Streaming Forum 2016 Preview

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We're just two weeks away from Streaming Forum 2016, which will focus on focus on live event and live linear streaming. It's part of BVE's London Entertainment Week series of events happening at ExCel London on 23 & 24 February. The lineup of speakers includes representatives from all across streaming and OTT, including ITV, Sky News, Google, YouTube, the NFL, and more.

There's still time to register for Streaming Forum, and to give you a taste of the kinds of topics and issues you'll see addressed, we asked a few of our speakers and keynoters to answer the question "What's the biggest challenge facing the streaming industry, and how can we address it?" Here's what they said.

Tom Griffiths, Director of Broadcast & Distribution Technology, ITV
23 Feb. keynote, "Bringing the Best of Both Worlds: Broadcast's Resilience and IP's Flexibility for ITV's Streaming Services"

As fast as the consumption of linear & VOD content is growing across OTT platforms, so are the viewers' expectations of a 'like broadcast' experience—qualities like instant on (no buffering), high reliability (no dropped streams), and high picture quality. The growth in consumption volumes, especially for live simultaneous access, makes delivering these end-to-end very challenging—and there is some way to go before this can be reliably achieved at broadcast audience volumes. Addressing this will require cross-industry collaboration and innovation.

Shannon Rutherford, Director of Digital Media Video Operations, NFL
24 Feb. keynote, "Blurred Lines: The Convergence of Broadcast and Digital Inside the NFL"

The biggest challenge in streaming right now from my point of view is consolidating the broadcast technologies and IP streaming technologies into one content production and delivery stack across verticals. I also think it's important to uphold the principles of net neutrality and keep the internet open, expecially when it comes to OTT delivery.

Richard Pattinson, Deputy Head of News Technology, Sky News
23 Feb. presentation, "Case Study: Live Streaming the UK General Election"

My focus is content delivery, so I’ll answer from that perspective. A few years ago I would have said connectivity, but price reductions in fixed line networks and the growth of 4G mean that I’m seldom without sufficient bandwidth to stream live video in good quality, whether I’m delivering content or consuming it. But as someone who deals with streaming on a day-to-day basis, it’s my job to be connected.  I wonder, as streaming becomes the norm, ever more widely available, on an increasing amount of platforms and at increasingly higher resolutions and bit rates, whether connectivity will again become an issue. Consumers will need fibre to the home to be able to cope with a number of simultaneous 4K streams that a family unit could well be watching.  As to how the industry can overcome it, since broadcasters like Sky and BT are also ISPs, I think it’s to their benefit, and to that of their customers, to drive the broadband market forward with affordable fibre to the home products, similar to the Google Fibre example.

Chris Dabbs, CEO, Streaming Tank
24 Feb. presentation, "Live Streaming 360° and Virtual Reality"

The streaming industry is currently going through one of its most exciting times in its history. The global hunger for live is huge, and with the shift of viewing habits away from traditional television delivery to IP is opening up massive opportunities for the industry. Platforms need content, content is—as always—king, and the platforms can deliver the targeted viewers and analytics that brands need.

New technologies and ways of increasing the audience experiences are emerging, and the viewers are engaging.

But delivery is going to be an increasing issue.  Much of the Asian market is still almost closed, we still have infrastructure issues in much of the world, and the U.S. is trying to control the networks, with premium costs associated with reasonable bandwidth requests. The industry must pull together and work in partnerships worldwide to deliver the service that the audience demands and put pressure on governments to act for the best interest of the user, not big business or political grounding.

However, the pressure is starting and the industry is winning the battle, but the fight has to continue, or else we will all lose.

For enabling partnerships, everyone reading this has an interest in working alongside everyone else.  This creates a network of specialists that, as a whole, benefits everyone.

Larry Gale, Head of Broadcast Production, Boiler Room
24 Feb. presentation, "Case Study: Global Underground—A TransAtlantic Partnership for Streaming Worldwide"

I would say there's an exciting unilateral approach from the major pro and consumer CDNs at this point towards greater functionality for broadcasting online. They're all ticking a few boxes here and there, slowly but surely. What we really need are genuine and reliable, ergonomic features for functional  cloud-based MCR workflows and systems comparable to those found in traditional broadcasting. I'm seeing bits here and there on different streaming platforms. From I what know well from my time in television broadcasting, I'm just waiting for a breakthrough from one singular provider in live streaming. That'll be great!

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