In the broadcasting space, the competition and need to differentiate is intense. Content is being distributed as quickly as it is produced, and web and app-based channels are powered by high-end smartphones and ever-increasing bandwidth, changing the competitive landscape for traditional broadcasters.
The migration of broadcast technology to IP infrastructure is well underway. Nine, a leading free-to-air television network in Australia that broadcasts news, sports, and lifestyle & entertainment content, recognized the need to adapt and has now moved their Sydney broadcast centers to run entirely over Internet Protocol (IP). Nine’s office campus is now connected to Cisco’s IP network infrastructure. The IP Fabric for Media solution provides a highly reliable (zero drop multicast), highly secure, and highly available network. Together with a file-based media datacenter that can accommodate the large amount of data that needs to be created, stored, and integrated.
Moving to IP Network
This move to IP is a first for broadcasters in Australia and reflects a huge technology shift in the industry from location-based ways of working, to a wholly digital experience, with the ability to broadcast from anywhere.
The broadcaster decided to adopt the SMPTE 2110 standard last year across its network of studios in a bid to become more agile, reduce costs and simplify its operations. The effort paid off, and now, allows its team to leverage IP Fabric for Media solution to create content on the go.
In a nutshell, this means instead of running on legacy connection technologies, all connectivity is done via IP, into Nine’s private network. This provides content creators better flexibility and easier access to content, whether they are in the studio or out in the field.
Impact on the Ground
For news reporters, this means ‘going live’ is easier, even if they’re in the most remote parts of their city or town. With an IP network, the signals from remote broadcasts are fed to a centralized production facility, so it’s not necessary to send an entire production crew out to a location.
An IP infrastructure also provides the ability to converge all signals across one network, saving on resources and allowing for more flexibility and faster set up and tear down and resource allocation can happen more quickly.
Another benefit is released within the studios which are no longer limited by the length of the cable, reducing duplication of assets and driving more productive use of “space” within broadcasting facilities.
The technology transformation of Nine and move to digital through the IP network, also provides flexibility for growth as the industry and video standards continue to evolve, such as with the emerging 4K. With the freedom that SMPTE 2110 provides to content producers, there’s going to be a shift to creating content, creating new experiences, and more agile operations. Technology truly becomes the enabler.
For a TV network adopting SMPTE 2110 is much like businesses adopting IEEE 802.11a (WiFi); SMPTE 2110 allows Nine to really flex their broadcasting muscle with agile routing and switching, and remote production, among other things.
As Nine’s Director of Broadcast Operations, Geoff Sparke explains “For us, it’s a bit like flipping the production and business model from black and white to color. This is the future of broadcasting”.