A strong focus on end-to-end workflow is evident at NAB 2022 as service providers and broadcasters face migration towards software defined methods that will accelerate pace of innovation but demand new skills and testing capabilities.
Synamedia, the company originating as pay TV security firm NDS later acquired by Cisco before being spun out into its current brand, is keen to underline the company’s diversification across the whole video workflow chain as this becomes cloudified and software based.
“While we can’t talk for the whole industry, we are seeing the start of a massive upheaval,” said Christelle Gental, Synamedia’s vice president of marketing. “The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions with operators eager to add new levels of agility to their platforms to meet business objectives and viewer experience expectations.”
The upshot is that service providers will have to change their “mindsets, skillsets and internal operations over the next year to support nimble, DevOps-based SaaS environments instead of the more traditional long-term, large-scale complex projects with waterfall testing,” Gental argued.
Waterfall testing occurs in sequential software development where the bulk of the code is written first before being tested for bugs and integration of component parts later. This tends to accumulate bugs that are only resolved at greater complexity and therefore cost during or after the later testing phase. Under the DevOps method that Gental referred to, agile testing is employed alongside creation of code in shorter chunks, which means that bugs get resolved more quickly in manageable amounts. This approach is particularly advantageous for ongoing projects where software is constantly revised or enhanced, as in video services. But it does require that change in skillset and operations that Synamedia is promoting at NAB 2022.
This shift in stress away from products to networks or platforms was also flaunted by Grass Valley, the media technology company sold to an equity firm in 2010 by Thomson Multimedia, now the Franco-American Technicolor group. “Naturally, we’re expecting the dynamic of the show to be different from before, and we’re changing the way we engage with our customers accordingly,” said Neil Maycock, Grass Valley CMO. “This year we’ll have less emphasis on products and solutions on our booth and will have a greater focus on networking and thought-leadership activities such as the NAB Show Conference.”
Grass Valley is majoring on end-to-end workflow and the changing dynamics as service providers become more oriented towards software. This lies behind its GV Media Universe on show at its booth, set up to demonstrate how production environments can be modified or built to meet both present and future demands. This demonstration traces video content from contribution via Grass Valley cameras through to asset management, editing, and playout via the GV AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform). The booth will feature pods hosting principal Grass Valley partners Appear, EditShare, Flowics, Haivision, and Telos Alliance, to highlight third-party tools that integrate with AMPP to allow customers to create complete video workflows. AMPP has been designed to allow content or service providers to connect their current systems as far as possible into cloud-based remote production.
Rick Young, Senior VP of Global Products, LTN Global, points to strong interest in ATSC 3.0 roll out at NAB 2022.
Another company focusing on transition to the cloud and software-based workflows at NAB 2022 is Planetcast International, a new subsidiary of Planetcast Media Services, a leading media services player in India and Southeast Asia. Launched early April 2022, Planetcast International is showing a range of its parent’s established products at NAB 2022, including cloud-based playout, media asset management (MAM) and disaster recovery systems, all of which it is now extending beyond SE Asia to the wider global market.
“The playout, media asset management (MAM) and over-the-top (OTT) sectors are going through a period of change,” said Mark Beard, the company’s SVP International. “More traditional service providers based on legacy hardware are coming up against a new breed of service provider with futureproof technology systems and agile commercial models. At the same time, we’re seeing companies across media and entertainment shift to cloud-based workflows to drive scalability and business flexibility. Our market is growing at a tremendous pace – and media organisations need agile solutions to keep up.”
Planetcast International is strongly positioned to support media companies’ transition to the cloud, Beard insisted. “We understand media organisations want to harness the benefits of the cloud, but they want to do this efficiently and cost-effectively – that’s what we aim to address through our solutions portfolio.”
Bitcentral, a California based vendor of playout and MAM technology, is also showing media workflow products at NAB 2022, with an emphasis on ability to serve diverse endpoints and to support the three principal monetization models for streaming, that is Advertising VOD, Subscription VOD and Transactional VOD, the latter being essentially pay per view. “We are looking forward to showcasing our full range of media workflow solutions, particularly our combined FUEL and Powr.tv streaming platform,” said Sam Peterson, COO, Bitcentral. “This will be the first public demo following our acquisition of Powr.tv earlier this year. The platform enables a ‘manage once, distribute many’ approach via a modular and flexible system that distributes content via multiple endpoints, including online, via mobile and Connected TV (CTV). It means operators are able to syndicate to hundreds of FAST (Free Ad Supported TV) channels and aggregators from premium partners.”
The rise of advertising and ability to target more accurately through addressability, will be a key theme of growing importance over the rest of 2022, according to Rick Young, Senior VP of Global Products, at LTN Global, a video technology company based in Maryland, USA, exhibiting at NAB 2022. Young noted that the industry was now seeing the benefits of addressable advertising at its early stages, where ads inserted into programming streams are targeted to individual households segmented into various categories designed to increase the relevance or appeal of given ads. “Addressable advertising is evolving and gaining momentum, and the next 12 months will be crucial,” said Young. A major hurdle to overcome though was the issue of creative separation, which is necessary to avoid direct competitors placing ads in the same programming segment that would just nullify each other, and reduce the value of each slot. This could arise if say a given group of households identified as watching a lot of athletics was shown ads for Nike and Adidas shoes side by side. Evolving techniques to ensure creative separation will be critical for success of addressable advertising, Young argued.
Monetization will be a major theme at NAB 2022, according to Sam Peterson, COO, Bitcentral.
LTN Global is also highlighting a trend important for the North American market, deployment of ATSC 3.0, the third generation of the ATSC standards originally developed for terrestrial TV in the USA, Canada and Mexico, but now also embracing cable and satellite, and supporting targeted advertising to individual devices in principle. ATSC 3.0 has also been adopted in South Korea and Jamaica.
“The industry can expect to see the continued rollout of ATSC 3.0 technology and the new revenue streams it brings,” said Young. “ATSC 3.0 technology provides better quality content that enhances the TV experience, thus creating monetization opportunities. The sooner media companies take advantage of this, the better it will be for the entire media chain.”
LTN Global is showing its customizable video production service, LTN Flex, at NAB 2022. “LTN Flex simplifies complex production, allowing media companies to efficiently scale significant events and take advantage of new revenue streams,” said Young. “We will demonstrate how LTN Flex makes scheduling easy and reduces costs without the need for the whole team to be on-site. Its infrastructure can optimize production spending so operators can deliver more content more frequently without extra investment.”
Another NAB 2022 exhibitor, Sweden’s Net Insight, has noted how media and production companies have been accelerating their move to the cloud and IP, after witnessing the benefits of deploying agile and scalable workflows over the last two years, which happens to be the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. “With consumer demand for compelling and immersive content rising — including secondary and tertiary content — media organizations are gearing up to take advantage of more revenue opportunities,” said Per Lindgren, CTO at Net Insight. ”The right media infrastructure that is open, standards-based, and interoperable enough to enable them to leverage their existing infrastructure investments while future-proofing for tomorrow will be a key competitive differentiator.”
Net Insight will perform live demos of Nimbra Edge, its open-standard cloud media delivery technology designed to usher in the shift to IP and cloud workflows. The firm is also showing its IP Media Trust Boundary system, which addresses IP media security and management issues, as well as its low latency contribution encoding (JPEG XS/J2K/AVC), FPGA-accelerated application virtualization, and network resource reservation/management/control capabilities.
A notable feature of the Net Insight demonstrations at NAB 2022 is that although they will be live in front of a real audience, they will be performed remotely using equipment on the company’s premises. ”This is a significant improvement over bringing a large amount of equipment to the conference,” Lindgren noted.
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