Transforming Television Through Cloud-Based IP Technology
JANUARY 29, 2016 • Blog Post • By Todd Wasserman, HPE Matter Contributor
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Like many industries, TV broadcasters are turning to the cloud to become more agile, flexible and better able to monetize their business
- Imagine Communications CEO Charlie Vogt discusses how changing viewing habits have led iconic brands like Disney and ABC to go all-in on cloud
A Q&A with Charlie Vogt, CEO of Imagine Communications
While it has been more or less invisible to viewers at home, behind the scenes, the broadcast industry is undergoing a huge transformation.
Traditionally, the broadcast infrastructure has been underpinned by “big iron” hardware that’s specific to the industry, but in recent years, like so much else, the operations are moving into the cloud where video content becomes another form of data.
As Broadcasting & Cable noted last April, the transition to IP and cloud-based technologies is one of the major topics in the industry. Disney/ABC’s deal to become the first major network to start the move to a cloud-based master control system fueled the chatter.
To facilitate the deal, Disney/ABC joined forces with Imagine Communications, an Emmy-winning provider of end-to-end video solutions. As Imagine CEO Charlie Vogt noted, the industry at the moment is catering to changing viewing habits. While a portion of the audience is used to experiencing TV programming at set times (aka, linear TV), younger viewers are happily choosing a la carte options from Netflix and Hulu. Vogt recently discussed these dynamics and other industry trends with HPE Matter. Below are excerpts of the conversation.
What is driving the trend toward IP-based broadcast and how do you see it evolving over the next few years?
This industry is going through the biggest change it has experienced in the last 50 years. There are tens of thousands of broadcasters throughout the world and this is a huge disruptive undertaking. We’ve been leading the charge for the last two years.
How does this affect consumers?
It’s giving them TV everywhere. For us that’s kind of a broad spectrum. We’re doing everything we can to more cost effectively get content into the hands of consumers on whatever device they’re using and change the way traditional cable operators deliver that.
You said in 2013 that TV eventually would be on IP. Are we there yet?
We are on our way. We’re not there completely. When you have iconic brands like ABC and Disney moving to IP with both feet all-in, it’s certainly driving and pulling the industry. We’re seeing a lot of activity. We supported 100 next-generation IP trials last year and we see that continuing in 2016.
What are the other benefits for broadcasters of moving into the cloud?
It gives them the agility and flexibility to monetize their business. Today, the business is fractionalized and very limited in what its capabilities are. Once you move to an IT environment in which your network is defined by software and you can virtualize it, you can begin to take a lot of the ideas that are sitting in studios and in the next-generation departments in a lot of these TV networks and pilot them, which is something they were never able to do before.
What about live programming? Is that more difficult to move into an IT environment?
Moving file-based video content over the Internet in a virtualized environment isn’t easy, but it’s easier. If you try to incorporate live news, sports and true linear TV programming, that’s a whole different technology innovation. We have spent the last two and a half years embarking on that challenge and we delivered that with ABC/Disney. So it’s here and I think it will continue to accelerate. It’s a decade-long initiative.
When you look ahead, do you see linear TV going away?
Linear TV is still a huge market. It’s still the dominant way that most people watch TV. But we predicted two years ago that online TV viewing is going to become the dominant way in which the majority of people are going to want to watch television. I think we’re striking a balance. I think if you’re a TV network, you want to be able to provide TV content that is incentivizing people to watch TV on Tuesday at 6 p.m., whether you record it or watch it live. So I think linear TV is going to continue to be viable.
Imagine Communications is a strategic partner of HPE Communications & Media Solutions. Together, we help service providers overcome today’s industry challenges to improve the customer experience and innovate more quickly, while reducing costs and growing the top line.