ABU’s Dr Amal Punchihewa (front row, third from left), at the ABU’s 5th regional workshop on OTT and integrate broadcast/broadband technologies and services for media, said that the efficiency and long-term survival of broadcast stations would come down to how cost-effectively they produce content, and how quickly they respond to changes.
KUALA LUMPUR – As the way people consume content continues to change, broadcasters need to understand what each piece of technology they deploy is capable of doing, said Dr Amal Punchihewa, director of technology and innovation, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).
Dr Amal was speaking at the ABU’s 5th regional workshop on OTT and integrate broadcast/broadband technologies and services for media. The three-day workshop last month introduced IP technologies and addressed some of the main issues that broadcasters are facing when they want to introduce over-the-top (OTT) and integrated broadcast-broadband (IBB) production and delivery within their portfolios.
Dr Amal said: “One of the key discussion points at IBC2017 was also seamless navigation. You can have lots of content but how do you find them? Technologies such as IBB, HbbTV and hybridcast exist to help the discovery process.”
OTT has “completely changed” the landscape of broadcasting, and will play an increasingly key role in the delivery of content, declared Dr Leon Mun Wai Yuen, head, Sony EMCS (Malaysia). “The entry level has become so low for operators to stream content over OTT.
“The strength of OTT is the ability to provide niche services — you need to think how you can provide premium services, and how to charge for them.”
While agreeing that OTT is growing, Dr Amal argued that the distribution costs is not yet proportionate to the size of the audience reached. He called on broadcasters to take advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to gather more data on how people consume content.
From a European perspective, people enjoy the convenience of recommendation services, shared Oliver Linow, head of technical distribution monitoring at German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
The flip side of this, according to him, is how recommendations compel people to choose content similar to what they have watched in the past, without bothering to search for new content.
Linow also believes that it is increasingly critical that broadcasters have a social media presence, and a strategy to bring content to social media audiences. “Be flexible on the platforms that you deliver over,” he added.
When the 2020 Summer Olympics graces Tokyo, Japanese public broadcaster NHK will not only broadcast the Games in 8K but they will also be looking at the possibility of creating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content.
Revealing this, Masaru Takechi, senior research engineer, NHK, said: “We can use VR and AR as tools to create second channels. It might not necessarily be main content but we think we can use these tools to create ads and secondary programming.”
VR and AR technologies can provide a good platform to present some specific content, and can enhance the video experience, added Keisuke Miki, deputy vice-president, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television. “The problem is it takes a long time to produce the content, and it is expensive work. The technologies themselves are also not well developed yet, as are the presentation devices,” he said.
The broadcast industry is today standing at the threshold to the next generation of broadcast services. And in this digital transition, broadcasters need to think of their entire workflow, urged NHK’s Masaru.
Agreeing with Masaru’s assessment, Dr Amal said that the efficiency and long-term survival of broadcast stations would come down to how cost-effectively they produce content, and how quickly they respond to changes.
Or, as Masaru concludes, without a hint of irony: “When something shifts, we have to pay the costs.”