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Deep dive into BCA: What are the emerging technologies enhancing APAC’s broadcast & media landscape?

By Dr Amal Punchihewa

BroadcastAsia is the most important broadcast trade show in Asia-Pacific, bringing together the entire broadcast industry, including broadcasters, broadcast solution providers and content creators, to demonstrate the latest in equipment and services to clients in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. 

With the central theme of “Redefining Tech for a Better Future”, BroadcastAsia 2024 attracted more than 8,000 attendees over three days. The event also brought together more than 630 companies showcasing the latest and emerging broadcast technologies, digital solutions, and media ecosystems. 

The event also featured the second Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Awards, held on the evening of May 30 to recognise innovation and excellence in the broadcasting industry.

According to the organisers, BroadcastAsia Conference and Exhibition (BCA) is known as “the meeting place for Asia’s broadcasters, media and entertainment professionals”. This year’s BCA provided broadcasters with (i) insights on industry and technology trends impacting Asia’s broadcast and media landscape, (ii) opportunities to network and reconnect with industry peers, (iii) a platform to discuss the future of broadcast and the strategies to move forward, and (iv) access to source for the latest next-gen broadcast technology from a marketplace of global vendors.

While meeting and networking with key decision-makers within the broadcast and media (B&M) industry, participants were given opportunities to understand the impact of the evolving media ecosystem and consolidation on their business. Attendees also discussed various technological options with broadcast solution providers.  

Since this is the largest B&M event in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), attendees were afforded opportunities to understand investment trends for broadcast and media in APAC with the participation of global equipment manufacturers and solution providers. 

Content plays a vital role in the B&M industry. Content creators got insights on how new technologies are creating new content experiences, including various forms of virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR). Content creators found out the latest creative production technologies that are set to transform the broadcast industry while discussing content monetisation models that work in Asia.

DVB standards are dominant for digital television delivery in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly terrestrial digital television broadcasting services (DTTB) mostly deploying DVB-T2, as well as Australia and New Zealand, early adopters of DVB-T. BroadcastAsia 2024 also provided an opportune platform for the DVB community to meet with key stakeholders and discuss the latest developments. 

Visitors to DVB members who exhibited at BroadcastAsia 2024 had the opportunity to learn about a range of DVB solutions addressing use cases such as targeted advertising, low-latency DVB-DASH streaming, next-generation video codecs, DVB-NIP (Native IP broadcasting) and DVB-SIS (Single Illumination System).

They also heard from Emily Dubs, Head of Technology for the DVB Project, who highlighted how both DVB members and others implementing DVB standards have shown high levels of interest in DVB-NIP and DVB-I, which are seen as key enablers for bringing broadcaster content to internet-connected devices.

It was announced that new proof-of-concept deployments concerning DVB-NIP would be forth-coming in the next few months.

She also spoke about the potential for interworking between DVB-NIP and 5G Broadcast, with DVB-I as a key enabler. DVB believes that this combination is seen as particularly suited to many markets in South and Southeast Asia, where reaching smartphones with broadcast-delivered over-the-top (OTT) content is a priority.

5G broadcast was also a hot topic, with Dubs highlighting the optimisation of mobile networks for media delivery with the use of 5G Broadcast or 5G New Radio through her presentation: “When DVB-I Meets 5G – How Interworking Networks Will Underpin Migration to Sustainable Media Delivery”. 

Dubs also discussed new content monetisation opportunities for both the broadcast and mobile sectors. Her presentation referred to the paper she presented at the BEIT conference held during the 2024 NAB Show, which focused in particular on the promise of deploying DVB-I as a standardised service layer for 5G technologies. This can allow both New Radio-based 5G (5G-NR) networks using 5G Media Streaming and LTE-based 5G Broadcast to carry services with a standardised and ‘TV-friendly’ service layer to facilitate commercial success. 

She further explained that DVB continues to standardise the service aspects of 5G for 5G Broadcast and 5GMS. In July 2021, DVB published the commercial requirements for ‘DVB-I over 5G’ in the BlueBook C100. A joint DVB & 5G-MAG task force wrote Deployment Guidelines, which were published as ETSI TR 103 972 and defines a ‘DVB-I over 5G’ reference architecture, with three scenarios.

Dubs explained in depth the third scenario having hybrid service offerings with some use cases.

The service can be made available on both 5G Broadcast and Unicast. To offer session continuity, the receiver consumes broadcast content when possible but when out of coverage, it uses unicast adaptive streaming. To enable time-shifted viewing, the content is retained on unicast for a period to support time-shifted access. The service is available on both 5G Broadcast and Unicast, but some instances of the service are only available via Unicast.

Component replacement enables enhanced offerings like additional languages and improved accessibility features. Content replacement, when more alternatives of the content exist (potentially temporarily) via Unicast, enables video feed sent from various cameras, making it possible to enhance venue casting or dynamic offloading of Unicast mobile networks to 5G Broadcast.

DVB Native IP broadcasting can ensure indoor reception for mobile devices through Wi-Fi hotspots, removing the need to include indoor coverage in the 5G link budget. It reduces the number of towers needed to cover a given target reception area, leverages existing infrastructures and well-proven DVB-S2 networks — and it is compatible with legacy devices, thereby aiding migration paths.

Using networks for their own strengths, being able to switch between 5G Broadcast and 5G NR as appropriate using DVB-I offers new opportunities for content monetisation, allows network optimisation and achieves more sustainable delivery.

Using networks for their own strengths, the interworking of 5G delivery and DVB-NIP (combined with DVB-T2 or S2/S2X) enables deployment scenarios where networks can complement each other for their own strengths and facilitate migration journeys. Hence, the capabilities of DVB-I enable service delivery over terrestrial, satellite and 5G broadcast (network agnostic), offering more monetisation opportunities.   

I also had the opportunity to chair two conference sessions that discussed online content delivery and access. Mayuko Yamazaki and Tomohisa Nomura from Japan’s Obema TV presented Obema Television’s deployment of over-the-top (OTT) services with the title “Revolutionising Over-The-Top (OTT) Services in Asia: Localised Approach to Global Success.” 

They highlighted that AbemaTV, a Japanese streaming service launched on 11 April 2016, offers subscription-based streaming services and a user interface that allows registered users to access some free content, as well as pay-per-view content. It is mainly owned by CyberAgent, TV Asahi and some other small companies, mostly in the media and entertainment industry.

The Abema TV video distribution service, originating from Japan, offers Japanese news, sports, dramas, anime, and more for overseas viewers.

Globally, with increasing online distribution and access, the industry is facing many challenges concerning copyrights. Kari Grubin of Motion Picture Association Trusted Partner (TPN) addressed this issue with his session titled, “Keeping Content Secure in APAC and Beyond”. 

The Asia-Pacific region faces significant content security issues, with high piracy rates leading to substantial revenue losses and cybersecurity risks. Kari said, “TPN is continually expanding its programme to address emerging needs, such as cybersecurity insurance and providing additional online resources to its members.”

In a session themed “AI & Cloud – A World of Possibilities,” a presentation on 5G, Ultra HD, Cloud and AI’s impact on sports broadcasting showed one of the highest levels of audience engagement.

More organisations are incorporating AI to enhance the sports viewing experience by providing automated production of short clips as a summary and also event data services to augment player identification and statistics.

Venuecasting or smart venue operations are emerging with organisations offering augmented venue services beyond high-quality video and audio services, but also data services that enhance the spectator experiences at sports events. 

AI can be used in data mining and processing to generate insights in relation to audience behaviours. By integrating event data with live production systems, it is possible to provide a more interactive and personalised experience, allowing users to access live feeds, relays and detailed sports analysis.  

The deploying and standardising of native IP technologies in broadcast infrastructures is also an ongoing discourse within the broadcast industry. A presentation titled “Where is Southeast Asia in terms of IP2110 and NDI adoption?” discussed the current landscape, regional trends and challenges of IP and NDI adoption in the region.

IP technologies like IP2110 offer broadcasters the flexibility and scalability needed for modern production, though the timing for adoption should be strategic based on the scale and needs of the operation. The choice of the broadcast technology, whether IP2110, NDI, or others, will be driven by specific application and production requirements of the organisation or the event rather than the mere technology itself. 

These emerging and potentially disruptive technologies and services will be further discussed during the Asia Media Summit (AMS-2024) of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) in the first week of September in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as well as at IBC 2024 in Amsterdam.

If you are attending these events, I look forward to meeting you in person and having a discussion on the latest technology trends that are likely to shape the broadcast and media industry in 2024 and beyond.

Otherwise, watch this space for more updates and developments!

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