by Pace Media

5 Reasons Why IT Is Swallowing Broadcast

The IT industry and the commodified computing technology on which software runs in data centres has been slow to impact on the broadcast and media industry, but it clearly is now - and the time may be up for the broadcast engineering and manufacturing sector.

Here are some clear indications why this is the case:

1. IT has all the R&D

According to the latest IABM DC's figures (, the professional broadcast and media industry is valued at $49 billion, a fraction of the value of the global IT and telecom industries. Subsequently, these industries have more money to invest in R&D, so it is no surprise that technological advancement in the IT industry can be capable of outstripping that which can be achieved in the broadcast and media industry.

Until recently, IT technology was not appropriate for specialised broadcast infrastructures. However, advancements in processing power, storage and networking capabilities have paved the way for its gradual introduction.

It makes sound financial sense for the broadcast and media industry to exploit technological developments wherever possible. Rather than effectively reinventing the wheel, it has become much more cost effective to rise on the back of the IT industry's investment in R&D.

2. IT can cope with format proliferation

We have reached a point where is there's now such a proliferation of formats from SD up to 8K - that we need an infrastructure to be less rigid and more easily adaptable to cope. Historically, with each major change in format, broadcasters would have developed a new infrastructure. The amount of investment ploughed into global infrastructures to shift from SD to HD doesn't add up financially if broadcasters have to recreate a new infrastructure each time a new format comes along.

The fact that IT technology is independent of any specific video format makes it very attractive. The industry now has a neutral platform for video data and it is the software that determines which format it is working in. In terms of hardware, broadcast and media specialists only have to invest once to handle multiple formats with that investment. This is far more difficult to do in the legacy broadcast and media world using interconnectors like SDI/HDI.

3. Broadcasters want security of investment

Traditional investments in infrastructure involved large capital expenditure and this proved to be a challenge for companies to budget and plan for. The ability to have an infrastructure based on annual revenue spend rather than a large irregular capex is particularly appealing to any cost conscious organisation. The IT industry is very familiar with this financial approach, with limited upfront costs and the recurring payments associated with outsourcing and cloud models.

4. Broadcast is now a service industry

The IABM DC latest figures also reveal that 54% of total broadcaster revenues ($25.6bn) in 2014-15 was derived from services. “Symptomatic of the growing trend towards IT technology and outsourcing, for the first time in the body's history these figures indicate the industry is seeing more money being spent on services than hardware,” noted Jon Ive, Director of Technology and Strategic Insight, IABM.

This structural shift marks the first transition in broadcast technology from bespoke, high value hardware-based proprietary solutions to open-system architecture and flexible, software-defined solutions.

5. IT firms dominate IBC2015

The research further showed that the top four global companies benefitting most from the shift are Cisco, Microsoft, HP and Dell in line. The broadcast and media industry is increasingly becoming a service-based one, impacting the vendor community, which is restructuring itself from black box technology to service provision.

Al Jazeera CTO Mohamed Abuagla calculated that the combined budget of the 11 IT giants exhibiting at IBC2015 was five times that of all the other exhibitors combined. “And these guys have a vision,” he said. “They will buy everything up in the next five years and start again.”