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Transitioning to IP

Television is moving to IP. However, whatever the economics, broadcasters are likely to take their time moving to SDN-based production/playout; in part because this paradigm shift will have such an enormous impact. Broadcasting has changed radically, but the biggest changes—such as SDNs, virtualized production/playout, and software-defined infrastructure—are just starting to occur now!

While broadcast revenues have been under pressure for years due to the rise of digital competitors, there are signs on the horizon that the broadcast sector could be turning around.
Broadcast equipment involves a set of automated dedicated systems to transmit audio-visual content over TV, radio, and IP network. The broadcasting environment has changed from simple stationary static display imagery to a full, dynamic, and content-driven. Additionally, larger sections of the viewing audience have shifted toward non-traditional content-delivery systems that include computers and portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

The global broadcast equipment market is estimated at USD 4.6 billion in 2018 and is likely to grow at a CAGR of 7.14 percent during the period 2019–2022.
North America led the market in 2018 with a market share of more than 40 percent, followed by APAC and EMEA respectively. Although APAC held a lesser share of the market than the Americas, it is expected to witness the maximum increase in its market share.

North America is leading the global market owing to the presence of major broadcasting companies. The technological advancement of the region is an added advantage to the adoption of the latest equipment, thus, augmenting the broadcast equipment market. The US is anticipated to hold the maximum share of the market also due to the presence of satellite manufacturers.

Asia-Pacific is expected to expand at the highest CAGR over the assessment period owing to the presence of a thriving media and entertainment industry. The growing number of media agencies in fast-developing nations, such as China, India, Japan, and others, are prognosticated to lead the growth of the broadcast equipment market in the foreseeable future.

A key factor driving the growth of the market is the transition from analog to digital broadcasting. The analog broadcasting uses analog signals to transmit the audio-video transition. It does not reproduce original programming and produces lower quality picture than the original, which deteriorates over long distances. On the other hand, digital broadcasting has more potential benefits and can fit multiple channels into a single analog channel. It has a high-quality image, sophisticated functions, and efficient spectrum utilization.

The growing preference for VOD services is one of the key emerging trends in the global broadcasting equipment market. VOD allows users to select and watch the video content of their choice. IPTV technology helps implement VOD services for customers. Television VOD systems decode the content using the set-top-box and allow the viewer to store the content for future use. Most cable operators offer VOD services through the pay-per-view model, making it feasible for the customers to view the content of their choice by paying only for their subscription.

The major factor that drives the growth of the broadcast equipment market includes direct offering to consumers through OTT services and growing demand for media files over the high-speed wireless internet. Broadcast companies use servers for data storage and to store files like audio and video in compressed form that are extracted at the receiver end. However, the growing demand for smartphones and high-speed broadband is somewhat restraining the growth of the television and radio broadcasting.

The global broadcast equipment market in terms of application can be divided into radio and television. The television segment can be classified into terrestrial television, direct broadcasting satellite (DBS), cable television, and IPTV. The terrestrial television segment can be further divided into analog terrestrial television and digital television. The television is the widely used application in the broadcast equipment market. The growing demand for film and media in high quality is driving the television application. The film and media industry is having a great significance in countries like India, Japan, the US, and the UK.

Some of the prominent players in the broadcast equipment market include Cisco Systems Inc. (US), Ericsson AB (Sweden), Evertz Microsystems Ltd. (Canada), Grass Valley (Canada), EVS Broadcast Equipment SA (Belgium), Harmonic Inc. (US), Clyde Broadcast (UK), Sencore (US), Acorde Technologies, S.A. (Spain), AvL Technologies (US), ETL Systems Ltd. (UK), and Global Invacom Ltd. (Singapore), among others. The key players constantly keep innovating and investing in research for the development of cost-effective product portfolio. The broadcast equipment market also includes innovators, implementing and developing new technologies for broadcast.

The market is segmented into satellite antenna, amplifiers, switches, video servers, encoders, transmitters and repeaters, and modulators on the basis of product. Among these, the satellite antenna and servers have the largest market share across all the regions. Broadcast monitors are no longer just display devices; they have evolved into an integral part of the production chain. Broadcasters use production monitors in broadcast settings to produce and supervise live 4K workflow 24/7.

Satellite antenna. The global satellite antenna market is estimated to be valued at USD 2.2 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 2.99 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 7.85 percent over the next four years. Key players include Airbus Defense and Space, Honeywell International, General Dynamics Corporation, Cobham Plc., Kymeta Corporation, Norsat International Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Harris Corporation Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (Maxar Technologies), and Gilat Satellite Networks.

Increasing adoption of small satellites, rising investments for space explorations, and the usage of satellite-aided warfare is driving the growth of the satellite antenna market. With the technology advancements in the satellites, the need for antennas and other communication-enabling systems has increased. Emerging small satellites are being increasingly adopted for earth observation, space research applications, and the like, due to significant advantages like low cost of launch. The global small satellite market is estimated to register a CAGR of 17.05 percent over the next four years. High inclination toward emerging satellite technologies, like small satellites, influences advancements in the antenna systems and is driving the satellite antenna market.

The usage of satellite antennas in vehicles is also expected to become a trend in the market. For instance, car manufacturers, like Toyota, are keen on a system capable of satellite communication for the transmission of much more data at a lower cost. Through successful partnership with Kymeta, a Washington-based communication technology company, Toyota is able to provide satellite antenna system to connect cars wirelessly. The need for such systems is expected to increase, thus, providing new opportunities for the satellite antenna market growth.
Technology trends. With the proliferation of satellites in non-geostationary orbits (NGSO), and the growing capacity and coverage of geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, antenna manufacturers must continuously adapt. New specifications demand new technologies in an exciting age where network coverage is reaching new possibilities.

In order to support the upcoming wave of multi-satellite constellations that demand different coverage, transmission power, and frequency bands, these companies must also continue to innovate, at a reasonable price-point.

With satellites getting smaller, antennas intended for launch must undergo a size reduction. But aside from size, there is no doubt that cost is a big part of the equation, and system designers are spending more time and effort on antennas to increase capabilities, while decreasing overall costs.
The antenna market has seen a lot of technological growth, but as with anything, there is still a long way ahead. Whether it is the aviation or connected vehicle markets waiting for a time where antennas can be installed in the entirety of the aircraft/vehicle, or others simply waiting for a practical multiband antenna, markets continue to seek prices that are right for both suppliers and customers.

Servers. Video server can be defined as a streaming and storage electronics device that is solely focused on providing these services for videos. When you merge software technology with traditional hardware, you get the best media servers for broadcast and other media environments.

Without any doubt, the future of the broadcast industry will be increasingly influenced by the cloud-based technologies, but today there is still a place for on-premise video servers.
No doubt, traditional broadcast operations, such as channel playout and other applications, are increasingly being replaced by cloud-ware to provide instant television services at a fraction of the cost of the old hardware-based solution. Whilst this is being implemented in some areas of the globe, there will remain a need, in the next five years or so, for physical boxes with I/O capabilities, storage, and signal processing.

The key driver for this world market is the need for speed – such as in a live production environment where the workflows do not have time or physical facilities for uploading and downloading (streaming) content to the cloud. Huge numbers of facilities around the world simply do not have the capacity to work like this, yet still harbor the ambition to do so.

No doubt, growth in the video server market has slowed down in the last 2–3 years with the integrated playout solutions cannibalizing the traditional video servers business to an extent. Price declines have also been a major contributing factor since the market has witnessed a 5–6 percent decline in prices on an average every year. Market concentration is on the rise in a fragmented space containing over 30 global vendors as the entrenched market leaders like Harmonic, Arris, Belden, and Grass Valley spend millions in M&A activity. Others aggressive in this segment include Espial, Cisco, Ross Video, Avid, Anevia, Edgeware AB, EVS Broadcast Equipment, Concurrent Technology Inc., Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, XOR Media, and 360 Systems.

Transmitters. A broadcast transmitter refers to an installation used for broadcasting, including radio transmitter or television transmitter equipment, the antenna, and often the location of the broadcasting station. The growth in the global broadcasting transmitter market can be attributed to the expanding broadcasting and telecommunications industry. Rohde & Schwarz, Broadcast Electronics, and COMSA dominate this segment.

The market segment includes analog and digital by type and radio transmitter, and television transmitter by application.
Radio transmitters. The global radio transmitter market is predicted to garner USD 1.12 billion, registering a CAGR of 8.82 percent during the period 2018–2023. The rapid digitization of radio stations is promoting the growth of the market across the globe. A radio transmitter can be defined as an electronic device, which generates an electromagnetic signal in television and radio broadcasting, radar or two-way communication when connected to an antenna. It comprises components like an oscillator, power supply, amplifier, modulator, and antenna, which are used in the transmission of information.

The global radio transmitter market has gained huge attention in the past few years mainly due to the surging demand for smartphones, advancing technology in the FM radio transmitters, and digitization of radio stations. The growing production capacity of radio transmitters will result in a stable raw material price, which is anticipated to contribute to the market’s growth. With improvement in transportation cost, labor cost, and enhancement of energy, the radio transmitter market is likely to flourish in the foreseeable future.
On the contrary, the limited range of a radio signal is considered to curb the growth of radio transmitter market throughout the assessment period. Also, with the slowdown in the world economic growth, the market has suffered an impact.

By mode of technology, the global radio transmitter market has been segmented into analog and digital. Among these, the digital radio transmitter is likely to experience a boost. The shift from analog to digital radio services has resulted in the increased demand for FM broadcast transmitters.

Based on power capacity, the market has been segmented into up to 5 kW, 5–20 kW, and above 20 kW. Among these, the 5–20 kW power capacity segment is likely to acquire the largest market share. The surging digital transformation initiative throughout radio stations is likely to enable smoother and faster working, thereby leading to the increased demand for radio transmitters.
Medium wave transmitter, shortwave radio transmitter, and VHF radio transmitter comprise the type-segmentation of radio transmitter market. Among these, the VHF radio transmitter segment is estimated to demonstrate the highest CAGR during the assessment period.

The end-user segment constitutes automotive, aerospace and defense, electronics, and others. Among these, the electronics segment is anticipated to witness the highest CAGR during the review period.

Geographically, considering the global scenario, the North-American region is likely to gain prominence across the globe. The region is likely to dominate the global market as it has the presence of well-established and sustainable economies. North America is extensively investing in the digitization of radio stations, which is further likely to contribute to the regional market’s growth. The presence of multinational companies and industry bigshots is anticipated to trigger its demand in the region. The Asia-Pacific region will emerge as the highest growing region in the period due to the surging number of smartphones that increases the demand for FM transmitters.

The prominent players operating in the global radio transmitter market comprise Broadcast Electronics (US), GatesAir (US), RIZ-Transmitters Co. (Croatia), Nautel Ltd. (Canada), NEC Corporation (Japan), Continental Electronics (US), Thomson Broadcast (France), Beijing BBEF Science & Technology Co. Ltd. (China), Harris Corporation (US), Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG (Germany), Comsa Corporación (Spain), and Hitachi Kokusai Electronic Inc. (Japan).

Television transmitters. The global TV transmitter market is estimated at USD 580 million in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 680 million by the end of 2024. The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 2.8 percent over the next 5 years. For TV services, a network of transmitter towers is required to broadcast TV signals.

There are mainly three types of TV transmitters – low-power TV transmitter, medium-power TV transmitter, and high-power TV transmitter. Among these, medium-power TV transmitter is more commonly used.

The vendors in the global TV transmitter market are giving emphasis on incorporating some key features in TV transmitters, such as compliance with multi-digital broadcasting standards, reliability, efficiency, and easy maintenance, installation, and operation. Such technological improvements will drive the market in the coming days.

Nowadays, digital terrestrial services (DTT) are being increasingly preferred over the analog terrestrial TV services. In fact, in 2006, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which defines the standards used in the broadcasting industry, proposed the plan for the migration from analog to DTT across the world between 2015 and 2020. This technological migration is likely to give a boost to the market.

Based on regions, the Asia-Pacific region will increase its share, while North America will continue to play its important role in the global market. Some important global players operating in the TV transmitter market are Rohde & Schwarz GmbH, Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., NEC Corporation, Egatel S.L., BBEF Electronics Group Co. Ltd., Toshiba Corporation, GatesAir, Inc., Gospell Digital Technology Co. Ltd., Gigamega Technology Co., BTESA, Chengdu ChengGuang, Continental, Thomson Broadcast, Onetastic, DB Broadcast, Italtelec, and ZHC (China) Digital Equipment Co. Limited (China).

Switches. Until recently, local facility-based TV broadcast signal routing has been accomplished using baseband switching matrices, which connect a specific input to a specific output through manual operator selections or via automation. The router was originally analog. Analog migrated to digital when NTSC was encoded, using SDI (serial digital interface) at 270 Mbps. At that time, a router matrix of 256×256 was regarded as large. Starting around the year 2000, the need for 1.5Gbps HD-SDI routing surfaced to support digital television ATSC HD OTA (over-the-air) transmission in North America. This drove the need for router matrices to scale up to 1152×1152 to serve the considerably larger new HD-capable network facilities being built around the world – many devoted to professional sports. More recently the television industry agreed that 1080p50/60 should replace 1080 interlaced in some acquisition, production, and contribution environments, requiring 1.5Gbps HD-SDI to be doubled to the 3Gbps standard of 3G-SDI. Broadcast facilities now require 75-ohm coaxial cable to carry 3Gbps, or 10× more bits than original SDI at 270 Mbps, making the internal switching matrix designs very expensive to manufacture. The television industry needs new advanced technology to meet these performance requirements while maintaining the deterministic reliability of the current infrastructure. Increasing production performance and cost requirements can no longer be served by traditional switching and distribution, instead requiring a new architecture that leverages the cloud-networking approach used in today’s high-performance data centers. This will result in benefits, such as:
The television industry will gain from recent and ongoing advances in the very-large enterprise IT industry, such as high-performance networks, low-latency, and jitter, mechanisms for time synchronization, the ability to support multicast at large scale and comprehensive network control via API’s.

Implementing an IP data center in the broadcast plant will instantly increase switching capacity and reduce facility space requirements, and capacity will continue to grow as Moore’s law results in ongoing price/performance gains for network switches, based on merchant silicon.

The various digital broadcast standards, such as SDI, HD-SDI, 3G-SDI, 4K/UHD, 24/32bit Audio in stereo, 5.1, 9.1, and 22.2 can coexist in IP formats and be switched within the same IP-routed network, eliminating the need to build and operate separate parallel networks.

The transition from SDI to Ethernet/IP infrastructure in professional television will take several years, but it is anticipated that all major television facilities, requiring new and larger switching capabilities, will select the commercial off the shelf (COTS) IP data center-networking approach. However, legacy SDI routers and new Ethernet/IP networks will coexist for a number of years during the migration to a COTS switch infrastructure. During this transition, a smooth operational integration between the old and the new must be accomplished in a way to avoid burdening the production teams. The production staff should not see any material difference in operations whether a particular project’s signals are SDI-based or Ethernet/IP-centric, assuring the ability to efficiently process and seamlessly route old SDI video streams as well as streams across the new infrastructure.

Encoders. Go back a couple of decades in a time machine, when the real-time media protocol (RTMP) was the protocol for streaming media. Video encoders pushed out RTMP for delivery to the cloud and, in turn, to a player. Everyone relied on RTMP, and the workflow was simple, without complications, such as cloud transcoding or repacking.

Fast-forward to 2019 and RTMP is still widely used, although it does not support high-efficiency video coding (HEVC, or H.265) and no longer has native support within the mainstream player applications and operating systems. The industry continues to rely on RTMP-based workflows with streams pushed up to the cloud and then transcoded, transrated, and repackaged before they are ready for distribution in the formats that today’s viewing devices support.

However, a new encoding and streaming model is gaining ground – and earning support as a smarter and more cost-effective means of modern media delivery. The combination of HTTP live streaming (HLS) and dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP (DASH) with new chip-level system hardware, along with the concept of edge-compute encoding, is making the entire media-delivery process faster and more efficient. And, HLS and DASH combined with the common media application framework (CMAF), enables low latency.

As a result, video delivery over the public internet is being achieved with latency levels low enough to enable a new set of applications – for example, increased interactivity that allows channel changing in emerging countries (where cable is not feasible) to be made possible. Other applications can include live auctions and sports gamification – and making streaming of live broadcasts actually live.

While neither HLS nor DASH is new, what is new is CMAF and the development of cost-effective live streaming video encoders that natively support HLS, DASH, and CMAF. This advancement in technology is thanks to new system-on-chip (SoC) semiconductor technology that has allowed video encoders to now use more modern, purpose-built hardware rather than general purpose FPGAs and CPUs.

Built on the Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, new edge-compute encoding devices boast significantly greater processing power than their legacy counterparts. With this additional horsepower, edge-compute encoding devices can address two critical challenges in streaming – adapting smoothly to changing network conditions and delivering high-quality video over relatively poor internet connections.

Content providers use adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming to provide every viewer with the best-possible image quality. With anywhere from four to eight versions of content – all with different resolutions and bit rates – available in the cloud, it is possible to deliver the version that takes the best advantage of available bandwidths for the target device. One version might be ideal for a small cellphone picture, one might be intended for an iPad, another for a PC or a set-top box.

The application of SoC-based edge-compute encoding to streaming is transforming media-delivery workflows and the cost structures associated with them. Even more exciting is the prospect of the new applications that edge-compute encoding can enable and engender. If anyone can take a camera, plug it into an encoding device, and stream video worldwide in 3 seconds or less, what happens then? The possibilities are limitless, and the results will be amazing.

Moving forward
The signs are everywhere – television is moving to IP. On the distribution side, the rapid increase in OTT services as well as advances in fiber deployments have helped expand and diversify the options consumers have in how they access their favorite programs as well as news and sports. Behind the scenes, broadcasters and related media enterprises are looking at new developments in cloud-based and virtualization technologies and realizing the benefits of software-defined net-working and SaaS (software-as-a-service) offerings. Entire production operations spanning the creation and management of broadcast-specific acquisition, editing, playout, and distribution/storage functions are now using specialized software running on servers and in the private/public cloud. In doing so, these broadcasters are moving away from dedicated, broadcast-only proprietary hardware such as audio/video switchers, traditional editing suites, and signal routers.

On a larger scale, they are taking the first steps toward making traditional master control rooms obsolete. For instance, Disney/ABC Television Group is moving its broadcast playout, network, and delivery infrastructure into the cloud, using Imagine Communications’ VersioCloud. And, Fox Networks’ Engineering & Operations is actively experimenting with SDNs, including the seamless switching of uncompressed broadcast signals using SDNs and commercial off-the-shelf Ethernet switches and servers. Fox Sports has gone one step further by deploying Game Creek Video’s Encore production mobile, which is equipped with Evertz IP-enabled gateways and routers to carry and switch more than 6900 IP-based video channels.

Despite the introduction of SDN products by leading companies, broadcasters have yet to fully embrace the full potential of SDNs and software-defined infrastructure. The problem is that most broadcasters are comfortable with the industry-specific proprietary technology they are accustomed to, and they are scared of moving into SDN, COTS data centers, or virtualized production in the cloud. They just do not grasp how much is possible by moving to a true software-based production model – and how much money they can potentially save.

Whatever the economics, broadcasters are likely to take their time moving to SDN-based production/playout – in part because this paradigm shift will have such an enormous impact. Broadcasting has changed radically, but the biggest changes – such as SDNs, virtualized production/playout, and software-defined infrastructure – are just starting to occur now!

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