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Visitors to September’s IBC exhibition will certainly have a lot on their mind. Here are the six issues that we think are preoccupying show visitors the most.
Two years ago it barely registered at IBC, but this year it’s one of the main themes of the entire show.
The question on everyone’s minds is whether stereoscopic 3D represents the future of home entertainment, or is just a fad with limited appeal beyond children’s animations.
The answer won’t become clear for some time, but visitors will want to build up their understanding of the format now, just in case. They will want to know how much it costs to produce 3D content, how to film well in 3D and what changes they’ll have to make to their infrastructure to accommodate it.
The future of sports broadcasting
It’s one of the key drivers of ratings, it keeps many pay TV operators in business and it’s a driver of broadcast technology innovation. Sport has been cited as one of the main drivers of HD adoption in the home and it’s also a key driver of mobile content consumption.
This year’s football World Cup has brought the question of sport and stereoscopic 3D to the fore. Sony put together a technical infrastructure that allowed 25 games to be broadcast live in 3D. The company claims that the broadcasts were done affordably and that the quality of the production was good enough for a clean image both in the cinema and at home.
Sony, along with other broadcast technology and home entertainment suppliers, is telling us that S3D will bring a new level of enjoyment to football and other sports. Show visitors will want to know whether or not sport in 3D really is that good, how to film it and whether or not consumers want it.
How to monetise content
This is a difficult time to be a pay TV broadcaster. In an age where content, some legal and some not, is so freely available, it’s tough to persuade consumers to keep paying for content.
Internet piracy continues and despite threats by ISPs to disconnect the downloaders, the battle already seems lost. Pay TV operators are pinning their hopes on the rollout of HD, 3D and interactive television services, as well as the deployment of content to web sites, mobile phones and iPads.
But are such initiatives enough to persuade people to pay for content, or is sport the only thing that will make people continue to cough up for pay TV? The IBC Conference features a number of sessions dedicated to the issues of content monetisation, IP TV, video on demand and convergence.
The increasing amount of time spent on the internet and increasing demand for mobile content has led broadcasters to embrace the concept of multi-channel distribution.
As well as the technical challenge this presents, broadcasters want to ensure they maintain ultimate control of their content and are the main beneficiary in any revenue sharing agreement.
Sessions under the ‘Content creation and innovation’ stream at the IBC Conference will cover some of these issues, including online video, social media and connected devices.
The future of public service broadcasting
It may be less of an issue here in the Middle East, but the role of public service broadcasters (PSBs) is being questioned in many parts of the world. One key question is whether or not they should continue to receive public money and access privileges in an age of greater competition and fragmentation of audiences across multiple channels.
At the same time, they need high viewing figures to justify their existence, but they are also expected to provide less popular programming such as documentaries, arts & culture, current affairs and regional news. With the audience migrating online, they are keen to establish internet delivery channels, but some see this as outside the PSB’s remit.
Furthermore, is it right for PSBs to spend public money dabbling with 3D and Super Hi-Vision, or should experimentation with new formats be left to commercial broadcasters?
The IBC Conference will include a keynote session entitled ‘Does Public Service Broadcasting have a future?’ on the morning of Thursday, September 9.
Do we need 3G?
Yes, you can broadcast in HD without 3G (3Gbps) infrastructure and you can even do stereoscopic 3D without it. But if you want to broadcast at 1080p and really provide the best 3D image you can, you might have to consider upgrading your infrastructure to 3G.
Although the upgrade from SD to HD is a logical step for any broadcaster, the debate until recently centred on whether or not to opt for 720p or 1080i. Following the ratification of the 3G (3Gbps) standard for routing 1080p video and the emergence of 3D programming, the debate has moved on.
The debate over 3G is now on. The question is: To what degree will it necessitate ripping out existing infrastructure and how much will it cost? Visitors will be hoping to find the answers at IBC.