Bigger than Broadcast? NAB May 2013

Bigger than Broadcast? NAB May 2013

This year’s highly tempting blend of converged technologies promised almost everything.  Software ingenuity, mobile consumer electronics, telecoms’ IP networks, higher IT horsepower and specialist broadcast technology might all mean that anything is possible. And, at the widest range of cloudy prices ever. Three things caught my eye this year.

Program making to better support multi screen delivery is about to enter an exciting new era. Workgroup solutions for Non-Linear-Production from vendors including: A Frame, EVS, DVS, Grass Valley and Vizrt all showed maturity at NAB.

Second up is the wider use of IP, which, when coupled with new network architectures and higher speeds is really going to change everything. Perhaps IP will be the key tipping point between broadcasters and telecoms as they try to partner, protect and expand their routes to market and revenue.

However, it was the apparent rise and rise of the service providers that really got me thinking at the show. Someone described the first wave of outsourcing over the last 5 years as “mess for less”. Where outsource providers built replacement facilities for broadcasters, which were often only a small improvement on their predecessors. Does new technology enable us to leap any further forward in 2013?

Alongside this year’s technological mash-up I noticed that agile facilities companies and service providers are now innovatively combining new technology to enter and disrupt markets as never before. Service providers are rapidly evolving to become service innovators. Their forward thinking is now blending technologies in all new ways, performing their own integration (bypassing the SI’s too sometimes) and setting their own price range. Take Deluxe, Ericsson, Park Post and WRN (how did they get a Formula One car in to the Ghost Bar btw?) for example. All have used their own value-engineering to develop unique propositions.

In some cases service providers now know how to integrate software, deploy converged technology and sell solutions better than broadcasters and manufactures themselves.  Visiting Holland’s ParkPost to look at their Central Parq suite of applications to enhance Avid Interplay, I was left wondering how you could ever manage real world media and metadata without it. Deluxe’s Mediacloud has got everyone thinking ahead, whilst Ericsson is making its own video silicon to encode 4k 10 bit AVC in real time.

Do these organisations have the added advantage of knowing where the real value-adds are? And will those technology vendors not effectively accessing, listening to and influencing service providers be perilously locked out? Missing out on this potential change of pace and, crucially, the market-reach. (caveat venditor?)

Despite the continuing instability in media business models it’s still the innovators that drive us forward. Whether it’s the facilities companies, outsource providers or genuine managed services; it seems to me that this is the sector where many innovations will happen in the next cycle.

New media consumption opportunities to replace broadcast emerge every month. Increasingly lead by businesses that are beyond broadcast such as Amazon, iTunes and Netflix. It’s been a long time coming but suddenly it’s all much bigger than broadcasters.

First published in TVB Europe