Guest Comment: Embrace change or fall by the wayside

The world of professional video production and delivery is changing at a remarkable rate. Advancements in technology have always meant that consumers have had an increasing number of options of how to watch ‘television’, but OTT is taking this fragmentation to a whole new level, writes Futuresource Consulting’s Adam Cox.

Historically, technology changes in the broadcast industry have been driven by the industry itself. Think about the transitions to digital, to HD – they have of course benefitted the consumer, but the technology has largely been driven by broadcasters and the manufacturers of TV sets. The pervasive nature of mobile technology and the desire to consume video regardless of location means that the consumer is, for the first time, the major driving force behind technology change. It is becoming expected that all companies involved in the distribution of content, including traditional “broadcast” players, field content to multiple screens at a time that fits the consumer. Consumers don’t care if there’s a valid business model or if the required infrastructure will have a positive return on investment; consumers want content at their fingertips 24/7 and, due to the likes of YouTube, preferably for free.

It is in this new world that the industry finds itself and it is having to change fast. Think back to how the industry looked just five years ago: the challenges and industry attitudes were very different. The sheer pace of change is going to leave some companies behind. “Doing more with less” is the new reality facing end-users across the board as budgets are getting squeezed and then spread thinner.

This is both a challenge and opportunity to the companies providing equipment and solutions to the professional video market. Although there is less money in mature markets, there is an imperative for content creators and distributors to buy if solutions result in significant cost savings overall. This in turn is pushing technological innovation faster. Although the roads towards adoption of IP and IT centric products and architectures were always clear it can be argued that the current climate the industry finds itself in is accelerating adoption and development of these technologies.

The speed of change means that those companies that don’t move with the times will be left behind. This is forcing companies onto unfamiliar ground as they are pulled in directions that take them out of their comfort zones. Many companies know they have to make the transitions, but are not ready, particularly in terms of personnel. This is linked to a very natural human resistance to change that this very traditional industry is facing, but this has to be overcome.

Vendors can help through providing education, but in the end it comes down to the personnel themselves. Although purchasing processes have changed significantly over the past 15 years, the most important person in broadcasters with regard to these issues is arguably still the head of technology, whatever their actual job title may be. The operational and financial elements of these businesses are often fighting for the changes to be made, but if they’re faced with a staunch traditionalist chief engineer, change, though inevitable, will be slowed.

The inevitability and the loss of control is daunting to some, but it is the companies who get ahead of the curve, that find new ways of monetising the situation they find themselves in, while embracing new technology, that will reap the rewards over the coming few years.

For more information on this issue, please download Futuresource’s white paper on original research here>>.

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