Takeaways from IBC 2015

It is clear that IBC in Amsterdam is one of the biggest and richest events for the entire broadcasting market, showcasing a comprehensive insight into the technology of today and for the future.

IBC2015 has finally confirmed the readiness of IP for primetime (no longer just a prediction), the mainstream arrival of OTT everywhere, 4K as a solid, well-established standard and new players (such as telcos) as major media disruptors and innovators.

Also worth highlighting is the new role of startups, able to create high quality products with cutting-edge technologies, but ready to be integrated into the existing market, thus defining a new promising approach. But let’s try to put the main key topics under a “sport-oriented-limelight”.

8K: Stunning, but…

As already foreseen, 8K production end-to-end has been presented, and it is simply stunning. The razor-sharp detail, the overall production quality and the true feeling of a window onto the outer world are among us, and not in early prototype stage.

But… is it really relevant to go down this road, especially on live sport events? To be honest, the comparison between 4k and 8k is far less visible than between 4k and FHD.

Is it really worth upgrading the entire B2C production chain only to broadcast a higher resolution? Or is it maybe better to leverage this astonishing quality with new services (such as digital products out of huge-pixels-dense footages)? Room for new ideas.

360 cameras and VR, because our world is not flat

As high quality new technologies get cheaper, more people can experiment, and the results are awesome. One of the main areas, and definitively relevant to the sport business, is how to represent the world around us as it is, NOT a flat 2D screen.

Several 360 cameras have been showcased by different companies, from the Fraunhofer OmniCam360, already used at the last FIFA World Cup Final 2014, to the new GoPro Hero4-based Odyssey and several other small manufacturers and startups.

The overall quality of the products has risen dramatically in the last 8-12 months, shifting from “mad-scientist-lab-creatures” to production ready devices, with a wide variety of built-in or external services.

And 360 cameras go hand in hand with Virtual Reality. We’re not talking about bringing home cumbersome and uncomfortable headsets, connected to a noisy computer close to our couch, but making new use of devices we carry with us every day: our smartphones.

From Samsung GearVR to Google Cardboard, the hardware is now affordable, wide spread and penetrating the market more and more every day. And this means (finally) the beginning of truly immersive live sport events.

Mixing affordable (and portable) production hardware – 360 cameras – with powerful 3D engines “stolen” from the gaming industry, with daily-driver hardware in our pockets, we can now offer a brand new level of engagement, bringing “live” into the next stage.

Forecasts says: Cloudy Skies

One of the most remarkable aspects at IBC2015, has been the variety of new services moving into the cloud.

The growing need for highly available and scalable platforms, spread worldwide, and traditional broadcasting moving towards IP, has pushed the software industry to look more and more into “cloudified” solutions.

In addition to all the well known streaming and OTT-related services in the cloud, we are about to see new solutions, ranging from editing to TV graphics to remote services and advanced analytics.

In particular, in the sport business, this means being able to issue services faster, instantiate fully-fledged live virtual graphic environments within hours instead of days, and at a more affordable price.

As with any other technology in the past, the well established cloud market will help minor sports and leagues to digitally grow and attract more followers, therefore a better monetisation through sponsorship. More possibilities, high scalability and at a lower price tag.

IoT, leverage the power of low power

Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be the next major topic in the year to come. Companies like Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and Qualcomm are investing time and money into IoT, exploring new horizons in this (almost) brand new world.

And this will change our daily lives. And of course it will step into sport, where wearable devices, such as sensors, are now allowed in several scenarios, providing an entire new set of tools to develop new ideas.

Big Data: still a diamond in the rough

Big Data analysis has been a buzz word for quite a while now; it’s no surprise that has come up endless times at IBC2015. But it seems that we are all still looking for the diamond in the rough.

Crunching huge numbers into small numbers still doesn’t provide the value hidden in those numbers; and this is our new challenge.

IBC2015 revealed that more and more companies are investing in this treasure hunt, and this can only be positive news, since sport inherently has a gargantuous amount of data from different sources.

It is crucial to leverage the full power of massive-scale analysis in the quest for the elusive information buried in data, in order to enrich the sport business with meaningful and valuable new insights.