IBC 2019 Shows the Velocity of Live

IBC 2019 may go down as one in which live IP video came of age. Always the area of the industry most advanced in terms of technology progression, broadcasters and service providers are now able to deploy IP-based software defined television to satisfy pent-up consumer demand.

Across the show floor vendors are jockeying for position in the race to deliver live streams from the cloud. Operators are promised agile service launches spun up in minutes not months, tailored ‘pay as you go’ business models and latency slashed to near broadcast levels.

Data about subscriber behavior and video quality is being syphoned and analyzed to build predictive future media services.

Production is transforming event broadcasts at a phenomenal rate with new technologies emerging for 5G remote contribution and systems that automate cameras, compilation and publishing.

All of this is aimed at bringing more and more content to viewers, increasingly personalized for them on the device of their choice. As connectivity takes another leap in bandwidth and ubiquity with the roll-out of 5G and Wi-Fi 6, the immediacy of live video has never been more pronounced.

Even Google and Facebook are prioritizing real-time face-to-face video over more exotic apps like 360-VR because of its impact on billions of people worldwide.

However, with the rise of live and cutting of latency, this does not make any difference to the security requirements as premium OTT content attracts premium pirates. Streaming piracy remains the biggest problem facing the industry and one that no amount of technical firepower can tackle. The level of sophistication is unprecedented. With so many unmanaged devices and moving parts along the chain that leaks are inevitable.

Combating piracy has never been the domain of one vendor or the responsibility of the broadcaster alone. The best solution has always been a holistic solution which interlinks technology with legal action, consumer education with concerted pressure from actors across the value chain.

Consumers, of course, don’t care where their live experience comes from – only that it’s available at the quality they pay for. Their TV experience will continue to be a blend of broadcast and OTT on-demand content for the foreseeable future.

That’s according to Shalini Govil-Pai, head of Android TV. “The big trends we see are that broadband to the home has driven AVOD, SVOD and TVOD services but the world isn’t ready for OTT-only services,” she said in an IBC keynote. “A mixture of broadcast and OTT content will continue.”

With competition from digital platforms only set to intensify, relying on audience lock-in doesn’t work. Pay TV must evolve and that means offering a credible user experience on all relevant devices to an increasingly discerning and value-conscious audience.

We may be able to launch media at speed but there shouldn’t be any short cut to the protection of IP.