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The Future of the OB Truck

The Future of the OB Truck

Are OB trucks too expensive to survive in a world that is moving toward digital news delivery and mobile, small-screen news consumption? As Broadcasters shift to 4K UHD live broadcasting and adopt IP for experimenting with more immersive consumer-facing formats, does this pronounce the death of the OB trucks?

With the live production scenario evolving every day, many believe IP production and broadcast will phase out OB trucks in the future. Adam Cox[1] lists the cost of cabling, equipment, and production, scalability, and emergence of the 4K camera as some reasons why IP will overpower OB trucks.

But are these challenges so empowering? Let’s explore.

Outside broadcasting is broadcasting live from the event using make-shift studio equipment like a camera linked to a van to transmit the signals back to the network center. Typically, broadcasters station huge OB trucks spanning more than 10 meters on-site, having production, engineering, and sound units to cover events live from the place of occurrence.

However, with broadcasters experimenting on formats and tools, as reporting live on social media like Facebook and Instagram gains popularity, will OB trucks cease to exist? While we look for the answer, let us explore the challenges that the OB trucks face in present times and the alternatives:

The changing face of content consumption

As social media, IPTV, and OTT have evolved as a primary means of content consumption, the definition of experience has changed. Now better experience does not mean a bigger TV on the wall, but a connected device which enables users to watch their preferred content across devices as per their convenience.

This new connected world has blurred the need of having a separate facility and technology for a new form of content – be it a studio, OB truck, or a broadcast center. As a mobile camera replaces high-end cameras and live TV replaces broadcast, the technology, and facilities that primarily defined the boundaries of SDI are blurred.

Result? On-the-go/live content creation is no longer solely dependent on having OB trucks on site.

Remote production

The way broadcasters consume content has changed drastically. Multiple onsite cameras capture events and feed into the central hub of assets, from which the stakeholders can pick and choose content to suit their requirement. Content is a shared asset, and no longer has a definite start and end.

While OB trucks remain at the front line of covering live events, connectivity-focused tools promote collaboration between broadcasters. Hence, although remote productions become more popular, mobile units (or OB trucks) will be broadcaster-specific than event-specific.

New content formats

With the popularity of IP TV, content providers are now focusing on providing an immersive experience. As VR content and 360-degree videos gain popularity, OB trucks need to evolve to facilitate the production of these formats.

Moreover, with contents being consumed across platforms, OB trucks (or any production units) need to cater to the demand of content in varied formats. As production units use artificial intelligence for post-production, OB trucks need to rise from being a mere technical production facility to producing OTT and IPTV-native content.

Will mobile journalism sunset OB trucks?

Legacy broadcasters like BBC and CNN are experimenting with online video news to reach younger audiences in this changing environment. Digital players like NowThis and BuzzFeed are focusing on building an audience for platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Recently, NDTV 24X7 shot their stories on a Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone.

Newscasters have started reporting live from the venue using applications like Skype, Hangout, Google’s Duo, etc. Mobile phone cameras are replacing DSLRs to capture superior quality images and videos to be telecasted directly.

The future

While many might argue that mobile journalism essentially does the job of OB tasks – report live from ground zero, OB trucks has much more to offer than what mobile will ever do. With its advanced facilities allowing for editing on-the-go, switch between multiple cameras, and advanced graphics among others, OB trucks have the potential to deliver high-quality broadcast live.

OB trucks are here to stay. However, to be future-ready, broadcasters need to ramp up the technology to support 4K and 8K broadcast across multiple platforms. With the Internet of Things, OB trucks need to be more integrated and advanced to deliver a world-class experience to the viewers, irrespective of the platform they choose to watch.

[1] http://hometownnetworks.tv/future-of-outside-broadcasting-ob-vans/

Six Ways Broadcasters & Media Organizations are Leveraging Big Data Analytics

Six Ways Broadcasters & Media Organizations are Leveraging Big Data Analytics

Have you ever wondered what led Netflix to invest around $50 million for each season of the ‘House of Cards?’ Or how Chennai Express broke the Box Office collection record in 2013? The answer to all these is advanced data analytics.

The media industry is increasingly leveraging analytics to predict audience sentiment, woo the new audience, and retain the existing audience. Be it OTT media service providers like Netflix or Amazon prime, or the film and music industry; marketers are using advanced analytics and machine learning to generate a pull for their content.

As technology, social media, and analytics become available to the media industry to leverage the power on the Internet; we look at six ways in which media and entertainment industry is using the power of analytics:

Generating targeted content

Data-driven decisions are the future of media and entertainment industry. With the huge amount of data available for analysis to draw inferences, predict customer preference, and decide on what will work – the industry is no more dependent on intuition to make a series or a film work. For example, Netflix claimed that while they invested on the series House of Cards, they already knew it would be a hit – thanks to the viewership data that helped them analysis viewers’ habits over many millions of show views.

Optimizing scheduling of content

Big data gives the power to media houses to collect data from diverse sources and understand customer preference – be it the type of content, the time, or the device used. Using advanced analytics, they can then optimize the scheduling of content. For example, on a local holiday, broadcasters can stream popular movies, or more home-oriented content during afternoons.

Optimized scheduling is not only limited to general analysis, but a more detailed prediction based on browsing history, weather conditions, or time of the day.

Relevant recommendations

Considering the massive amount of data that the media and entertainment companies generate daily, analyzing it to gain insights into the popular genres or preferred time is not an easy task. However, if appropriately interpreted with a good recommendation engine, the data can increase user engagement manifold by providing an effective recommendation.

Media and entertainment companies are increasingly using machine learning and advanced analytics tools to analyze viewership data in real-time and provide relevant recommendations to the audience.

Targeted advertising

Thanks to big data, analysts have a better understanding of the consumption behavior across multiple platforms. With advanced segmentation and complete customer views, companies can micro segment customer to personalize ads. Targeted ads will ensure that the right people view the right ads, increasing the click-through rate, thereby increasing conversion rates and ROI.

Retaining and wooing viewers

Data gives insight into why viewers subscribe or unsubscribe to a channel. Media and entertainment companies can use the viewership data to device the best product and promotional strategies to attract new viewership and prevent churn of existing viewers.

Finding newer sources of revenue

Considering the ever-changing equation of customer preference and new technology, it is essential for media and entertainment companies to explore new sources of income continually. Advanced analytics can help companies do that – identify additional sources of revenue apart from advertising or partnerships. For example, companies can create a proprietary platform using their exclusive data and earn revenue from advanced advertising.

While the media and broadcast industry has always primarily relied on data in the form of ratings, viewership, TRPs, etc. to measure success, advanced analytics has taken it a step further. By analyzing real-time data from multiple sources, predictive analytics is now not only helping them measure success but also strategize future.

Real News in the Times of Virtual Reality

Real News in the Times of Virtual Reality

Broadcasters around the world are exploring augmented reality ranging from stand-alone storytelling experiences to immersive broadcasts, and behind the scene, tours to enhance the viewing experience.

HoloLens[1] defines augmented reality as an offshoot of virtual reality that allows computer-generated graphics to be inserted into a real environment. With Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift and Google investing over $500 million in Magic Leap in 2014, the interest in virtual reality has fueled further.

Broadcasters are using products like Vizrt, Chyron, Brainstorm Virtual Set, WASP3D, Pixelpower, and Orad to make news and storytelling more interesting. For example, Al Arabiya used floating virtual 3D models of the Capitol and White House over an outdoor space to cover U.S. 2016 elections. The Washington Post covered the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore in 2016 by creating an augmented reality story.

Pic Credit: BT Sports
Pic Credit: BT Sports

In a series of firsts, BT Sport made UEFA Champions League finals available in 360° virtual reality on TV and online, 4K UHD on YouTube, and 4K UHD with Dolby Atmos. In 2017, the New York Times produced “Life on Mars” – a 360 video series chronicling the lives of NASA astronauts living on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, which had a Mars-like condition.

NBC made VR replays, highlight packages, and 50 hours of live 360-degree video coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics available on a wide variety of devices via the NBC Sports VR app.

Pic Credit: BBC.CO.UK
Pic Credit: BBC.CO.UK

BBC experimented with traditional CGI-based VR, 360-video, and AR. Both ‘Easter Rising’ and ‘We Wait’ are fully interactive VR experiences, which makes the viewer participate in the action. BBC also has an app with a range of productions for 360-degree video.

UK-based Sky partnered with Jaunt – a white-label VR distribution platform to launch a smartphone VR app to offer 360-degree videos covering material from film, sport, and the arts. Sky also used AR for their marketing campaigns, where passers-by at London’s Waterloo Station could take photos with virtual characters like Spiderman and SpongeBob Squarepants.

All the examples above highlight the fact that VR is gradually becoming an integrated part of many newsrooms. With technological advancements and cheaper options like cardboard headsets, 360-videos is becoming more accessible to viewers.

However compelling it might be, media brands are still holding off from making substantial investments in VR because of the following reasons:

  • Producers are still figuring out ‘what works for VR.’ Though news VR has expanded beyond documentary, there is still not enough content to drive the audience.
  • News VR is still not immersive. Viewable on mobile or a browser, consumers do not get the immersive experience that comes with a high-end headset.
  • Though some broadcasters are partnering with organizations like Samsung and Google for VR operations, monetization is still a challenge. News broadcasters are yet to figure out a way to earn revenue out of the technology.

The news industry needs to work together to deliver on the promise of VR. Though what lies ahead is still not clear, the future of VR in news broadcast looks promising.

[1] https://www.ibc.org/consumption/virtual-reality-and-augmented-reality-in-broadcasting-/2807.article

Trends reshaping the future of news stations

Trends reshaping the future of news stations

2017 witnessed Israel’s Channel 1[1] nightly news ending its 49-year old journey abruptly. Closer home, NDTV took its English business news channel NDTV Profit[2] off the air in June. Regional (Kannada) news channel Udaya News[3] also shut down operations in 2017 due to losses.

In countries like the UK and the US, television viewership has declined on an average by 3 to 4% annually since 2012. When compared with the decline in newspaper circulation, there is a steep decline of 25 – 30% since the 2000s in the traditional consumption of news.

Though traditional television formats like 24-hour news channel and evening bulletins still cater to a large audience, with news being easily accessible in the age of digital media, television news providers are facing aging and eroding audience on traditional platforms.

Legacy broadcasters like PSB, BBC, CNN, RTL, ARD/ZDF, TF1, France Télévisions, ITV, etc. are experimenting with online video news to reach younger audiences in this changing environment. Print media, both in India and abroad, like the Daily Telegraph, Vice, Economic Times, Times of India, and New York Times, have started incorporating video as part of their digital strategy. The industry also has some pure digital players like NowThis, WatchUp, Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed is focused on building an audience for distributed viewing via platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

While these are still on experimental stage, we list four key trends below that will reshape the face of news channels:

Mobile Journalism

Thanks to social media, even an ordinary man is a broadcaster today. The newsroom has evolved from being linear to circular. People know what is happening in the blink of an eye. With social media channels becoming a valuable tool to reach out to the potential viewers, news broadcasters are in a rat race to deliver news first across all available platforms. This has led to the emergence of mobile journalism.

Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report indicate a steady growth in mobile use for news. From newsgathering to production, distribution, and consumption, mobile affects every stage of news. Newscasters have started reporting live from the venue using applications like Skype, Hangout, Google’s Duo, etc. Mobile phone cameras are replacing DSLRs to capture superior quality images and videos to be telecasted directly. There is no time lag from ground zero to the living rooms of the viewers, as the production control room (PCR) patches the audio/video of the reporter with the anchor and he is live on-air in practically no time with his news report.

However, broadcasters need to realize that ‘mobile first’ journalism does not only mean rearranging the newsroom or having a responsive website, but about having hyper-relevant, short, and visual stories to tell. Content management system needs to accommodate new and varied formats to cater to multiple devices and platforms.

Distributed Content

Both digital start-ups and legacy broadcasters have started pursuing distributed video strategies. Broadcasters are offering content on third-party platforms without dragging users away from the platform they choose to be on. Analytics company Tubular Labs report BuzzFeed, NowThis News, and AJ+ among the top ten most viewed ‘creators’ across Vine, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Tubular Labs estimate that CNN generated 214 million views in January 2016 and Fox News about 172 million[4]. CNN’s ‘Great Big Story’ initiative is an example of how some legacy broadcasters have embraced distributed viewing, and one clear takeaway is that socially distributed videos should be different not only from television clips, but also from website content[5].

However, broadcasters need to address the challenges around monetization and the risk of losing a direct relationship with the audience while pursuing distributed video strategies.

Live Streaming News

Live streaming news is still in its infancy. While some breaking news like terror attacks and events like Olympics do see a spike in the audience, the regular news is yet to catch up. However, news agencies and broadcasters do realize the demand for content around live events.

Apps like Twitter’s Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook LiveStream are offering live streaming to witness events, where much of the content is offered by ‘citizen journalists.’ Broadcasters like BBC is developing its mobile aggregated content and live video stream – Newstream – that would offer both in-depth analysis and immediate stories. CBS News runs a 24/7 online live stream running content from the news division and affiliates.

However, broadcasters need to address the editorial challenges and the business prospects around live streaming to explore this trend completely.

Long Form

Broadcasters are also experimenting with a longer form of content, mostly interactive videos and documentaries to stand out in the competition. News agencies like Sky News and New York Times are experimenting with virtual reality, allowing users to have an immersive experience of major events from their smartphone. Vice, which started as a print magazine has built an online presence among the younger audience with its documentaries. Although the long form of content is yet to have mass adoption, producers foresee it developing into a mainstream application helping brands carve out a distinct identity.

However, the challenge is to find an approach that adds value to the longer form of content and stays beyond 24 hours – be it by being compelling, having a background, novelty or an angle to the story.

To survive the rat race and remain profitable, news broadcasters need to devise new strategies to reach out to the masses effectively. The news is no longer only about what is happening, but about how the common man wants to view and interpret what has happened and predict the future outcome.

[1] https://www.timesofisrael.com/with-two-hours-notice-and-after-49-years-channel-1-news-goes-off-the-air/
[2]http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/ndtv-to-bring-down-curtains-on-ndtv-profit-117060101597_1.html
[3] https://tvnews4u.com/sun-tv-network-mulls-closing-operations-udaya-news-gemini-news/
[4] https://tubularlabs.com/yt/cnn, https://tubularlabs.com/fb/foxnews
[5] http://www.gulfcoasthurricanecenter.com/many-people-turning-away-local-news/
Cyber Security: Tips for Broadcasters

Cyber Security: Tips for Broadcasters

While the digital era has brought significant advances in technology, it has also opened the doorway to continuously evolving threats in the media and broadcast industry. Over 30% of media and broadcasting companies admit that they have experienced a cyber-attack of some kind or the other.

In 2015, five unreleased Sony Pictures’ movies – Annie, Fury, Still Alice, Mr. Turner and To Write Love on Her Arms –made their way onto torrent file-sharing websites. French broadcaster TV5Monde’s TV channels and social media accounts were hacked by a nation-state hacker in January 2015, costing the TV station millions of Euros.

In October 2016, Internet infrastructure company Dyn was hacked, affecting broadcast companies like CNN, HBO, Amazon, Yelp, and the Wall Street Journal.

Recently, in 2017, an anonymous hacker leaked some of the scripts and unaired episodes of Game of Thrones’ seventh season from HBO. The email from the hacker claimed a leak 1.5 terabyte of raw data from HBO.

Vulnerabilities and threats

The common security vulnerabilities and threats faced by the media and broadcast companies are as follows:

  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS): This attack occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth of the targeted system with traffic
  • Signal piracy: World Intellectual Protocol Organization (WIPO) internet treaties that would outlaw the breaking of anti-piracy locks on digital signals such as encryption and ‘tagging.’
  • The Cloud: The threat of data breaches and compromised credentials and account hijacking are some of the major threats to data on the cloud
  • Connected Devices (TV): More and more IoT enabled devices are setting up paths for ways to launch cyber attacks
  • Data leakage: the collection and monetization of an online publisher’s audience data by a third party without the publisher’s permission
  • Vendor System Vulnerabilities: Maintaining security standards across multiple vendors across the media value chain is difficult to achieve
  • Malware Attacks: (Malicious software) or a program code designed to harm a computer or its data
  • Ransomware Attacks: A form of malware in which the user’s computer files are encrypted. A ransom is demanded to restore the system or device to normal use
  • Piracy: Broadcasters can think of simultaneous global broadcasting as a solution to tackle TV piracy.

How to avoid cyber-attacks?

  • Monitor the social media accounts of the hacktivist campaigns that are relevant to your industry
  • Proactively monitor for credential dumps relevant to your organization’s account
  • Monitor for the latest IE and Flash vulnerabilities and ensure your site is patched
  • Understand which ransomware variants are targeting your industry, which delivery methods are most popular, and the CVEs the hackers target
  • Monitor for the registration of typo-squatted domains
Virtualization – The Way Ahead for Broadcasters

Virtualization – The Way Ahead for Broadcasters

Virtualization is the doing-away of physical infrastructure in favor of software mimicking the hardware’s functions. From the viewpoint of broadcasters, however virtualization is the employment of equipment to perform a variety of tasks simultaneously or a shared piece of machinery that serves multiple studios or locations. Specialized software running on high-powered machines eliminates the need for dedicated, often-expensive equipment performing individual tasks.

Disney, one of the earliest adopters of the Cloud have set forth an ambitious plan to take their massive master broadcast facilities at New York City and Burbank, California and diffuse them globally – broadcasting from data centers around the world. They feel it critical to separate the data center from the broadcast center. Disney’s host of cable-based channels are preparing for their move to the Cloud.

The BBC has found virtualization to be the way ahead in the race against redundancy that most radio broadcasters are facing. The BBC’s Virtual Local Radio (ViLoR) project centralizes the infrastructure of four major stations at one remote, shared location. While the local stations from four major UK cities shall compile their content independently, their audio files shall be stored, streamed, mixed and processed at the central data center. As radio channels come up against budget-trimming by parent organizations, they can look towards virtual stations to keep up their operations without compromising on the scale.

Hardware heavyweights NVIDIA have devised an ingenious method of optimizing the use of their products. Known for their Graphical Processing Units (GPUs), the firm has set up gargantuan blocks of interconnected GPUs which can be remotely accessed by paying customers – albeit at a fraction of the price of a physical unit. NVIDIA’s workstation grade Quadro & TESLA cards can render video and process data at lightning speeds. By decentralizing the usage of its cards, NVIDIA has ensured optimal and future-proof utilization of its products.

Besides being an obvious financial asset, the adoption of virtualization grants a plethora of benefits to broadcasters both small and large.

Being unfettered from carry-along apparatus has given increased mobility to broadcasters. Growing network speeds and the advent of 5G means it is exponentially easier to set up pop-up stations and better, wider on-ground coverage. Having software-based computing power further allows creative freedom and experimentation. Launching new services over a broadcaster’s existing distribution network is a quicker, less cumbersome process.

Troubled organizations, those which pumped in significant resources into setting up equipment have found a lifeline in virtualization. Letting out leftover space on servers remotely or granting access to their specialized machinery through software-based virtual interfaces – these companies recover costs faster, some even generating profits.

Content creators have struggled to maintain a healthy distance between themselves and the infrastructure support in an organization. Media specialists have long bemoaned limited knowledge of equipment and technicalities prohibiting their creativity. Virtualization provides a seamless way for journalists to avoid the everyday altercations with physical machinery and divert their energies to creating content.

With many of the industry bigwigs already on-board and newcomers seeing the many advantages of a virtual station, embracing a virtual future is soon to become an industry norm.

What will 2018 hold for media broadcasters?

What will 2018 hold for media broadcasters?

2018 will see broadcasters streamline their content, technology, and operations for a new segment of customers who consume content on-demand. Driven by the changing content consumption, we foresee media organizations looking at following:

Dawn of the OTT Era

Industry reports reveal that an average Indian consumes 8.5 hours of video content every month on Facebook and YouTube, which accounts for 47 percent and 42 percent of market share. Add the popularity of Over the Top (OTT) platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Jio TV, and VOOT to that, and you’d realize that the way Indians consume digital content has changed over the years.

In India, the popularity can be attributed to access to faster and cheaper internet, affordable smartphones, and the wide range of content on offer. With over 460 million internet users, India is the second largest online market[1] whose smartphone penetration rate is expected to reach more than 28 percent by 2018.

While some broadcasters have already launched their platform like Ozee, others will pick this trend in 2018 and look at launching their platforms. Some may also look to optimize and produce their content on commercially successful OTT operators. Broadcasters will be seen investing in tools and technology to prepare their content and distribute it to CDNs.

Solving the Content Conundrum

OTT has changed the way content is created and consumed. As viewers consume content anytime, anywhere, and on any device, the demand for short-form, high quality ‘snackable’ content has been on the rise. Citizen journalism is gaining momentum, with viewers recording events and posting live on social media for the global audience.

Original, consistent, and addictive content is on demand. With players like Apple planning to invest over $1 billion in original content and Facebook spending a chunk of its marketing budget on content, fresh content production depending on current affairs, mood, and preference of the viewers is on the rise.

However, creating fresh consumable content is only one side of the story. To retain subscribers and provide a shared experience across devices, OTT providers also need to recreate the legacy content with proper archiving, metadata and tagging, and digitization. For this, broadcasters will need to dig into their archives to sort, organize, digitize, restore and optimize legacy content to enable easy search, access, and distribution of content across channels.

Embracing Virtualization

Newer digital broadcast avenues like OTT are creating pressure on traditional broadcasters to lower their Broadcast Operations and Engineering (BO&E) budgets. A survey by Devoncroft reveals that more than 40% M&E vendors have products that operate in a virtualized environment. While it is debatable if ‘virtualization’ refers to only IT infrastructure or the entire content supply chain, the fact is – new, small, and medium-sized broadcasters are gradually migrating their infrastructure to cloud-based solutions.

Moving to IP comes with the benefits of using a standardized connectivity and infrastructure to transport videos from locations to the central facilities and on to distribution. Therefore, broadcasters will continue digital transformation keeping content at the center of business to achieve faster time-to-market, scalability, and agility at a lower TCO.

Enhanced User Experience with 4K, HD Formats

A 2016-report by Chrome Data Analytics and Media[2] reveals that 8.34 million households in India have HD televisions, of which 89 percent have DTH HD connection and 11 percent have digital cable HD connection. However, only 9 percent or 91 channels out of 857 permitted private satellite television stations and more than 190 government channels in India are High Definitions (HD).

With the market share of OLEDs, 3D and 4K television increasing every day, viewers often forget to ask – does India have enough 4K and 3D channels? Wikipedia lists only five 4K channels and one 3D channel.

To address the change in viewership, media organizations will continue to upgrade their technical infrastructure to broadcast in HD or beyond (4K). With 2019 General Elections in sight, it is expected that news broadcasters will upgrade their technology, investing in workflows and solutions for presentation and analysis of election results in high definition.

To summarize, 2018 and 2019 will be the year of digital transformation and adoption of technology focusing on improving the viewer experience.

Top six trends that are shaping the future of television

Top six trends that are shaping the future of television

We don’t know how, when and why Television has always been called an Idiot Box world over. On the contrary, it is a smart device which has encapsulated our attention unabashedly over the longest period of time since its inception and the first television service by British Broadcasting Corporation in 1936. Today, even after 80 years, it rules our heart and is still a major source of entertainment and global information.

The television industry in the last few decades has grown extensively and the wave continues. Whether in terms of technology, state-of-the-art looks or content, many key players in a highly competitive market keep up with the pace of development. Advancements in terms of knowledge, exposure, urbanization, increased buying power and a continuous shift in user preferences keep the innovators on their toes to think beyond the edge.

In terms of technology, the end users might think that now the peak has arrived, and there is nothing more that innovators can come up with. But we also agree with the mystic power of human brain who, if one can anticipate the current trends, is surely preparing for something which will take television technology to an altogether another level of viewing.

Some of the trends that are shaping the future of Television include:

  1. Holographic TV

BBC has always been a front-runner as far as anything concerned with TV goes. It has trialed for a technology and content wherein a fairly big size TV is laid flat and simple, old Victorian theatre techniques are used to create 3D images which seem to float in the air.1

Though a Holographic TV is still at its nascent stage the initiation is applaudable.

  1. Data Analytics

The revolution, “Big Data Analytics” aids smart viewership. Early adopters like Netflix have used it extensively to create a niche and specialize in the domain as creative as content production. We hope to see it being widely adopted, more hands-on to optimize produced or acquired content. The steps are simple; behavioral data is collected from various sources, classified and judged to help identify end-user preferences.

  1. Virtual Reality

In terms of technology, Virtual Reality predictably is the next big thing which aims at completely revolutionizing the concept of TV watching. It’s an ever-growing popular culture wherein a consumer after wearing a VR headset can explore virtual, computer-generated worlds. It replicates an environment and simulates user’s real-time presence and allows full interaction. VR, when integrated with TV shows can help a user be a part of that show. Looks a bit far-fetched at the moment, but not too far also. In fact, Director Steven Soderbergh’s new ambitious project Mosaic, an interactive narrative app is a perfect example of this concoction. It is due to release soon where the audience becomes a part of the narration and gets the leverage to decide how the story should unfold. It’s a new way of storytelling and irrespective of its response and real-time success paves way for more such experiments.2

  1. Virtualization

Virtualization creates an ecosystem where independent services can share a common platform. It will surely take some time to realize this completely but cloud-based broadcasting wherein the content is put on public clouds for smooth broadcasting and viewing experience, is fast catching up. In fact, coming years will see major investments in cloud solutions. It does away with huge hardware investments and their maintenance and broadcasters benefit in terms of scalability and high levels of efficiency. They are extremely cost-effective with reduced turnaround time and helps manage viewer demands to a large extent. Predictably, a cloud utility model is surely going to turn Broadcasters into Orchestrators whose job would be to deliver aggregated content. The transition is already on its way. Key players like BBC, Disney/ABC Television have started making the shift as the world moves towards Virtualization. 3

  1. Immersive and Interactive Experience-Augmented Reality

Technologists have always aimed for maximum consumer participation. Tools are being developed to involve our sensory powers to blur the line between the real and digital world thereby making the viewer part of the content. A mid-world is created where 3D and 4D images give the brain a real-time perception and the user feels more involved. 3D audio effects surround sound helps manipulate a sound one hears and provides a more real-time effect. One can easily confuse this with Virtual Reality but Augmented Reality deals more with the real world. It enhances the experience by adding drama to it. And Broadcasters are making hands-on use of it by developing more interactive and engaging shows with maximum audience participation.

Plans to introduce Interactive Advertising by Channel 4 on British TV is one step forward to it where watchers would enjoy the liberty to choose different ads, watch different content or even buy the products instantly.4

  1. Humanoids, AI comes to Television Broadcasting

Robots have always fascinated us since time immemorial. Recently, a real-time robot or a Humanoid, Sophia surfaced on BBC television featuring as a spokesperson on BBC’s Earth TV. It is made of frubber (flesh rubber) and is highly sophisticated. It has a human face and also emulates real-time human emotions. It is not functioning in artificial intelligence. Rather it has scripted answers. One can only anticipate the whole experience of television watching in the future with more such humanoid interactions. 5

On the Whole

Above are some of the trends observed that are going to shape the future of TV. And it doesn’t stop here. The list is ever growing. Technologists and innovators are constantly aiming for utmost consumer participation and keep them more involved and engaged. Broadcasters are trying really hard to absorb new technologies and amalgamating them to give their audiences different forms of experiences thereby entertaining them. The game is actually to play with the human mind and show them something which ups their curiosity level. It is a new age fairy tale times which is illusionary and beautiful and forces one to be a part of those moments.

Social Platforms – Changing the News Broadcast Industry

Social Platforms – Changing the News Broadcast Industry

With rapidly evolving content consumption pattern and hasty rise in online video viewing, traditional television viewing has suffered a setback. The very format of content delivery in nano-seconds has completely shaken up the existing ways of content delivery for news broadcasters.

According to the Digital News Report 2017 by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, almost 33% of millennial users (aged 18-24) consider social media to be their primary source of news and information. It’s said that the current situation of legacy broadcasters is quite similar to that faced by newspapers in the early 2000s. Gone are the days when families sat together for evening bulletins, now it’s time for news anytime, anywhere with around 46% of people consuming news in bed on their smartphones itself. 1

Rise and Live on Social

The rise of platforms have opened newer avenues of reaching wider and demographically diverse audience. Audiences have moved to digital representations of news with mediums such as Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram and Facebook Live becoming regular tools of what was once a single source of information dissemination platform. Besides, there’s also a significant rise in news consumption from messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, FB Messenger, Vibe, etc.

Facebook dominates its reach with wider acceptability as a social network for news with 47% of people logging in for their daily updates. Taking cue from this favourability broadcasters have evolved their content delivery for digital platforms. Live events, particularly sports and election results are now being reported using Facebook live and Periscope along with traditional broadcasts.

The Associated Press (AP) works in partnership with Livestream.com to bring major news events live to customers, which is formatted for TV, mobile, or online. Similarly, while experimenting early on with the format, National Public Radio (NPR), USA decided to go “all out” with Facebook Live. It created a Facebook page entirely for live video with dedicated journalists to ideate and produce content so they can broadcast as the news breaks and deliver stories in a new format. 2

Finding New Audiences among Distributed Platforms

While the multi-platform world also puts forth a challenge of what new content will be engaging for the audiences and how to bring more audiences. As per findings of the Reuters Institute, Digital News Report majority of access to websites and apps is now via side-door routes (65%) rather than direct (32%) such as search, social media, email, mobile alerts and aggregators. 3

While there’s also around 29% of people who completely avoid the news as it is said to have a negative impact on their mood. To reach new and younger audiences, broadcasters such as Australian Broadcasting Corporation, are investing in news apps and partnering with news aggregators (Flipboard, SmartNews, Apple News, Google News, Snapchat Discover, Kakao Channel, and Line News) pushing notifications directly to user’s mobile screen.

For Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the country’s public broadcaster, Apple News has added up to more than 1.1 million subscribers who’ve enabled push alerts since September 2016. ABC’s audience on Apple News is younger and more female than its readers on other digital platforms, and 75% of the people it reaches there are new to the brand. 4

Citizen Journalists & Combating Fake News

The need to produce more content and be in active mode always has made broadcasters reliant to content offered by the public or ‘citizen journalists’ to some extent. User generated content on social platforms such as viewer reviews, polls, video stories of local happenings is driving audience engagement that becomes a backbone of content programming.

User submitted information has done wonders especially in times of crisis such as Arab Uprising or reportage about current conflict in Aleppo. Citizens armed with smartphones record and bring the stories from conflicted areas to center stage, putting their safety at stake. 5

While this has also given rise to the concept of fake news, around the world only 24% believe social media does a good job separating fact from fiction. Alone Facebook had 23 out 50 hoaxed news around US election in 2016 and it contributed to  10.6 million shares, reactions and comments 6. This incidence highlighted the power of social media platform and the viral algorithms that are encouraging low quality and ‘fake news’ to spread quickly. It is thus important to monitor the kind of news that is disseminated through social platforms to avoid any negative impact on society.

The Way Ahead

The best way to move ahead for broadcasters is by utilizing the data to understand viewer behavior and drawing analogies for the dissemination of relevant content. Fighting the algorithmic delivery of news, Broadcasters are also looking to break the echo chambers. This would not only help in building upon new audience but also retaining the existing ones.

Both television news and social media will coexist and broadcasters need a strategy to focus on both. The major impact, however, has been on print media where the time to report is much higher and they have to catch than wait for news to break in the morning.

Video Storage Formats: Then & Now

Video Storage Formats: Then & Now

The Motion Picture Industry had begun to develop in early 1900s. Celluloid Nitrate films were the industry norm till the magnetic tape came into play. With technology, the video storage carriers have also evolved. From carrying bulky video cameras for shoot and storing cans of videos archives to live streaming of video using a mobile, video has come a long way.  Let us look at some key formats through the history of video.

1956 saw the coming of Quadruplex videotapes which were most commonly used commercial distribution medium at that time. Developed and released by Ampex, 2” Quad was the first successful videotape format. The name comes from its four-head wheel which rotated 240 times a second. VR 1500/600 (by Ampex) was the first consumer VTR.

From Videotape we graduated to video cassettes. In 1969, Sony introduced a prototype for the first widespread video cassette, the 3/4″ (1.905 cm) Composite U-matic system. ¾” U-Matic, Sony, 1970 was one of the most successful formats of all time. Until its release, news acquisition had primarily been gathered on 16mm film.

In 1976, Sony introduced Betamax which was the first successful consumer video cassette. It failed in the marketplace against VHS due to its maximum record time despite initial success. Introduced as a competitor to Betamax, VHS, JVC, 1976 was the most successful among all home video formats.

Sony introduced Betacam in 1982, which eventually turned out as the most widely used analog tape based format, later Digital Betacam was introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the analog Betacam SP format. Sony’s D-1, the first digital VTR, featured uncompressed digital component recording and was mainly used in high-end post-production facilities with special effects and multiple layering of video signal.

In 1985, Handycam introduced by Sony was the first portable Video8 Camera with commercial success. The 8mm video format refers to 3 video cassette formats namely, Video 8 (analog), Hi8 (combination of analog and digital) & Digital 8 (digital). And a decade later in 1995, the next generation of digital disc storage was introduced, the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD). The world’s first DVD player was the Toshiba SD-3000 launched in November 1996 and was made available in Japan, US, Europe and Australia.

Blu-Ray is the next generation of optical disc format aimed to store high definition video (HD). Named after Blue Laser, it stores more data than a standard DVD.  DigiBeta is the highest quality standard definition format in common use. It’s 10 bit 4.2.2 with a low compression of 2.3 and a common SD delivery format with many broadcasters. Launched in 1995, DV is a format for storing digital video. DVCPRO, also known as DVCPRO25, is a variation of DV developed by Panasonic and introduced in 1995 for use in electronic news gathering (ENG) equipment. In 1996 Sony responded with its own professional version of DV called DVCAM.

Its competitor is High-Density Digital Versatile Disc (HD-DVD). Promoted by Toshiba, NEC & Sanyo, it is a digital optical media format applying the same disc size as Blu-Ray.  As far as quality of Video is concerned the future belongs to Ultra HD or UHD. The UHD Alliance comprising of 35 companies have laid down UHD Premium Specification in 2016. The specification comprises a list of features that should be included in products like TVs and Blu-ray players to ensure maximum compatibility with other content and hardware produced.

Though availability and quality of recording devices is a huge edge, it comes with disadvantages. Modern recording devices produce 720p, 1080p and 4K video resolutions eating up hard drive space thereby slowing it down. It faces lack of adequate backup feature as well. These inabilities make Cloud Storage Solutions the future of video storage.  Cloud provides excellent features like anywhere access, easy sharing and retrieval and also ensures longevity of the content.

Video content consumption has revolutionized our lifestyle in massive proportions. Surprisingly, the developing economies consume video content in startling way. Africa often referred to as “The Mobile Continent” witness 77% viewers consuming content on smart phones and 53% are interested in mobile video on-demand. UNESCO has highlighted, “much of our audio visual heritage has already been irrevocably lost and much more will be lost if no action is taken.” Broadcasters and content owners must now focus on migrating their valuable media assets to latest video storage formats and ensure its availability for generations to come. The future clearly belongs to the media organizations that adopt digital and offer choice of platforms (any device, any time) and variety of content to their viewers.