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Why broadcasters have to be agile to satisfy the insatiable appetite for live content 

author
Benjamin Webster
Product Manager for Occasional Use Services

Influencers like Logan Paul entering the boxing ring, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket taking astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time, Amazon broadcasting Premier League football via OTT in the UK, and Ariana Grande’s headline set at the Coachella music festival were just some of the blockbuster live events of the past several years. 

Each spectacle drew millions of live viewers. And even though they were all very different, they did have something important in common: None of them were broadcast on traditional, linear TV. 

 

Instead, they were all streamed by digital platforms, and watched by viewers on smart TVs, mobiles, games consoles and other devices. 

 

On the one hand, this is great news for broadcasters. These events are a great example of how even in an era of fragmented viewing, we still crave the big communal events only a live broadcast can deliver. 

 

Commercially, live events are great too, as they can drive significant advertising revenues and reach a large, captive audience at the same time. 

 

But on the other hand, the explosion and increased appetite for live content also presents a big challenge for broadcasters. With so much demand for high-quality live content, how can the industry keep up with demand, without breaking the bank? 

Doing more with less 

The major challenge for producers of live content is resources. 

 

Since 2020, and the seismic shift in how we live and work, the industry has seen an exodus of talent. 

 

Costs have also increased. Not just with inflation, but as live events have become more critical, especially for traditional linear broadcasters that have lost scripted programming to streamers, licensing fees from sports leagues have rocketed, meaning there's less money left over for production. 

 

But there’s good news. There are new technologies emerging that make it possible to do more with fewer resources. 

 

Take remote production for example, which is in line with the societal trend towards less travel, more hybrid working, and work life balance. It means lower costs for broadcast professionals who hop between live locations, and more predictable and favourable work schedules for staffers back at base. And the best part is that the end result is greater efficiency and flexibility, with the ability to deliver more live content.

 

And then there’s AI – the technology that could transform every industry. 

 

Take a football match, for example. Imagine an AI assistant automatically cutting highlight reels and action replays or logging the play-by-play of the action on the pitch and automatically generating analytics – all of which will make it easier to produce more games with greater efficiency. 

Face your fears and make a critical choice 

Perhaps the biggest opportunity though is in terms of how pictures are transported back to base. 

The last few years has seen a revolution in transport over IP. 

 

The physical infrastructure – in terms of the expansion of 5G and fibre – has dramatically improved in availability and reliability. And just as importantly, new video transport standards like ​​Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) have emerged which ensure high-quality, images can be sent and received, even when the connection is packet-based and shared with other users. And more importantly, it can be much more cost-effective than leasing a dedicated fixed link for the duration of your broadcast. 

 

The only barrier to this new way of working is perhaps cultural. It’s easy to imagine that some broadcast professionals may be uneasy about giving up the most reliable, but more expensive connectivity. But given the broader pressures on the industry, the trade-off in terms of costs may be one worth making, especially on “tier 2” events and below, like lower-league football and niche sports, or at events where latency may be less of an issue. 

 

But the IP opportunity isn’t just about saving money. With IP transport, broadcasters can be even more flexible, and offer more expansive coverage of a greater range of live events, where costs would previously have been prohibitive. And for customers, this means more immersive experiences, with more opportunities to follow the action how they want to. 

 

​Ultimately, the true power of IP lies in the enhanced viewer experience. For Tier 1 events, broadcasters and content creators can leverage the rock-solid reliability and low latency of dedicated, high-availability fixed IP networks, ensuring flawless delivery. Meanwhile for more cost-effective production of Tier 2 and Tier 3 events, technologies like SRT enable broadcasters to explore a wider range of live event possibilities. 

 

Get in touch to find out how IP transport can revolutionise your production. 

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