MAD Perspectives Blog

 Key Trends Changing the Shape of Broadcast

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Everyone is watching four key trends in 2013. They are, in no particular order, mobile, social, cloud and big data. Of course, they are all interrelated and the impact on business varies by industry. Today, we’re going to look at the impact on the broadcast industry. This is the industry that enables worldwide viewing of the Olympics, CNN, Big Brother and Downton Abbey.  But, distributing content is just part of their business, they must also create and manage content. How are these trends changing the way broadcasters do business?


Broadcast has traditionally been about consuming content via your TV on a schedule determined by the broadcasters themselves.  This has changed over the past years with the introduction of VCRs, then DVRs and OTT (broadband delivery of content). Now, thanks to the introduction of the tablets and smartphones as well as improved networks (e.g., Wi-Fi, 4G and LTE), we are consuming video content on a vastly diverse set of devices. The impact for broadcasters is massive. It is no longer acceptable to simply create content for on-air consumption.  They must also prepare content for online and wireless distribution and consumption. This requires multiple versions of the same core story. However, the story may be told slightly differently depending on consumption device. For example, the TV version of the final pass of the Super Bowl showed the entire field before zooming in on the receiver. The mobile version may only show the quarterback throwing the pass and the receiver anticipating the catch. Versions may be created in different languages in addition to different formats. The challenge for broadcasters is whether to repurpose existing content or to create multiple versions simultaneously in the production workflow.


The trend that is not only changing the way we consume content but also how we elect which content to watch is social media. Social networks are now an integral part of the consumer experience when enjoying live or scripted content. We tweet and post updates about the cast, plot, score, fashion and more. Our comments influence our friends and followers. Apps and platforms have evolved and collectively referred to as Second Screen TV.  These solutions enhance the consumer experience with complementary content not found elsewhere – thus providing fans with even greater insight into their favorite programs.  Again, the impact for content owners is huge. How do they staff and create relevant content in a timely manner? How do they incorporate social content into their live broadcasts? What is the impact on their workflows and the on-air talent?


As broadcasters are creating content for a wider audience using a greater number of devices, there is a huge impact on the infrastructure needed for transcoding, storage, playout and metadata management. Broadcasters who have been resistant to off-premise hardware are now recognizing the flexibility cloud computing provides. They can “rent” capabilities on-demand to fulfill spikes in demand for additional CPU cycles and storage. With file-based workflows combined with constantly improving compression technology and network connectivity, broadcasters can create workflows in the cloud, enabling geographically distributed production teams to upload low-res proxies and edit in the cloud. This will eventually reduce the amount of on-site staff required for live events.


The volume of data surrounding any broadcast is immense. As broadcasters integrate social media that also implies mobile, the volume of data will only increase. It’s not only the metadata describing the media assets, it’s data bout the consumer. The increased use of social platforms, including second screen platforms, provides broadcaster with more data than previously available about their audience. The ability to capture, aggregate and analyze this data is a massive business opportunity. The insight that can be gleaned will impact programming, scheduling, use of talent and presentation of content.

The impact of these trends for broadcast is game changing. The industry has been under attack as news, in particular, is shared in real time tweets without validation of source. However, the same technologies that challenge the industry can also help the industry remain relevant. Broadcast must embrace the benefits that these trending technologies can provide.

What’s your perspective?