Meeting the challenges of the live production boom

One of the most notable effects of the ongoing ‘content boom’ has been the remarkable increase in demand for live content. From on-location news reporting to live sports and entertainment – there is no doubt that live content is a major pull factor for services old and new. So it’s only logical that live production processes have lately undergone a significant evolution.

The changing state of live production

Until fairly recently, live productions tended to follow a fairly similar approach, especially in sports. A flagship activity for many channels, live sports production has historically been a complex and costly enterprise involving multiple outside broadcast trucks and large crews. Relying on SDI connectivity meant that they had a dependable foundation technology, but one that was difficult to adjust at the last minute if requirements changed. Especially for the larger tournaments, production planning was carried out months in advance and absolutely nothing could be left to chance.

The number of major awards given to broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky Sports down the years for their live production work attests to the excellent results that were so often achieved with SDI-based infrastructures. But times change and so do viewer expectations. In line with more people accessing more content in more ways – from traditional TVs to their mobile devices – viewer expectations have also grown significantly. To focus on sports again, the match-day ‘linear’ TV experience in which people get together to watch a big game is still a very important aspect of live production. But as mobile video has improved, so has demand for auxiliary content – from additional camera angles to instant replays and interviews. And, of course, that all heralds additional challenges from a live production perspective.

The future of live production

Now the industry is bracing itself for a further step-change in expectations thanks to the advent of 5G mobile networks. Already, with 4G mobile, viewers were able to enjoy a good standard of video experience – albeit one that could still fall victim to buffering at a crucial moment of a sports event! But the extra bandwidth provided by 5G in conjunction with a new generation of compression technologies means that, for many consumers, the mobile viewing experience will improve dramatically.

Of course, a more consistent and enjoyable viewing experience will result in a further surge in demand for content. It won’t just be HD content either; viewer interest in 4K is continuing to rise, and in the longer term we can expect big demand for higher-resolution formats (4K and 8K) as well as immersive streaming in AR/VR and 360 formats. Once again, this provides another significant area to be addressed by live production teams.

So it is extremely fortuitous that, at precisely the time when content expectations have soared, a group of technologies has emerged that allows broadcasters to satisfy them! A commonly used ‘umbrella term’ for these technologies is IP live production.

The possibilities of IP live production

There are many benefits to be gained from moving from an SDI-oriented approach to an IP-based one, but arguably the most important are flexibility and scalability. By utilizing standard IP technologies, customers can take advantage of network infrastructures that can be expanded or reduced as requirements change. And because there are no limitations in terms of production format, an IP-based infrastructure built today will be capable of supporting emerging needs for many years to come. So that includes production in formats ranging from SD to UHD.

The technologies available for IP live production today have also perfected another key requirement: very low latency. As any TV producer or director will tell you, latency can make or break a live production. IP technologies have now evolved to the stage where productions can routinely benefit from ultra-low latency. This capability will strengthen even further as 5G becomes a more widely used tool for live production and contribution.

But due to its ability to support the adoption of a distributed production model that prioritizes flexibility, IP live production is also enabling greatly increased production levels. Especially in sports, where more events are being covered across more platforms than ever before, broadcast and media companies require agile infrastructures in which additional resources can be engaged easily and cost-effectively. In other words, precisely the kind of flexibility that is only available with IP live production.

Enabling remote live production

Simultaneously, the migration of the industry towards IP is fuelling another trend – remote live production. This is a technique whereby the vast majority of tasks involved in an outside or distanced production actually take place at the broadcast center. By making the actual content capture the sole focus of outside broadcasting it’s possible to minimize the resources required on-site – including people and equipment. Remote live production via IP allows this to be done in a way that is agile and reliable.

In historical terms these are relatively early days for this area of technology. It will be fascinating to see how the broadcast and media landscape harness and develop its capabilities over the next few years. For example, it is likely that we will see live streaming content services continue to grow – although some consolidation in the market is surely inevitable. But there is no doubt whatsoever about the future trajectory of viewer expectations, and in order to meet them in a manageable and cost-effective way, media companies will depend even more on IP live production to enable remote live production

Net Insight technologies for IP and remote live production

Net Insight has a suite of technologies and solutions that can support live production in its various forms, including IP live production and remote live productionThese solutions include:

Nimbra 1000

This platform ensures quality and agility for live media events utilizing all-IP services and all-IP networks. The highly versatile Nimbra 1000 means that event sites, stadiums, studios and production sites can be interconnected using a total of 1,2 Tbps of guaranteed capacity. Designed to fit into a wide range of working environments – including production rooms where space is very limited – the platform is provided in a compact 3RU modular form factor.

Nimbra 600

Comprising multiple solutions including the Nimbra 680, 688 and 640, the Nimbra 600 series offers a powerful feature-set for video and audio processing, monitoring, and IP transmission. The platform can also be deployed in conjunction with any underlying network, such as IP, wavelength systems and dark fiber. The result is a highly capable solution for the new flexible era of media production.

Nimbra Edge

A hyper-scale media cloud platform built to reduce network complexity, Nimbra Edge enables users to connect, manage and consume content easily anywhere. As reliance on cloud-based solutions continues to grow throughout the media & entertainment space, the reach of Nimbra Edge is also expanding.

Aperi

The open and standards-based solutions in this brand family bring agility and cost-efficiency to live applications in sports, news and entertainment. Incorporating live IP Media Function Virtualization (MFV) solutions, Aperi is geared towards environments where speed, accuracy and versatility are of paramount importance.

CASE STUDY

Spanish Basketball Championship Raises Production Levels with Nimbra Platform

Background

The Spanish Basketball Championship is one of the premier basketball leagues in Europe, featuring top-tier teams and attracting millions of viewers. The championship has been at the forefront of adopting new technologies to enhance the viewer experience.

The challenge

The challenge was to elevate the production levels of the championship broadcasts. The aim was to provide seamless, high-quality live video feeds, along with additional services like real-time statistics and player tracking.

The solution

Net Insight’s Nimbra platform was chosen for its cost-efficiency, high service quality, and bandwidth utilization. The platform has enabled the championship to transition to HD broadcasts with JPEG2000 compression, making more efficient use of bandwidth capacity

The result

With the Nimbra platform, the Spanish Basketball Championship has been able to meet the latest demands of the media industry. The platform’s flexibility allows for “burst” capacity during high-profile games, resulting in lower costs and simplified capacity planning.

CASE STUDIES

Elevating Spanish Basketball Championship Broadcasts to HD

Spanish Basketball Championship Chooses Nimbra Platform for Enhanced Production Levels

The Spanish Basketball Championship

One of Europe’s Premier Basketball Leagues

Since adopting Net Insight’s Nimbra platform, the Spanish Basketball Championship has continually evolved, integrating the latest products and features from Net Insight.

The Championship’s broadcast network is robust and expansive, delivering thousands of hours of live sports content every year. Its reputation for flexibility and reliability is evident in the high-profile games and events it consistently broadcasts.

“Net Insight’s remote production solution allows us to produce more sports content with high quality while keeping the same level of reliability than with OB vans and satellite contribution.”

Related resources

WHITE PAPER

Cloud Ingest of Live Video

As cloud production becomes an integral part of broadcasters’ live workflows, the corresponding cloud infrastructure becomes an integral part of the media transport network.

BLOG

Open Insight #17

Welcome to the seventeenth edition of Open Insight, our blog for investors. This is where you can find out more about our offering and market position, our progress, our challenges and our growth.

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