Identifying the dominant theme of a major industry event, especially one as large and eclectic as the NAB Show, is often a challenging task. With the media and entertainment industry in a heightened state of transition on both the technology and business model fronts, distilling its flagship exhibition and conference into a single topic of widespread and intense interest would normally require a lengthy and thorough post-mortem.
Not this year.
From the time the doors of the Las Vegas Convention Center were first flung open, it was clear that utmost on the minds of broadcasters, content providers and distributors was gaining assurances that the conditions are now right for them to ease off of the brakes and begin to accelerate the construction of their next-generation architectures. How to transition their operations to more agile and versatile environments based on industry standards and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) networking and computing equipment was, by far, the chief objective of the majority of media companies we met with at NAB.
That is not to suggest that other timely topics, including ATSC 3.0, upcoming incentive auctions, ongoing technology transitions and the maturation of virtual reality, were not important issues for the plus 100,000 attendees and nearly 19,000 companies exhibiting at NAB Show 2016. But all other topics paled in importance to the desire of media companies to leave Las Vegas last week with assurances that all of the pieces were now in place to start building out the infrastructures that will keep their businesses ahead of the competitive curve for years to come.
When we selected charting the course to the next phase of transformation as the theme for our NAB Show 2016 activities, we had no idea how prophetic that topic would be. Now that the destination is no longer a mystery, media companies of all sizes and from all corners of the industry can start plotting a course for the next phase of their journeys and the enrichment of their operations with unprecedented productivity and agility. This year’s NAB experience was all about showing our customers how they can begin to modernize their operations and seize tomorrow’s opportunities by putting to work solutions that are available today.
Below is a summary of the market milestones and technology requirements that media companies are seeking before fully committing to next-gen architecture and how Imagine Communications’ efforts at the recently concluded NAB exhibition and conference are helping to push those objectives forward:
Assimilation of IT into the Broadcast Realm
Findings from the Imagine Communications 2016 Focus Forward Technology Trends survey revealed that media companies believe that cultural issues, such as the need to acquire new skills, pose nearly the same barrier to the successful adoption of next-gen operations as technology issues. Media professionals are increasingly concerned that the fusion of the media and IT realms will bring disruption to their businesses, in terms of quality and reliability, and the way they do their jobs.
Imagine is focused on helping media companies overcome both cultural and technology challenges by promoting a graceful assimilation of IT technologies into the broadcast realm. Recognizing the need to condition datacenter environments to deliver broadcast-quality video with the same quality and precision our industry demands, we have been delivering products for the past couple of years that seamlessly meld the media and IT realms, providing our customers with the ability to transition their operations to next-gen environments at their own pace and down their own paths.
Three of the products we introduced at NAB, the EPIC™ Multiviewer (EPIC MV), an IP-based, UHD-compatible monitoring system; Selenio™ One, a next-generation compression platform; and Selenio Video Delivery Edge (VDE), are designed to non-disruptively bridge legacy and next-gen environments.
Continuous Integration of New Technologies and Capabilities
Call it future-proofing or investment protection. But media companies now require solutions that make it possible to forget about the forklift. Given the current pace of the evolution of broadcast and distribution technologies, it is critical that media companies only invest in platforms and solutions that will easily incorporate future updates and technology advances without requiring wholesale replacement of recent investments. Media companies can no longer afford the time or expense of making major infrastructure investments every few years.
Media companies can no longer afford the time or expense of making major infrastructure investments every few years.
Imagine is enabling media companies to evolve their infrastructures rather than replace them in two primary ways. We are steadily moving our functionality from purpose-built hardware to software, virtualizing our technology so that it is portable and can execute in a variety of deployment models, including on-premises appliances, private or public clouds or in a hybrid model, as well as making it easily extensible.
Broad Support for Technology and Deployment Options
As critical as it is for media companies to start charting a course to the future, it is equally important that they have the flexibility to pursue the path best suited to their business objectives. Media companies are seeking technology partners that can assist them in gracefully and economically moving their businesses forward at the proper pace and down the proper path. That means providing options every step of the way.
Imagine is taking the stress out of next-gen adoption by supporting a broad spectrum of technology choices and deployment scenarios. Our all-encompassing approach to UHD and other video quality enhancements, for example, takes the complexity and costs out of moving up to higher video quality by supporting all deployment scenarios and technology roadmaps, as well as every stage of the production process – acquisition through distribution. By supporting UHD workflows in SDI, IP and hybrid settings, we are reducing the complexity and cost of supporting next-generation video quality in any media operation and paving the way for our customers to accelerate the adoption of UHD capabilities.
Media companies also crave a choice of deployment options. With the recent addition of our linear encoding, playout and ad insertion solutions to the Microsoft Azure marketplace, we are providing our customers with a public cloud option for the deployment of these solutions, complementing existing on-premises, private datacenter and hybrid deployment options.
Interoperability and Industry Cooperation
This year’s NAB was instrumental in confirming that interoperability and openness is vital to the future of the industry. There is rising recognition that a fragmented technology landscape benefits no one. Media companies require peace of mind that the solutions they embrace today will be viable and widely interoperable in the future. Media companies in all regions need to know they will have access to an open and massive marketplace that places no restrictions on their buying powers or ability to innovate.
A major NAB objective of ours was to reduce the anxiety associated with making strategic investments today — or in the future. The Imagine booth served as a showcase and forum for industry-wide interoperability and cooperation. The ImagineLIVE! Power Sessions, knowledge-sharing seminars open to all attendees, were a source of intensive discourse on forward-looking technologies and business models, attracting participants from across the media and IT industries, including Arista, CBS, Cisco, EVS, Grass Valley, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), IBM, Lawo, Microsoft, NEP Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Globo.
We also demonstrated our commitment to interoperability and the graceful fusion of the media and IT industries at NAB Show 2016 through our affiliation with the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), a trade association dedicated to the promotion of standards for moving video and audio over IP, and the close ties we have forged with leaders in the IT community. In just four months since its founding, AIMS has attracted dozens of members and, as was confirmed at NAB, is making significant headway in providing media companies with assurances that IP-based solutions are on the path toward offering the same plug-and-play attributes as today’s SDI systems.
Even before this year’s exhibition came to a close, momentum was building that the 2016 NAB Show would mark a milestone in the evolution of the media and entertainment industry. Picking up where we left off last year, when we unveiled a groundbreaking collaboration with Disney/ABC Television Group to move its playout and master control operations to virtualized facilities, Imagine Communication was once again in the vanguard of providing media companies with assurances and evidence that there is no better time than now to start building toward the future.