08.05.2018 | Ausgabe 5/2018

Standards Don‘t Guarantee ROI

MICHAEL GROTTICELLI is an experienced editor and regular contributor to FKT’s Tech Across America column. / Source: Michael Grotticelli

MICHAEL GROTTICELLI is an experienced editor and regular contributor to FKT’s Tech Across America column. / Source: Michael Grotticelli

Two of the major Broadcast industry standards bodies responsible for setting these road maps, namely the Society of Motion Picture & TV Engineers(SMPTE) and the European Broadcast Union(EBU), spend a lot of time and effort to come up with technical strategies that fit the widest array of potential users. But these expert laboratory and field engineer are not business people and don‘t necessarily care how a standard is implemented. It’s up to the individual or media company to figure that out.

Therefore, with lots of competition and shrinking budgets, today’s broadcasters and video production companies are often choosing to put off implementing a new technology and staying with an existing one that is effectively serving its purpose. The new ATSC 3.0 TV standard, the SMPTE ST-2022 IP standard (for sending digital video over an IP network), the 4K specification (UHD at 3840x2160 vs.true 4K, at 4096x2160) and 8K (known as Hi-Vision,at 7680x4320 lines) have all been finalized, but the market does not seem acceptable to moving forward to any large degree. Not now, anyway.

There’s a lot of discussion in the trade press andat industry trade shows about all of these standards, but looking at the real-world landscape tells a far different story. People don‘t rush to transition to a different technical platform if it doesn‘t result in some type of return on investment (ROI). That’s exactly what’s happening today.

Keeping the 8K discussion aside—due to the currently impractical nature of implementing it, on both the broadcaster and consumer side—the efforts among equipment vendors to get 4K UHD off the ground have been significant. But customers have concerns due to the lack of additional revenue from4K ads and other money to support it. In fact, many mobile production (OB Van) companies in the U.S.have repeatedly stated that producing live sporting events in the highest quality HD format, 1080p/60, is more desirable—for financial reasons.

The growing activity surround the implementation of all-IP facilities is beginning to raise the awarenessof what the technology can provide in terms of flexibility, operational efficiency and cost-effectiveremote-control (REMI) operations. Currently it cost about twice as much to build an IP facility as it does an SDI-based one, so system integrators are not as busy as they’d like. It’s looking like the future of video production and television will certainly involve packet-based signal delivery (IP), but not as quickly as many broadcast equipment manufacturers would like. At the end of the day, standards address a broad range of issues. They make products work better, make them compatible and able to interact with other products, and safeguard consumer safety. They also simplify product development and speed up the time it takes for a product to get to market. Indeed,standards fuel the development and implementation of technologies that influence and transform the way we live, work and communicate.

So, why should SMPTE and the EBU go through all of that hard committee work to create new technical standards if few will implement them? It’s because everyone needs a foundation upon which to build his or her business. We all have to start on the same page and speak a common language in order to share content and seamlessly distribute it with as little human effort as possible. Eventually, the common wisdom says, the standards will be implemented and used universally to great effect.

Until then, it’s up to the marketing specialists and bean counters at major media companies to figure out how long that will take.Standards be damned!


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