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Why We Will Forever and Fondly Remember The 2014 NAB Show

By now, those of us who attended this year’s National Association of Broadcasters convention are back home (or onto the next trip!) The last of the crates are packed out, we got the job done, and we’re ready to move on to NCTA or the Cable Show, then ANGA.

But before we file 2014 NAB along with other trade show memory, I wanted to take a moment to call out a few things high points. This NAB represents a milestone, even a leap forward in the broadcast industry’s slow-but-steady transition to all-IP technologies.

The question is not if, or how gradually, but when and how soon!

Cisco is a company that hails from the Internet. We make equipment and software that is seeping into other industries. This takes time. We know that, which is why we began developing tools and technologies for video broadcasters and service providers over two decades ago. (In Internet time, that’s a lot of cycles…!)

But this time, we witnessed a step function when customers, even our competitors, stopped dead in their tracks to see something in our booth. In this case, a live stream of Time Warner Cable’s NY1 news feed that was shot in 4Kp60/UltraHD, using Sony’s gear, in New York City and compressed with our world-class software encoder, Videoscape AnyRes Live. From there, the stream moved over fiber to the Las Vegas Convention Center, was decoded and rendered from a prototype set-top/gateway we made, and shown in ours and Sony’s booths on big beautiful 4K screens.

I want to reiterate: This was a live, 4K p60 stream. Not gorgeous, pre-made demo fare. Yes, we had some of that too — it has its purpose, to show off more motion, the color gamut and other benefits of 4K --  but the NY1 feed was the real thing. We wanted to show we could do it. And we did it at 15 mbps. Our competitors ran back to their booths to update their demos to try to compete!

We also got a lot of attention and praise for embracing NFV into Videoscape Virtualized Video Processing, which we are not starting, but extending.  With that, there was this acknowledgement, during NAB, of a core component in our Virtualized Video Processing/ V2P line, from our Belgian service provider partners at Voo. Specifically, from Voo’s CTO, Tamara Leemans (thank you Tamara!) who had this to say:

“Cisco’s DCMG [Digital Content Management Gateway, a V2P component] is totally aligned with what is needed by today’s service providers to meet the ever-changing demands of the media industry — more content to more eyeballs. As well as being a stable and proven reference in the market, the platform remains evolutionary, which is a key criterion for investments made by Voo.”

(By the way, my colleague David Yates wrote an excellent blog summarizing what V2P is all about here.)

And, as a third watershed marker, there was our work at the 2014 NAB with Snell — a long-time leader in broadcast television infrastructure — to use off-the-shelf, enterprise-class IP routers to distribute video to ship SDI (serial digital interface) signals through the television ecosystem.

In essence, we made the world of IP “look like home” to an SDI signal, without any proprietary inclusions. (More info about that here.)

I’ll close with this: Simplifying the workflows of video creation, processing and distribution by utilizing IP-based hardware and software is actually pretty complex.  We started a while back, and continue to invest — because we continue to believe in the inevitable intersections between video and IP.

So: First ever live stream of 4K video (thanks again, Sony and Time Warner); a nod from Voo about our in-market capabilities with Virtualization, which we are rapidly extending; and a way for broadcasters to use off-the-shelf, garden variety IP routers to move SDI signals (thanks again, Snell.)

That’s a really strong statement by ESBU and Cisco. And it’s why we’ll forever and fondly remember this year’s NAB. Viva IP video for broadcasters!

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