Overcoming media supply chain challenges

by | Sep 7, 2021 | Blog Post

Throughout the broadcast supply chain, new and old technologies are connected to create a network for content distribution. In an industry traditionally reliant on hardware, any upgrades and expansion have proved costly for broadcasters. Physical infrastructure requires significant upfront capital expenditure and long-term investment to maintain. As a result, the industry has been historically reluctant to make any sweeping changes to their content delivery methods, but in recent years things have begun to change.

The Broadcasting Shift

Due to the impracticality and expense of hardware dependency, broadcasters were already looking towards streamlining their reliance prior to the pandemic. However, the pace of this transition has been steered by broadcasters developing an understanding of the potential of cloud-based technology. As proof-of-concept and use cases for IP delivery grew, the industry started to take note of this next-generation solution.

The onset of the pandemic had obvious implications for us all. Lockdowns and social distancing forced productions to stop and resulted in many projects facing significant delays. Where possible, we saw broadcasters looking towards software and cloud services to try and bridge the gap between remote workers. Previously hesitant, broadcasters were now chasing cloud-based working as their only option. The uptake of IP broadcasting increased, as did confidence in its ability to reliably deliver high-quality content to customers. As post-pandemic life settles, we’ve seen many broadcasters continue with this new way of working, however some are still heavily reliant on hardware and on-site broadcast engineering. 

Manufacturing: Trouble Beyond Lockdown?

While social distancing may be easing, the same cannot be said about the pressures on the supply chain. The impact of Covid forced changes to manufacturing capabilities in factories across the world and limited the number of available distribution workers. We are now seeing supply chain issues for components, due to the decrease in production caused by Covid. Additionally, the tech industry saw a boom in sales for items such as computers and televisions during global stay-at-home orders, which has increased overall demand for such components. 

Poorly timed manufacturing and distribution delays in China will of course have a knock-on effect for international supply channels. For broadcasting companies based in the UK there are also the logistical challenges of Brexit to contend with.

This combination of reduced supply and increased demand is causing significant disruption to the media supply chain. IBC 365 recently reported that “Lead times have gone from a typical 12-16 weeks to 52 weeks. Manufacturers are investing in component inventory to ensure their customers continue to receive product, but this is a short-term fix.” With this level of uncertainty, it makes sense to plan ahead and so, our operations team have ensured that we have access to a store of broadcast grade servers if needed. But what about the long-term fix – what changes does the industry need to make? 

Managing Uncertainty: A Software-Defined Supply Chain

It is clearer now than ever that it is the right time for broadcasters to be looking at systems that can mitigate the risks of hardware dependency. This month, the industry will join together for the DPP Media Supply Chain Festival. Split over two days, the festival brings together content companies, cloud providers, integrators, and start-ups to explore software-defined content supply chains. After the initial upheaval of the pandemic, followed by the consequences felt across the supply chain, the logical option for companies is to adapt as much of the existing media infrastructure as possible to software-based strategies. 

From a content delivery perspective, IP offers the agility to deploy resources quickly and deliver to any destination and in any format. To provide real value, solutions must be truly interoperable, offering both cloud and protocol agnostic delivery. This approach will enable the transition between legacy hardware and new software-defined workflows.

Broadcasters and their takers can use multiple supported formats and cloud-based infrastructure that is tailored to their equipment, without the need for proprietary software. By implementing seamless protocol switching, the industry can form a bridge between stakeholders with varying existing infrastructure set-ups.

To manage hardware obsolescence during shortages, it’s important to think sustainably whilst still delivering broadcast-quality services. Get in touch to find out more about our low-to-no hardware requirements.