Streaming IS Television

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When the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) announced the winners of its annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards in late January, the list of honourees was dominated by streaming technology companies and broadcast tech companies being recognised for their efforts in streaming-focussed areas like server-side ad insertion, adaptive bitrate video distribution, cross-platform measurement, real-
time video compression, and content delivery.

Streaming tech was so dominant that it’s worth listing the relevant honourees in full: Akamai, Amazon Web Services, Anvato, ATEME, Beamr, Bitmovin, Brightcove, Encoding.com, Envivio, Face­book, Google, Harmonic, mDialog, Media­Kind, Netflix, RGB Networks, Seawell, and SSIM­WAVE. (For the complete list, see go2sm.com/techemmy.) It’s certainly not the first time NATAS has honoured streaming companies, but it’s never honoured quite so many at once. And even when broad­cast organ­isations like the BBC, the European Broad­casting Union, and Digital Video Broadcasting made the list, they did so for streaming-related efforts.

So why is that? For once, I think we can point to a change and be fairly confident that COVID-19 was not the driving force behind it. The pandemic ground almost all episodic and cinematic video production to a halt in 2020, whether for Netflix or NBC, so it’s not like OTT had an unfair advantage in that department.

The explanation lies in the award criteria themselves. According to NATAS, the technical Emmys go to “a living individual, a company, or a scientific or technical organization for developments and/or standardization involved in engineering technologies that either represent so extensive an improvement on existing methods or are so innovative in nature that they materially have affected television.”

Streaming tech has been doing that for years, but it has now overtaken cable and broadcast tech as the driving force behind innovation in television. This year’s technical Emmys are just another confirmation of what those of us in the industry have known for years: streaming is television.

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