Broadcast and AV convergence is accelerating

The number of manufacturers with a broadcast pedigree at ISE 2018 underlines the level of convergence now taking place between the two sectors.
Pranav Vadehra editor Digital Studio ME
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Pranav Vadehra editor Digital Studio ME

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It is a great time to be a systems integrator, as seen by the massive number of broadcast companies exhibiting at this year’s ISE conference in Amsterdam. The number of manufacturers with a broadcast pedigree entering into the AV market over the last five years underlines the level of convergence now taking place between the two sectors. It’s worth looking at the primary drivers behind this convergence.

One factor is that corporations in nearly all sectors these days expect that it should be possible to take video from multiple sources. We know that it is a critical requirement of broadcast to deliver and process a variety of video sources. Not surprisingly, the need for video switching and distribution has attracted manufacturers whose heritage is in the broadcast world.

Increasing demand for higher-resolution display and adoption of formats like HD, 4K or UHD, is another trend because when you look at large format screens, people expect the highest quality. The software giants too have awakened to the possibilities of integrating high-end AV equipment with their technology, which has been a great success stories for AV manufacturers. As the lines between AV and IT become blurred, and as more products appear that make use of AV over IP, the already evident convergence between the two worlds is set to intensify.

This trend may not yet be happening across the board, and the extent to which traditional broadcast manufacturers have entered into AV varies. However, the opportunities presented by the AV market has made many companies take notice of the narrowing gap between the two markets. Several manufacturers are now looking to develop products that can accommodate the requirements of customers in both markets, or creating separate ranges specifically for the AV market.

Blackmagic Design have for many years, offered converters and other products that have been widely used within other corporate sectors. They are now starting to see more and more companies looking at their production equipment, such as switchers and cameras. As Stuart Ashton, Director of BMD EMEA said to me during a chat at ISE, “we are seeing more of a crossover between the quality and capability between the AV space and the broadcast world. What people at ISE are starting to understand is that all of our products are absolutely applicable to them in their market.”

Accessibility to the equipment is also a big part of that crossover. In the past AV integrators were working with tighter budgets, but now they have access to these products. The AV space is always striving for better and better quality, and as technology improves and prices come down – broadcast quality hardware becomes more and more accessible to the AV space.

The emergence of broadcast tech into the AV space has potential benefits for both sectors - provided both sides can adapt to the needs of the other sector. As broadcast vendors cater to new opportunities they can drive up quality in AV technology, but will need to understand which areas have a need for broadcast-quality technology or services, and which do not. AV market vendors meanwhile will have access to much bigger markets, but will have to learn how to handle complex requests from broadcast clients and integration requests from the production world.

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