The broadcasting industry is going through a rapid and significant change, driven by new technologies and shifts in how people consume content. The global video-streaming market was valued at $455.45 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to $1,902.68 billion by 2030, while traditional viewership is decreasing. Audiences need to be more cohesive. In this article, we delve into these challenges and consider solutions through the lens of Gcore, a public cloud and edge computing pioneer.
The Distance and Delivery: Redefining Connectivity
In the broadcasting realm, where immediacy and engagement are paramount, the latency challenge is a formidable force to reckon with. Apart from the delivery method, when communicating with a distant server, sheer distance-induced latency, adding 1 millisecond per 96 km (60 miles), can notably degrade the viewer experience. In scenarios where real-time engagement is essential – the latency, hovering between 200 to 300 milliseconds, becomes a stumbling block.
Historically, satellite television was the most effective way to mitigate such challenges. It boasted an impressive 12-second delay during its heyday, significantly outpacing over-the-top (OTT) services.
A potent solution to this challenge is a complementary relationship between a robust streaming platform and a strategically orchestrated Content Delivery Network (CDN). The CDN, a complex web of geographically dispersed edge servers, is intricately designed to shuttle web assets to end users near one of the servers. This strategic distribution is a potent countermeasure to the distance challenge, allowing viewers to access content with drastically curtailed latency. In tandem with technologies like low-latency HLS (LL-HLS) and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), modern CDNs have the potential to achieve an impressive total latency of 2-3 seconds.
By harnessing the power of this CDN infrastructure, broadcasters can effectively dissolve geographical constraints. This yields an immersive viewing experience in which the live-streamed event seems to unfurl within the viewer’s local domain. The meticulous coordination of CDN servers ensures that content embarks on its journey with minimal delays, creating an ecosystem in which distance practically ceases to be an obstacle.
Peak Overload Challenge: An Infrastructure Imperative
The ever-growing popularity of streaming and OTT platforms has ushered in an era marked by heightened viewer engagement and dynamic content consumption patterns. Recent insights show that nearly half of streaming enthusiasts might abandon a live feed following just a few disruptions. Herein lies the ’peak overload challenge’ — a substantial concern for broadcasters, particularly during moments of peak demand like prize fights, live concerts, or show finales. Such peak times stress the infrastructure, leading to potential service disruptions. The financial implications of these interruptions can be staggering, with downtime during popular events possibly costing up to $1 million per hour. On top of this, according to DataBridge market research, the 4K TV market is expected to witness market growth of 13.92% per year from 2022 to 2029, increasing the strain on infrastructures.
Broadcasters must remain vigilant as viewers flock to live events and on-demand content. A single buffering instance or a momentary lag can significantly detract from the viewer experience, risking brand loyalty and consistent engagement. But challenges like these, while daunting, offer an opportunity for innovation. According to vendors, modern infrastructure solutions can dramatically reduce latency and ensure consistent content delivery:
- CDNs can reduce latency by up to 80%.
- Edge broadcasting can reduce latency by up to 30%.
- Auto-scaling can reduce downtime by up to 99.9%.
Driven by increasing content consumption, the peak overload challenge demands our attention, necessitating broadcasters to prioritise investment in scalable and resilient infrastructure. From broadcast quality of service (QoS) monitoring to in-depth analytics, preemptive strategies can help mitigate potential service challenges. At the heart of this lies the need for an adaptable architecture that can effortlessly cater to fluctuating audience demands.
Gcore’s viewpoint, while highlighting the merits of a robust infrastructure, is part of a broader discourse in broadcasting. Ensuring the infrastructure can handle traffic spikes smoothly is pivotal for retaining and enhancing the viewer experience. Ultimately, as we envision the future of broadcasting, it’s clear that consistent, high-quality content delivery, undeterred by demand shifts, will be the defining characteristic of successful broadcasters.
Modern Broadcasting’s Hardware Challenges
Influenced by technological innovations and shifting consumer preferences, the broadcasting industry is in a state of rapid transformation. Central to this metamorphosis are challenges associated with traditional broadcasting hardware. Specifically, broadcasters are grappling with the mounting cost of purchasing and maintaining traditional broadcasting hardware. The complexity of setting up, configuring, and maintaining such systems further exacerbates these challenges. More critically, this hardware needs to improve its capability to deliver the high-quality, high-bandwidth content that today’s viewers demand.
To address these obstacles, the industry is gravitating toward a trio of solutions:
- The Power of Data: In an era overwhelmed by information, the broadcasters who can harness data effectively stand out. Analysing viewer behavior, understanding content preferences, and making informed decisions about resource allocation can mean the difference between relevance and obsolescence.
- Embracing the Cloud: While the term ‘cloud’ may feel overused, its implications for broadcasting are profound. The cloud offers: Scalability - to handle fluctuating viewer numbers; flexibility - to swiftly adapt to changing content dynamics; and reliability - a non-negotiable in an industry where interruptions can lead to lost viewership.
- The Shift to Software: Traditional hardware has had its time, but the future seems to be in software-driven solutions. They offer agility, potential cost savings, and the adaptability to incorporate future innovations.
The broadcasting industry is at a crossroads, and the next big challenge is ensuring that technology and viewer habits evolve in tandem. Gcore is at the forefront of using modern solutions to address contemporary broadcasting challenges. By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and computer vision (CV), Gcore can power dynamic features like real-time content moderation, automatic translation, and instant subtitle generation. This allows broadcasters to deliver more engaging and accessible content to a broader audience.
Beyond these, virtual reality offers viewers an immersive experience, making them feel present at concerts or sports events. Augmented reality enriches live broadcasts by overlaying real-time data on the screen, while 5G technology assures unparalleled streaming speeds, setting the stage for flawless ultra-high-definition broadcasts.
The broadcasting industry is changing rapidly, and broadcasters must be prepared to embrace new technologies and viewer habits. By doing so, they can ensure that they remain relevant.
A Conclusive Call to Evolution
As the curtains rise on the future of broadcasting, these challenges stand as opportunities for evolution. The very essence of innovation lies in confronting these challenges with solutions that transcend boundaries and enrich the viewer experience. In the spirit of industry advancement, IBC offers a hub of professional exchange, inviting participants to unravel these challenges and chart the course for a transformative future.
On Friday, 15 September, at 15:30, at stage 1 (Stand 5A.28), Gcore invites IBC’s attendees to discuss how these challenges can become not roadblocks but stepping stones towards broadcasting innovation.