Key industry trends at NAB 2018

Software is taking over

The shift to software-based has been going on for a while. But if you break it down, changes in the past have mainly been about moving non-live functions from dedicated hardware to software and into cloud environments. What we noticed at NAB was that there are now software-based media functions available also to support many live and linear workflows.

One example is encoding, where in the past mainly distribution-oriented encoding and transcoding was available in software and in cloud environments. Now we see contribution quality encoding and contribution codec profiles becoming ready for software implementations.

With our launch of the new Media Acceleration Module for the Nimbra 600 family of transport products we are taking the software approach further, by applying software-oriented ways of working also in hardware accelerated environments, something needed to support high quality and high density media functions.

The shift to software also opens up for live and linear workflows in cloud environments, where getting content to the public cloud is a becoming a challenge. Here solutions like internet media transport and products like the Nimbra VA can help.

IP is still everywhere

The migration from SDI to IP based products, solutions and workflows has been going on for years. But such a big change takes time, something that was clear at this years NAB. Every single vendor still delivered news and product launches related to this transition, and every single broadcaster and service provider still discussed both how to move to IP and where the true benefits are.We showed our next-generation media transport platform, Nimbra 1060, an all-IP solution that delivers terabit networking speeds and extreme access density enabling the shift to IP in everything from large scale service provider core networks to remote production and 4K production scenarios. The above mentioned Media Acceleration Module also simplifies the shift from SDI to IP by providing SDI and SMPTE 2110 capabilities in one and the same product.

Workflows are getting distributed and automated

Production workflows are changing to become both more flexible and more efficient, enabled to a large extent by automation. Automation in itself is enabled by both the shift to software and to IP. But just like those changes, automation is something that we need to break down. In the past, automation has been mainly related to file-based workflows, where orchestration solutions have been made available to automatically transport, quality control and transcode file-based content.

What we see now is that automation is extending further into live and linear workflows, also when involving people and physical equipment. Managing the sharing of resources to avoid conflicts, automating equipment setup and configuration, and integrating with above mentioned file-based orchestration solutions are key challenges to automating as much as possible also in workflows where not everything can be handled by software.
To make automation a reality, complete scheduling and resource management solutions such as ScheduALL will become more important, managing everything from people to physical production equipment as well as any type of transmission.

The value of low-latency ott is now understood

While we’ve been working with low latency streaming solutions since the launch of Sye, we noticed at NAB 2018 that most CDN providers have now started to understand the value of low latency. Solution maturity differs, where some providers have just launched their very first attempts at low-latency live streaming services while others have been working with it for quite some time. But what’s clear is that low-latency streaming is here to stay.

E-sports are booming

During 2017 were little attention was given to E-sports, but at NAB 2018 things started moving. The audience has been there for a while, and it’s is getting bigger and bigger every year. E-sports has for a long time been considered a niche audience served by niche providers, but maturing streaming solutions and high levels of fan engagement is creating optimism for the future. There is now an expectancy that E-sports will become mainstream and that things like betting will drive further interest and business.

But most E-sports events are and will continue to be niche content where many existing live production workflows are both too rigid and expensive to use. Here true OTT live streaming solutions such as our own Sye, as well as internet contribution solutions like the Nimbra VA, will play key roles to make sure that there’s a business case to covering E-sports.