Why Open and Authentic Standards are Critical to the future of the Broadcast and Media Industry
It’s not exactly a secret that the media and entertainment industry is dealing with significant disruption and once-in-a-generation change. Shifting video consumption patterns and the related reordering of longstanding distribution channels are forcing media companies to inject new levels of agility and flexibility into traditional production and playout operations in order to satisfy customers and keep pace with competitors.
Evidence is mounting that to meet these new demands, media companies are beginning to transition more and more of their operations to IP-based infrastructure and virtualized environments. According to the 2016 Focus Forward Technology Trends survey, conducted by Imagine Communications at the end of 2015, more than 40% of the respondents say that at least 25% of formerly SDI-based operations have been adapted to IP environments.
It’s also no secret that IT environments properly conditioned for media operations offer an array of business-transforming benefits, including built-in redundancy, cost efficiencies and the agility to dramatically accelerate the introduction of new services to seize untapped revenue-enablement opportunities and improve competitive standing.
But a successful and streamlined transition of the entire industry to IP will not happen by happenstance. It will require a roadmap, one that is clearly defined and accessible to everyone. The stakes are too high and the journey too treacherous for all parties concerned to blaze their own trails to the IP Promised Land. That’s why the widespread adoption of industry standards for the transport of video and audio over IP is critical to the future of the media and entertainment industry.
The secret of SDI’s long-term success is its plug-and-play nature. Confidence that all products from virtually all vendors will interoperate using SDI has driven this vibrant market place over the past few decades and provided media companies with assurances that their investments will remain viable for potentially decades to come.
Unless the same level of confidence exists in the IP realm, a swift and orderly transition to a more versatile and flexible environment is impossible. Without assurances of widespread interoperability, broadcasters and other media companies may postpone critical investments in next-gen technology, sitting on the sidelines until they know for sure that the new infrastructures and workflows they are constructing today will not need to be demolished if a change in direction — or technology suppliers — is required in the future.
In addition to providing these assurances, industry-wide and open technology standards for the transport of video and audio over IP are beneficial to the future of the media and entertainment industry for multiple reasons:
- Leverage the technical expertise of the entire industry
- Reduce operational expenses by eliminating complex integration exercises
- Foster multivendor interoperability and plug-and-play technology adoption
- Avoid property dead ends that restrict deployment and market flexibility
- Enable media companies to exploit the economic and performance benefits of large and open markets
Authentic industry standards are forged through collaboration among competitive solution suppliers and media companies and are overseen by impartial organizations dedicated to furthering the advancement of the entire industry. They provide an open and interoperable alternative to single-vendor approaches that hinder innovation and block media companies from exploiting the economic and performance benefits of an open and large marketplace.
According to the same survey cited previously, media professionals recognize the importance of open standards to an orderly transition of operations to an IP-based infrastructure. When asked to select three of the top requirements of a hybrid SDI-IP transition environment, a majority of survey takers selected the use of standards-based solutions over proprietary approaches.
Alliance for IP Media Solutions
In Mid-December, Imagine Communications joined forces with several leading broadcast and media companies to launch the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), an industry trade organization dedicated to furthering the development and adoption of open standards and solutions based on those standards. Not a standards-making organization, AIMS was founded to promote and drive awareness of standards being created by SMPTE, VSF, EBU and other organizations working on open and consensus-driven approaches for transporting video and audio over IP.
AIMS’ membership has expanded dramatically over the past few months and the group’s awareness and educational activities are already underway. On March 24, AIMS is co-sponsoring a free webinar, The Standards Approach to the IP Transition, hosted by TV Technology on the critical role open standards will play in the ongoing SDI-to-IP transition. The webinar, which features Imagine Communications CTO and AIMS vice-chairman Steve Reynolds, as well as presenters from AIMS members Cisco, EVS and Harmonic, will provide additional information about the AIMS roadmap for moving the entire industry forward.
Additional AIMS educational and promotional events will take place at the NAB Show 2016 in April. A press conference featuring representatives from both AIMS and several groups working on IP standards is scheduled for Monday, April 18th in the NAB Conference Room. Imagine Communications will be hosting a panel discussion, Open Standards that Drive Industry Innovation - the AIMS Alliance, at its booth (N2502) on Tuesday, April 19, at 10 AM.
By embracing a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats spirit of cooperation, AIMS members are sending a strong signal to the broadcast industry that open standards that further widespread and seamless interoperability are in the best interest of the entire ecosystem.
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