If you’re a broadcast CTO then you’re always working with at least one foot in the future. And according to one new survey, 5G will have the biggest impact on broadcasting within the next five years.
“5G is making broadband internet ubiquitous, opening all sorts of possibilities for remote contribution and mobile collaboration,” states Haivision in its 2022 Broadcast IP Transformation Report.
Mobile networks, including cellular bonding and 5G, have overtaken satellite contribution compared to last year’s report.
“Meanwhile AI and machine learning jumped from fourth to second place in terms of industry impact. With more workflows adopting IP and cloud, the possibilities for AI in broadcasting are starting to take shape. 4K UHD remains a major future trend for the industry followed by SMPTE ST 2110.”
IP Transition Slow But Sure
Most of the report is taken up by the transition from SDI to IP. IP transformation has been a major focus for broadcasters over the past few years. Nevertheless, only about 17% of respondents to this report have made the complete leap to IP. SDI is still widely used across the industry.
That’s because broadcasters have important legacy investments in kit such as cameras, monitors, and switches that rely on SDI inputs and outputs. Although just over a third of respondents continue to rely solely on SDI infrastructure, almost half are adopting a hybrid approach that adds newer IP equipment while continuing to leverage existing SDI investments.
So, it’s not a shock that only a small percentage of broadcasters are 100% cloud enabled. Almost half though have moved at least a quarter of their workflow elements to the cloud. These findings suggest that most broadcasters are deploying hybrid on-prem/cloud workflows. Sixteen per cent of respondents have not adopted cloud technology at all, although the majority plan to adopt IP and cloud technology in the future.
The trend towards the remote production of events continues, while production workflows are becoming increasingly decentralized through IP transformation. Only 15% of those surveyed believe that their organization will go back to the way it was pre-pandemic.
The majority see hybrid workflows as the way of the future with a growing mix of on-premise and cloud technologies for both on-site and remote staff. Almost a quarter see their organizations becoming even more decentralized in the future.
A key challenge on the road to IP for live production is reducing latency. “Reducing latency at the first mile, for live contribution, can benefit the entire broadcast chain,” the report states.
Other challenges cited by about a quarter of respondents include budget constraints, network security, and the ability to hire qualified staff in today’s competitive job market.
HEVC and JPEG-XS Gains
Although most broadcasters continue to rely on the H.264 codec, HEVC usage has significantly increased from last year’s survey, up to 59% from 50%. This may be attributed to the growing demand for 4K UHD content as well as newer broadcast workflow components that support HEVC.
As more high-quality video in 4K and HDR is streamed over all types of IP networks, including the internet, Haivision says we can expect HEVC to continue to gain ground given its ability to provide higher quality or lower bitrates.
The legacy MPEG-2 codec is still needed for digital television and cable services though usage continues to slowly decline, down to 36% compared to 39% from the company’s previous survey.
JPEG-2000 remains a commonly used codec, likely for primary broadcast contribution when using dedicated high-bandwidth networks. JPEG-XS usage has more than doubled from last year, likely a result of the increase in SMPTE ST 2110 deployments while usage of the newer VP9 and AV1 codecs remain small for now.
Unsurprisingly for a survey sample that comprised of Haivision customers and prospects, SRT (Secure Reliable Transport), the open-source protocol designed by the company, is now employed by 63% of the broadcasters surveyed, overtaking the legacy RTMP protocol as the most commonly used method of transporting video over IP.