Television broadcasters –as on display last week at the SMPTE Annual Conference & Exhibition in Hollywood, Calif.- are grappling with what to do about new competitors and technologies.
Witness Mark Aitken, SVP of Advanced Technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, who declared during his SMPTE keynote that the TV industry is at war with wireless companies and over-the-top content providers, who wish to win over broadcast audiences and revenue.
On the other end of the continuum is Bob Seidel, VP of engineer and advanced technology at CBS, and president-elect of SMPTE, who welcomes new media entrants. SMPTE is trying to adapt to changing industry realities, such as the arrival of Netflix and other OTT providers as major content distributors. Perhaps that along with the fact that CBS rolled out its own All Access over-the-top service a couple of weeks ago are helping to shape his perspective.
In another sign of the changing times, IP newsgathering specialist Dejero issued a press release today about Endless Potential Media Group foregoing television distribution of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, STWM, in favor of streaming the race on the STWM website and Canada Running Series YouTube channel. The release points out that TV coverage of the race was discontinued in 2011.
The coverage of this year’s marathon Oct. 19 was no small feat. Nine HD cameras, eight of which were paired with eight separate Dejero LIVE+ 20/20 IP transmitter on motorcycles, were used to cover the event.
“Covering outdoor events used to require big, expensive trucks to transmit satellite or microwave signals to television. Dejero has put the TV truck in a box with the LIVE+ 20/20 Transmitter, which can be set up anywhere in seconds to broadcast live or recorded video from the field at a fraction of the cost of a truck,” said Matt Hortobagyi, executive producer, Endless Potential Media Group, in the press release.
The production appears to raise the same fundamental issue more broadly on display at SMPTE. Namely, is over-the-top a threat to broadcasters and their business? Or, is OTT an opportunity broadcasters can leverage to shore up their existing business, better serve their audiences and find new revenues?
In the case of the marathon, the race clearly is no longer being broadcast. But could a TV broadcast station have leveraged its existing production technology and the same IP newsgathering transmitters to narrowcast the race to marathon enthusiasts and in the process find new revenues?
Clearly, identifying the right path forward will take time, and there is nothing to say that every time narrowcasting via a livestream online makes sense that broadcasters should get involved.
However, exploring these sorts of opportunities may help broadcasters –especially local broadcasters with a unique focus on their communities- find new ways to reach niche audiences with content to their liking without creating conflicts with regularly scheduled on-air programming. In the process, they may also find new revenues.