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23/08/2017

Cloud And AI To Scare The Industry At IBC Again

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Everyone knows about penetration by IT technologies in the sphere of broadcast engineering.

Although the IT and engineering campuses are still poles apart, there is a professional tool which connects the two together. This tool is usually called a Broadcast Management System (BMS). The major task of the BMS is to bring order into broadcast operations and to save administration costs. Specifically, the BMS avoids errors in programme planning, streamlines revenue generation through proper advertisement and campaign sales, strategically supports self-promotion and the insertion of graphics, controls the usage of rights and automatically publishes programme schedules for magazines, web, or EPG (Electronic Programme Guide).

These are the features of the advanced BMS systems, such as Provys, traditionally presented every year at IBC. But there are more emerging technologies which integrate IT with engineering. And now, just before IBC, you may ask questions such as: How are the exhibitors evolving products to help broadcasters moving their workflows into the public cloud? How are they adopting technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning in their products? "We based all the developments upon an operating system independent database.

This is automatically expected by most of the broadcasters, similar to virtualisation, which is an extremely helpful tool. When it comes to the cloud operated by third parties, the situation becomes very complex. For broadcasters, the cloud means not only outsourcing all the hardware but also the knowhow, which is critical at the beginning to define the right SLA (Service Level Agreement). There is some scalability in the cloud but only to a certain level. Our system has already been running in the cloud for many months and we are continually collecting experience," said Michal Stehlik, Director –Product Development, Provys.

The transition to the cloud primarily requires a great deal of courage from the management. There are several major aspects of the cloud which all broadcasters should consider. On the financial side, the primary objective is to save costs relating to IT staff and hardware. Balanced against this, cloud owners are well aware of the massive computing requirements in the broadcasting industry, and sooner or later, both broadcaster and cloud owner come to realise that a standard form of contract, suitable for most other commercial operations, is not applicable to the special requirements in this sector. As a result, special individual conditions have to be agreed to cover the unique requirements of the broadcasting industry. The difficulty with this is that these special costs are unknown at the point of making the decision to migrate to the cloud and may present something of a shock at this later date. On the psychological side, the decision-maker may feel that he/she is literally pawning the family silver, even though the benefits have been well presented and analysed.

Younger decision-makers are less likely to be negatively influenced by such considerations. Included in the psychological aspects is the difficulty of letting go highly experienced, valuable and loyal staff members, many of whom would even be described as friends. In spite of all these cons, the pros and the future are indisputably in the cloud. "We are well aware of the advantages of AI, for example, Google's personal recommendation engine, and we are monitoring developments in the field without, at this stage, committing ourselves to any specific programme. Currently, we import and analyse viewing data from widely spread people-meters, and we clearly recognise that Google's personal recommendation engine concept could easily bring significant benefits in the future to the monetisation of broadcasting," explains Michal and adds: "We feel that in all these aspects of broadcasting administration, it is still necessary to maintain the human touch, and so we hold with the philosophy of Efficiency with a Human Face." Author: Martin Junek, PROVYS
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