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Top technology trends and projects for Europe revealed

Each year Devoncroft Partners takes the pulse of the broadcast industry through the annual Big Broadcast Survey (BBS), a global study of industry trends, vendor brands and technology purchasing behaviour. By Joe Zaller.

Each year Devoncroft Partners takes the pulse of the broadcast industry through the annual Big Broadcast Survey (BBS), a global study of industry trends, vendor brands and technology purchasing behaviour. By Joe Zaller.

With more than 5,600 people in 120+ countries participating, the 2010 version of the BBS is claimed to be the largest and most comprehensive market study ever done in the broadcast industry.

European participation in the 2010 BBS was high. Nearly 1,900 Europeans participated, including broadcasters, cable/satellite/IPTV operators, playout centers, systems integrators, recording studios, radio stations and technology vendors. Please note that in all cases, the charts and tables in this article show the responses from technology buyers (i.e. non-vendors).

To determine the most important technology trends in Europe, respondents were presented with a list of 14 trends and asked to choose which is the ‘most important,’ ‘second most important’ and ‘also very important’ to their business. Asking the question in this way provides insight into the commercial drivers behind the respondent’s answer.

The responses to this question were then weighted based on the importance of each trend to the business of the respondents. Responses that were ranked ‘most important’ were multiplied by 5, responses ranked ‘second most important’ were multiplied by 3 and those deemed ‘also very important’ were multiplied by 1. The table below shows the trend rankings for all non-vendor responses from Europe.

Topping the list are file-based/tapeless workflows, transition to HDTV operations and multi-platform content delivery. These trends show that Europe will continue with its move to HD, while looking for operation efficiencies through file-based workflows and new revenue streams through multi-platform content delivery.

Looking at this data another way reinforces the fact that Europeans are looking for ways to increase operating efficiencies, reduce operating costs and find new sources of revenue.

The most noticeable thing about this chart is how strongly the top three trends were ranked as most important relative to the others. It’s clear the moving to HD, achieving operational efficiencies and finding new revenue streams are a clear priority for European broadcast professionals.

It’s also worth noting that new technology trends (those that require new investment) such as transition to 3Gbps operations and 3D TV move down in the ranking relative to the trend index.

Major projects planned
Following on from the technology trends, the 2010 BBS explored what projects are being planned for the next year by broadcast professionals in Europe. Respondents were presented with a list of projects and asked to indicate up to five choices that they are planning to implement in the next year. The results are shown in the table below.

By a wide margin, more European respondents selected ‘upgrading infrastructure for HD/3Gbps operations’ than any other project. This is consistent with the trend findings discussed earlier, as is the third-ranked ‘upgrading transmission and distribution capabilities,’ which will of course be required in order to deliver HD content to consumers.

Many respondents indicated that they are planning workflow/asset-management and archive-related projects, which is consistent with the importance attached to the ‘file-based/tapeless workflows’ trend.

The 2010 BBS also reveals that new studios will be built and new channels will be put on the air. Many of these will undoubtedly have a strong automation component, and they will certainly be HD-capable.

The rest of the list offers a mixed picture of project activity across Europe, with everything from upgrading audio and newsrooms, to multi-platform distribution being chosen in large numbers.

Interestingly, ‘centralcasting’ appears towards the bottom of this list, versus its relatively higher position in the industry trend index above, and despite the fact that it (along with outsourced operations) will deliver increased efficiencies. There are two explanations for this apparent inconsistency. The Planned Projects chart shows the responses of all European participants in the BBS, regardless of organisation type, size or location. In addition this chart above is a graphic representation of the number of all planned projects across Europe. It does not measure size, value or relative commercial importance of planned projects.