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IBC 2023: What key stakeholders in APAC’s broadcast & media industry can expect at this year’s show

By Dr Amal Punchihewa

If you are gearing up to attend the International Broadcast Convention (IBC) 2023, which will be held from September 15 – 18, it is perhaps timely to think about what is meant by “broadcast content” as this article outlines what IBC 2023 aims to discuss and present, and which are relevant to the various stakeholders in APAC’S broadcast and media industry. 

IBC is an annual broadcast and media trade show held in September at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It is not only a trade show of a hundred exhibitors but also an important IBC conference, with panel discussions, demonstrations, technical paper presentations and speaker sessions to attend.

The International Broadcast Convention is an independent body, owned by six professional membership organisations in the broadcast and media industry, namely, Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Institution of Engineering and Technology UK (IET), International Trade Association for Broadcast (IABM), Royal Television Society (RTS), Society of Cable Television Engineers (SCTE) and Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE), with a full-time professional staff. Hence, IBC is driven by a strong engineering and technical affiliation.

On  August 20, 2023, the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) concluded in Australia, an event jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia. Both countries broadcast local matches by commercial broadcasters but local and selected matches as free-to-access (FTA). Over-the-air (OTA) and streaming services reported the highest audiences, totalling over 11 million during the August 17 semi-final match in Australia. As reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in Australia, “There was a total of 11.15 million viewers watching at one point during the broadcast. The average figure included a national broadcast audience of 6.17 million viewers on the Seven Network with 4.5 million in capital cities and another 957,000 on its streaming platform, 7Plus.”

Fifteen FTA FIFA WWC content that was delivered via OTA on Channel 7 and streamed via the 7Plus streaming platform can be considered “broadcast content”. Hence, we need to define terms well while gathering data, and analysing them to derive insights and conclusions.  Though it was done correctly in this case, it is not the situation for some other reports.

You may have read insights from other media research organisations about television viewing, where conclusions and insights are derived from data generated from poor methodologies and processes. Such data are not suitable for deducting useful insights. 

IBC 2023 aims to discuss artificial intelligence (AI), over-the-top (OTT), sustainability, and 5G among many other topics and areas. Many broadcasters are offering their content on multiplatforms, including analogue terrestrial, digital terrestrial, satellite direct-to-home, over-the-broadband (this could be live or on-demand streaming) and cable.

Given the high degree of diversity in APAC in many facets, we need to embrace new technologies and developments that are relevant for individual broadcasters and operators.

Online video consumption has become a fact of everyday life for millions of households worldwide despite close to half of the population in APAC not having adequate broadband to access media. IBC 2023 aims to explore how video service providers can meet the challenges of increased fragmentation and succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

From the sustainability point of view, the rapid increase in the use of video streaming may have a negative impact on the environment, climate and resources. To succeed in streaming content alone is not enough as it also requires addressing sustainability concerns.

IBC 2023 will discuss how to address the challenges that emerge due to growing immersive digital experiences and data-heavy content. A cloud service provider will present an assessment of the sustainability of cloud-based media platforms providing a useful overview of initiatives underway in the industry.

To address sustainability issues for devices, an approach to reduce the power consumption in High Dynamic Range (HDR) displays by employing machine-learned “region of interest” detection and a just-noticeable difference technique to luminosity adaptation will also be presented.

Broadcast delivery at scale will be a vital requirement for broadcasters. IBC 2023 will discuss the role that 5G, DVB-I and ATSC 3.0 can play in future broadcast and media delivery.  Combining with seamless unicast delivery to ensure coverage and service augmentation is a possibility similar to what we implemented with Integrated Broadcast-broadband (IBB) services. IBC 2023 will also discuss an overview of ETSI’s technical report on deployment guidelines for DVB-I service delivery over 5G systems, further enhancing the convergence in the media and broadcast sector. 

In the compression domain, during IBC 2023, broadcasters will share their newly trialled technologies in sports programme production workflows. Among them, the use of MPEG-5 Part 2 – Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding (LCEVC) to deliver legacy receiver compatible HDR over Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), DASH live streamed 4K HDR video with immersive and personalised audio, encoded with VVC, LCEVC and MPEG-H audio — and evaluation of the interactivity and personalisation features provided by the authored MPEG-H Audio content in a big-screen setting.

There will be a demonstration of the performance benefits of the VVC coding tool, “reference picture resampling”. Another VVC encoding paper will focus on 8K-60fps real-time encoding and provide comparative compression performance and discussion on computational resource requirements.

Previous articles in this column addressed concern on the capabilities and potential implications of AI which threatens to outperform humans, not only in repetitive production tasks but also in creative work. IBC 2023 will examine some areas of the power of AI to influence the future of broadcast production and media creation.

The future of AI news journalism needs to understand what an AI-empowered newsroom might look like and the organisational changes that this would bring. A system that can edit a TV programme down to an arbitrarily short duration will be useful in creating promotion clips and as fillers for broadcast operations. Such systems may use neural networks to rank and edit the most salient segments of video and speech.

The other possibility is that AI technology can identify the nature and intensity of emotion in a dramatic scene and then compose and perform background music to accompany it. 

Multicast could address the scale issue of delivering very popular television programmes over the Internet.  A proof-of-concept architecture and field trial results will be presented during IBC 2023 as a means to assist unicast delivery using multicast. A presentation will address the challenges and needs arising from the requirement to support multiple and different content service providers and their end-client devices.

Another presentation will share content steering into HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG DASH), which enables dynamic routing of streaming content between different CDNs. A presentation will address emerging transport protocol and media over QUIC (a general-purpose transport layer network protocol), offering traffic prioritisation and low latencies, without the typical shortcomings of TCP-IP.

A media and entertainment research organisation will also share its latest consumer survey across all age groups, which shows that gamers outnumber cinema goers and, in some cases like Germany and Japan, are more than double.

To find out more about the key areas in which the closer bonds between games, movies, and TV are being noticed, as well as the key highlights outlined in this article, do not miss IBC 2023, starting on September 15, at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre.

Dr Amal Punchihewa is an ITU expert and advisor/consultant to the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD), and was formerly Director of Technology & Innovation at the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

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