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Television’s inevitable technology transition to IP

 

The signs are everywhere — television is moving to IP. On the distribution side, the rapid increase in OTT services as well as advances in fiber deployments have helped expand and diversify the options consumers have in how they access their favorite programs as well as news and sports. Behind the scenes, broadcasters and related media enterprises are looking at new developments in cloud-based and virtualization technologies and realizing the benefits of software-defined networking and SaaS (software as a service) offerings. Many of these terms were practically unknown to the broadcast market as recently as five years ago; a testament to the accelerating pace of change.

 

Why move to an IP-based environment? The reasons are obvious: IP offers unprecedented scalability and flexibility in launching new channels and efficiently operating existing ones. While the cost savings may not be initially evident, the payout in terms of quicker reaction time to market changes and expanded services for consumers pays off in the end. The cloud is also increasingly important to broadcasters, in terms of archiving original content, managing existing content and helping broadcasters fulfill consumers’ mandate of providing any content to any device at any time.

 

 

But perhaps the most compelling reasons come from Cisco, whose annual Visual Networking Index predicts that globally, consumer internet video traffic will be 80% of all consumer Internet traffic in 2019, up from 64% in 2014. Here a few more statistics from that report to ponder:

 

Internet video to TV will continue to grow at a rapid pace, increasing fourfold by 2019. Internet video to TV traffic will be 17% of consumer Internet video traffic by 2019, up from 16 percent in 2014. Consumer VoD traffic will double by 2019 with HD  comprising 70% of IP VOD traffic in 2019, up from 59% in 2014. By 2019, 72 percent of all Internet video traffic will cross content delivery networks, up from 57% in 2014.

 

Moving to IP is not as easy as it sounds. In the television industry, the vast majority of video still exists in a baseband /SDI format and transitioning to an all IP ecosystem will take time. We are an industry built on standards and new products based on the SMPTE-2022-6 standard — which defines a unidirectional IP-based protocol for the transport of real-time video, audio, and ancillary signals — will help broadcasters maintain quality and reliability in the transition.