IBC2019: Trends and HighlightsSeptember 30, 2019
IBC2019 wrapped up earlier this month, leaving us with fresh insight into where the streaming industry is headed. This year’s theme — Consumers First: A New Era in Media — was reflected in a number of products and announcements. Advances in technology, as well as consumer demands, also shaped the conversations presenters were having.
Here’s our list of IBC2019 trends and highlights:
- Focus on Customer Success and Service Management
- Robust, End-to-End Solutions
- Need for Demonstratable Streaming Quality
- More Realistic Expectations When It Comes to Latency
- Demand for High-Density Computing at Scale
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
- Market Consolidation
- Gender Equality and Diversity
- Adoption of Next-Generation Codecs: AV1
Focus on Customer Success and Service Management
Video streaming is finding its way into every industry. And yet, most organizations lack the practical know-how to implement this technology. A number of vendors at IBC2019 were evolving to offer a more solutions-oriented approach, thereby alleviating the need for organizations to have dedicated in-house resources when deploying streaming video.
This transition reflects an industry-wide commitment to customer success. By moving away from product-focused messaging, these vendors are offsetting the need for their customers to be knowledgeable in video engineering — thereby opening up the industry to a much broader group of people.
At Wowza, we leverage more than a decade of streaming knowledge to help organizations realize business success quickly. Our new Professional Services offering embodies this same focus on customer success.
Robust, End-to-End Solutions
Rather than piecemeal products, many organizations are working to offer robust, end-to-end solutions. This takes the form of both multi-vendor partnerships and single-provider solutions that deliver comprehensive capabilities.
We introduced the ClearCaster at IBC, which can be integrated with Wowza Streaming Cloud or Wowza Streaming Engine for high-quality publishing from encode to distribution. Our partnership with Fastly also helps accelerate the delivery of any stream rendition while giving our customers full control and visibility into services.
Visibility is a key driver when it comes to end-to-end solutions. Siloed products and disjointed providers get in the way of data insights, giving broadcasters only one piece of the picture. Which brings us to our next point.
Need for Demonstrable Streaming Quality
Today’s viewer won’t let you know if video quality is lacking. They’ll just tune out.
For that reason, streaming technology is moving toward the broadcast model of being able to display video and audio quality in real time. This means providing insight into both the live programming life cycle and the viewing experience itself.
To answer this demand for demonstrable streaming quality, we had Wowza Insights on display at our booth during the Conference. Our data-first approach aims to reduce uncertainty in the viewer experience by giving organizations visibility into the entire workflow. From there, content distributors can inspect, interpret, predict, and prevent any issues — via both manual action and self-healing.
More Realistic Expectations When It Comes to Latency
Latency has been a hot topic for years. And while it continues to pique interest, IBC2019 attendees had much more realistic expectations about the challenges that come with low-latency streaming.
Tim Dougherty, Wowza’s director of sales engineering, gave a talk titled Low-Latency Live Streaming Delivery: What’s Next. Drawing from our 2019 Video Streaming Latency Report, he took the opportunity to dissuade anyone without low-latency requirements from pushing the envelope.
“Don’t do ultra low latency unless you have to — because it costs more, it’s harder to do, it’s risky, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to distribute,” Tim explained.
While there’s certainly a time and place for low-latency streaming, we were excited to see that content distributors are becoming more strategic about when to apply it. And for those requiring sub-three-second delivery, we’re rolling out support for Apple Low-Latency HLS in the very near future.
Demand for High-Density Computing at Scale
With more content comes more data. Encoding, processing, storing, and distributing that data takes up space. Hence, many have their sights set on increasing power capabilities while reducing their infrastructure footprint.
The trend towards high-density computing is nothing new. Nor is it specific to the streaming space. Remember when cell phones were the size of Shaquille O’Neal’s shoes? What about the world’s first computer, which took up an entire room?
Broadcasters continue to ask for ways to accomplish a whole lot of stuff with limited space. Whether it’s a casino looking to aggregate multiple streams with one encoder, or an OTT provider trying to deliver hundreds of channels via a high-volume transcoder — it all comes back to scale.
The industry will have to adapt to these needs one way or another, because the amount of video streaming data floating around will only continue to grow.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Many companies are already leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to find more efficient ways to encode, distribute, and organize streaming data. AI also promises to play a critical role in processes like regulating illicit content and preventing copyright infringement.
To help bring this to fruition, we’ve been working with Microsoft to implement AI/ML capabilities for live video object detection — which we were demoing at IBC. But the prevalence of this technology at the show wasn’t always so apparent.
“You may not have noticed AI and ML as much at the show this year, and there’s a reason for that,” explained nScreenMedia Founder Colin Dixon. “It’s actually now beginning to work its way into the processes and functions, and it is embedded into a lot of the other functionality that you are seeing.”
We already mentioned how partnerships have become a go-to method for delivering end-to-end solutions. Mergers and acquisitions are another means to the same end, which has let to significant consolidation across the market.
One can hardly discuss broadcast M&A activity without mentioning Disney’s acquisition of Fox. In last month’s issue of Streaming Media, Editor Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen mulled over whether this development alone signaled the end of the Netflix-dominated era.
That said, many of the M&A deals that took place this year involved smaller vendors, with acquiring tech capabilities as a significant impetus. How this consolidation impacts the market has yet to be seen.
Gender Equality and Diversity
Efforts to close the gender gap in tech are gaining traction. Organizations committed to this movement include Code Like a Girl, Girls Who Code, Girl Develop It, and more.
Just last year, Alicia Pritchett founded Women in Streaming Media (WSM) to promote professional growth and mentorship for women within this industry. Wowza was honored to co-sponsor a Women in Streaming Media Happy Hour during IBC, which gathered an impressive turnout.
WSM announced a new mentorship program during IBC, and Kaltura launched a petition calling for inclusion, diversity, and equality across the media and broadcasting sector.
LGBT representation and neurodiversity were also top of mind, covered in a talk titled Digital and Diversity: The Secret Sauce in Delivering Innovation?
Adoption of Next-Generation Codecs: AV1
Finally, the adoption of next-generation codecs like AV1 gained a healthy amount of attention at IBC. Because reaching a variety of devices means relying on old codecs, the industry is still in flux when it comes to AV1.
“The one disadvantage at this point is that [AV1] is just new,” explained Anne Aaron, director of encoding technologies at Netflix. “H.264 is a really good codec that’s been developed over more than ten years — and AV1 is new, so there’s still kinks in implementations.”
It will take some time before AV1 hardware decoding capabilities are integrated on a mass scale, with even Apple devices still lacking support. Leaders at Netflix, Facebook, Google, and more are planning to make the move to AV1 — but playback limitations can’t be ignored.
IBC2019: A Customer-First Era in Media
The broadcast industry is moving ahead at lightning speed, and we’ve truly entered a customer-first era in media. From gender equality to robust solutions, that wraps up our list of IBC trends.