By: Tim Jackson, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Globecast Americas
The combination of NAB Show NY and SVG’s Transport 2023 conference, held in October in New York City, are very important for us and this year was no different.
NAB Show New-York is an interesting show. It’s very specialized and for us it’s really more about meeting partners/suppliers than it is about gaining prospects and discussing new business opportunities. Having said that, NAB Show NY is very good for networking, and we did meet with some of our key customers and industry colleagues.
The SVG Transport event is always a great opportunity for us to get together with industry leaders. It’s becoming increasingly relevant for us as we look towards the opening of our new Westlake Village facility and our increased capabilities, specifically our massively enhanced live sports integration options. The build is progressing well and is in full motion.
As this event concentrates on transport, specifically the transport of sport, it plays absolutely to our main focus: how do you get content from origination through to distribution at the required quality and which technologies are best employed to do that? We see this is where we will continue to get the most attention going forward, including more remote production work, more integration of studio content and ads/promos into live sports.
If you look at the work we’re doing with some major internet players, that’s really focusing on the transport and monitoring of feeds, again to guarantee content is where it should be, when it should be at the right price and quality. I took part in a very good panel session at the event, which you can watch here.
The major theme of the conference was how transport is becoming a services-based environment and less focused on individual technologies. If we go back a few years, it was we’re in the satellite business or, hey, we’re a fiber provider or…The way we approach this now is those are simply tools we use to meet the needs of a broadcaster, depending on the requirements of each customer and each specific application. I don’t think there’s a company better suited to address this than us, especially with our new facility coming online next year.
Of course, use of the cloud is another fundamental question surrounding sport and was a subject at the conference. It was very much the focus of the panel I was on. We’ve been working in the cloud for five years now and we’re experts in that. Though, when it comes to sports and the cloud, it’s still very nascent in terms of conversations and deployments.
Let’s take a sports channel: relatively little is actually live and that’s the matches themselves and commentaries around that. The cloud isn’t quite there yet when it comes to the live playout of a complex sports event so traditional workflows are being deployed. But all of the content around that is absolutely in the cloud.
Sport will be a major user of the cloud, but for now we have to leverage the appropriate technology for each use case and there are timing considerations when it comes to cloud use.
Then there’s the rise of SRT as a public internet transport protocol, which is becoming very widely adopted for primary content contribution and distribution. While relatively simple to use, it still requires a management layer and broadcasters can’t simply just utilize it. There’s configuration, monitoring and management components that have to be handled for successful use, a point that came out at the event. It requires expertise.
One of the things we talked about with some of the major sports broadcasters is none of us can see a time when you’re not going to use satellite OB trucks and fiber at something like the Super Bowl or the World Series. Adding those together is still the most robust. While IP bonding is undoubtedly an important technology, we still don’t see it being the main solution deployed; additional feeds may be internet-delivered but not the main content.
Looking more widely, it’s fair to say that market pressures on the B2C side also came up in several conversations at both events. Taking the FAST TV market as a case in point, virtually everybody, both on the broadcaster/OTT provider and technology supplier side, believes that part of the market is likely to face significant revision. And it’s not alone.
With the shift in consumer sports consumption, specifically in the US, we’re seeing opportunities for our services in the Regional Sports Network (RSN) market, which, as I think we all know, has gone through a rough year. As Marketplace posted earlier in 2023, “As consumers cut cable services in favor of streaming platforms, regional sports networks are at risk of going under. In the first quarter of 2023, an estimated 2.3 million Americans ditched traditional cable packages.” While that may not sound like great news for RSNs, we see the situation from a different perspective. As RSNs cut ties with cable operators, they are still going to want to reach their fans directly so that creates these new opportunities. We are very well positioned to capitalize on this.
If we look more widely, and this is a been a question we’ve been asking for several years now: why should programmers and broadcasters own and operate their own technical infrastructure when they should simply be in the content business? As price pressures mount, and returns to investors increase in importance, they are under pressure, both small scale operations and very well-known brands. There may well be a need for them to turn to us on the technical services side. That is fantastic for us. We are very scalable and broadcasters, especially on the sports side, have to look at their cost base and what’s actually generating revenue. Consumers don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend, especially now, and companies can’t simply keep charging more for every little thing.
Our customer base is expanding to include some of the biggest brands in the world and we’re excited to be leveraging our expertise to help them in the live video space, especially sports. We are focused on providing a really high level of service across the full suite of technologies available to satisfy the ever-growing needs of our customers.