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Evolution Key for Video Server Vendors, with Stern Tests Ahead

The video server market is one of the stalwart product areas of the broadcast equipment industry, but in recent years it has started to face the same challenges that are affecting much of the rest of this business.

The transition to IT-centric solutions has been core to these changes, as has a shift in end-user purchase behaviour and the desire to do more with less. 

Even before considering the implications the transition to IP will bring in the future, COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) IT systems are already impacting the studio and news segments of the video server market due to their comparatively low cost. In the past, there has been a resistance to use pure IT equipment, but pressure on budgets has meant that this is an increasingly popular option, which will only increase as end-users gain confidence with such 'non-traditional' products. 

Playout is the other area of the market being hit hard by alternative solutions. Compared to other types of video sever, playout is the most price sensitive, which has allowed cost effective 'Channel-in-a-Box' products to gain real traction, especially where only limited functionality is required. Interestingly, this trend is most advanced in mature markets such as North America and Western Europe, while the typically more price sensitive emerging markets favour more traditional playout solutions. Feedback suggests that the mature markets are simply further up the learning curve and are more open to alternative products. 

Until recently, the term 'cloud' was somewhat of a dirty word in the industry, perhaps due to its vagueness and overuse, but over the past 18 months this seems to have changed and attitudes are thawing. The realisation has dawned on many that IP and cloud-based virtualised infrastructure is the future. Cloud-based, virtualised playout is becoming more common, which will have a significant impact on the traditional, hardware based playout server market over the next five years. 

Replay servers are one of the few growth areas of the market, but even here prices are under enormous pressure with most of the growth found in the low to mid-range. Vendors of high end, highly specialised servers are having to add functionality to their products just to maintain prices. 

In short, the video server industry is currently facing, and will continue to face, some stern tests. As with all product areas in the world of broadcast, video server vendors are having to evolve in order to address the rapidly changing situation. Not all manufacturers will survive the next five years and the ones that do survive will be the companies that move with and ahead of the changing tide.

About the author

Adam Cox

About Us

Here at Futuresource Consulting we deliver specialist research and consulting services, providing market forecasts and intelligence reports. Since the 1980s we have supported a range of industry sectors, which has grown to include: CE, Broadcast, Entertainment Content, EdTech and many more.