Telcos must adjust their pricing to allow TV to take advantage of remote production, says Kevin Fitzgerald


TV studios and OB trucks are rapidly gaining the ability to transition to IP via a hybrid solution, a combination of baseband and IP systems.

In 12 to 18 months’ time, if there is a new studio to be developed or a large OB truck to be supplied, we expect significant changes in the way these projects are designed and built.

IP, and the remote production it enables, will greatly affect the broadcast of the major global sporting events that move from one location to another, going from city to city and from country to country.

If the bandwidth and the pipeline into venues is available, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why we can’t just ship in the cameras and a remote unit and do everything from a remote location.

We’re still some distance away from that, but the coverage of major sporting events is moving towards it - if only because of the potential cost savings.

In future, we could see OB trucks that don’t contain a vision mixer, an audio mixer, racking or things like slow-motion replay.

The central vision mixer, audio mixers, camera racking and so on could be taken care of back at base, wherever that might be, so the vehicle could be significantly smaller.

The same goes for studio projects. Again, this will take a significant amount of time to change, but we are seeing a gradual take-up of this remote scenario with, for example, graphics.

Most graphics environments are now being done off-site. The advantage for companies like ours is that we will be able to provide better services and more diverse offerings to clients.

Localised sport

Customers will be getting a return on that investment too. In essence, they’ll be getting higher quality and a broader range of programming, potentially at a lower cost.

But they’ll also be able to leverage media outputs like second screen, web-based access and social media.

So, for example, the owner of the rights to a sporting event where there is limited traditional advertising space available will be able to bring in additional revenue streams via IP.

People are demanding to see more and more localised sport.

The third tier of English football has a huge established fan base and using IP, a low-cost OB vehicle could be brought to a club, set up quickly and a match streamed live to a small subscriber base.

The telcos have a key role to play in making all this happen. As owners of the IP networks, they need to come up with a more economical way of moving content.

Their current pricing is astronomical and it makes the business model unsustainable.

Reducing the cost of supplying the bandwidth would lead to a big uptake in the service, opening up a huge new market.

If they don’t do this, the market will have to find another way - it always does when the benefits are so great - but that will take time.

New technologies will emerge and, given advances in compression and transport, the telcos may find themselves with a depreciating asset, so they really must engage with us now.

  • Kevin Fitzgerald is head of sales and systems integration at Gearhouse Broadcast

This article is taken from the Nov/Dec issue of Broadcast TECH. Click here for the digital edition