NAB Show Preview: Broadcast workflows evolving to meet the moment, add efficiency

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As the media industry converges on Las Vegas for the annual NAB Show, a central theme is emerging among vendors and attendees alike: the need for increased efficiency and optimization across broadcast workflows.

With the proliferation of platforms, formats and distribution channels, media organizations face unprecedented challenges in managing content creation, delivery and monetization.

“As media proliferates across a growing number of platforms, we’re seeing the industry face unprecedented broadcast and video production challenges that are pushing traditional media processing to its limits,” said Simon Clarke, CTO of Telestream. “As an industry, we must streamline all these processes to accommodate accelerated production and distribution demands from today’s audiences in a multi-platform, multi-distribution environment.”

“Companies aren’t just looking for an upgrade. They want to set new benchmarks for operational efficiency and workflow reliability. The focus will be on ease of use, automation and more intuitive interfaces that provide multiple publishing formats from one common content pool, immediately cutting costs. Eliminating technical debt and siloed workflows will ensure high reliability and agility in service delivery,” said Graham Sharp, CEO, BCNEXXT.

“We can’t NOT think about the economy going into an event like NAB. Even as companies expand their reach to new global markets and leverage global talent, we still see them being asked to do more with less. Over the last decade, we’ve seen how adding efficiency to the workflow helps creative teams deliver outsized performance. Going into NAB, we’re focused on tools that orchestrate data movement for optimal storage, access, security, and cost,” said Barry Evans, CTO, data solutions, pixitmedia by Kalray.

The transition to IP and the cloud

One key trend driving the push for efficiency is the ongoing transition from SDI to IP-based workflows and the adoption of the ST 2110 standard. This shift, coupled with the move towards cloud-based production, is enabling media companies to collaborate more effectively, scale operations more easily and reduce costs associated with traditional infrastructure.

“The first key trend to look out for, which is already redefining the content creation infrastructure, is the transition from SDI to IP and the speed at which companies are embracing the ST 2110 standard,” said Clarke. “We’re also seeing streaming platforms fueling an unprecedented content creation boom, supplemented by audiences’ voracious appetites for diverse, high-quality streaming content.”

As live production moves to the cloud, Nadia Khan, CMO of LTN, sees significant opportunities for innovation and expansion.

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“Much has changed since the last show, especially as more organizations move towards IP video distribution,” said Khan. “We are looking forward to sharing insight into how LTN’s IP-centric technology helps global media brands meet their business objectives, maximize reach and drive value for long-term business success.”

Unlocking the value of content

In addition to the shift towards IP and cloud-based workflows, media organizations are also focusing on maximizing the value of their content through more efficient storage, management and distribution strategies. Cloud archiving, in particular, is emerging as a key driver of business efficiency and revenue growth.

“Cloud archiving plays a huge role in driving business operation efficiencies and unlocking new avenues for revenue growth, making it one of the most exciting, versatile and budget-friendly investments,” said Sam Peterson, COO of BitCentral.

Content security is also a growing concern as organizations grapple with the challenges of protecting valuable assets in an increasingly data-heavy world.

“Organizations are looking at ways to make more conscious decisions that mitigate content security risks in a data-heavy world,” Peterson added. “Bitcentral will be at the forefront of these conversations, educating attendees on the ever-changing nature of vulnerabilities, evolving security measures and adopting best practices.”

The role of AI in optimizing workflows

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another key technology transforming broadcast workflows. It enables media companies to automate tasks, enhance content discovery and create new revenue opportunities. As AI-powered solutions become more sophisticated and accessible, they are increasingly being integrated into various aspects of the content creation and distribution process.

“Artificial intelligence provides a set of tools that can not be overlooked when building out media workflows,” said Peterson. “The capability to discover, enhance and create new media products is astonishing and we are just beginning to understand what is possible.”

Robin Kirchhoffer, CMO of Dalet, sees AI as a critical component of the emerging dialogue between humans and machines in the media industry.

“A fluid dialogue between humans and machines is emerging, one that simplifies complex tasks, enhances productivity and ensures content integrity,” Kirchhoffer said. “To achieve that goal, AI-augmented applications, cloud-native software and advanced metadata management are indispensable.”

Streamlining operations for cost efficiency

As consumer spending habits tighten and competition intensifies, media companies are under increasing pressure to optimize their total cost of ownership (TCO) and streamline operations to remain competitive. This requires a comprehensive review of all aspects of the content lifecycle, from acquisition and production to distribution and customer support.

“In a video industry that is characterized by fierce competition and tightened consumer spending habits, it’s imperative for service providers to streamline and optimize their operations,” said Mrugesh Desai, VP North America at Accedo. “By scrutinizing every facet of operations, from content acquisition and production to distribution and customer support, we believe that these companies can identify redundancies, inefficiencies and bottlenecks to not just enhance productivity and agility but also drive down costs associated with labor, infrastructure and technology maintenance.”

“Broadcasters and content owners are missing the opportunity to become more efficient through simplifying their operations. The playout process currently focuses on bringing components together in real-time at playout; each delivery format has its own ‘silo’ creating multiple supply chain endpoints. Merging Linear, Streaming, and VoD silos under a single point of technical management and optimizing the supply chain through a single componentized endpoint would avoid costly duplication and simplify operations,” said Sharp. “The traditional model of launching a new media service is capital- and time-intensive. In contrast, Modern cloud-based solutions can be spun up in minutes with no up-front costs and a pay-as-you-go model that aligns cost with utilization.”

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Observability and data-led optimization are key to achieving these goals, enabling video service providers to quickly identify and address issues related to performance, quality and user experience.

“Insights and observability tools are key to achieving optimized operations as they enable video service providers to quickly identify and respond to issues in performance,” Desai added. “All in all, we believe that observability and data-led optimization will be a key driving force for video service success going forward.”

“In terms of efficiency, many TV stations have migrated their studios to robotic camera control, making the technical operations highly efficient to counter the limited resources they have available. Only one person is needed to operate and entire multi-camera production, resulting in a highly streamlined workflow that can be changed at a moment’s notice (for late-breaking news stories). In addition, these systems provide precise control over pan, tilt, zoom, and focus, resulting in high-quality and visually appealing broadcasts,” said Michael Cuomo of Telemetrics, Inc.

Collaboration in the cloud

“In the last decade, the creative workflow has experienced transformational changes. NAB provides the platform and opportunity for participants to dig into topics many struggle adapting to. One of the key focal points for NAB 2024 is the ongoing evolution of remote productions and collaboration tools. Interoperability, modularity, scalability, and competitive pricing models will be at the forefront of the showroom floor as it has been clearly identified as the path forward,” said André Rievers, VP of creative services at OpenDrives.

Flexible workflows that transcend any one vendor are a path forward to allow greater interoperability.

“Discussions on flexible workflows that enable seamless collaboration, real-time communication, and efficient project management will be aligned to groundbreaking innovations such as AI-powered solutions currently revolutionizing various aspects of content creation, curation, and distribution… In the ‘Wild West’ of content creation, it is important to understand that there is ‘no one size fits all,’ and as such, NAB attendees can expect to be inspired, educated, and empowered by the latest trends, technologies, and insights shaping the future of our industry,” said Rievers.

The evolution of content delivery

The surge in streaming, particularly for live events, is also driving a shift in content delivery models, with telecommunications companies and OTT platforms increasingly collaborating to share infrastructure and data. This evolution aims to create more scalable and resilient streaming infrastructures capable of supporting massive concurrent streams while optimizing network resources.

“The trend towards telco-driven delivery models, such as the MAUD initiative by British Telecom, represents an innovative approach to content distribution,” said Xavier Leclercq, VP of business development at Broadpeak. “This model leverages telco networks to manage and distribute OTT content more efficiently, potentially alleviating the strain on CDNs by incorporating network providers directly into the streaming ecosystem.”

Such collaborations could enhance content delivery and ad targeting, increasing the value and profitability of streaming services while also promoting more sustainable business models.

“The prospect of witnessing real-world applications of these collaborations, which aim to streamline operations and foster more sustainable business models, is a significant draw,” Leclercq added. “These initiatives promise to enhance operational efficiency while at the same time drive forward the industry’s economic and environmental sustainability.”

As the media industry continues to evolve and adapt to new challenges and opportunities, the focus on efficiency, optimization and innovation will only intensify.

From the transition to IP and cloud-based workflows to the integration of AI and the evolution of content delivery models, the industry is poised for significant transformation in the years ahead. As Jane Sung, COO of Cinedeck, notes, “Innovations in this space are going to be particularly exciting at NAB this year.”

With a greater emphasis on remote and hybrid work models, real-time collaboration and sustainable production practices, the media industry is well-positioned to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future. 

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