Alongside the usual topics of IP, 4K, HDR and IP, another trend was prevalent at NAB 2018, one that we fully expect to see explored at IBC this year: diversification.
The realities of the traditional broadcast/pay-TV industry mean that the potential of the market is limited. The business is changing. Cord-cutting, the rise of SVOD services such as Netflix and evolving advertising spend is leading to budgets in the broadcast market tightening every year whilst, at the same time, expectations on what new products can achieve is increasing. Broadcast is all about doing more with less.
Moore’s Law allows this: increased processing power in each generation of products allows functionality to be expanded, but this comes at a price. Unless companies are including features that do not exist in their current product line up, the inevitable outcome is the eventual rationalisation of product ranges and, as the idea is doing more with less, this can have a negative impact on revenues.
The limited potential of the broadcast market is therefore the driver of a transformation that is manifesting itself in two interlinked ways: diversification of customer type and diversification of product ranges.
AV and professional video have walked hand in hand for many years now in certain areas, most notably in acquisition, but now these two worlds are colliding. This is being driven by modern society’s insatiable demand for video and the emergence of IP.
IP is revolutionising the way in which video is processed and transported in both broadcast and AV. Whereas SDI environments and accompanying skillsets are largely centred around broadcast, IP is agnostic with the technology catering to all users of video. Broadcast will still have high expectations in terms of levels of quality and service, but professional video and AV will no longer use separate technologies in the future. IP is the unifying force that ushers in huge potential to traditional “broadcast” manufacturers.
Industries and applications such as education, the corporate world, governments, live events and houses of worship (particularly in the US) are embracing the ease with which they can create and distribute content: IP distribution of video has meant that anyone can be a “broadcaster”.
This is not a new trend, however. The pro camcorder industry was long ago catering to this much wider range of verticals. What is different now is that companies that have historically focused on broadcast, from huge technology providers to small niche players, are starting to look at how they can position themselves to take advantage of these “new” markets.
One of the most obvious ways this can be seen is in the number of stands at IBC 2018 that will feature PTZ cameras. Over the past two years, the range of vendors fielding products in this growth area has changed dramatically. Companies that have never been involved in content acquisition have added cameras to their line ups to take advantage of the huge growth in this part of the market; growth that is largely down to the AV industry.
Away from PTZ cameras, some the giants of the broadcast industry are increasingly looking towards the AV market. The large amount of video being created and distributed by some organisations in end-user types outside of broadcast means there is a natural opportunity here. The move to micro-service-based software solutions that vendors are making will facilitate this. Products become are becoming scalable based on the needs of the end-user both in terms of size and complexity.
Widening up traditional broadcast equipment portfolios to other verticals is a learning process for all involved. Although the same, or similar products can be utilised across different markets, the skillsets that exist and the ways in which products are used differ. Different end-user types mean that vendors and resellers will need to find new and innovative ways to sell and market equipment – it is the companies that can get away from being perceived as “broadcast only” that will be able to bridge this gap most effectively.
The convergence of the professional video and AV industries is still in its early stages, but already the potential is clear. Although Futuresource still fully expects IBC to be a “broadcast” centric show, it is likely that product offerings and marketing messages are going to be increasingly inclusive of the wider AV industry, both at IBC 2018 and beyond.
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