How the Shift to IP Affects, Well, Everything

© Piotr Adamowicz

Will the migration to an IP infrastructure mean the end of the broadcast and media production world as we know it?

This is one of many questions that will be explored in today’s Super Session “Broad- cast Minds: Where Today’s Content Leaders Discuss Tomorrow’s Trends.” This session, sponsored by NewTek, brings together a group of industry leaders who will discuss how the shift to an IP infrastructure is changing the future of the broadcast and entertainment industry.

Jim Louderback, venture partner at Social Starts, will bring his 20 years of experience as a strategic media technology consultant to the floor as the moderator of the session. The panelists include Andrew Cross, president and CTO, NewTek Inc.; Tom Sahara, vice president, Operations & Technology, Turner Sports; Steve Hellmuth, executive vice presi- dent of Media Operations & Technology, NBA Entertainment; and Marc Scarpa, founder and executive producer/director for Simplynew.

The lure of IP is in its promise. Moving towards IP is about replacing physical wires with virtual ones. It’s a chance to shed the shackles of the past and liberate the creative freedom of the media production industry through effortless interconnectivity.

“The goal of the discussion is to start with where IP technology is today in terms of broadcast and professional video and where is it going,” said Scott Gentry, vice president of Marketing and Communications for NewTek. “There is going to be a dramatic shift over the next couple of years, with all sorts of the production puzzle be- ing utilized through IP from cameras to everything else.”

For those less familiar with the concept of IP, it is a technology that utilizes an Internet networking model to connect the different facets of a production or broadcast enter- prise. It is like creating a private “cloud” that enables shared software, streaming video and access to audio and video assets without hardwired cables.

“Let’s look at a newsroom, for example,” Gentry said. “Right now, anything they want to get on air or to an editing bay has to be connected by a cable. It’s essentially point- to-point. In an IP environment, anything you want that’s on the network can be accessed over an Ethernet cable. So if you have 20 computers with video, audio, graphics or anything, it’s all accessible.”

This ease of connectivity, including the ability to access camera feeds from any- where in the world with an Internet connection, creates enormous opportunities for live and interactive television, and collaboration across vast distances.

“Clearly, broadcast television is in a period of transition,” session moderator Louderback said. “There is definitely more and more of a hunger for live connections between con- tent creators, producers and audiences. What we’re going to explore as a panel is how broadcast television is changing in general; how the live experience of video is changing; and where is it is going in the future.”

Louderback points out that there are ob- vious questions about quality and reliability surrounding the creation of IP-based networks that will also be addressed in this session.

“Some of the issues you have with IP are bandwidth latency, dropout jitter and the quality of the network,” Louderback said. “But in the last few years we’ve seen a lot of those issues go away. With IP you can get a connection that is as good or better than you can by other means, and we’ll explore that as well.”

For content creators and producers, an IP infrastructure is the Holy Grail of network- ing. It promises instant image acquisition and delivery, and the ability for multiple groups to access shared media anywhere in the world. But can it truly be trusted? This session will face those questions head on.

“How robust is the IP network? How capable is it of delivering not only video from point A to point B, but bringing guests in and creating a distributing workflow?” Louderback said. “Can you do that over the IP network? I think the answer is yes, but we’ll be talking about how you do that; what it looks like; what you should think about when you build those networks; and what’s doable and what’s not.”

Because incorporating IP networks into any media enterprise is so pervasive, this session is one that is relevant to just about anyone who would take the step of attending NAB Show.

“I think anyone who is interested in the future of television or video on the content creation side, delivery side or the consumption side should absolutely attend this session, because we’ll be exploring all of those issues,” Louderback said.