and secure storage capability in a 2RU footprint, offering up to 348 TB of raw capacity (256 TB usable). GV’s software comes pre-installed for tracking media assets. It also supports GV’s existing editing and playout systems. z For additional information, contact Grass Valley at 514-333-1772 or visit www.grassvalley.com.

Kumulate

Tiger Fusion

Masstech's Kumulate video storage management platform has been updated with new features and enhanced modules to simplify video storage and content management. The next-gen Kumulate platform features a new database and architectural structure, as well as enhanced REST API to improve communication between Kumulate modules, the Kumulate core platform and third-party services. The Kumulate’s new microservices architecture also offers enhanced ondemand scalability in either cloud or hybrid environments. Support has also been added for hashing cloud transfers and transcode formats like OpenEXR. Improved integrations with Avid MediaCentral, Adobe, AWS and Azure are also part of the update. z For additional information, contact Masstech at 917-268-9270 or visit www.masstech.com.

PESA’s Tiger Fusion 12G SDI/ IP single-link 4K video distribution system can be used for mission-critical command-and-control solutions and for live and post-production needs. The signal-agnostic control system enables the use of SMPTE ST 2110 IP gateways and HDMI 2.0. The single-link 4K matrix offers a 12G design to reduce cabling and simplifying management. It manages and routes UHD workflows and supports a hybrid mix of SDI (1.5G, 3G, 6G and 12G), HDMI (1.4 and 2.0) and SMPTE ST 2110 IP inputs and outputs with an 18RU frame. z For additional information, 256-726-9200 or visit www.pesa.com.

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eye on tech | product and services

Vizrt Newsroom

JPEG XS Plugin

Part of its Flexible Access subscription model, Vizrt Newsroom software can be integrated with all NRCS’s as a toolset for journalists for advanced visual storytelling. Vizrt Newsroom includes Vizrt’s template-based, cross-platform newsroom content creation system that enables users to create, manage and deliver stories with high-quality broadcast graphics. Users can scale and adjust Newsroom’s tools via browser-based interfaces to create the needed content, be it data-driven election graphics, breaking news stories or social media aggregation. z For additional information, contact Vizrt at 212-560-0708 or visit www.vizrt.com.

Specifically designed to work with Adobe Premiere, the new JPEG XS Plugin from Intopix targets video editing and live streaming, speeding up the pre- and post-production process in the JPEG XS format. With the plug-in, users can review HD, 4K or 8K JPEG XS MXF files by displaying a subresolution, which reduces the bandwidth utilization and computational load during editing or playback. This enables easy switching between lower and fuller resolutions. JPEG XS is embedded with FastTICO-XS SDK for fast encoding and decoding, and provides access to the standardized JPEG XS format, which allows users to access visually lossless compression, multiple encoding/decoding cycles, low latency and low complexity. z For additional information, visit www.intopix.com.

IQ Video Quality Monitoring

Evertz’ XPS Series is a software-defined HEVC and H.264 10-bit 4:2:2 real-time encoding/decoding platform for streaming UHD/3G/HD contributions via IP networks. Using the SRT or RIST protocols, the XPS can provide low-latency encoding over public networks. It can also provide low-latency remote monitoring of broadcast facilities or be used as a production control room extension. XPS is available in several form factors: the 5782XPS module blade for Evertz’s 570FR; XPS-EDGE standalone appliance; and MIO-XPS module for Evertz’s Scorpion Smart Media Processing platform. z For additional information, contact Evertz at 905-335-3700 or visit www.evertz.com.

The update to Telestream’s IQ Video Quality Monitoring solution provides ad-insertion capabilities for enhanced visibility, alerting and diagnostics for ad-based streaming video operation teams. The IQ Monitoring system checks ad frequency; if ad opportunities are available in both linear and OTT; if ad play is correct; and the quality of the video, audio and captions. Additional elements specifically target streaming, including monitoring QoE of DRM encrypted streams, enhanced on-demand scheduling for monitoring live and VOD services and a lightweight ABR mode that reduces CDN monitor traffic. z For additional information, contact Telestream at 530-470-1300 or visit www.telestream.net.

Extio 3

Ultra Encode

Matrox’s Exito 3 IP KVM extenders are now compatible with the NewTek 3Play 3P1 IP replay system and TriCaster TC1 live multicamera production platform. With this support, broadcast facilities can create KVM-over-IP infrastructures for users to connect to and control the NewTek products and offer live event production from a remote 4K or multidisplay station. The Exito 3 IP KVM extenders deliver ultra-low-bitrate 4Kp60 4:4:4, dual 4Kp30 4:4:4 or quad 1080p60 4:4:4 video extension and switching via a standard GigE network. z For additional information, contact Matrox at 800-361-4903 or visit www.matrox.com.

Magewell’s Ultra Encode line of universal media encoders supports multiple encoding formats and a range of delivery protocols for live streaming and remote contribution to IP-based production and AV-over-IP. Ultra Encode features H.264 and H.265 video compression for live streaming delivery. It also supports RTMP, RTMPS, RTP, HLS and SRT streaming protocols as well as NewTek’s second-generation NDI|HX for IP production workflows and AV-over-IP signal distribution. Two models are available: Ultra Encode HDMI and Ultra Encode SDI. z For additional information, visit www.magewell.com.

XPS Series

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

23


inside audio

PhotoAlto/Ale Ventura/Getty Images

Solving Lip Sync Issues When Cutting the Cord Broadcasters and streaming services bare the reponsibility in the end

L

ast summer I started splitting residences between North Georgia and North Alabama and decided that I would “cut the cord” in Decatur, Ala., because my internet connection was at least a 1,000% improvement over my DSL-barely usable AT&T internet in Gainesville, Ga. As all of you know DSL is over copper phone lines and after 8,000 feet of poorly maintained copper wire, the data stream in Georgia was slow. I set up shop in Decatur, ordered my coax internet service and bought my first streaming device. I checked my internet speed, plugged my new streaming device into my Sony 4K television and then tuned into a 4K streaming channel. To my surprise the picture and sound was out of sync. As a sound guy I am particularly annoyed

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by lip sync, which is not hard to find anywhere you look these days. We experience sound lagging behind visuals in the real world because the speed of light is significantly faster than the speed of sound. Many knowledgeable engineers would say that lip sync issues started with the digital age, but I first experienced a lip sync issue in the analog world.

way and after a couple of frame syncs on the cameras there was clearly a sync issue. In the good old days of analog, audio and video issues were obvious and usually easily fixed because the audio was often ahead of the picture and quality-sounding analog audio delays were relatively cheap, plentiful, sounded good and were in the EXPERTISE OB van—plus CRT screens were Dennis Baxter an excellent reference for lip TRAVELING TWO PATHS sync. Often audio sync issues begin There is no doubt that digital audio solved when audio and video are traveling down two and caused many audio problems. Video is different paths. I first encountered out-ofcompressed to reduce the data per frame, sync audio and pictures in the early days of which maintains a unique sequence of wireless cameras in the NASCAR pits. The pictures. Audio is a continuous signal and is video went one way; the audio went another

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inside audio compressed separately from the video. The next time I began to see sync issues were with mismatched sampling rates. In every single piece of digital equipment and editing software there are menus for sampling rates and operation for sampling rate conversions. If there is a mismatch, expect a sync issue.

but still encounter buffering. On the consumer side there can be problems with streaming services, internet connection, browsers or audio/video device drivers and interconnect cables; or all of the above can cause audio and video sync problems. Chasing down these problems can be incredibly daunting for the

We experience sound lagging behind visuals in the real world because the speed of light is significantly faster than the speed of sound. There are a host of reasons and places where the audio and the video can get out of sync, but ultimately it becomes the problem of the broadcaster or steaming service. As broadcast professionals we must keep an eye on sync because in the broadcasting world there is digital processing that happens all along the workflow, from remote operations to transmission, which can result in a cumulative delay effect. We can only make sure that the audio and video is in sync when it goes to the transmitter. But let’s face it; so much video is consumed through an internet connection and I can safely say that will not change. Data compression and corrupt data-related problems are prevalent on the internet and this significantly affects the quality of our sacred broadcast product—content. Digital over-the-air television seems to have fewer audio problems, but I am guessing that the few broadcast engineers that are left out there are taking care of large network operations plants and antennas. I have often thought that there has been a huge influx of people with a computer mindset where problem solving has devolved to a hard shutdown and reboot.

average consumer and taking the chance that you would call customer service and get someone on the line to tell them you have a glitch, the pat answer is unplug, wait a minute and reboot. Another issue that is particularly annoying is the occasional repeat, missing word or upcut word that occurs when watching TV. I reached out to a friend and TV Tech contributor Jim DeFilippis, who said that some of the bumps and jumps are due to buffers in the transmission path. If the transmission is error-free and there is no lost or damaged data, everything is fine but often the data is corrupted and lost.

If there is a video loss the decoder jumps a frame or repeats a frame of video, but the audio can’t jump ahead so sometimes audio gets repeated or words get cut out or upcut. If the audio data is then damaged over time, the audio and video drift apart and, ideally, when the A/V delay reaches objectionable tolerances the decoder should reset the buffer and start over. If for some reason the buffer does not reset then lip sync will persist until a reset. The ATSC 3.0 specifies that the audio and video are embedded together and this is where I think the old saying fits: “It is fine leaving here” applies. As professional broadcast engineers we already know that there are a lot of things that can go wrong with audio sync. Audio delay is everywhere and audio sync must start from the beginning to the end. Broadcast engineers understand tolerances of acceptance but many of them have retired. Perhaps they should come back and teach a couple of things to the computer jocks. l Dennis Baxter has spent over 35 years in live broadcasting contributing to hundreds of live events including sound design for nine Olympic Games. He has earned multiple Emmy Awards and is the author of “A Practical Guide to Television Sound Engineering,” published in both English and Chinese. He is currently working on a book about immersive sound practices and production. He can be reached at dbaxter@dennisbaxtersound.com or at www.dennisbaxtersound.com.

STREAMING MEANS BUFFERING Cutting the cord has been a learning experience where I quickly found out that streaming means buffering. With my DirectTV in Georgia I did not encounter buffering issues, which either stops the stream or decreases the quality of the audio and video to compensate for a reduced data stream. In Alabama I have measured the data stream and my internet averages between 80 and 100 Mbps, which adequately covers 4K video for most of my viewing pleasures—but I can still have buffering delays. And buffering can complicate sync problems. It’s a processing thing. As I have discovered, I have all the specs,

Broadcast veteran Jim DeFilippis

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

25


nextgen tv

Broadcast TV’s Future May Lie in Single Frequency Networks SFNs seen as important part of ATSC 3.0 equation By James E. O’Neal

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The concept of operating two or more transmitters on the same frequency in the same geographic region is not new, but there’s considerable talk within the industry about the role of similar technology in the widespread deployment of ATSC 3.0, particularly after the FCC’s January decision to ease rules on DTS “spillover” that the commission believes will help NextGen TV reach its full potential. Such on-channel operation will be essential in rolling out NextGen TV, especially in terms of implementing the full feature set of 3.0, many believe. Bill Meintel, partner in the Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace (MSW) engineering firm, believes that broadcasters need to update their technology with SFNs.

Bill Meintel, partner at Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace

“Broadcasters can’t keep doing what they’ve been doing. They’ve got to do something better,” he said. “You’ve got to have better coverage and you’ll need SFNs for that. You need to make up for antennas that are close to the ground and on moving vehicles. You won’t be able to do this with a single stick.” Improved signals are essential if broadcasters are going to profit from NextGen TV, Meintel added.

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“You need to have a fairly large signal over the area you want to serve in order to provide for indoor reception and/or reception by portable or mobile devices. We don’t have this today,” he said. “Some of this has been covered by translators, but this is getting difficult due to the repack. In addition, relying on translators that operate on a different channel than the main signal is not conducive to mobile and/or handheld reception; SFNs make a lot of sense in this regard.”

WHERE THE DEVICES ARE Joe Chinnici, CEO of Public Media Group, a digital infrastructure company that focuses on SFN technology and the transition to 3.0, further amplified the need for SFN deployment. “First and foremost is the population pickup available with the use of SFNs,” he said. “In our studies, we’re seeing pickups from 46–100%. In order to reach the maximum addressable market for our clients, we feel that an appropriately designed SFN is critical.” The Phoenix KASW SFN transmitter site at Shaw Butte (north of Phoenix) He also stressed the importance of delivering adequate signals to annetworking by tapping the unused capacity tennas 1.5 meters above ground, rather than in TV broadcasters’ signals, views SFNs as the FCC-assumed 10 meters. a means for broadcasters to enhance their “This is where the devices are,” he said. ability to deliver both television and the anDave Folsom, CTO for Pearl TV, the station cillary services that occupy such a large part consortium involved in the Phoenix Model of NextGen TV’s feature set. Market for testing NextGen TV, also views “The maximum capacity of the channel is SFNs key piece for the standard’s success. limited by the lowest power level in any areas “You can increase the primary signal’s that must be served,” said Hane. “If we use SFNs signal-to-noise ratio [within its designated to raise the power levels we can spend those coverage area] with the use of a well-designed gains on capacity, coverage or robustness.” and implemented SFN,” he said. “That will improve receivability and/or an increase in available transmission bandwidth. It also can CURRENT SFN RESEARCH play an important role in mobile/auto delivWhile the pandemic has sidetracked many ery, while filling in reception gaps in coverage projects, including planned SFNs, progress is within the station’s designated contours.” being made in some markets. John Hane, president of BitPath, which The Phoenix Model Market NextGen TV focuses on providing wide area wireless data project, in conjunction with an area E.W.

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nextgen tv

Joe Chinnici, CEO of Public Media Group

Scripps station, now boasts an operational 3.0 SFN. Pearl’s Folsom said the SFN, located north of Phoenix, augments coverage of the main KASW NextGen TV host site, situated south of the city. “It was placed on the air in September of 2020, and so far, has been working as expected,” he said. The Sinclair Broadcast Group initiated some initial SFN field testing in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market in 2018, and is now preparing to move ahead with fully operational deployments. “We’re looking at many markets,” said Mark Aitken, senior vice president of ad-

vanced technology at Sinclair. “This year, we are full out in the initial phase of the 3.0 deployment, which is conversion of facilities, getting partners engaged, and getting all the interconnects done between the stations to properly service markets without a loss of programming. “All of that is a major chore by itself,” he added. “I think that then the rollout of SFNs on a broad basis will begin in 2022 and 2023. Part of this is making decisions on the business model you’re going to deploy.” The Washington, D.C., market will likely be one of the first to see a Sinclair SFN buildout, according to Aitken. “We have a target ‘on air’ date, with our acquisition of a Class A there, WAIV, which should happen on March 2.” He added that the D.C. SFN will differ from previous deployments, more closely following 4G/5G architecture. “A traditional SFN has taken the medium-tower/medium-power approach,” he said, “This [the D.C. SFN] is not some 60-kW solid-state amplifier on the ground. We’re talking about 40W radios tied to antennas with 10 dB or less gain spaced every couple of kilometers like you’d space an LTE radio system.” Aitken said the planned Q4 2021 rollout will use 10 to 12 low-power combination transmitter/antennas that he referred to as “radio heads,” but the number could grow, as trying to model a “dense” SFN such as this

one “is extremely difficult.” In addition to these initiatives, Chinnici said PMG has conducted SFN advanced engineering studies for clients in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, New York City, Boston, Detroit and Seattle.

FCC ACTION’S IMPACT ON SFNS Virtually all of those interviewed agreed that the FCC’s January actions concerning “signal spillover” will be helpful in increasing signal penetration via SFNs. “The Report and Order eases somewhat, and quantifies, the amount of spill allowed outside the coverage area based on well-established contours, making SFN siting near the edge of the licensed coverage area less problematic,” said Folsom. “This Report and Order was important,” said Aitken. “It’s a big step forward in being able to build a more practical SFN with certainty in the interference numbers allowed. There were a lot of grey areas and no antenna has zero dB output on the back side no matter how directional you make it. The R&O makes it easier to model and deploy a practical SFN.” “The FCC rule changes will provide more flexibility,” said MSW’s Meintel. “We didn’t get everything we asked for, but we did get more flexibility. We’ve been trying to get a high level of service at the edge of the contour and that’s not been possible. The changes will definitely help with that.” l

Vendors at the Ready

gear for the main and secondary Phoenix sites and was ready to assist others considering SFNs. “We are also actively working on low-power Equipment manufacturers are also readying for solutions for SFNs; we even showcased a conan expected boom in SFN buildouts. cept of this solution at [the 2019 NAB Show],” said Bill Harland, vice president of marketing at ERI, Turbolski. “The best method of increasing signal reported that his company has developed a new penetration in a market is with SFN technology.” “Superpanel” UHF broadband model with a 20Graziano Casale, account manager of Rohde kW power rating and variable-polarization capabili& Schwarz USA’s broadcast and media division, ty for SFN applications. reported that his company has been involved in SFN “We’re also actively marketing filtering and combinbuildouts and is fully prepared to assist customers in ing systems for SFNs,” said Harland, adding that ERI has Joe Turbolski, vice president of sales additional deployments. prepared a number of proposed SFN-specific projects. and marketing at “We believe that with all the options on the physical Keith Pelletier, Dielectric’s vice president and general ‎Hitachi-Comark layers PL that are available, an SFN is even more importmanager, is also hearing customer interest in SFNs. ant in ATSC 3.0 to ensure a more robust signal,” he said. “For the “We spent a great deal of time working with consultants on success of several business models, SFNs will play a vital role.” theoretical plans for SFN rollouts in various cities,” said Pelletier. Ray Miklius, vice president of EMEA sales and channel pro“We also listened to feedback from our customers on the corpograms at GatesAir, reported development of several products, rate engineering level that are responsible for planning their own “including our Maxiva PMTX-1 pole-mount series, that‘s specifinetworks, and learned about what they needed to optimize their cally applicable to ATSC 3.0 SFNs,” and added that he expected SFN systems.” additional rollout of SFN-related products this year and next. Joe Turbolski, vice president of sales and marketing at H ‎ itachi-Comark, noted that his company had provided transmission z James E. O’Neal

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

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equipment guide | ott solutions

POST Luxembourg Extends Streaming Services With ATEME UR-Ateme USER REPORT By Georges Klosen Head of Telco Application and ICT Infrastructure POST Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG—Our goal at POST Luxembourg is to consolidate our position as the country’s leading telecommunications provider. POST Luxembourg’s continued deployment of infrastructures is making a direct contribution to the country’s economic development and its international positioning as a beacon of excellence for ICT (Information and Communications Technology). As the nation’s largest provider of IPTV services it’s of the utmost importance that we have the appropriate infrastructure in place. POST started working with ATEME in 2011 to encode our IPTV lineup, and in 2014, they helped us expand our offering with the addition of multiscreen and nonlinear services such as replay, timeshift and start-over. Today, ATEME’s TITAN encoders process more than 400 channels, which are then delivered by its origin-packager-recorder-storage, NEA-DVR and EDS. This technology played a vital role in the success of our services and helped us meet the growing demand of nonlinear OTT services.

EXPANDING USE OF ATEME’S SOLUTION With the success of our multiscreen service, PostTV, we knew we would have to increase capacities for streaming and storage of our OTT platform in order to support the increasing demand for nonlinear services. This required a new architec-

ture that would make sure our streaming platform was available to any number of viewers watching simultaneously, while also removing both the operational and technical bottlenecks

both technical and commercial sense. By leveraging ATEME’s NEADVR dual-site architecture, we were able to keep all our services running while we built a second,

the seamless approach offered by ATEME, we were able to keep our NAS cluster running while we transferred its licenses into a new cluster in the EDS. With this solution in place, we have been able to simplify our operations with a single solution to secure both storage and streaming, making our platform easier to maintain and scale. Additionally, by eliminating the need for a NAS, we now benefit from reduced costs and energy consumption, while improving redundancy and resilience.

PROVIDING HIGH-QUALITY VIEWING EXPERIENCES

A combination of ATEME’s TITAN encoder, NEA-DVR and EDS platforms helps POST Luxembourg process more than 400 channels.

of the initial NAS (network attached storage) setup, to make it simpler and more scalable. However, we also had to make sure our customers weren’t inconvenienced during the transition to the new architecture. We needed an approach that would keep our customers satisfied and allow us to continue meeting our commitments with third-party operators. Building a new architecture was considered too risky, so we chose to implement a dual-site architecture and extend our use of ATEME’s NEA-DVR solution—an approach that made

high-availability site from scratch, with ATEME helping us to quickly put an additional cluster in place to handle the extra load.

SIMPLICITY AND SCALE We also saw this project as an opportunity to replace our former NAS with ATEME’s Embedded Distributed Storage (EDS), which reduces costs and complexity by distributing assets across the embedded storage available on each streaming server, instead of locating them on dedicated servers. Thanks to

With an expanded EDS, the NEA-DVR platform has become more reactive and stable, especially at the catch-up peaks in the evenings, which has improved the viewing experience. Looking forward, we will also be able to reuse our existing NAS to serve colder cloud DVR assets as second-tier storage. This end-to-end solution provided by ATEME—from encoding to CDN, through packaging, recording and storage—has been extremely efficient and reliable. We’ve always been able to count on ATEME for expert and holistic support. In undertaking this project, we have ensured we can continue to provide the high-quality experiences and services our customers have come to expect, both now and long into the future. l Georges Klosen has worked in the telco domain since 1996 and has been responsible for IPTV from the beginning of 2007. He can be contacted at georges. klosen@post.lu. For more information, visit www.ateme.com.

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

29


equipment guide | ott solutions

LTN Global Seamlessly Delivers SportsGrid’s 24-Hour Network USER REPORT By Charles Theiss Director of Network Distribution SportsGrid

NEW YORK—SportsGrid is the first 24-hour linear network that streams exclusive live fantasy sports and wagering coverage

a commitment to the sports wagering community to deliver real-time news, injury reports and data as it happens, supported by the 18-hour daily live program schedule. Our network content must be live to engage the audience, and our production team needed a reliable, dependable solution that was a cloudbased backbone. LTN Global’s Kansas City production facility provides much of the support for SportsGrid.

ally integrates the necessary functions for master control, allowing the entire SportsGrid production team to manage our live programming schedule flawlessly. The live streaming HLS video feed is delivered through a resilient low-latency IP connection from the cloud. The LTN platform’s cloud-based production infrastructure provides best practices production workflows, managed and monitored using proprietary software to deliver a scalable and dependable support service solution. With LTN’s cloud-enabled IP video transport delivery service, our content feed is distributed effectively and efficiently, which was critical to the return of live sports in August. LTN Global allows us to scale utilizing their advanced suite of cloud-based automation products to optimize efficiency and dependability. We plan to extend the business model to expand internationally to platforms across new global regions.

TECH SUPPORT

of all major sports and events. Our daily programming schedule combines expert commentary with real-time news, data, statistics and betting intelligence, distributed across streaming platforms that include XUMO, Roku, Sling TV, Vizio, PlexTV, STIRR and Samsung TV Plus. With the onset of the pandemic last year, SportsGrid’s studios were closed, forcing our production team to explore alternative solutions to remotely produce live daily programming. We made

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March 2021 | www.tvtech.com |

INTEGRATED SOLUTION We selected LTN Global because their advanced cloudbased automation products and workflow optimize operational efficiency and dependability. LTN supports SportsGrid with automated production services, including the delivery of live programming support managed from their state-of-the-art production facility in Kansas City, Mo. LTN’s suite of communication and production tools virtutwitter.com/tvtechnology

distribution. He previously served as senior vice president of CNN advertising sales and was an original member of the CNN Interactive team that launched their wireless platform “CNN Everywhere.” He can be contacted at charles@ sportsgrid.com. For more information, contact LTN Global at 240-855-0004 or visit www.ltnglobal.com.

buyers brief

Harmonic VOS360

LTN Global provides immediate support worldwide 24/7. Managing live programming is no easy feat, but knowing the LTN team of experienced professionals in Kansas City are monitoring the SportsGrid live feed helps manage the daily workflow, including resolving and troubleshooting issues with internal and external equipment. LTN’s experience in the media space has been a critical partner supporting SportsGrid’s success. Their support and insightful recommendations help us adapt and evolve during the disruption due to the pandemic. l

The VOS360 live streaming platform uses flexible cloud-native infrastructures to meet the different requirements for media processing and delivery. The Harmonic platform runs on a variety of public cloud platforms and can power millions of simultaneous streams, thousands of live channels, numerous VOD requests and hundreds of petabytes of storage and delivery. VOS360 is built with docker containers and microservices using Kubernetes orchestration. The platform offers API and a range of features that are accessible through an intuitive user interface. The technology uses x86 Intel processors to launch in the cloud.

Charles Theiss currently serves as SportsGrid’s director of network

z For more information, contact Harmonic at 800-828-5521 or visit www.harmonicinc.com.


equipment guide | ott solutions

VENN TV Monitors Streaming Quality, Ads With Telestream USER REPORT By Erling Hedkvist Technology Consultant VENN

LOS ANGELES—VENN is a TV network focused on gaming, streaming, esports and entertainment audiences. Broadcasting live from Los Angeles, VENN creates original programming in-house and in partnership with some of the biggest names across the gaming, pop culture and lifestyle spaces. It is distributed globally across a broad range of media platforms including Twitch, YouTube, Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, VIZIO and more. I was assigned the job of ensuring the quality of all incoming and outgoing lines of transmission at VENN, including the new remote production feeds that were put in place because of COVID-19. With our global OTT footprint, we needed to install a video monitoring solution that could measure audio/video streaming quality along with CDN performance details of our feeds across multiple regions. For VENN’s distribution workflow, we produce a program feed that is delivered as a mezzanine transport stream to a third-party cloud service provider. The provider ingests the mezzanine feed and produces the ABR and social media distributions consumed by our audience. It was crucial for us to ensure our contribution feed was being delivered correctly, and that the service provider was maintaining quality and compliance throughout their transcoding, packaging and delivery processes.

A SINGLE SOURCE My goal was to have one place, a “single pane of glass” to check

the status of all program outputs to our distribution partners and online platforms. Since we didn’t want to burden anyone by forcing them to watch a screen all the time, we looked for a

evolve by region over time, having the flexibility to spin up comprehensive monitoring in more than 70 regions was a really important feature for us. We knew that the U.S. was going

The Telestream Cloud Stream Monitor enabled monitoring of different locations through a single source.

system that would “monitor by exception” and proactively alert us whenever anything didn’t look or sound right. Our search took us to Telestream's Cloud Stream Monitor, and what appealed to me right away was the ability to quickly spin up monitoring instances in different locations around the world. Telestream Cloud Stream Monitor also presented a very low threshold for us to give it a trial run. After inputting my credit card details, we got started immediately with no capital expense to sign off on. Since the VENN group didn’t really know how their market and viewer demographics would

to be the largest market, but we didn’t know how big it would be in South Korea since there are so many gamers there, or whether Europe and the U.K. would grow before Canada, for example. From our studio in Los Angeles, we can now monitor our contribution stream to the service provider as well, and then monitor the output again after the content is packaged and the playout system adds additional graphics and bugs, etc.

DEALING WITH ADS The most recent feature we’ve taken advantage of is monitoring our ad insertions. Stream Monitor allows us to validate the

presence and propagation of our ad insertion signaling and we can see the compliant SCTE-35 markers in our mezzanine transport stream and then validate the propagation of these signals as CUE markers in the resultant HLS streams. We’re able to confirm our DAI monetization policy is being enforced and we have set up automated alerts if ad breaks aren’t being seen or if ads play too frequently. Most importantly, we can pinpoint whether the problem is with what we are sending to the provider or whether the service provider has applied the right settings for the audience-facing streams. Being early adopters of Stream Monitor, we’ve been able to advise the Telestream engineering team on requirements during development. Today, Stream Monitor lets us see VENN TV’s channel health from studio to CDN edge, while identifying in real time any issues and at what point in our distribution they’re being introduced. Having added the ability to see that we are successfully monetizing our channel is hugely valuable as well. l Erling Hedkvist has been in the broadcast industry since 2000. He specialized early on in providing networking solutions for the broadcast and media and entertainment industry. He works with clients to design complete solutions for remote production, master control, playout, PCR, OTT and other broadcast applications on top of IP and in a distributed and virtualized environment. He can be contacted at erling.hedkvist@venn.tv. For more information, contact Telestream at 530-470-1300 or visit www.telestream.net.

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

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equipment guide | ott solutions

Vuuzle.tv Taps Verizon Media for Global Streaming Prophecy Onasis is the CTO of Vuuzle Media Corp. He has been developing online business models for over 15 years such as native apps, content delivery networks and various content delivery platforms. Onasis has extensive knowledge in programmatic advertising and the full stack technology ecosystem monetizing short and long form video. He can be contacted at ponasis@vuuzlelive.com. For more information, visit www.verizonmedia.com.

USER REPORT By Prophecy Onasis Chief Technology Officer Vuuzle.tv

LAS VEGAS—Vuuzle.tv is an ad-supported streaming service providing live events alongside video-on-demand content consumers as a virtual, live, linear channel. One of our unique differentiators is taking live feeds from content creators and ingesting them into a sophisticated environment where personalized advertising is added directly to the stream before it reaches the end customer. For us, as a service powered by programmatic advertising, maximizing ad fill rates is crucial. We required a watertight workflow that kept content streaming while ensuring the seamless delivery of a tailored, high-quality ad experience to each viewer. We needed a solution to drive and increase viewing sessions and help us stand out in the crowded AVOD market.

ONE UNIFIED PLATFORM We chose to partner with Verizon Media as it offered all of the functionality we were looking for in one unified platform. We needed to manage live and VOD assets with ease and at scale from multiple studios across the world, and Verizon Media Platform enabled us to do this with confidence. The Verizon Media Platform has become an integral component of Vuuzle’s robust, client-managed workflow. Local producers can now ingest high-quality video feeds via RTMP or other methods right from their production room Macbooks directly into the Ver-

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buyers brief

Vuuzle manages its live and VOD assets with the Verizon Media Platform.

izon Media Platform no matter their location—all while managing ad-insertion locally. Vuuzle.tv has broadcast hundreds of live events to a global audience, at super-fast speeds, with minimal latency thanks to the platform. We can now empower content partners to go live and direct to ad break seamlessly. With new enhancements, we can now help content partners self-manage and schedule content without involving centralized personnel in production post-setup. Local production can now manage show production and ad breaks in SSAI, enabling more effective monetization of live streams. By using Verizon’s Managed Slicer Service and other unique tools, we can sidestep the traditional setup and management costs of connecting to studio settwitter.com/tvtechnology

ups located worldwide. Without needing to place and manage any on-premise equipment, we’re able to stand up new content providers at a much faster pace than before.

ENABLING INNOVATION Verizon encourages its partners to be innovative and as a result, many of our creative ideas have become a reality as the Verizon Media team has been open to our vision and has the tools to make them happen. We now have plans to further expand our partnership by leveraging the Verizon Media Platform to move broadcast production into the cloud and decentralize our live production workflow. These steps will further reduce costs and improve the flexibility for producers to control their feeds. l

AWS Cloud Digital Interface AWS CDI allows independent software vendors and AWS partners to build live video applications that can connect products and services within the AWS Cloud. Workloads requiring high-performance connectivity and uncompressed live video transport have been historically deployed on-premises using standards such as SDI or other network IP infrastructure, preventing these workflows from leveraging the cloud. With AWS CDI, customers can deploy live video solutions, like TV channel playout, motion graphic insertion, multiviewer applications, live video production switching, video frame rate and color space conversion and more in the cloud. z For more information, visit

aws.amazon.com.


equipment guide | ott solutions buyers briefs AJA BRIDGE LIVE

Dalet Dalet Flex

AJA’s BRIDGE LIVE is a gateway solution that helps move UHD or multichannel HD video between uncompressed baseband SDI to/ from a wide range of streaming and contribution codecs. BRIDGE LIVE meets live video production and delivery demands with transport protocols like SRT, RTMP, UDP and more. An intuitive interface meshes UHD/HD-SDI and streaming/IP for live workflows using H.265/ HEVC, H.264/AVC, H.262/MPEG-2 TS or optional JPEG 2000 codecs. Builtin 10GigE network ports provide bandwidth to move multiple streams of HD or UHD via SRT over public internet. z For more information, contact AJA at 530-274-2048 or visit www.aja.com.

MediaKind Aquila Streaming

The Dalet Flex platform is designed to streamline and speed up operations with next-gen workflow automation. The web application can locate, curate, produce, process and publish content, as well as provide analytics on how engagements are performing. With Dalet Flex, users can deliver content to multiple platforms, including direct-to-consumer OTT and linear. Flex features Dalet’s public APIs and SDKs, and it can be deployed in either a private or public cloud. Dalet offers different tiers for Flex, from entry-level to enterprise-grade to meet varying business needs. z For more information, visit www.dalet.com.

Comark CDS Powered by Titan Live

The Aquila Streaming solution processes and delivers video content for OTT and IPTV consumption. Aquila supports MPEG-2, H.264 and HEVC; provides resolution up to UHD (with a 10% enhancement each year); offers stereo and surround audio; can ingest DVB subtitles, teletext and closed captions; and supports HLS, SS, DASH and CMAF segment and manifest formats. Users can deploy Aquila Streaming as an appliance under a common control system; as software, where the headend is fully integrated into operational flow; and as a service, removing the need to manage the infrastructure.

Comark Digital Services (CDS) is part of Comark’s offering to help users transition to ATSC 3.0. CDS Powered by Titan Live is a converged, software-based solution for live video compression, stream processing and control/management. CDS Powered by Titan Live works with both ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 as its encoding software is licensed per input program. Each encoding license supports multiple outputs, including MPEG-2, H.264 and HEVC. In addition, Titan Live provides source HEVC encoding and DASH packager in the same platform.

z For more information, visit www.mediakind.com.

z For more information, contact Comark at 413-998-1100 or visit

www.comarktv.com.

products & services marketplace

CLOUD PLAYOUT

CLOUD FILE ENCODING (VOD)

CLOUD AD INSERTION

CLOUD TRANSCODING

CLOUD MIDDLEWARE (CMS)

CDN SERVICES(PAY ON USE)

sales@dveo.com +1 858 613-1818

www.zumstream.com

twitter.com/tvtechnology | www.tvtech.com | March 2021

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people on the move For possible inclusion, send information to tvtech@futurenet.com with People News in the subject line.

RAMONA ALEXANDER Member

DAN YORK DAVID WORKMAN

ALLAN DELAURIER

OEM Sales Manager Embrionix

Vice President of Sales for Canada, CIS Regions TVU Networks

Member NAB Television Board of Directors

MARK GARDNER Regional Sales Director – EMEA North Ross Video

Embrionix, a subsidiary of Riedel Communications, has appointed David M. H. Workman global OEM sales manager. Reporting to Rik Hoerée, director Americas at Riedel, Workman will help manufacturers deliver advanced, multiformat I/O solutions to their customers. Prior to that, Workman served as director of sales and business development at Telemetrics, and also worked for Vizrt USA, Grass Valley and LucasFilms’ THX Ltd.

Allan Delaurier has joined TVU Networks as vice president of sales for Canada and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Based in the greater Toronto area, he will focus on promoting TVU cloud-based and remote production solutions in both regions. Most recently he served as sales manager for Canada at Avid Technology, and held leadership roles at Grass Valley, Harris Corp. and Evertz Microsystems.

RaMona Alexander and Dan York have been appointed to the NAB Television Board of Directors. Alexander is vice president and general manager for WDBD, a local Fox affiliate in her hometown of Jackson, Miss., owned by American Spirit Media. York joined Cox Media Group in spring 2020 as president and CEO and is responsible for managing the company’s TV, radio, digital and national advertising platforms and overseeing CMG’s long-term strategic priorities.

ROBERT MILLS

JOHN HONEYCUTT

JOSH MANDEL

JEFF ZUCKER

Executive VP, Unscripted and Alternative Entertainment Walt Disney Television

Chair International Broadcasting Convention Council

Chief Executive Officer The Mill

President, CNN WarnerMedia

Robert Mills has been named executive vice president, Unscripted and Alternative Entertainment, Walt Disney Television. Mills will lead Walt Disney Television Alternative, a newly formed production unit for unscripted programming. He also is responsible for development and production for alternative programming, specials and late night for ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals and ABC daytime programming.

IBC has appointed industry veteran John Honeycutt chair of the IBC Council to take effect immediately. He succeeds Naomi Climer, who has held the role for the past five years. Honeycutt has spent the past 30 years in senior positions in the television market, holding C-suite roles with broadcasters and TV service providers such as Discovery Communications, Fox Cable Networks, Google and Liberty Media.

The Mill has appointed Josh Mandel chief executive officer. He takes over for acting CEO David Patton, who turns his focus to growing the advertising division at The Mill’s parent company Technicolor. Mandel will be responsible for running The Mill globally, with studios in London, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Berlin and Bangalore, as well as exploring opportunities for further global expansion.

Jeff Zucker has confirmed he will step down from his longtime position as president of CNN at the end of 2021. CNN Business provided details of the company’s daily editorial call, where Zucker told employees that he will remain with CNN parent company, WarnerMedia, through the end of the year. Zucker oversees both CNN and is the chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports. He does not have any immediate plans upon his departure.

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twitter.com/tvtechnology

Ross Video has appointed Mark Gardner regional sales director – EMEA North. He joins Ross with a wealth of experience in the broadcast industry, having held R&D/engineering, product management and sales management/director roles with a number of brands including Vistek, ProBel, Snell, SAM and most recently Grass Valley. He will help Ross expand its customer base and outreach into additional sectors.


Profile for Future PLC

TV Tech - 0459 - March 2021  

TV Tech - 0459 - March 2021

TV Tech - 0459 - March 2021  

TV Tech - 0459 - March 2021