February 8, 2021

6 min read

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There’s not much I can say about 2020 you either haven’t already heard or experienced. However, we can’t start looking ahead to 2021 without first acknowledging how the COVID pandemic fundamentally (and permanently?) altered the broadcast and production worlds. When the live events, sports and production communities shut down, professionals in these industries got creative and ultimately managed to make something out of what seemed like a totally bleak situation. 

We all learned to redefine innovation, speed, agility and flexibility. Many of the new practices we were forced to adopt out of necessity became a reality seemingly overnight, as the typical rate of industry change was compressed from years into months. 

For example, before the pandemic remote production was gaining traction, and then COVID certainly accelerated its adoption from an emerging workflow to a day-to-day reality. \There’s no denying COVID will be a daily presence throughout 2021, even with the promise of wider vaccine rollouts. Still, it’s far from the only focus. 

Now that we’re into 2021, it’s a perfect time to highlight the technology and business trends we see as the ones to watch. It’s also interesting to parallel Telstra’s growth with the emergence of these industry shifts. For example, through the efforts of Telstra Broadcast Services, we’ve made ourselves ready for anything the new year throws at us. We’ve advanced our networks to closely align with our customers’ strategies for 2021 and beyond. We’ve been strengthening our remote production capabilities for years and we were ahead of the game by having cloud-based delivery integrated with our Global Media Network (GMN).

Cloud-based delivery

In 2020, we saw an increase in organizations evaluating cloud-based delivery. Even before COVID, overall cloud spending was increasing. According to a recent survey by DPP, more than a third of industry professionals have voiced plans to purchase cloud-based solutions and managed services. Cloud infrastructure costs have also lowered dramatically making cloud-based business models more practical and attractive for addressing capture and access to file storage to asset management to the monetization of content.

However, as any technology improves so do the capabilities of cyber-criminals. Security will increase in focus as broadcasters adopt new cloud delivery models. Maintaining customer trust is critical for online streaming services to continue thriving, and this can be threatened by the speedy emergence of new risks.

Hybrid networks

Demand for international bandwidth is more than doubling every two years, according to statistics from TeleGeography. At the same time, some organizations are not comfortable moving everything into the cloud and relying on only one delivery model. 

That’s where hybrid networks present an attractive option, delivering content using different forms of transport based on different cost structures, geography, reliability and availability. These alternatives include dedicated fibre, internet solutions where dedicated fibre is too expensive and satellite in regions where it is the most feasible option due to geography.

Some global locations will always be fibre-heavy while others will be satellite-heavy. In other words, no one size fits all. There will increasingly be a need for hybrid networks that integrate fibre and satellite networks to serve more markets. Internet-based or cloud services can do more than simply extend fibre networks. They also present significant new revenue opportunities, providing a cost-effective method for broadcasting diverse programming over different media delivery networks. 

Hybrid will be a hot topic during 2021. If you’re in the market for a customized hybrid transport model, it’s important to choose a provider like Telstra that can deliver the entire spectrum of services – from dedicated fibre networks to Internet networks with superior global peering arrangements to satellite teleport access.

5G and OTT

5G technology continues to mature in most major countries, and we will see more trials of content delivery over a 5G cellular network. 

In addition to enabling a range of key technologies with potentially huge impacts on the media market, we see one of the first wide scale uses of 5G in the media space. Untethered cameras can roam over wide areas -- particularly advantageous in covering geographically diverse events such as golf or motor racing. It also holds the promise of further reducing equipment loadouts for all live event coverage and further facilitating the move towards remote production. 

The combination of bandwidth and low latency expands new distribution capabilities. Nearly 30 percent of broadcasters have expressed interest in using 5G for video contribution back-up from the field and we expect that number to increase. It would be wise for companies to explore wireless technologies to address business challenges and increase audience engagement. 

Speaking of audience engagement, who didn’t enjoy long stretches of binge-watching over the past few months? While OTT services are not likely to see similar growth in the post-pandemic world, they are also not going away. Subscriptions are increasing across the large OTT players, but growth might slow as people evaluate the necessity of multiple subscriptions (“subscription fatigue”). 

Changing business models

Media and technology suppliers continued their transitions to “as-a-service” business models, mostly due to the pandemic. We’re at the point now where short-term contracts and consumption-based business models are preferred. 

The value chain is being dominated by larger players to meet customers’ preference for an end-to-end delivery service and management provider. Broadcasters are increasingly looking for a “tiered” approach to serve different markets with different technologies. For example, not all broadcast affiliates will have the same level of resources to run their platform. Some may be able to afford a dedicated fibre network or a “gold” level of service, while other affiliates may be more cost-sensitive and choose internet-based or cloud solutions, which may be more cost-effective but have a lower, or “silver,” level of service. 

The Telstra Special Events Network (SEN) perfectly fits this evolving “as-a-service” model. For special high-profile events, more customers will need tailored solutions with the highest levels of redundancy, planning, design and execution, plus advanced onsite and remote management.

Ready for new opportunities

In 2020, the Telstra Broadcast Services team was busy adapting to all these changing business conditions and shifting technology trends, while maintaining the premium level of service customers expect. As a result, for 2021, we’re well-positioned to meet and exceed the new production requirements of our customers – and their audiences.

We’ll continue adding new capabilities throughout 2021, strengthening and expanding the GMN, adding new points of presence and positioning our network to transport any type of programming our customers, and their audiences, demand.

Nobody knows for certain what 2021, or any new year, will bring. But we do know Telstra will be ready to meet any challenge or business need.

Are you ready to explore new opportunities with Telstra? Connect with us here