Intelligence for the media & entertainment industry
YEAR REVIEW 2017
2017 THE YEAR IN REVIEW
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t’s not often in this wonderful, fastmoving, ever-evolving industry of ours that we get the chance to draw breath and take stock (and make sense) of what has been taking place; the developments made, the change managed, the challenges newly in wait. The end of the annual cycle is about the nearest we come to any sort of pause, and the reflections we’ve commissioned and gathered for this year’s review provide an accurate blend of the key milestones that have punctuated 2017, from some of the leading authorities in the marketplace. Personally, it has been fascinating to observe the increased probing into emergent technologies, and their place and relevance in the workflow of the industry. For all of the annual talk of UHD, HDR, and AR/VR/ MR, it was artificial intelligence that reared its head most visibly at September’s IBC conference in Amsterdam. The Hanson Robotics-built Sophia (pictured) was part of a keynote address covered in the IBC Daily that pondered the ethics of AI as an
instrument for improved business efficiency, and its appropriateness in replicating (and potentially replacing) professional human influence. This particular machine is learning fast, but machine learning itself is a conversation that will continue to pique the interests of businesses looking to identify operational efficiency, certainly where it concerns the management, storage, and archiving of media, and even the creation of ‘cognitive’ content as seen with IBM Watson’s movie trailer for the film Morgan. Although the manifestation of AI for broadcasters and media entities will look nothing like the humanoid form created by David Hanson (and won’t actually look like much at all, to the naked eye), there is no doubting that AI will continue to drive active conversation in the media and entertainment market well into 2018 and beyond. We hope you enjoy the second edition of our annual review.
Is this machine learning?
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THE YEAR IN REVIEW 6
Mark Harrison, DPP managing director
Gordon Smith, NAB president and CEO
22 SMPTE Aimee Ricca, SMPTE markerting and communication director
24 EBU SImon Fell, EBU technology and innovation director
25 EMS Graham Warren, Eurovision Media Services COO
26 Sony Richard Scott, Sony head of media solutions
28 DVB Peter MacAvock, DVB chairman
30 Ericsson Media Solutions
Peter White, IABM CEO
12 The IABM
Mike Crimp, IBC CEO
AIMS Mike Cronk, AIMS chairman and core technology VP for Grass Valley
Gowton Achaibar, Ericsson Media Solutions COO and head of R&D
32 Rise Sadie Groom, Bubble Agency director and Rise founder
34 Imagine Communications Glodina Lostanlen, Imagine CMO
36 Limelight Networks
Jonathan Smith, Limelight Networks managing director, EMEA
38 Bafta Aaron Matthews, Bafta sustainability manager
40 AJA Bryce Button, AJA product marketing director
42 AMWA Brad Gilmer, executive director, AMWA
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02/01/2018 15:59 14:16 02/01/2018
A WATERSHED YEAR FOR IP By Mike Cronk, AIMS chairman and core technology VP for Grass Valley 6 | TVBEUROPE
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or many years, our industry has heralded IP technology as a means to foster new levels of productivity, agility and competitiveness in our highly dynamic market. While the adoption of IP technology in file-based workflows and distribution chains has been with us for some time, broadcast facilities and live production trucks and studios today have largely continued to rely on SDI as the prevalent transport mechanism for video, audio and ancillary data. Against this backdrop, it is no exaggeration to say that 2017 was a watershed year for IP in our industry. As we approach a new year, it is instructive to look back at what made 2017 such a watershed year for IP and look forward to what we can expect in 2018. The biggest accomplishment towards a more efficient, more agile future with IP in 2017 was without question the approval of key standards within the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards. With a myriad of competing protocols, many of them proprietary, the year 2015 was marked by confusion. Many a broadcaster commented that the future was unclear. In 2016, the industry responded with a new level of collaboration as exemplified by the advent of the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) and the industry wide-collaboration between multiple industry organisations culminating in the IBC Interoperability Zone demonstrations during IBC2016. Such collaboration between so many organisations – the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), AIMS, the Audio Engineering Society (AES), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the IABM, the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPTE) and the Video Services Forum (VSF) was truly historic. Despite this collaboration and energy, however, many a pundit predicted this time last year that it would take until 2018 or even beyond until a new, future-forward SMPTE standard for IP transport would emerge. Thanks to the leadership of SMPTE and the efforts of hundreds of people representing scores of companies from around the globe, SMPTE was able to announce, during IBC2017, that the fundamental standards within the SMPTE ST 2110 suite, ST 2110-10 (System Timing and Definitions), ST 2110-20 (Uncompressed Active Video) and ST 211030 (PCM Digital Audio) were approved. Why was the finalisation of these standards in 2017 so important? Firstly, they enable all IP facilities. As SMPTE stated in its press release on 28th September 2017: “With SMPTE ST 2110 standards, intrafacility traffic now can be all-IP, which means that organisations can rely on one common data-centre infrastructure rather
than two separate facilities for SDI and IP switching/ routing.” This is because the SMPTE ST 2110 standard suite with ability to flexibly transmit video, audio and metadata as separately addressable IP streams (and importantly synchronise them at any receiver), delivers the broadcaster the functionality they need to implement the most stringent of workflows: live production. Such an all-IP facility is more flexible with regard to new formats such as UHD, higher frame rates, HDR, and 12-bit video. It is also more scalable by virtue of the bandwidth that can be delivered today by commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) IP switches – bandwidth that dwarves what can be accomplished with SDI routing technology. Such a facility also makes it easier and more straightforward to implement the flexibility inherent in virtualised software signal processing, as every computer has IP I/O. Secondly, the approval of these SMPTE ST 2110 standards documents is an emphatic proof point that a standards-based future for IP transport is here. In 2016, the collaboration of the aforementioned organisations gave the industry confidence that such a standards-based approach to IP would win the day, but there was still concern around the time it would take to arrive at a set of standards. In 2017 SMPTE answered, removing this concern. I will add that not only did SMPTE approve the three most fundamental standards in the ST 2110 suite, they did it with remarkable speed given the scope of the standard and the meticulousness of the ISO process SMPTE must follow. Based on history, many of the pundits who predicted a longer process would have been justified in their scepticism that SMPTE would approve key ST 2110 standards in 2017. However, they did not predict the newfound collective industry will, nor the pace of activity that SMPTE was able to accomplish. SMPTE is to be commended for this accomplishment. Although the approval of key SMPTE ST 2110 standards was a watershed moment for the industry, it was not the only accomplishment. AMWA made great strides in the development of key open specifications for discovery and control (Interface Specification 04, IS-04), and connection management (IS-05). These specifications provide a common methodology for discovering devices and connecting transmitter signals with receivers, a sort of “plug and play” which can greatly simplify system configuration and operation. Additionally, AIMS and the IABM, along with the AES, AMWA, EBU, the Media Networking Association
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(MNA), SMPTE and VSF continued to highlight the building momentum towards a common, standardsbased approach by producing two IP showcases, the first at NAB 2017 and the second at IBC2017. Each of these events, based on the concept of the IBC Interoperability Zone in 2016, grew successively in size and scope. By IBC2017, 52 vendors were showing interoperability using SMPTE ST 2110. Also under the IABM’s leadership, roughly 40 unique presentations were given to educate the industry at the IP Showcase Theatre. AIMS was able to collaborate with broadcasters across the world to showcase 25 reference IP sites, and our technical partners AES, AMWA, EBU, SMPTE and VSF revealed updates to the definitive long-term technical roadmap in our industry: the JT-NM (Joint Task force on Networked Media) Roadmap. When one considers all that was accomplished, 2017 was truly a watershed year for IP in our industry. If 2017 was a watershed year, I would characterise the coming 2018 as pivotal. With the groundwork laid for a worldwide, common transport standard (SMPTE ST 2110), we now find ourselves in a different phase of the adoption curve. Early adopters have adopted IP, pre-ST 2110. Now with a common standard that applies all areas of a facility (SMPTE ST 2110), the stage for widespread adoption is set. However, adoption doesn’t just happen. Adoption happens when decision makers understand the tangible benefits of IP to their situation. Adoption happens because systems are successfully deployed. Adoption happens because the industry at large is sufficiently educated on how to design, support and maintain systems based on it. Adoption happens because vendors across the industry show that they can consistently deliver product that interoperates to standards, not just at an IP showcase, but out-of-the-box in any customer’s facility. For an organisation like AIMS, these are the challenges we see ahead of us. They are most certainly not insurmountable. In fact, take the issue of successful system deployments. Our members have
counted well over 100 successful system deployments using standards on the AIMS roadmap. Most of these are with previously existing standards SMPTE ST 2022-6 and AES67. Now, the challenge is to grow the number of deployments with SMPTE ST 2110. Given the attention to detail in the development of ST 2110, the formation of additional standards such as ST 211021 (Traffic Shaping), the continued open specifications of organisations like AMWA making system creation easier, and the momentum behind SMPTE ST 2110, we expect to see many ST 2110-based deployments in 2018. A September poll of AIMS membership revealed that 91 per cent of respondents forecasted shipping ST 2110 compliant product by June 2018, and many vendors already ship such product today. On the challenge of education, numerous organisations – including the IABM and SMPTE – already offer courses on IP and I expect the collaboration on this front to increase as we enter 2018. Expect the 2018 NAB version of the IP showcase to more educational than ever. On the challenge of consistency of interoperability, we’ve seen incredible levels of interoperability given that ST 2110 was only approved in the IBC2017 timeframe. Nonetheless, in 2018 there will be additional technical interop events sponsored by both SMPTE and the JT-NM to provide even more vendors with an opportunity to confirm their design against the standards. Additionally, AIMS is exploring the need for test documentation and/or certification programmes which, if needed, would provide additional levels of surety and consistency. And, of course, the standards and specifications bodies in our industry will continue to innovate. Based on the foundation of SMPTE ST 2110, 2018 will bring additional progress along the path set by the JT-NM roadmap, greatly benefiting our industry. Yes, 2017 was a watershed year, but 2018 is a pivotal one. Given the current level of collaboration we have seen across the industry, I am confident that we will, collectively, make that pivot. n
‘If 2017 was a watershed year, I would characterise the coming 2018 as pivotal’
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2017: IT WAS SO 2014 By Mark Harrison, managing director, DPP
hat a fidgety bunch we are. Rather like the couple who think their relationship will be sorted when they get their next house, or the executive who looks at next year’s calendar and imagines they’ll still have that much spare time by the time those weeks actually arrive, we’d all rather talk about tomorrow than the realities of today. In my job I do quite a lot of trend gazing, and one thing I’ve found is that we’re usually obsessing with things that are three to four years ahead of their time. Meanwhile, in our actual businesses – you know, the ones with profit and loss and jobs and overheads and all that dull stuff – we’re beavering away at the things that time will reveal to have been real change. So, as you consider your e-ticket for the next mustattend VR and AR summit, spare a thought for Google Glass. I can remember being rushed into specially convened Google Glass sessions in 2014 because we had to understand how we were going to create ‘a whole new kind of storytelling’ in a world where everyone looked as if they’d just been to an optician with particularly limited stock. With the benefit of hindsight, Google Glass can be seen as the forerunner of AR and MR – not so daft after all. And it’s a decent bet that the real-world application of AR and MR will be evident in about another three to four years.
‘The explosion of live streaming on mobile devices has – let’s be honest – taken all professional media producers by surprise’
But back in the olden days of 2014, when we were worried about Ebola, Flappy Bird was launched, and then removed, and we were all doing the ice bucket challenge for reasons that weren’t entirely clear – we were also talking a lot about UHD and IoT. Both were pretty fanciful back then. But, guess what? They’re on the money this year. 2017 was the year when the major sports broadcasters, along with the major online players, made UHD content a normal deliverable – even if it isn’t yet normal for consumers to be watching it. (It will be normal in another three years, of course.) On to the IoT voice assistants – Amazon Echo, Google Home and the early 2018 Apple entrant, the HomePod. Although no one could say voice assistants have made IoT mainstream this year (for that we’ll have to wait…you guessed it), historians will date the time when content providers had to think seriously about the impact of voice search as 2017. Earlier on I said that while us media folk are busy getting ahead of ourselves, we do, more quietly, get on with changing our businesses. So what were we actually up to this year? Well, back at the start of 2017, the DPP, supported by DPP member company Equinix, published its predictions for the 12 to 24 months to come. We identified a number of key themes, in rank order. But we noted that those themes ‘will play out against a background of five overarching drivers: mobility, quality, live, speed and security.’ Of course, predictions are much easier when you’re looking at the short term, but nevertheless, that statement holds up well a year later. The explosion of live streaming on mobile devices has – let’s be honest – taken all professional media producers by surprise. It is part of a powerful trend towards hugely reduced times to market (greater
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speed) which is in turn driving the re-engineering of content supply chains. It is no coincidence that, when the DPP brought together seven broadcaster CTOs recently to discuss what was front of mind for them right now, supply chain reconfiguration featured prominently. And as for security, 2017 was the year when the media industry stopped merely gossiping about the breaches suffered by others, and began to take action. What’s even more interesting is that when action came, it too was framed in the context of supply chain. One of the first meetings in the DPP calendar for 2017 was a gathering of chief information security officers from a number of broadcasters and suppliers. Their message was simple: the supply chain is as strong as its weakest link; we can no longer tolerate suppliers who don’t take security seriously; we have to find a way of establishing common practice if we are to make ourselves less vulnerable to attack. It was this insight that led the DPP to initiate its Committed to Security Programme, launched in October. The programme offers a means of self-assessment through which suppliers can
demonstrate their commitment to security best practice in the production and broadcast domains. Although just a few weeks old, the programme has already issued compliance marks to 11 suppliers, with dozens more in the process: tangible evidence that 2017 was the year we got serious about security. When giving an overview of specific themes for 2017, the DPP predictions singled out something that sounded mundane but was in fact profound: ‘Getting cloud ready will be a full time job’. Here, in a nutshell, is why the major trade shows such as NAB and IBC may have seemed a little underwhelming this year: because everyone was busy actually delivering on something that had merely been loose talk in 2014. At the very beginning of the year, the DPP said: ‘The potential of cloud and its associated business influencers – multi-cloud, interconnection, edge networks, software defined networks, and so on – will be accepted this year. The debate about cloud will be over. After two years such potential will become widely used. It will be the new normal.’ 2017: the year cloud became normal. That’ll never sell newspapers. 2017: the year of VR with spatial audio! That’s more like it. See you in 2020. n
PICTURED ABOVE: Mark Harrison, DPP managing director
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2017: FOLLOWING THE MONEY By Peter White, CEO, IABM
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verywhere one looked in 2017, there was disruption, change and innovation – across technology, business models and the businesses themselves, we were being bombarded from every direction. However, you can track all of these changes back to one thing – money. ‘It was ever thus’, I hear you cry. Yes, but not like this. Former Imagine Communications CEO Charlie Vogt put his finger on it at the IABM State of the Industry Conference that kicked off IBC this year. It’s about ‘following the money’ he said – and during 2017, that trail led straight to where the new power, and so the money, in our industry lies: with the audience. Audiences have choice – and so power – as never before; they demand content matched to their taste on whatever device or platform they are using, and at whatever time they choose. In response, broadcasters are having to transform their infrastructures to attract and retain fickle viewers who have ever-increasing media options at their fingertips. They need to be able to scale up and scale down instantly, or launch a new service quickly – and take it down just as rapidly too. This isn’t easy with fixed, on-premise infrastructure, so broadcasters are increasingly looking to IP signal flows and the cloud to deliver this, and moving to a pay-as-they-use business model rather than making one-off investments in fixed infrastructure. As a result, a new word entered our lexicon this year: dematerialisation. It may not be happening yet, but we’re on the path. Media companies are also beginning to exploit the power of AI across their entire operations – increasing workflow efficiency, content management, monetisation, distribution and delivery. The new media companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have a head start in not being saddled with legacy infrastructures and being ahead of the game in terms of audience data. Traditional broadcasters are responding by both consolidating and making strategic investments in streaming technology companies. The Discovery-Scripps deal will give the combined companies more leverage in fee negotiations with distributors and, potentially, the platform to launch a direct-to-consumer offering. Meanwhile, Disney, having gained a controlling interest in streaming technology service provider, BAMTech, will withdraw its content from Netflix and launch its own direct-to-consumer OTT offering in 2019 as well as going direct-to-consumer with its flagship ESPN channels in 2018. A word about the technology vendors. As their customer base consolidates in pursuit of efficiency to attract more eyeballs, the number of potential
technology customers is reducing and their bargaining power increasing. There is only one way the vendor community will go in consequence – so expect more consolidation on this side of the industry too; we saw a continuing trend in vendor consolidation in 2017. Despite all this upheaval, the recently published IABM end-user survey found the great majority of broadcasters optimistic about the future, with multiplatform delivery and IP infrastructure at the top of their purchasing priorities. The cloud came in at number five, behind social media broadcasting and MAM. This may be surprisingly low to some readers, but while the new media players such as Amazon and Netflix have been able to build their new-wave infrastructure from scratch, many traditional media companies simply can’t afford to ditch expensive, existing infrastructure wholesale, so are transitioning step by step. According to the survey, 37 per cent of end-users have already deployed cloud-based solutions, with a further 55 per cent intending to do so in the next two to three years. From an historical perspective, this is a record-high for cloud adoption, indicating that media technology users are becoming more aware of its benefits. Until recently, broadcasters have been hampered by uncertainty as to where the future lies, which has delayed investment in cloud uptake. With the increasing acceptance of SMPTE ST 2110 as the new IP signal flow standard, however, the way forward now looks much more certain and we can expect an acceleration in IP and cloud adoption as a result. At the heart of every broadcast and media company’s planning – and success – is data, and to make sense of that data and use it to optimise workflows and audience engagement, AI is beginning to play an increasingly vital role. At IBC2017, AI was for the first time one of the main themes, both at the exhibition and in the conference sessions. Data is now considered one of the key elements (if not the most important) in media companies’ future strategy. However, according to IABM data, AI adoption in broadcast and media is still at an early stage, as pictured. Only eight per cent of media technology buyers said they had adopted it before IBC2017. Thirty-six per cent said that they were unlikely to adopt it, while 56 per cent said that they were likely to do so in the next two to three years. These results show that AI is just at the start of its adoption curve. However, the low percentage of companies that have adopted AI masks the quick increase in adoption of the technology.
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PICTURED ABOVE: AI adoption in broadcast and media is still at an early stage, according to IABM data
In fact, according to IABM data, between April and September 2017, the percentage of media technology suppliers saying that they are unlikely to adopt artificial intelligence dropped from 57 per cent to 36 per cent, indicating increasing awareness of the benefits of the technology – the percentage of respondents saying that they already deploy it also increased from five per cent to eight per cent. In the same time span, ‘Big data analytics and AI’ jumped from the number 13 to the number ten position in the IABM technology priority index. Live sports – regarded by some as the last bastion of linear television and the jewel in the crown of traditional broadcasters – are now becoming targets for social media (and other online) channels. As a result, the cost of sports rights continues to spiral upwards. In the US, Amazon outbid Twitter, Facebook and Google for the NFL Thursday night streaming rights, paying $50 million – a fivefold increase over Twitter’s winning bid for the previous year’s rights. It also outbid Sky for the ATP tennis rights in the UK in August – its £10 million a 25 per cent increase on Sky’s successful bid in 2016. Facebook launched its Watch service in September, and has its eye firmly on sports rights, planning to offer something different to its two billion Facebook users – “it’s interactive, it’s social, it’s not a one-way conversation,” said Rob Shaw, Facebook’s global head of strategic partner development for sports media.
Whether Facebook or Google yet have the power to take the next step to competing for the rights for primetime coverage of the world’s major sporting leagues remains open to question. In the UK, BT Sport is still seen as the most likely winner of the Premier League rights for the next three-year cycle, and Murdoch’s Star India outbid all rivals for the IPL with a massive $2.6 billion. Facebook had bid $600 million. In the meantime, the move to more efficient production and delivery, enabled by the cloud, IP and AI, is opening up potential new sports and event opportunities for media companies. Imagine the ready-made, self-identifying market for specialist apparel for rock climbers by creating a rock climbing niche channel – just for example. This underlines why sports rights are becoming so attractive – add together the laser-focused interest of the viewership with the power of data to enable the broadcaster to offer its advertisers a ready-made, self-identifying market and it’s not hard to see their growing attraction. What’s driving our market is audiences – and their wallets. By following the money – what audiences want to watch, and how – we can build a path backwards to create the kind of content, production and delivery infrastructure to successfully serve those needs. Only by technology suppliers and users working together in a truly collaborative way will we succeed in providing the means to do this; a ‘hive mind’ approach to shine a light on the path and direction we need to take. n
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FAKE NEWS AND REAL PROGRESS By Michael Crimp, CEO, IBC
BC2017 celebrated its 50th anniversary with record attendance, bustling exhibition halls, new features and a dynamic conference. This year, we gave our conference programme the overarching title “Truth, Trust and Transformation”. Those values not only underpinned the conference; they defined 2017. If we had to point to a single topic that has dominated not just our industry, but also the whole global discourse, it has to be fake news. At IBC, there was much debate about how we can continue to produce news in a post-truth world. One of the conclusions is that it is doubly hard: trusted news sources now have to counter the fake news peddlers – whose stories can easily take on a life of their own – as well as delivering the accurate, confirmed content we crave. One of the enablers of fake news is that it is so much easier now to create and deliver content. The president of the US no longer bothers talking to conventional news broadcasters, but tells the world, directly, what he thinks using Twitter. Introducing Facebook’s third quarter financials, Mark Zuckerberg said costs would rise faster than income in the next year because of efforts to keep fake news off the site. “We’re serious about preventing abuse on our platforms,” he said. “We’re investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability.”
‘The most intriguing technology advance of the year was around machine learning, or AI’
Halting the growth of fake news is just one of the rising costs for Facebook, because it has joined the rush to create content, and this year, it has seen a seismic shift in the way content is produced and delivered. Amazon and Netflix are now major players in content production. Shows like The Grand Tour or The Crown collect the sort of global popularity and critical acclaim that used to be reserved for the likes of Downton Abbey or CSI. In one of the most significant stories of the year, Jay Hunt, former creative chief of Channel 4 in the UK, was poached by Apple, a clear sign of the company’s intention to make top quality programming on a worldwide scale. In response to that trend, Disney has announced that it is to launch direct-to-consumer online delivery of its content, including that of global sports broadcaster ESPN. And as I write this, news is breaking that Disney has parted with £39 billion for 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. While they are both undeniably media giants, a lot of the trends in mergers and acquisitions lies around businesses buying new skills. Companies are keen to jump-start their abilities in mobile marketing and influence. The IBC2017 conference featured speakers from businesses in new fields like SpotX and Gruvi alongside more traditional contributors like Associated Press and NRK. The aspect that really interests me is that, for the first time, we are in a situation where these changes in business are driving the technology. Broadcasting used to be so demanding of the hardware that it was limited by what was physically possible. That has all changed now. Obviously, the key to this is the ability to do most things we need in software running on standard computers.
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That has been transformational: 2017 was a hugely important year for that change, and we will see ripples from it spreading through the coming times. If you are processing in computers, then it makes sense to connect using IP. At IBC2016 we created a ground-breaking demonstration area, which brought together a large number of vendors to create collaborative IP workflows. It was picked up by other major broadcast exhibitions and was an idea that continued to evolve for IBC2017 through the IP showcase. Thanks to that initiative, and the hard work of industry bodies like AIMS, we now have a suite of IP interconnectivity standards: ST2110 from SMPTE. That is a huge achievement, and a great platform on which to build ever-more functional and practical technologies. On the creative side of our industry, VR and 360-degree video is still creating a stir, although not yet having the impact that some of its proponents hope. One of the advantages of a forum like IBC is that we can discuss the creative and business challenges both in the conference and in programmes shaped by industry hot topics such as the Future Reality Theatre, and visit the IBC Future Zone to try out the latest innovations. Just a couple of years ago, the idea of extending the dynamic range of video and movie content was seen as a wild thought. People were seriously suggesting that it meant very high light levels from monitors which would sear viewers’ eyeballs!
Throughout 2017, HDR took great strides towards becoming a mainstream proposition. It has brought new creative possibilities to production, and in the cinema it is already giving film fans a whole new level of experience. Blue Planet II, the exploration of our underwater world from BBC Natural History, became one of the more high-profile UHD HDR releases when a HDR version was made available on BBC iPlayer. IBC recognises the need to reflect these changes throughout the industry, and this year launched the C-Tech Forum, which brings together senior executives across the media landscape to discuss and debate key industry issues including cyber security, a growing concern for content owners in this increasingly connected world. We also launched the Startup Forum, an arena for exciting and innovative startups to meet investors and mentors. In my personal opinion, the most intriguing technology advance of the year – and arguably the talk of this year’s IBC – was around machine learning, or AI. Fitting, then, that our Best Conference Paper Award was given to a team from TV Globo in Brazil for their work on three different applications of machine learning. One of those applications was in the newsroom, where machine learning and big data is used to analyse public sources of information to inform and drive the news agenda. Maybe the future of news is not fake, but informed by machines. n
PICTURED ABOVE: Michael Crimp, IBC CEO
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2017: A KEY YEAR IN BROADCASTING HISTORY By Gordon Smith, president and CEO, NAB
PICTURED ABOVE: More than 103,000 people attended this year’s NAB
any years from now, when broadcasters reflect on 2017, we will look back on these past 12 months as a watershed moment in our industry’s history. Whether it was continuing to embrace our lifeline role as ‘first informers’, or working with regulators on a common-sense approach to government regulation, or advancing a new transmission standard with vast innovative opportunities, the year highlighted the enduring value of broadcasting and our potential for a bright and vibrant future. It is no secret that broadcast television faces strong challenges for viewers from our competitors,
including cable channels, regional sports networks, multinational telecom companies and a seemingly endless parade of new online video platforms. Yet, broadcasting continues to thrive because we’re often a unique service to Americans – we are the only video medium committed to localism. Broadcasting is a locally based industry, with local TV stations in every community in the country. Millions tune into local newscasts every day to find out what is happening in their hometown. We provide extensive election coverage so voters can make informed decisions when they go to the polls, and we are there to keep elected officials honest and accountable
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with investigative reporting. And when danger is approaching, Americans turn to their local broadcast stations – whether over-the-air or ‘over-the-top.’ Perhaps no other emergency epitomised broadcasters’ role as ‘first informers’ as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. As meteorologists tracked the paths of these storms, local TV stations were on the air and online providing residents with the best evacuation routes, advice on finding supplies to ride out the danger and information for contacting public safety officials. When the hurricanes made landfall, broadcasters blew out their commercials and put reporters in the field for boots-on-the-ground reporting. We bore witness as journalists braved the extreme weather to report from the front lines of the storm, and some even jumped in to help out with rescues or direct first responders to those trapped by the rising water. One Houstonarea TV station was even forced to evacuate and its transmission was knocked out because of flooding, but its courageous staff turned to social media to keep reporting and continue serving the public. Broadcasters’ work didn’t stop after the storms had passed either. Through on-air campaigns and direct donations for relief efforts, local TV stations across the country raised over $45 million to aid Harvey and Irma relief efforts, as well as collected food, bottles of water, clothing, hygiene products and other supplies to support storm victims. With widespread communications outages in Puerto Rico from Maria, the NAB worked with the broadcast industry to donate 10,000 battery-powered radios for residents to access important lifeline information. Broadcasters’ tireless efforts during the hurricanes did not go unnoticed by FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who not only touted the work of local TV and radio in the storms’ aftermath, but also toured stations to hear directly from reporters and crew members about how they stepped up. In marked contrast to his recent predecessors, Pai has not been hesitant in expressing his appreciation for this lifeline role played by local TV broadcasters.
Nor has he been shy about creating a regulatory environment for the broadcast industry that truly reflects today’s media landscape. In his first speech to the broadcast industry as FCC chairman at the 2017 NAB Show, Pai promised to cut red tape and modernise existing regulations that have hampered broadcasters’ ability to compete. In his first year heading the commission, the FCC has done just that. The commission has eliminated outdated rules that no longer make sense with the advent of the internet, such as the public correspondence file and the main studio rule. A champion of AM radio since he arrived at the FCC, Pai also enacted an order allowing more flexibility to AM broadcasters to locate FM translators as part of his efforts to revitalise the band. The FCC also approved more accommodating rules for local TV stations sharing channels following completion of the broadcast spectrum incentive auction, and decided to allow low-power TV stations and translators to operate on alternate spectrum if they are displaced by the channel repack process. Pai also deserves credit for his efforts to modernise decades-old media ownership regulations. Under an order adopted in November, a local broadcast radio or television station will be permitted to buy a newspaper in its hometown market, allowing broadcasters to save journalism jobs. In addition, after years of allowing mega-mergers between behemoth telecom companies like AT&T-DirecTV and Charter-Time Warner Cable, the FCC decided to ease rules on broadcasters combining in small- and mid-sized markets, giving these stations a chance to share resources that can be redirected towards newsgathering and investigative journalism. Perhaps the most significant action the FCC has taken under Pai’s leadership was its endorsement of TV broadcasters’ voluntary transition to an innovative new transmission standard. In early 2016, the NAB teamed with consumer electronics manufacturers, non-commercial TV stations and
Gordon Smith, NAB president and CEO
‘2017 highlighted the enduring value of broadcasting and our potential for a bright and vibrant future’
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PICTURED ABOVE: FCC chairman Ajit Pai
public safety organisations to petition the commission to allow local TV stations to adopt ATSC 3.0 – also known as ‘next-gen TV’ – using a voluntary, market-based approached. While the previous FCC leadership sat on this petition, Pai moved expeditiously towards approval of the request in November 2017. As NAB has demonstrated at recent NAB Shows, the next-gen TV standard will unlock a host of innovative services for US viewers that have never been possible before. By marrying over-the-air broadcast architecture with the advantages of high-speed broadband, TV stations can offer services like UHD and HDR pictures, immersive audio, advanced emergency alerting, interactive features and advertising, mobile viewing, and much more. Attendees at the 2018 NAB Show will likely have the chance to hear how the transition to the new standard is going in the US and around the world. In South Korea, with a mandate to broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympics from PyeongChang in UHD, the country adopted next-gen TV as its new over-the-air TV standard.
In the US, NAB and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) created a “living laboratory” at a full-power transmission facility in Cleveland to experiment with next-gen TV, testing everything from the standard’s basic transmission to its interactive features. Several broadcast groups have also teamed together to create a ‘model market’ in Phoenix to show how next-gen TV can be deployed while still providing service with the existing standard for viewers. The experiment will create an end-to-end model for aiding the broadcast industry in determining the best and most efficient method for unveiling next-gen TV throughout the country. We hope to hear about the many positive results from these experiments in Las Vegas in April. 2017 has undoubtedly been a noteworthy year for television broadcasters, and we are excited for the promise of the future. With the freedom to innovate with next-gen TV, a pro-broadcast FCC, and a commitment to localism in our lifeblood, we believe the US public should greatly benefit from a strong broadcast industry for years to come. n
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STANDARDS IN 2017: THE FIRST YEAR OF SMPTE’S NEXT CENTURY By Aimée Ricca, marketing and communication director, SMPTE
ormed by Francis C. Jenkins in 1916, SMPTE has developed more than 800 standards, recommended practices, and engineering guidelines that are in force today. All these documents support the society’s primary mission of enabling worldwide interoperability. SMPTE generates an annual average of 50 new standards documents focused on cinema, television, internet video, audio, and associated metadata. We are proud to be on track to exceed that number this year. Notable standards work in 2017 includes our ST 2100-1: Definition and Representation of Haptic-Tactile Essence for Broadcast Production Applications. ST 2100-1 is the first document in a proposed suite of standards enabling the capture, use, and transport of live haptic-tactile essence in conjunction and synchronisation with broadcast programme content’s audio and video. Haptic-tactile broadcasting allows the audience to experience the feeling, movement, or motion of an event as they watch and listen to it. Adding haptics to any live broadcast adds a sense and level of immersion that even the best quality video and audio cannot recreate alone. Further work on haptic-tactile essence transport is underway. The society published the highly-anticipated first documents in the SMPTE ST 2110 standards suite in December 2017, and they are now available in the SMPTE digital library. The new standards are essential to working with media over IP networks in real time, and they are fundamental to the industry’s migration to all-IP operations. The impact of SMPTE ST 2110 goes beyond replacing SDI with IP; the standards suite
provides media professionals with the flexibility to develop and implement a whole new set of applications that leverage IT protocols and infrastructure. Media organisations and technology suppliers have embraced SMPTE ST 2110, and products that support the standards suite are already on the market. SMPTE ST 2110 specifies the carriage, synchronisation, and description of separate elementary essence streams over professional IP networks in real-time for live production, playout, and other professional media applications. Making it possible to separately route and break away the essence streams - audio, video, and ancillary data – SMPTE ST 2110 simplifies, for example, the addition of captions, subtitles, and Teletext, as well as tasks such as the processing of multiple audio languages and types. SMPTE ST 2110 standards are video-formatagnostic and support UHD, HDR and other new and emerging formats. Archive eXchange Format (AXF), published as a SMPTE standard in 2014, has been ratified by ISO/ IEC and is now published officially as International Standard ISO/IEC 12034-1. AXF is an IT-centric file container that can encapsulate any number and any file in a fully self-contained and self-describing package, and it supports interoperability among disparate content storage systems. The format ensures content’s long-term availability, no matter how storage or file-system technology evolves. AXF was formulated as a wrapper, or container, capable of holding – in a highly flexible fashion – extensive collections of files and metadata, related to one another in any combination.
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Known as ‘AXF Objects,’ such containers can package, in different ways, all the specific information needed by diverse kinds of systems to access and restore the data. The format uses XML to define the information in a way that can be read and recovered by any modern computer system. The nature of AXF makes it possible for equipment manufacturers and content owners to move content from their current archive systems into the AXF domain in a strategic way. AXF Objects hold files of any type and any size and are not bound by the constraints of the individual media on which they are stored. By maintaining preservation information such as context, fixity, and provenance, as specified by the OAIS model, AXF further enables effective long-term protection of file-based content. Redundant AXF structures and cryptographic hash algorithms ensure the resilience and recoverability of stored data. In 2017, SMPTE also published three engineering reports. The first two documents, the Time Code Summit Report and the Material eXchange Format (MXF) Time Code Study Report, offer valuable insights into how the SMPTE Time Code standard (ST 12-1 Time and Control Code) can evolve to serve as a more useful tool in media production. The new 52-page report of the study group on flow management in professional media networks investigates current and future technologies for media content flow management in professional media networks (PMN), explores user requirements, examines potential transmission methods for management commands, provides an overview of existing standards and specifications now available to the professional media industry, and offers
a series of recommendations to the industry including some for future work. SMPTE’s 2017 standards work goes beyond the publication of documents. Early in the year, the society announced final approval of its nomination of Andy Maltz as 2018-2020 chair of ISO/TC 36, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) group dedicated to cinematography. Maltz, who is managing director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Science and Technology Council, served as chair-elect in 2017 as SMPTE member Julian Pinn completed his term. The society is working with the DPP on a joint pilot specification project to create an IMF for broadcast and online. SMPTE ST 2067 is a global standard for the file-based interchange of multiversion, finished audio/visual works. The project will deliver a technical specification as a breakdown of different elements – video and audio packages, composition playlists (CPLs), and output profile lists (OPLs) – with references to all relevant SMPTE standards. When completed, this material will be available to manufacturers so that they can design and build readers, writers, and analysers. The draft and final proposal stages will move forward in conjunction with plugfests and product tests. Final publication of the IMF specification is expected before the 2018 NAB Show. Like media technologies and creative techniques, SMPTE continues to evolve. The significant work done in 2017 demonstrates that, as it enters its second century, the society remains committed to enabling interoperability. n
PICTURED ABOVE: Aimée Ricca, marketing and communication director, SMPTE
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LOOKING FORWARD WITH CONFIDENCE By Simon Fell, director of technology and innovation, EBU
e are fortunate, here at the EBU, to be able to draw upon a pool of technology talent that is wide and deep. Our technology and innovation department brings together a formidable team of experts who, in turn, can look to the technology professionals at our 73 member broadcasters. Complemented by close co-operation with the wider industry, it all adds up to a huge amount of technical work underpinning public service media. Pulling it all together into a coherent framework can be quite a challenge! In 2017, under the guidance of our technical committee, we took on that very challenge. The outcome was a new way to organise our work. We defined six themes that allow us to take a holistic view of our technology priorities. Our activities, just a few of which are mentioned below, are now grouped under the following overarching themes: user experience, broadcast and broadband distribution, multiplatform production workflows, data, cloud and IP infrastructures, and media cyber security. Looking at the year gone by, if the interest in our conferences in Geneva is any barometer, the need to collaborate and share knowledge around technology is greater than ever. January’s production technology seminar recorded the highest ever attendance at one of our events, only to be surpassed in June by our network technology seminar! Thinking about highlights from 2017, there are two that spring to mind immediately, both examples of Members collaborating on practical solutions.
Our PEACH project, barely a year after its birth, now provides the backbone of personalisation and recommendation systems for broadcasters in Switzerland, Portugal and Germany. The solution was co-developed, based on agile software development principles, by a team drawn from multiple EBU members. Another project that has really caught the imagination is our multi-CDN platform EBU Flow. The pilot phase has seen broadcasters in Belgium, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands being able to optimise their use of CDNs thanks to an EBU-hosted service. Digital transformation is an area in which we’ve seen a notable increase in activity. Our Implementing Open Innovation programme provides members with opportunities to explore how good ideas – whether technology or contentfocused – make it out of the lab and into daily operation. Complementing this is an emerging programme around new broadcaster buildings and also an EBU-led European programme called MediaRoad.
The latter is an EU Horizon 2020 project aiming to bring media organisations in Europe back to the forefront of innovation. We have high hopes for MediaRoad over the next two years. Staying with Horizon 2020, we’re also delighted to have taken a leading role in the 5G-Xcast project, which kicked off in June 2017. It fits perfectly with our aim of ensuring the optimal conditions for the distribution of public service media content in future. If 5G networks become as ubiquitous as predicted, we want to make sure they can meet the needs of our members. We have also continued to fight for the protection of UHF spectrum for broadcast applications, with broadcasting still the primary means of distributing audio-visual content in Europe – and no change in sight! We have begun examining the impact that AI and machine learning might have on media, with our first cloud intelligence seminar last November and several working groups investigating AI-enhanced tools. Another two-letter acronym that crops up more and more is AR: we’ve started some early development work to see where we may be able to support broadcasters in their use of this up-andcoming technology. So, as always, there is plenty to be done. Fortunately, we have that rich seam of European media technology expertise to tap into. With ever-increasing collaboration and a renewed spirit of innovation, we can look to the future of public service media with confidence. n
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REINVENTING IN A CHANGING WORLD By Graham Warren, COO, Eurovision Media Services, the business arm of the EBU
ooking back to 2017, we see that many of our expectations from the year before about the media industry have or are in the process of coming true. Data has become a ruling currency, personalisation and tailored services drive customer experience, and new technologies, such as remote production, 360-degree cameras or VR/AR, continue to push us to produce new types of content. Like all organisations, we continuously adapt ourselves to meet changing customer models. With such a high demand from consumers for different types of content on different platforms, we see our customers – sports federations and media organisations – looking for more one-stopshop solutions to maximise the exposure of their events, engage with audiences and monetise their content. CREATING UNIQUE CONTENT Live video on TV is not enough on its own anymore. Nowadays, sports federations and media organisations have to create unique content for web, social media and mobile applications before, during and after an event. This means maximising the everincreasing volume of additional footage being produced around each event to retain and capture new audiences. Over the last few years, we have worked closely with our customers to develop innovative ways to help them do this. Apart from handling the international distribution of major events, we also take the lead on producing certain ones. This year we had the FINA World
Championships 2017 in Budapest, the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong and the IBU Biathlon World Cups in Europe and South Korea, to name a few. As a host broadcaster, we manage the production to ensure that the content from the event is at the disposal of our customers within seconds. We help to create captivating clips, exclusive interviews and highlights packages that can be published immediately to their website, OTT or social media channels. SELF-MANAGED NETWORKS As more and more content is produced at events, sports federations and media organisations need to find ways to manage, enhance and feed this content to the many different platforms they have available. For live events, it is especially important to have access to additional content as soon as possible and in a reliable way. In 2017, we worked hard to refine our web-based portal for Eurovision FLEX. By connecting our Eurovision Global Network
(satellite and fibre) with additional options to add unmanaged networks (public internet, 4G), we provide tools for live and video-on-demand services. Our customers can rest easy with our fully interoperable, multi-vendor workflow and 24/7 support. SECURITY IN BROADCAST From NAB to IBC, security remained a hot topic for the media industry in 2017. Our customers want to know that their content is securely delivered to rightsholders without added complexity or constraint. That’s why we worked together with Novelsat during the last year to develop HMCrypt – our new conditional access system. Using Hypermux distribution platforms, the system provides the utmost security when delivering content to rights holding media organisations worldwide. We connect your signal from the venue via our global satellite and fibre network to our Eurovision Operations Centre. Content owners decide where to deliver their content and which takers are authorised to receive the content. LOOKING FORWARD TO 2018 While the challenges in the media industry are bigger than ever, so are the potential rewards for organisations that can successfully reinvent themselves in a changing world. At Eurovision Media Services, this is our clear focus ahead: to help customers share their content with audiences around the world, anytime, anywhere and on any platform. n
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THE TIME FOR TALKING IS OVER: THE FUTURE IS NOW 2017 was the year that media and entertainment companies stopped simply talking about data, IP and the cloud and started to practice what they have been preaching, writes Richard Scott, head of media solutions at Sony Professional Solutions Europe
f 2017 has taught us anything, it is that many of our predictions about the media and entertainment industry are starting to come true. Over the last couple of years, vendors and endusers alike have been anticipating further moves to the cloud, the full-blown transition to IP, the everincreasing importance of data and the continued growth of OTT. This year, all of these things came to the fore, often linked intrinsically with one another. Importantly, 2017 was the year that the discussion around technology subsided. Many of the broadcasters, service operators, content owners, producers and distributors that I speak to are now far more consumed with engaging and growing their audiences. The type of technology is almost irrelevant. Irrespective of whether they are commercially focused or they provide a public service, the conundrum that media companies now face is how to continue to satisfy their current audiences (and reconnect with what they call their â€˜lost audienceâ€™) while also attracting a younger generation of viewer, a generation that is said to have abandoned traditional TV almost completely. The challenge, therefore, is to devise a method for making compelling content available across multiple platforms, without doubling or trebling the cost of running their operations. This is no easy task. But it is one that Sony can help with, and we did so throughout 2017.
Of course, we already empower and enable amazing storytelling through our acquisition and production solutions, bringing 4K and HDR as standard to drama and live sport and allowing everyone from videographers to news gatherers to quickly and efficiently create and transfer their content. There are, however, much lesser-known solutions, services and workflows that have been making their mark in this space. PlayStation VR Live is just one example. Trialled with various sports broadcasters and sporting federations, and making use of the incredible power of the PlayStation 4 game console engine, VR Live takes televised sport to a new level by combining live broadcast feeds with next-generation immersive technology to create a totally new experience. Users can select their stats, camera angles and replays on a virtual display, observe the world around them and even interact with friends via social media. As all the complicated technology processing is done by the PlayStation, very little effort is required at the production end. Sure, VR may not take over the world but PlayStation VR Live shows that it certainly has a place and is a great example of how broadcasters can attract new audiences without investing huge sums of money. On the production side, you only have to look at virtualisation to see how a media business can be transformed internally to allow it to better serve its audience, again without huge investment.
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Importantly, this isn’t about simply taking linear workflows and porting them into the cloud. To truly benefit from virtualisation, it is important to use solutions that are cloud native. Sony’s production switcher and its Media Backbone Hive production system are two such examples. In August, Sony and Swisscom demonstrated how virtualisation can transform media production. For the Locarno Film Festival 2017, a full version of Hive was implemented in a public cloud to create a ‘pop up’ production service, allowing producers to cover the comings and goings on the red carpet and around the event. Camera footage was transferred to the cloud wirelessly using 4G mobile networks, from where it was either switched live or packages were recorded and clipped up. Content was then distributed, again from the cloud, to big screens around the festival, to social media and to a designated CDN. Hive provided the central production management and tools for editing, audio, graphics and metadata. In previous years, the producers had three separate teams gathering, creating and distributing content for three different outputs. For them, the move to the cloud and virtualisation was a real breakthrough. With a single team producing content for all the required platforms, it illustrated how service-orientated technology can bring both cost reductions and innovation to their workflow. So, what of those other 2017 trends: data and IP? Well, content is still king. But, to quote one of my colleagues, if content is king then data is King Kong. By gathering and analysing audience and content data, media companies are now gaining greater insight into viewer behaviour. This is allowing them to target that audience with their compelling content, positioning it at a time and a place that allows it to be easily discovered, and guiding consumers through the content maze. Ask the CTO at any broadcaster and they will doubtless say that data is increasingly crucial to their business. The industry’s move to IP is also well underway and will succeed through continued industry standardisation. Having already pioneered some of this work, as we did all those years ago with Serial Digital Interface (SDI), Sony is supporting this transition for the wider good. We are firmly behind the SMPTE ST 2110 standard, which was officially accepted at IBC this year, and we are enabling it in all of our high end live production products as fast as we can. We are also backing the
work of the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) and the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) as they strive to bring the industry together. The work of these organisations is invaluable. Without standards, media companies cannot adopt agile, bespoke and integrated multi-vendor solutions. The alternative is closed one-stop shops. And almost nobody wants to be locked in to a single vendor. One important trend to note here also is that, while the move to IP is very much underway, it will not be complete for most companies until at least 2020. That is certainly how we see it. It is a journey and along the way many media companies will still need to amortise their investments in SDI. Sony will be there for them too, helping them to future-proof current investments ready for an IP-centric future. Looking back on 2017 it is clear that when it comes to engaging and growing their audiences, media companies are looking to data, IP and the cloud. It also apparent that the talking has now stopped and people are starting to practice what they have been preaching. Sony is ready to help them every step of the way. n
PICTURED ABOVE: Richard Scott, head of media solutions, Sony Professional Solutions Europe
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ADAPT OR DIE
By Peter MacAvock, chairman, DVB
ow do you go about specifying technology in today’s media world? It’s a challenging position, but not maybe one to light up this end of 2017; a year where we have seen significant progress in the technology driving the consumption of media. It used to be called television, but we’ll get to that later. In mid-2016, I took over as chairman of DVB, replacing a luminary in the broadcasting space: Phil Laven (exBBC, EBU, DVB chair, and many other things besides). I came with a mandate to modernise the DVB project, and bring back its relevance for the core broadcaster stakeholders. DVB is the cornerstone on which digital TV is built, but digital TV has moved on to bigger challenges: integration between OTT and linear TV, UHD, standardised streaming techniques, and many more. Well, 2017 was a good year, but hardly a great one for DVB. We finalised the specification for UHD-HDR, and indeed have just published the final building blocks for UHD services: the important area of bitmapped subtitles.
But we continue to struggle in finalising specifications quickly, and DVB reflects a number of the problems facing the industry at the moment. Will OTT kill linear broadcast TV? The answer to that question depends very much on where you come from. As a representative from the broadcaster community, I can point to the relatively stable consumption figures for linear TV despite rising OTT viewing. The explanation? People are watching more content on more devices for longer. TV viewing stays more or less flat, with a slight decline, but OTT is growing at a very fast pace. What will the future hold? Will OTT devour broadcasting? This is unlikely, in our view. The secret will be in combining the two seamlessly so that the TV viewer is unaware of the delivery channel used for his media. In a handheld device it could be Wi-Fi or 4G; in a TV set it could be broadband or broadcast. The user doesn’t care, so why should he have to choose? We have seen the successful transition of BBC Three online, where there
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are claims that move has more than doubled the brand’s reach. Could this be a model for others to follow? Quite possibly; the secret is how to build this offering into a coherent one that spans broadband and broadcast seamlessly, so that the delivery means is suited to the device, location, timing, etc. of the user. This is DVB’s next challenge. Whereas in the past, DVB could do this alone, it would now be impossible without the help of other bodies like HbbTV, which is an organisation successfully filling the gap left by the fading away of DVB’s MHP interactive television proposition. Not by chance, there is much in common between DVB and HbbTV: same companies involved, same procedures, same legal structures. There are others of course, but the key will be to apply the DVB rigours to ensure that we maximise interoperability and facilitate efficient deployment of OTT that are a de-facto element in the broadcaster portfolio. So far, it’s clear that linear TV provides the revenue that allows broadcasters to play the OTT game. Pretty soon, OTT will have to pay its own way as it seeks to become the mainstream delivery mechanism expected by so many observers. But this brings up to the wider question of the position of technical specification and standards producing bodies in the today’s fast-moving world. But we’ve always had the challenge to ensure that we don’t fall behind the pace of innovation in the outside world. One could identify three types of standardisation. The first is where organisations come together to develop something new, each one bringing something to the table, and producing a final result that is greater than the sum of its parts. The second is where a technique is in such wide use that it has become de-facto industry practice, and everyone agrees to standardise it to aid others proposing to build for that market. The third type of standardisation is where an organisation, possibly with a foothold in a market, seeks to standardise its solution at the expense of others trying to enter that market. Anyone involved in technology development, DVB included, wants to be in the first category, but sometimes falls – unfortunately – into the third category. With this in mind, a number of SDOs – standards development organisations – have sought to speed up their processes so as to simplify the acceptance procedure for a technology, engage with those organisations – such as software companies who might shun standardisation – and to adapt to the shorter product lifecycles that exist in today’s world that tend to better accept software updates facilitated by better connectivity and processing power. But there’s a problem.
What does an SDO do with its traditional processes and stakeholders? Answer: develop two parallel tracks where organisations can work in more closed, more flexible groups to produce technology that then might enter the standardisation process in the normal way in due course. But, I here you say, if I had an idea, why would I pursue a slower, more cumbersome process when I could quickly bring my idea to a specification with some chosen partners? Therein lies the problem that W3C and ETSI are experiencing today. But DVB is lucky: it’s not an SDO so it can adapt its procedures to the market conditions as it sees fit. This is why DVB has just approved a number of tweaks to its procedures that will see it try and speed up the time to market for new ideas, and yet retain the traditional procedures that have established it as a benchmark for others. In practice, this means considering timelines more explicitly up front, and sticking to them. DVB has often championed consensus over schedule. It’s time to rewrite that balance in the opposite direction. Another challenge to the industry is how to address perceived issues with licensing what are termed ‘standard essential patents’ (SEPs). On the one hand, all organisations that specify innovative technology must respect the rights of those who have paid millions to develop technology and seek returns on those investments; after all, it’s why many such organisations continue to exist providing value to the industry. On the other hand, those who use the technologies need to have clear indications of how much it’s going to cost them to implement a technology. Investors demand this. We have seen technologies appear in the last few years, which are normatively referenced in DVB specifications, and where the patent pools carrying their names appear some years after they are established in the marketplace. The procedures behind how these pools are formed, how they attain the critical mass of SEPs to warrant claims on the name, the time it takes them to appear, and the sometimes shocking lack of understanding of their target markets are cause for some concern. What can we do about this? It’s mainly about encouraging early consideration of these practice issues, and improve the transparency around the formation of the pools so that all industry stakeholders can engage in a process that is widely recognised as being beneficial to the adoption of technology by industry. Despite these challenges, 2018 promises more exciting times. The industry is going through a period of unprecedented change and must adapt or die. Adapting profitably is much harder in today’s multi-device, multinetwork world, and we hope DVB will continue to be the benchmark for the media industry for some years yet. n
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2018: THE CONTINUED TRANSFORMATION OF TELEVISION IN THE CONSUMERDRIVEN ERA OF MEDIA By Gowton Achaibar, COO and head of R&D, Ericsson Media Solutions
PICTURED: Gowton Achaibar, COO and head of R&D, Ericsson Media Solutions
e are approaching the most transformative period in the historyof the TV and media industry. Consumer demand is driving greater choice, better quality and personalisation and to remain competitive, content owners, broadcasters and TV service providers are responding to these shifts by enhancing the overall viewing experience. This involves an overhaul of existing infrastructures to support the delivery and taking advantage of the new monetisation opportunities on offer.
CONSUMERS ARE DEMANDING BETTER EXPERIENCES AND CONTENT ON THEIR TERMS The 2017 Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media Report showed the time consumers spent watching video has reached an all time high of 30 hours a week, across scheduled linear TV, live and on-demand and internet services, downloaded and recorded content. Furthermore, VoD has seen phenomenal growth. Consumers now have an average of 3.8 VoD subscriptions to supplement their linear viewing, increasing the pressure to deliver that same quality of experience across multiple screens. Yet while consumers have more access to video enabled devices and services than ever before, the challenge of content discovery has become even more acute. The average time spent searching for content has increased to almost one hour per day and one in eight consumers believe they will get lost in the vast amount of available content in the future. Service providers must find new ways to simplify the process and make more accurate, relevant and engaging recommendations. We are addressing this TV Everywhere challenge through MediaFirst TV Platform, our software-defined, media-optimised cloud-based TV platform, which delivers premium content to connected devices. This offers a personalised viewing experience that learns about the consumer and integrates with social networks and pay-TV to deliver better overall content discovery. Yet the personalisation opportunity can extend further than recommendation. There are multiple commercial and promotional opportunities, enabling service providers to target specific demographics, based on decisions around content type, time of day, user groups, sponsored links and editorial selection. By exploring further avenues such as personalised advertising, advertisers can get closer to subscribers to
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drive new revenues and deliver a more rounded and relevant video experience that meets their needs and expectations. We are focused on addressing these new monetisation opportunities, providing frame-accurate targeted ad insertion and content replacement from the network to simplify the process of tailoring multiscreen video to specific audiences. CREATING MORE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES THAT ADD VALUE Next year and beyond, a big challenge for TV service providers will be to build premium quality services that meet the needs of TV Everywhere consumers. Demand for more immersive and differentiated experiences continues to grow; for instance 4K/UHD TVs are already present in close to a quarter of households worldwide. But to meet this demand, there is a growing need for greater flexibility, superior low latency and the ability to repurpose processing functions cost-effectively. This is the case for the delivery of live content; truly immersive live streaming requires all viewers see the same content at the same time. This involves harmonising social interactions on the second screen with viewing on the first. The continued evolution of VR technology also dominated discussions in 2017; Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research estimates a third of consumers will own a VR headset by 2020. In response to this growth, Ericsson became a founding member of the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) earlier this year. The VRIF aims to help avoid the fragmentation of standards and formats, and ultimately push the widespread adoption of VR. ENABLING TV EVERYWHERE CAPABILITIES As OTT, TV Anywhere content viewing continues to grow, broadcasters and operators are now being required to store large amounts of content and make this readily available to the consumer when and where they want it. To address this demand, there has been a continued focus on advanced data analytics to support more personalised content choices. The growth in ondemand traffic means it has never been more important for broadcasters to optimise their storage solutions and increase multi-screen performance in order to access and deliver this content to viewers. Advances in cloud DVR are creating more economical and scalable solutions that support the needs of TV Everywhere viewers. The Ericsson Video Storage and Processing Platform (VSPP) solution, for instance, provides a next generation, modular architecture that helps to address the complexity, cost and time-
consuming process of delivering these next generation TV experiences. As a cloud-native video-optimised storage and processing platform, this multi-network, multi-device, multi-server solution enables scalable ingest and storage of video content from small origin servers for VoD through to huge distributed private copy cloud DVR systems, combined with media processing capabilities such as content packaging and encryption. THE INDUSTRY SETS IN MOTION FLEXIBLE, SCALABLE SOLUTIONS The move towards more software flexible architectures, from content contribution and playout through to delivery to the consumer, will be crucial to enabling the next generation of TV viewing. Ericsson MediaFirst Content Processing has been designed to allow the media industry to lower costs and deliver flexible carriage of high date-rate content. This agile solution is able to operate within IP or legacy environments, either through hardware, virtualised or hybrid approaches. As all-IP and agile cloud solutions become table stakes, itâ€™s never been more important to foster interoperability and a unified approach to realise this vision. By establishing common standards, the industry can build flexible systems that can scale up and down more easily to meet market demands. In 2017 we saw this in motion with the approval of the SMPTE ST 2110 Professional Media over IP standards. This new suite of standards specifies the carriage, synchronisation and description of the spate of elementary essence streams over IP for the purpose of live production, content exchange and primary distribution. In 2018, we will see further development towards all-IP to drive greater operational efficiencies and cost savings. We expect adoption will be extremely fast where possible, with the expectation that very soon all software should be cloud native. FROM 2017 INTO 2018: ENABLING THE FUTURE OF TV AND MEDIA As a business, our focus is on developing strategies that enable the transformation of television. By combining the power of software and cloud, we can deliver media innovation and support broadcasters telcos, cable operators and content aggregators to enhance the viewing experience with new service capabilities. As we enter 2018, a year where the World Cup, Winter Olympic Games and a British royal wedding will take centre stage and be watched on millions of video screens simultaneously worldwide, unlocking the potential and responding to the consumer driven era of media has never been more critical. n
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RISING UP By Sadie Groom, managing director, Bubble Agency and founder of Rise
s I sit on the train to another industry conference and one of the last of the year I thought it was a good time to reflect on the issue of gender diversity in our sector, and ask if anything has changed in 2017. Well, having been at a conference yesterday (no I am not addicted to lanyards, though some might dispute that) I can honestly say that less than five per cent of attendees were female. As I look around the room at the one I am at today I would say itâ€™s about ten per cent. Has this increased from last year? Marginally, yes, but really by a very small amount. However, progress is progress.
One of the main missions of my campaign on gender diversity is around inspiration, so a crucial positive step that I have noticed in recent times is the increase in women involved in panel sessions. If other women see women speaking then a) they will want to do it too, and b) they will see that women are successful in our sectors and be inspired to join them. My feeling is that if we do something over and over again it becomes normal and natural. What other positive things have happened this year? The IABM board now has five amazing women on it â€“ this is a huge increase, having only had one in the past. These women are based all around the
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world and again as well as providing inspiration it will also (hopefully) allow for more discussion on the subject of diversity. IBC this year also featured more women speakers than ever before and the organisation supported various initiatives from women’s groups for networking events, and I am looking forward to more conversations with them for the 2018 show. Lastly, the launch of Rise has been very successful, and whilst this has only just taken place, we have been thrilled to announce a UK mentoring scheme, which will launch in January 2018. Why did we call it Rise? Because we want men and women to support women coming into the sector and rise up through it. Another conversation I am having around Rise, with both men and women, is that something does need to change and this is highlighted when I give them statistics, such as there are less than two per cent female CEOs and under 20 per cent of manufacturers have images of female users on their website. This need for change is crucial as it is preventing women from joining the sector. In fact, just this week I interviewed a female second-year broadcast engineering student who is considering changing direction because she feels so out of place. She described her trip to IBC as “painful as I continually got brushed off in technical discussions”. I can’t look at 2017, however, without reflecting on what has happened in the wider world this year. Firstly, the Harvey Weinstein case and the #metoo campaign; what this has achieved is bringing it to the forefront that this behaviour is not acceptable. Should this have happened to bring this conclusion? Absolutely not. But we are where we are and it has led to our industry magazines delivering many articles on the subject, which again raises the issue.
If our industry is more diverse then these things won’t be able to happen anymore or be covered up. Secondly, we can’t forget the BBC pay row in the summer, which highlighted the major pay gap between male and female presenters. Our broadcasters responded to this in the right way and equalled out the differences, making it policy that this can no longer be the case. Again, this is a great change, but i do always think that broadcasters and larger companies are both more under the microscope than SMEs and that they will have a realm of HR and diversity officers in place to make sure it doesn’t happen. My hope is that the SMEs of our sector who don’t have this will see it as a thing they should strive to achieve, especially as they should have the flexibility to change it. Additionally, women in organisations of all sizes being mentored is a great thing to do and as well as the Rise scheme there are also others through the 30% Club and Women in Film and TV. A great recommendation is for a company called BirdSoup, which works with females to realise their potential and, in their words, brings the gender revolution to the workplace. Gender is not an easy conversation to have. It does make people uncomfortable and that is because changing the status quo is uncomfortable. However, the more people that have the conversation, the better and then things will slowly start to change, and if I write this piece this time next year I hope some of the statistics we have will have changed too! My final point is to recommend an amazing and very short book called We Should All Be Feminists, based on a Ted talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Please join Rise risewib.com and get involved in the conversation. n
‘A crucial positive step that I have noticed in recent times is the increase in women involved in panel sessions’
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FLEXING THE POWER OF
PRACTICAL INNOVATION By Glodina Lostanlen, CMO, Imagine Communications
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he measure of any business is how well it can anticipate and ultimately serve the evolving needs of its customers. With television viewers now free to choose from a growing number of entertainment providers and consumption options, the resiliency and responsiveness of broadcasters and other traditional media businesses are being tested like never before. The same is true of the companies, like Imagine Communications, that supply technology to the media and entertainment industry. Indirectly impacted by the same shifts in consumer viewing habits, media technology companies are charged with anticipating the future requirements of our customers and assisting them in navigating from their present position to their ultimate destination at a pace that guarantees a turbulence-free transition. At Imagine, we refer to this laser-like focus on a precisely orchestrated transition scheme for our customers as practical innovation. Though the practice dates back several years, formulated at the same time as the company revealed its vision for a technology foundation based on software-defined workflows running on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment, it has taken on additional relevance in 2017. After years of wrestling with the why and when of transitioning to IP, media companies spent much of this year focusing on how to inject their operations with the needed agility to respond to current and future market demands without stranding investment or disrupting operations. Helping our customers sand off the rough edges of their next-generation roadmaps is essentially the value proposition behind practical innovation, which is defined by three overriding principals: DON’T FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY FOR TECHNOLOGY’S SAKE Innovation is not exclusive to what’s being cooked up in the labs. Some of the sharpest minds at Imagine apply their brainpower daily to solutions that are more to do with bridge building than ground-breaking. It’s the business case, not just technology, that drives innovation at Imagine. Our customers tell us where they need to make their businesses successful and we bend the technology to help them achieve their goals. What good is cutting-edge technology if it ends up severing the continuity in your network that’s needed to provide a smooth transition to the future? Our recent collaboration with Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) in the US to deliver children’s programming to its affiliates typifies the way we apply practical innovation. In this instance, Imagine worked closely with SBG to harness the power of Versio, a cloud-native playout solution
running in Microsoft Azure, to enable the broadcaster to achieve its business goals of distributing highly customised content and localised advertising, at a velocity and efficiency that significantly exceeded the capabilities of more traditional playout operations. SIMULTANEOUS SUPPORT FOR TRADITIONAL AND NEXT-GEN NETWORKS Rare will be the infrastructure that is not at some point simultaneously in the SDI and IP domains. Hybrid infrastructures will likely remain standard operating procedure for broadcast engineers for at least the remainder of the decade. Helping media companies build out an archipelago of IP installations within a sea of SDI, and then gradually turning that island chain into a contiguous mass, is at the top of the practical innovation job description. Imagine’s flagship router, the Platinum IP3, was built to enable media companies to transition from SDI to IP at a comfortable pace and without missing a single market opportunity. Built-in support in the IP3 for uncompressed IP provides studio and mobile production facilities with the ability to straddle the SDI and IP domains for as long as necessary. And the Magellan SDN Orchestrator, the industry’s only hybrid control system, allows operators to manage their networks the same way they always have, as they make the SDI to IP transition. MAKE IT SIMPLE TO EVOLVE WORKFLOWS Incorporating the latest standards, technology breakthroughs and practices into your workflows, futureproofing your company against falling behind the innovation curve, should be as friction-free as possible. A principal component of our practical innovation strategy is the adoption of a true microservices-based architecture, which provides the foundation for Imagine’s next-gen solutions. By building workflows using discrete components, or business functions, which can be updated or replaced without disrupting operations, media companies are best positioned to take up permanent residency on the cutting edge of the technology curve. But more importantly, a cloud-native, microservices architecture gives media companies the ability to evolve their businesses in small, incremental steps, rather than forcing them into wholesale changes that sever continuity with current operations. Our customers consistently look to us to infuse their workflows with a steady stream of technology, developed in house or in cooperation with our technology partners, that brings them closer to achieving their business goals, one step at a time. That’s practical innovation in action. Look for it to become even more of a factor in 2018. n
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RESPONDING TO EVER-GROWING DEMANDS By Jonathan Smith, managing director EMEA of Limelight Networks
ooking back on the European broadcast industry in 2017, I was struck by the increase in the continued growth of smartphone usage and also the volume of illegal sports streaming. The viewing habits of millennials have changed dramatically from their parents’ generation, with younger viewers more likely to access video content online. The Ashes Test cricket series started in November, but how many people will actually watch the matches via broadcast TV, and how many will be streaming it? And, more importantly, will those people be streaming it legally? Recent research has shed light on a growing challenge being faced by sports broadcasters as a result of millennials’ viewing habits. The Sports Industry Group has revealed that a growing number of young viewers actively choose to watch illegal streams of live sports. So how can broadcasters respond? The answer lies in delivering the highest quality and most accessible live video experiences that will enable these younger audiences to continue to watch matches through their service provision. The trends are undeniable. Online video viewership continues to grow, as does the number of connected devices for consuming content. Limelight’s State of Online Video market research report highlights the shifts in viewing habits. More than three-quarters of consumers watch video online each week. More than half of these people watch at least two hours per week, with millennials far exceeding that average. That’s a staggering development!
Throughout 2017, live sport has continued to be one of the pieces of content viewers are willing to pay a premium for, and in return they expect high-quality live streams to be available on any online or mobile device whenever they request it. Sports broadcasters must be capable of delivering a consistent and high-quality experience in order to stop fans finding an alternative source for the content they want; customers will grow increasingly frustrated if they are paying for a live stream that constantly buffers and lags behind the live action. It seems that viewers are more likely to stream illegally if their sports broadcaster can’t deliver the experience they are paying for. To offset this, Limelight believes games should be available to watch 24/7. There has been an explosive growth in the use of devices, applications, and content consumption. Viewers prefer watching TV shows to other types of online content, followed closely by original content or YouTube videos. To meet this demand, content must be accessible around the clock. Computers remained the most common devices for online video viewing last year. However, their popularity has been waning while smartphone usage continues to grow, especially amongst millennials. For these consumers, smartphones are the primary device for watching online video, so they do not have to restrict their online viewing to times of the day when a computer or laptop is available. Therefore, it’s critical that websites are optimised for mobile users so that sporting events can be watched at any time and on any device.
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It’s essential to ensure the content is of the highest quality as consumers are engaging with online sports brands from all corners of the planet. This is particularly important to recognise when 24 per cent of respondents – according to Limelight research – would cut the cord if they could directly subscribe to just the channels they want online. As sports content becomes easier and easier to reach, consumers expect to get the best possible experience when streaming online. Going forwards, websites must be well-equipped to deliver consistent performance and reduce latency to scale traffic. If your site doesn’t deliver a quality user experience every time, regardless of device or location, it’s clear that you will experience higher bounce rates. This is likely to leave customers seeking other outlets to view sports games. Delivering broadcast quality sports coverage to viewers all around the world, on hundreds of different devices, is a huge challenge. Traffic concerns and potential security threats are simultaneously exacerbated. It will remain paramount for broadcasters to deliver consistent sports coverage across multiple platforms and keep their digital assets secure during peak events. Content delivery networks (CDNs) add an extra layer of protection to busy websites, observing traffic outside the content path to avoid causing latency issues. When combined with smart cybersecurity features the choice of CDN can mitigate against distributed denial of service attacks that can take down an online sporting event without warning. Fundamentally, the audience’s experience is everything. Over a half of consumers think buffering is the most frustrating aspect of watching online video. Half of respondents (46 per cent) will stop watching a video after the second time it buffers, and 78 per cent will stop if it buffers three times. Sports fans who are glued to how their team, or sporting star, is performing are especially impatient when the online action slows or stutters to a stop. The digital world has radically transformed expectations, empowering people with an instant gratification about anything digital. And when things don’t go so smoothly? People abandon the experience and that can have serious repercussions for broadcasters. Looking forwards to 2018, sports marketers and customer experience professionals alike must pay attention to signs of clogged up traffic, which will
result in decreased conversion rates and the loss of unique visitors. I expect CDNs to play a key role in optimising end-to-end website delivery – including dynamic, personalised content – which means faster time to action by customers. Instant gratification is certainly driving behaviour. Digital content must be delivered with broadcast quality – a website must load instantaneously; video must start playing back immediately (without stuttering or re-buffering); every part of your digital experience must work flawlessly. Video management and automatic conversion into multiple formats eliminates the complexity of managing and publishing online video. With competition heating up as we go into 2018, those tasked with delivering the customer experience must stay alert to their website performance to encourage audiences to pay. n
PICTURED: Jonathan Smith, managing director, Limelight Networks EMEA
‘Going forwards, websites must be wellequipped to deliver consistent performance and reduce latency to scale traffic’
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CARBON LITERACY: RETAINING STUBBORN OPTIMISM By Aaron Matthews, sustainability manager, Bafta
n taking a moment to review the year – a year that has seen us scale up our ambitious goals both at home and abroad – it occurs to me that while we have achieved so much in just 12 months, it is hard to tell whether the goal posts are on the move too. The best time to tackle climate change was 20 years ago. From 1997, we could have afforded ourselves a gentle descent into a carbon neutral society. Now, the only possible route is to peak our emission in three years and half them every decade. Sound achievable? If following the climate change story in 2017 has taught me anything, it is that we must be stubbornly optimistic. We stubbornly refuse to compromise on what the future requires of us, be it individually, nationally or internationally. Optimistically ,we must compromise and collaborate to deliver it. There are now less than three years to go until that pivotal date. We have to be realistic about the scale and scope of the environmental issues facing the planet as a whole, and the part our industry plays. The first part can only be a fair and frank recognition of our starting point. This is much the same as other issues in life - admitting there is a problem is the first step in the journey towards recovery. The key problem faced by the broadcasting industry is its carbon footprint. It takes some 13 tonnes to produce just one hour of onscreen entertainment. Decreasing that figure may appear insurmountable, but the substantial inroads we have made, and continue to pursue, are helping reduce the industry’s carbon footprint as it steers the production sector towards a much greener future. During a year that has seen a lot of global change and environmental challenges – water pollution, growing populations, increased waste disposal, rising greenhouse gasses, loss of bio-diversity and of course, climate change – the industry has had some significant wins. Therefore, we should remain optimistic about the part we can and must play.
At the beginning of 2017 we launched our Creative Energy Project, a major initiative to support the creative community’s transition to renewable electricity, and just one year in, we’ve helped 30 production companies identify significant financial savings and avoid 900 tonnes of combined carbon dioxide emissions by switching to green electricity. That’s the equivalent of taking 372 cars off the road. This modestly impressive figure represents just the beginning of a revolution in acquiring renewable energy for the industry. Another part of the overall revolution is bringing people along with us. Our production-focused carbon literacy training will have reached some 1,000 individuals by the end of the year. Giving delegates the opportunity to explore their own environmental impact, the sessions equip them with facts, ideas and inspiration to help implement both big and small changes that positively impact their personal and professional lives and carbon footprints. 2017 also saw the rollout of a national scheme that provides training to editorial communities including producers, directors and screenwriters, to give guidance on ensuring exciting, authentic and accessible sustainability messages reach the screen by developing the skills and tools required to mount an audience-focused, non-political, optimistic, sciencebased response to climate change. A simple and revealing process that has been proven to dramatically improve the green credentials of production companies and individuals is albert’s carbon calculator, which remains at the heart of our activities. Predicting the carbon footprint of a production is an essential part of taking practical and strategic action to reduce it. With more than 2,000 users from 300 companies signed up to use albert’s tools, there are many organisations and individuals who are helping to steer the sustainability agenda in the right direction.
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Delivering impressive carbon savings, an everincreasing number of production companies are building this into the start-up process. And, this year we have seen the BBC, Sky and UKTV make the undertaking of the carbon calculator a mandatory part of their commission process. From low-impact crew fodder to low-energy lighting rigs, albert has certified a raft of sustainable productions in 2017 – from Posh Pets, Grand Designs, Good Morning Britain, Celebrity Juice and Loose Women, to Emmerdale, The Tunnel, Hollyoaks, Victoria and Doctor Who. That’s to name just a few of the titles that have achieved the albert footprint certification logo. While our primary focus continues to be the UK screen industries, we are not keeping our skills and experience to ourselves. Our intention is to extend our expertise, findings and best practice internationally to enable overseas film and television communities to benefit from albert’s experiences in creating the most
efficient routes to sustainability. This has resulted in the creation of the albert International Consortium. This new global community is sharing our goals of reducing the detrimental environmental impact the broadcast industry has around the globe. In looking back on the year, we must applaud the major achievements made through the hard work, determination and passion of organisations and individuals across the industry. Nothing would have been possible without this huge level of engagement. And, as we look forward to 2018, and indeed beyond to 2050, our focus continues to be to seek out and develop relationships, champion new technologies and processes, and provide the industry with the necessary expertise and opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of the production process and increase opportunities to engage audiences. There is a long way to go, with major challenges ahead, but with we are definitely on the right path. n
‘The key problem faced by the broadcast industry is its carbon footprint. It takes 13 tonnes to produce just one hour of on-screen entertainment’
PICTURED: Aaron Matthews, sustainability manager, Bafta
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MOVING THE NEEDLE FORWARD FROM HDR TO IP AND BEYOND By Bryce Button, director of product marketing, AJA
hange is constant in the film and TV industry, sparking innovations that transform how we create and consume content. 2017 marked an accelerated evolutionary year in this respect. Various new standards, technologies and methodologies evolved very quickly and were ratified for HDR and broadcast IP workflows, and increased bandwidth possibilities were met with Thunderbolt 3, 12G-SDI and fibre tools supporting 8K, 4K, HFR and HDR pipelines. Around the edges, VR and AR saw increased investment by major players with new tools emerging for their creation, and execution in NLEs and more with delivery targeted to mobile devices; which are increasingly the same devices the broadcast industry is targeting with its OTT strategies. HDR WORKFLOWS EVOLVE Since Dolby Vision debuted in 2014, interest in HDR has intensified. HDR-capable displays are now available at more accessible price points, and the HLG, HDR10 and HDR10+ formats have been well received. In response to these developments, we’ve seen a number of broadcast, production and post professionals begin to re-examine their methodologies and seek out tools to streamline their HDR pipelines. Until recently, HDR tools were largely software driven, but this year saw a broader range of HDR hardware solutions come to market. AJA contributed to this boom by launching HDR monitoring tools over HDMI with mini-converters like Hi5 4K Plus; adding HLG, HDR10 and HDMI 2.0 support to our mobile and desktop editing tools via Desktop Software v14; integrating HDR playback for HDR 10 and HLG into our Ki Pro Ultra Plus recorder; and collaborating with leading Colorfront scientists to create the FS-HDR – the first standalone HDR and WCG HDR to HDR, SDR to HDR and HDR to SDR transformer.
As HDR becomes a production delivery requirement in broadcast, which is expected in the next year, these kinds of tools will simplify HDR monitoring on-set and HDR transforms straight from camera outputs. Moving forward, HDR metadata support inside NLE tools will need to grow, which we’re already beginning to see. BROADCAST IP OVERCOMES GROWING PAINS Broadcast IP matured significantly in 2017. We saw broadcast IP uptake increase around the world, and the AIMS membership base saw significant growth, signaling industry acceptance that standards and methodologies are ultimately for the benefit of all. As part of the rollout of tactical standards, much of the year was spent locking down SMPTE 2110, which was made possible by the dedicated efforts of SMPTE, VSF and other alliances. A huge step forward for IP, this standardisation milestone ensures that the transition from SDI to hybrid IP and IP pipelines will progress in an orderly fashion, the benefits of which will be felt in 2018. Although IP has progressed, challenges to better integrate previous SDI investments into IP workflows remain, and bandwidth concerns lurk. Larger throughput found with 25GigE and 40GigE is desired to move higher raster size IP content along at a decent rate, a jump from the commonly used 10GigE, which is not broad enough to handle the high raster standards of 4K uncompressed. The required bandwidth technology does exist, but it will take significant time before it is rolled out widely and the costs drop down to a more generally affordable rate. We’ve aimed to relieve IP pain points for common architectures with the 2017 releases of our new IPT and IPR mini-converters and the Io IP audio and video I/O device with Thunderbolt 3 support, and we’ll continue to focus on making the transition to IP easier for our customers as we head into 2018.
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THUNDERBOLT 3 ACCELERATES WORKFLOWS Once Apple introduced Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C connector in the MacBook Pro, adoption by PC developers quickly followed. The technology is quickly catching on within the post community in particular because it makes editing high-end content simpler by bringing the power, speed and connectivity of a desktop workstation to a laptop. In the latter half of 2017, we saw Thunderbolt 3 adoption pick up, especially as 4K TVs and computer monitors became more standard and mobile displays and devices rose to the UHD standard. Adoption is expected to grow as new Thunderbolt 3 equipped products from Apple, HP, Lenovo and more start to saturate the market, including the iMac Pro, which has just gone on sale. Peripherals will also play an important role in Thunderbolt 3 adoption, with Thunderbolt 3 equipped storage and 4K and 5K monitors with simple Display Port over Thunderbolt 3 connectivity helping to drive interest. Thunderbolt 3 has also enabled the creation of a new generation of smaller, more powerful devices for professional video workflows like our Io 4K Plus. The video and audio I/O device is not only Thunderbolt 3 equipped, but also features 12G-SDI, allowing editors to seamlessly handle high resolution, high frame rate and deep colour workflows, or even HD and multichannel HD streams with simplified cabling. At the end of the day, the priority for video pros is about working efficiently and delivering high quality content, and Thunderbolt 3 offers more speed and higher bandwidth to tackle complex projects in less time. 12G-SDI CHANGES THE CABLING GAME The ever-increasing demand for large raster, high data source material is fueling a desire for cable simplicity in pipelines. Running multiple cables in a production environment is costly and challenging, which has ignited an interest in 12G-SDI technology in 2017 – from facilities looking to simplify their cable and signal paths to on-set productions hoping to minimise their cabling footprint. It’s also become more popular in live production environments because it’s cheaper, simpler and optimal for handling deeper colour specs. Many broadcasters and production facilities currently rely on 3G-SDI and even dual-link 1.5G SDI solutions, so it will be some time before we see full 12G-SDI facilities or productions. To successfully integrate 12G-SDI into existing pipelines, professionals need a simple and affordable way to move back and forth between 12G, 6G, 3G and 1.5G standards. This is in part why we introduced our 12GM muxers/
demuxers this year, which bridge the standards to and from each other, including 2SI and quad support. In 2017, we’ve seen increased customer demand for 12G solutions, so we’ve introduced the 12GM, 12GDA and FiDO 12G mini-converters, in addition to 12G-SDI SFP options for frame syncs and more. In 2018, we’ll be looking to further expand our range of 12G options. Based on the promise of 2017 developments, 2018 is already shaping up to be an unforgettable year in broadcast technology advancement. Each innovation brings us one step closer to delivering higher quality content to audiences with simpler pipelines. That bar will continue to rise and it’s exciting to try to imagine what’s around the corner. n
PICTURED: Bryce Button, director of product marketing, AJA
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A YEAR OF SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS By Brad Gilmer, executive director, Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA)
s we look back at 2017, the following significant work has been completed:
n The Joint Task Force on Networked Media (JT-NM) has revised its roadmap to include a section called ‘dematerialisation’, reflecting the trend of ‘non-mediaspecific IT’ and ‘cloud-fit’ technology deployments n The core components of SMPTE ST 2110, the mediaover-IP standards have been finished n The SMPTE ST 2059 Standard on Precision Timing Protocol or PTP has been completed n AMWA continues to develop its NMOS specifications. IS-04 for discovery and registration, is complete, IS-05 on connection management has been published, and work on IS-06 on network control is moving forward n A number of public demonstrations of ST 2110 and NMOS have taken place including NAB, IBC, and the SMPTE Technical Conference In addition, during the year, new work has begun in the following areas: n SMPTE has made significant progress in specifying the behavior of network senders with regard to packet pacing n AMWA and the EBU are discussing collaboration around the topic of security, with a focus on delivering real-world and demonstrable results n The VSF is working diligently on a revision of its JPEG 2000 over IP Technical Recommendation (TR-01) with the addition of an ultra low latency mode.
JT-NM ROADMAP CONTINUES TO POINT THE WAY At IBC2017, the JT-NM, a collaboration of AMWA, the EBU, SMPTE and the VSF, released a new roadmap for the transition to IP. Reflecting the continuing rapid pace of development, the roadmap shifts the focus away from SDI-over-IP, and significantly expands the area previously called ‘virtualisation’. This area is now referred to as ‘dematerialisation”, and is further broken down into ‘non-mediaspecific IT’, and ‘cloud-fit’. The JT-NM also went on to publish a dematerialisation information sheet providing additional detail regarding these newly emphasised areas. The information sheet states, in part: “A dematerialised facility is a broadcast facility operating on generic IT equipment, and in some cases, housed in remote locations operated by others (for example, cloud). The dematerialised facility uses internet technology, which allows the rapid scale-up and scale-down of these facilities, and has security built-in from the beginning. “Users demand open facilities which are composed of any combination of private on-premises technical facilities owned by the broadcaster and multiple offpremises cloud technology providers.” AMWA NMOS IS-05 DEVICE CONNECTION MANAGEMENT AND IS-06 NETWORK CONTROL API Two significant areas of work within AMWA in 2017 are on IS-05 – device connection management and IS-06 – network control API. IS-05 defines an API that can be implemented to connect various flows from senders to receivers in an ST 2110-based facility. Taking advantage of a common, open way to specify these connections is absolutely critical to the success of future broadcast facilities. IS-05 was published by the AMWA in November 2017.
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IS-06 describes a network control API. At its core, this effort is seeking to provide a solution to the facility bandwidth management problem. That problem can be illustrated in a scenario where a technician routes a camera to a monitor, consuming the last bit of bandwidth available on a critical on-air link. In some cases, broadcasters may choose to overprovision their networks. In other cases, broadcasters may ‘buy a solution’ to this problem when they run their operations in the cloud. But in other situations, broadcasters may choose to use software defined networking (SDN) to address this scenario. When a broadcast controller (for example, a playout automation system) seeks to play a piece of content on a server and send that content to a transmission encoder, it communicates with an SDN network controller using IS-06. The network controller then communicates with network switches in order to guarantee that all of the packets related to a particular flow, or even a group of flows (think A+V+data) all get from the sender to the receiver reliably. Additionally, this approach can guarantee that not even a single bit from a sender can enter a network without prior authorisation. AMWA NMOS IS-06 provides an open, interoperable way for broadcast controllers to communicate with network controllers in an SDN environment. TIMING, PACKET PACING AND BUFFERS One important piece of work that is ongoing in SMPTE has to do with timing, packet pacing and buffers. SMPTE ST 2110-21 specifies how senders behave when emitting packets onto a network. This was not so much of an issue with bespoke equipment because it emitted packets at a steady rate. But as the industry transitions to general-purpose IT hardware and software-only media applications, the timing, and more specifically, the pacing of the traffic coming from senders has become more erratic. This erratic packet pacing can cause havoc with buffers in IP switches. The problem can be explained in a simple thought experiment. Imagine that someone throws you a ball once every five seconds. Your job is to put the ball in a box. Everything goes just fine. But now imagine that for the first 30 seconds they throw the balls to you at a steady pace once every five seconds, but after that you do not receive any balls for 30 seconds (because they have to go clean up a disk drive somewhere). Then, they throw you six balls in five seconds in order to get caught up. Some, if not all of the balls will end up
on the floor. ST 2110-21 establishes rules that senders must comply with so that this problem is avoided in professional media applications. CONTINUED STRONG INDUSTRY COLLABORATION Through the efforts of many in the industry, 2017 was a year of strong collaboration, in terms of public demonstrations, but perhaps more importantly, in private interop events, proof-of-concept projects, and in ongoing activities in many standards bodies and trade associations. Fortunately, these activities have been coordinated through the JT-NM, and by the work of the IP showcase demonstrations and VSF-sponsored interop events leading up to these demonstrations. We can expect to see this collaboration continue through 2018. n
‘Through the efforts of many in the industry, 2017 was a year of strong collaboration’
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TAKING STOCK By Dave Dougall, vice president, EMEA sales, Vitec Group
new year is the perfect time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past 12 months and look forward to the next. We are committed to helping our customers capture and share exceptional images, whether they’re engaged by a TV network, a film or other production company, or a corporate, educational or religious establishment, and whether they’re operating as an independent business or as an amateur. To that end, we’re excited about the potential of IP, automation, and other key industry developments that help our customers move to the next phase of high-quality content creation, as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. The migration to all-IP operations is frequently discussed within our industry, and most customers are aware and understand the potential benefits of IP technologies. In a time when budgets are shrinking and media companies are being squeezed to spread advertising revenues across ever-widening and more complex operations, customers are taking time to assess when and how to move forward with the best technology as cost-effectively as possible. To support this process and our customers’ migration to IP operations, we have launched the industry’s first-ever prompting solution designed to run over an IP-based network. Our newest prompting line solutions are based on a scalable, IP-prompting architecture that ensures benefits at any stage in an IP transition, while opening the way for continuous workflow improvements. We are equally aware that the adoption of 4K/UHD technology has been absolutely invaluable in sports broadcasting. Such high resolution is capable of delivering an enhanced viewing experience and has influenced the purchasing decisions of millions of home viewers. To keep pace with that demand, OB companies are now facing the need to refurbish ageing vehicles and launch new ones that support the expanding horizon of 4K and HDR productions. While much focus has been placed on ensuring camera sensors and lenses are 4K/UHD-ready, here at
Vitec we encourage broadcasters to consider something even more elemental: their camera supports. With higher-resolution imaging, the need for a stable, smooth and controllable support becomes ever more important – and it might mean the difference between capturing or missing the action in a fast-paced sports environment. Our solutions provide versatile support for 4K, studio, and OB broadcast cameras and lenses at any resolution or frame rate, including UHD. There’s also no shortage of business from film production companies, particularly as the demand for scripted, high-quality productions continues to grow. However, this market faces a familiar quandary: how to increase content production and quality with evershrinking budgets. To support these customers, we have expanded our family of lower-cost, brighter, cooler, and more portable LED lighting, giving customers greater flexibility as they explore lower-cost and more flexible alternatives to conventional large studios. So, what lies ahead for 2018? For the Vitec Group, the simple answer is more of the same. The trends that shaped customer investment last year will continue to accelerate through 2018. Automation will continue to grow in importance, IP technologies will be ever more widely adopted, and 4K HDR programming will become the norm, rather than the exception, particularly in areas such as remote sports production. Our 2018 product development will continue to be driven by enabling customers to take maximum advantage of these opportunities. Strategic partnerships will become even more important, not only with our customers but with key suppliers and amongst our own family of brands. We’ll be exploring complete workflow solutions that bring together the best-of-breed from multiple manufacture categorydefining new tripod technology, a joint venture between our Sachtler and Vinten brands, was a prime example – and customers can expect more of this kind of collaboration in 2018, especially in the realm of studio automation. So, to 2018, we say – bring it on! n
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Published on Jan 3, 2018