Moving video content around the world – whether that is permanent, always-on linear channels or short-term live sports and event content – presents a variety of challenges for content owners. There is a growing awareness that IP solutions provide a cheaper and more flexible alternative to traditional broadcast workflows like satellite and fibre, but it is important to acknowledge that there are limitations to IP. As with any next-gen technology, these limitations have somewhat stalled the uptake of IP workflows. The result is that IP has yet to be implemented on the scale enjoyed by its satellite and fibre counterparts. Similarly there are benefits to satellite and fibre, which mean that IP has often been sidelined for more familiar delivery methods.
But are those ‘limitations’ and ‘benefits’ still relevant? Have things moved on and, as is so often the case, have mindsets remained fixed? To my mind, there are two main reasons why traditional delivery methods remain the comfortable default position. They are:
- The ubiquity of the transmission medium.
- The ability to decouple responsibility between sending and receiving content.
The transmission medium for satellite delivery is all around us, there’s no shortage of air – you can literally hold your hand out and catch RF satellite signals. That being said, whilst the transmission medium is accessible the infrastructure is undoubtedly expensive. Depending on the scale of the broadcast operation, content owners will need sizeable infrastructure in place to be able to send, receive and process satellite signals.
On the other hand, IP is equally as ubiquitous, with the added benefit of not needing satellite antennas and the resources to go with them. Realistically all that is required for IP contribution and distribution is at least one ISP and enough bandwidth to transport the feed. Any broadcaster worth their salt already has that capacity and gone are the days where connectivity is limited by geographical region – it is just not the case anymore. All things considered, whilst IP may be as ubiquitous as air these days, there is still a need to invest in infrastructure. The key difference with IP, however, is that there are more options available, more potential and longer benefits through smarter investment – to summarise, you get so much more bang for your buck.
The second reason has always been more difficult to overcome and until now has limited the adoption of IP. When managing satellite and fibre workflows, content owners make feeds available at a specific antenna or POP. It is then the responsibility of the taker to seek entitlement permissions, pay for the rights and arrange their own downlink or cross-connect. If something goes wrong downstream, provided that the content owner is getting the content to where they promised it would be, they are decoupled from the rest of the chain and can go about their day. The ability to decouple responsibility has been missing from IP workflows, meaning that scaling up to large and complex operations has been unachievable – until now.
Livelink is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service, IP delivery platform which allows users to self-manage live feeds from any location to any destination, whilst meeting the ingest requirements of those destinations. By creating a platform which isn’t limited by an organisation’s choice of cloud provider or IP protocol, content owners can deliver feeds into the platform, schedule outputs and manage entitlements. It is then the responsibility of rights takers to access the platform and set up their outputs to ensure they receive the content as and when it is available. As with satellite and fibre workflows, as soon as the content owner has made the content available in the platform, they are decoupled from the responsibility of the output. Livelink provides the broadcast workflow familiarity that has been missing from the IP world, and creates the potential for widespread adoption of IP workflows..
Satellite and fibre workflows aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, nor should they, particularly when investments have been made into the infrastructure required to facilitate them. But it is essential that content owners are able to realise the full potential of IP workflows, to achieve revenue growth, increase audience reach, and expand into new territories. Content owners need to appreciate that whilst some broadcasters will often opt for traditional satellite and fibre workflows, most global broadcasters are significantly invested in IP technologies and are equally hungry for the content. With very little change required to make feeds available, solutions like Livelink can unlock the agnostic potential of IP, and deliver content to multiple takers at scale.