State of broadcast content delivery: Finding the right tool for the right job

By Emory Strilkauskas, Telstra

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Worldwide demand for content is at an all-time high but getting that content around the world is growing increasingly challenging. Traditionally, broadcasts of major sports or entertainment events have been delivered through dedicated connectivity or satellite between event sites and broadcast facilities. It’s a proven workflow, but not always cost effective, flexible, or scalable enough for current demands. The use of public and private internet and cloud services for the contribution, management and distribution of content has provided new tools for broadcasters, and Telstra has been at the forefront of providing these new services for live events.

We’re seeing more diverse requirements from broadcasters as they develop more channels, platforms, and outlets for their content. As always, budget and audience are prime considerations, but now more than ever it comes down to the right tool for the right job.

It’s also the right time to have this conversation.

Broadcasting is no longer just about meeting the demand for content. Viewers have heightened expectations for personalized and customized “experiences.” The traditional TV audience is now a mix of aging demographics and younger viewers accustomed to watching content on a mobile device or laptop as well as a TV set, creating a surge in multi-platform content consumption. Coupled with the continued rise in “cord-cutting,” a new TV content landscape is continually emerging.

At the same time, remote production, online content creation and virtual collaboration are also maturing. All these emerging market dynamics have led to broadcasters and content producers searching for new options for producing, delivering, and distributing worldwide to new markets and audiences, including underserved areas. Having a diverse complement of delivery options — fiber, satellite, internet, or a hybrid combination of each — enables this wider reach as well as the flexibility needed for a tailored approach that can be adjusted based on national or regional broadcaster requirements.

Determining the right solution for the delivery and distribution of content can depend on geographical requirements, where the event is and how easy it is to get fiber to a location, or access to a stable and reliable internet connection. Questions to ask include, what’s the budget, who’s the audience, and where are they located — in rural or urban areas?

A perfect example of a proven technology meeting an emerging market need is the public internet. Driven by the potential for significantly reduced costs and the rise in cloud-based production workflow platforms, the internet has emerged as a reliable and cost-effective option — either for last-mile delivery to remote areas or as an end-to-end method for broadcast events that don’t always justify the logistics and costs of traditional on-site production with an OB van and dedicated connectivity.  

The cloud has evolved and matured, with its increasing acceptance overcoming long-held concerns about data security. Cloud infrastructure costs have also lowered dramatically, making cloud-based business models more practical and attractive.

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The cloud can offer a centralized platform for the end-to-end content lifecycle, addressing everything from capture and access to file storage to asset management.

But it’s about more than moving files around to different places faster and in high quality. It’s also about the incremental ability of content owners to give new life to their libraries and also generate additional revenue streams by monetizing their content. And, of course, it’s ultimately about engaging audiences on a deeper level, and possibly retaining their loyalty for the long term through immersive viewing experiences.

When the capabilities of a cloud-based platform combine with the practical benefits of IP transport and streaming for broadcast-quality video production and delivery, the opportunities multiply.

Both for large high-profile events, and for smaller events and niche sports, using the internet to deliver content is an easy, reliable and cost-effective method to gain wider brand visibility and reach a larger audience at a lower cost.

The internet will become more commonly used for purely economic reasons. Ultimately this ubiquitous and unmanaged network is now wedged deeply in most broadcasters, service providers and is regularly used. Typically, with a traditional fiber-based media circuit, the first and last mile can be as high as 40% of total transmission costs. That’s where the benefits of using the internet really come into play. The internet circuits can be used for multiple applications and power multiple production and creative workflows.

By using an internet protocol and a product that works over the internet, broadcasters have the flexibility to use that connectivity for other purposes throughout the day, week, or year.

To meet the emerging needs of broadcasters and their audiences, Telstra has developed two cloud-based solutions: the Telstra Internet Delivery Network (IDN) and the Telstra Media Production Platform (MPP). Both solutions work seamlessly together and are designed to function as perfect complements to today’s changing broadcast landscape.

Telstra MPP is a cloud-based platform designed to bring all the functionality and quality of on-premise broadcast workflows into a fully virtual environment. This gives users complete remote control through any web browser and the public internet. The platform supports live production, playout automation, asset management, signal processing and master switching, and allows technical teams to select — and pay for — these capabilities on an as-needed basis.

The Telstra IDN is a software-defined, cloud-based, platform enabling the transport of high-quality video content and live broadcast streams to any registered endpoint across shared networks like the public internet, avoiding the expense of delivering content using dedicated connectivity between event sites and traditional broadcast facilities.

These platforms have been extensively used across major global live events, most recently the IDN handling contribution, distribution, remote production, and multiple international feed delivery for FIFA EuroBasket 2022 and FIBA Women’s World Cup Basketball championships, and the MPP enabling cloud-based production and playout capability for an Australian streaming service’s premium, live and on-demand add-on sports package.

The Telstra solutions will continually be updated and expanded, adding new capabilities to meet the industry’s constantly changing production requirements.

Again, the right tools for the right jobs.

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