The coming year looks set to be tough for broadcasters in terms of advertising revenues, but the production industry is likely to fare better. Digital Studio asked six seasoned broadcast professionals for their predictions for the year ahead.
Naresh Subherwal, managing director, Middle East, SAM
Kaveh Farnam, CEO, Advanced Media
Dan E. Holland, marketing manager, IHSE USA
Peter Kyriakos, head of marketing, Sony Professional Solutions (MEA)
Hassan Ghoul, regional director, MENA, IABM
Paul Wallis, sales director, MEA, Imagine Communications
Jayant Bhargava, PwC
What are your initial feelings about 2017 in terms of the MENA region’s broadcast industry?
Subherwal: 2016 has been a tough year across the MENA region for several reasons. The oil crisis has sent shock waves through the region, there has been political conflict and budgets have been pulled back as customers remain cautious about technology investment. Naturally, this has led to slow progress for the broadcast industry, with a lot of projects not happening. I expect the early part of 2017 to remain challenging across the region, but I’m optimistic about the second half of the year and expect to see projects get up and running again.
Farnam: I think we are not facing any big changes in the broadcast industry in MENA in 2017. The major issue is the world’s technical trend, the way in which the industry follows the IP and cloud technology backbone and infrastructure in the MENA region is practically not ready yet for new workflow changes.
Kyriakos: The MENA region is currently impacted by a variety of ever-changing variables such as unstable political and economic conditions which directly affect the appetite to invest in our industry. When it comes to the MENA region’s broadcast industry, it has seen growth during the past decade and the processes in place have evolved to incorporate the latest technologies such as 4K.
Ghoul: The general feeling is that the transition to multi-platform delivery will continue to disrupt the traditional broadcast landscape and it will increase the importance of IT technology within the broadcast infrastructure.
Wallis: The transition to IP is gathering pace and there is a wider acceptance of this technology. In 2016 we delivered a number of proof of concept implementations in the region, and we are seeing these turning into real world practical systems in 2017.
One of the key factors is that, with our fellow vendors in the AIMS alliance, we have now demonstrated clearly that broadcasters can choose best of breed solutions which will release some of the pent-up demand for better, software-defined architectures.
Finally, we see the cloud as now being a real, practical option. Interoperability and virtualisation mean that we can genuinely offer cloud-native solutions, a real boost to productivity as well as a reduction in life-cycle costs.
Most will agree that 2016 was quite tough. Do you expect 2017 to be better or worse?
Holland: Although many economic projects show a reasonable growth trend for the region there still remains some uncertainty on how well the economies will rebound. IHSE remains committed to its MEA customers and does see potential for a slight increase in growth over 2016 sales.
Davies: The budget cuts that affected many broadcasters in 2016 happened very suddenly, so it was difficult for them to manage this situation in a coordinated manner. Consequently, a lot of things that should not have been cut were cut, and there have been some consequences for that. It’s a little too early to say with any degree of certainty what will happen in 2017, but I think that even if the overall budget situation does not improve, broadcasters have had a year to adapt to a low budget environment, so they should at least be able to handle the situation better.