In the decade leading up to 2020, we saw a flurry of work on standards that would pave the way for the industry’s migration to IP. Though many of those standards, including SMPTE ST 2110, continue to be refined and optimized, it has been more than a year since we truly began to see implementation of IP.
Midway through 2019, we saw the first indicators that the industry was entering the implementation phase. Early IP-centered projects generally were undertaken by larger companies either to address the requirements of special events, or because they were growing out of existing facilities and needed to invest in future-proof infrastructure and workflows. Before long, it became clear that IP adoption would soon become mainstream, implemented not only in greenfield applications, but also to augment or expand existing facilities.
So, as we moved into 2020, the team here at Artel had high hopes for the year. We had several projects lined up, and we did indeed have a strong first quarter. Though alarms related to COVID were already sounding, it was a few months before the industry began to slow and live events were canceled or postponed. When that did happen, we saw the industry shift from a reliance on contribution from a venue for broadcast production — for sports, concerts, major award shows, etc. — to a different kind of network supporting remote production.
With this change, we saw companies onboarding the technologies, many of them cloud- and internet-based, required to produce and deliver programming in a remote production model. Compression became more important than ever! With so many facilities standing nearly empty, many media organizations also took advantage of the downtime to augment or replace equipment.
While the lockdown hurt businesses in many ways, it also provided more room, literally, to migrate facilities to IP, and Artel products were part of many such projects as 2020 drew on. We were included in new builds that had been planned for quite some time, and also in business continuity implementations that acknowledged the increasing prevalence of remote access and the need to establish the same level of security guaranteed by the conventional “walled garden” approach.
In some ways, the challenges of 2020 accelerated the broadcast industry’s embrace of new IP-based workflows, and particularly remote workflows. Forced to innovate and move forward, we found new ways of working, some of which will forever alter the way content is produced and delivered.
While the remarkable disruption of our industry in 2020 will change the way many broadcasters plan and deploy IP technologies, we’re excited that 2021 brings the hope of meeting up once again to take on new challenges and opportunities. We look forward to a time when we can pick up those on-site visits to talk with customers about their needs and how we can address them.