What’s Driving the Mass Adoption of Remote Production over the Internet? The Clue is in the Title.
Anyone for segway polo? Fancy checking international dodgeball? Catch-up on the latest drone racing league? Now you can – thanks to the internet. Dozens of niche, minor, and so-called second tier sports like these are rapidly growing a fanbase online. They can look to esports as the benchmark – the global competitive video gaming phenomenon was built on live streaming.
It’s not just new or high tech sports benefiting either. Curling – which dates back to medieval Scotland – and surfing, which has never enjoyed much broadcast coverage, are among dozens of established events now thriving on the oxygen of the internet.
For the rights holders, clubs, athletes and media partners of these sports, online distribution has opened up unprecedented revenue-generating and audience-reaching opportunities.
More live events, more remote production
But it’s not just about ubiquitous connectivity to consumer devices. The pent-up demand for live events is being bust wide open thanks to new technology enabling reliable, high-quality and cost-efficient at-home production over the public internet. In turn, broadcasters are finding the flexibility to produce and distribute more video content with fewer resources.
Outside broadcast production with its attendant multi-million dollar mobile trucks, uplink vehicles and legions of engineers has always been a premium – even for news and music events. Stands to reason that the best way to streamline costs is to reduce the burden of its most expensive resources: the facilities required to capture, process and produce at a remote venue and the crew needed to set up, operate and manage it.
Correctly implemented, remote-integration model (REMI) can reduce the movement of people and equipment; increase the utilisation of kit; reduce on-site setup times; and maximise the efficiency of production teams.
The REMI concept is not new, but the cost of contribution and onward delivery has remained a pretty significant barrier to implementing it for all but the largest live events.
A decade ago, for example, NBC was clipping feeds sent back over satellite from the Beijing Olympics at its base in New York. Broadcasters have since moved to transmit more and more of the raw (ISO) feeds, audio, and equipment control from venue to a central studio facility. However, they still relied on satellite, telco infrastructure, private fibre or other managed networks to contribute signals – all options which are often so expensive they negate the incentive to go remote in the first place.
Making remote production cost-effective
What has finally tipped the balance in favour of the mass adoption of REMI is the introduction of technology capable of giving clients the confidence in using the public internet for live contribution video.
There have been justifiable concerns which have made some video providers reluctant to commit to this path. Technologies that transport high-bandwidth, low-latency video streams over unmanaged networks must be able to handle large amounts of packet delay variation (jitter) and be able to recover packets that have been lost in transmission. Any delay or out of sync audio is commercial suicide for the live event producer and its partners – their subscribers won’t hesitate to vent their frustration on social media.
Such concerns should now be assuaged with one of the biggest game changers in broadcast production and the internet video production industry today.
The open-source SRT (Secure Reliable Transport) protocol solves the problem, which everybody has, of transmitting video at very high quality over a bad or dirty internet line.
In simple terms, the video is encrypted so no third party can listen (Secure). It automatically recovers from severe packet loss with implementation of techniques like error correction (Reliable). And it is dynamically adaptable to changing bandwidth conditions (Transport).
Whether production is performed in the cloud or at a traditional studio, you can use SRT to contribute low-latency feeds where bandwidth at the venue is unpredictable or you can transmit high quality video 24/7 from point A to point B on a limited budget using the public internet.
For example, ESPN has deployed SRT-equipped devices to 14 collegiate athletic conferences that have been used to produce more than 2,200 events via low-cost internet connections, in place of using traditional satellite uplink services that would have cost $8-9 million.
Changing the landscape for new and traditional media players
What’s more, as an open-source, royalty-free and flexible specification it performs as well as, or better than, proprietary solutions and is supported by a growing range of applications including IP cameras, encoders, decoders, gateways, OTT platforms and CDNs.
REMI over the internet is now a viable avenue for broadcasters to face down the fierce competition from new media players. OTT distribution provides a more cost-efficient alternative to dedicated distribution platforms, to deliver a richer content to a global audience.
REMI over the internet not only enables broadcasters to reach audiences with niche content, it allows them to increase coverage of a major event by permitting more feeds from multiple cameras around a venue. Fan-cams in the bleachers to player or bench cams, streams overlaid with real-time stats to video with bespoke commentary give the viewer more personalised viewing options and the video service provider great potential for targeted advertising. With no cost restrictions around broadcasting time, providers have greater flexibility in building programming around an event.
Reduced cost, voracious demand, IP maturity and low-latency jitter-free streaming have combined to make the perfect storm for mass adoption of remote production.
Now, what’s the score in that segway polo match?
To learn more about remote production workflows over the internet, Haivision has created a white paper called Synchronizing Video Sources Over the Internet for Live Event Coverage. It offers an overview on how broadcasters can leverage the latest video streaming technologies to satisfy the demands of remote workflows without the traditional costs and logistical challenges.
Featured image credit Braden Kowitz.