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Helping make broadcasters more competitive

Anna Lockwood, head of global sales, Telstra Broadcast Services, discusses the rise of IP, the Cloud and remote production

Are broadcasters spending too much money on legacy systems? The short answer is probably yes. There have been several recent major changes in the way that broadcast workflows can be structured, in particular the move towards IP-based production and the introduction of the Cloud, that mean that legacy systems are increasingly outdated and inefficient by comparison. This is true in all global markets, where increasing competition for viewership, rising content costs (especially in sports), rapidly evolving consumer expectations and the demand for new services, and the shift towards 4K are all putting pressure on costs.

The markets are, of course, increasingly interconnected too. Content producers, whether in Europe, APAC or beyond, want to reach international audiences beyond their own individual markets. This is coupled with a rising demand in national markets for global content, especially with sports and live events, but also including drama and episodics if localisation factors are taken into account. What is being seen at both ends of these increasing and deepening content flows is an upsurge in interest in using a single media service delivery partner capable of providing an end-to-end solution on both a national and international basis.

Globally spanning hybrid networks can pass on impressive economies of scale to their users as well as providing best fit solutions for a widening range of use cases and crucial signal diversity for individual projects. They are capable of providing a genuinely global business process. Rather than a fragmented system of booking broadcast services, a client can book their required services, no matter how complex, with a single point of contact and a single bill at the end of the event or service. They can be impressive in their reach too, connecting sports venues on one side of the world to teleports and control rooms on the other and all points in between to ensure the most reliable, low-latency services possible.

Another area witnessing a surge of interest is remote production which is becoming steadily more widespread. Broadcasters are finding they can save significant amounts of money — we estimate between 10 to 20 per cent per event — by using remote production techniques, wherein camera paths and audio are fed via IP to centralised production hubs for switching live and editing.

That means that many of the personnel and equipment that were previously required to work onsite for live events can now remain at base. This realises greater efficiencies in terms of personal transport and accommodation, but is only the start of the benefits that remote production accrues. Moving production to a centralised hub dramatically optimises resource use, the same team and equipment being able to produce several events per day rather than the single one from a location. Additionally by using the same set-up it allows broadcasters to be consistent across their output, and with decreased set-up times be more agile in the way that they respond to changing events.

There are not just regional options either. Telstra, for example, has also worked on international projects such as the World Relay Championships in Japan, which featured a 20,000km roundtrip between Yokohama and Sydney and mere 224ms combined delay between sites, proving that remote production is now a reliably international proposition for productions seeking to move to remote production workflows. 

The pressures on broadcasters are more intense in 2019 than ever. And while rising numbers of them are looking to outsource whole sections of their workflow as the benefits of the Cloud or hybrid Cloud over on-premise solutions — scalability, responsiveness, decreased costs and more — become increasingly apparent, there are still greater efficiencies that can be achieved. New techniques such as remote production and changing business focus to using a single international media service delivery partner, are both initiatives that can further unlock the huge potential of global markets and increase the promise of monetisation at the same time in a cost-effective manner.