Thierry Fautier

By: Thierry Fautier on September 26th, 2019

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IBC Trends That Could Spark Massive OTT Expansion

The numbers are in, and IBC2019 was a record-breaking year for attendance, with a total of 56,390 visitors. The show also saw a 10% year-on-year increase in attendees under the age of 35.

So, what were some of the key video technologies capturing the attention of attendees?

As we are experts in video delivery, here’s what we’ve identified as the main industry trends at IBC2019.

IBC Trend 1: The cloud is maturing

The cloud is like a huge wave. It’s transforming. And at IBC2019 we noticed that the cloud has greatly matured since the early days of OTT. When OTT was born, it completely changed the dynamics of consumer last-mile delivery. Later on, the video processing portion of the workflow shifted to the cloud. Today, this tectonic shift is now moving the entire broadcast and OTT delivery chain on the cloud: from asset acquisition and live distribution between syndicate and affiliates, with SaaS being used more and more to simplify and scale video delivery.

Now that the cloud is maturing, the industry is focused on how to enhance OTT delivery. IBC was about education. Attendees wanted to know ways the cloud can boost content monetization and make workflows more seamless, enabling popup channels and skinny bundles to be launched faster. They saw the benefit of relying on disaster recovery in the cloud or exploiting the cloud for experimental, short-term channels.

There’s also a growing interest in hybrid on-premises and cloud workflows for playout applications, with a single user interface for control. At IBC2019, attendees saw firsthand the value of hybrid playout workflows for more efficient delivery of broadcast and OTT channels, including live streaming.

IBC Trend 2: Media over IP, including UHD, is gaining traction

A year ago, it was still a question whether media over IP was viable. At IBC2019, that line of thinking has evolved from “does it work?” to “how can we make it faster and easier to deploy?” Manual configuration of I/Os is time consuming and needs to be automated. Users want to be able to turn devices on and have them immediately available for use. The industry is embracing techniques to make production and playout simpler. One of the ways they are doing that is by adding support for AMWA IS-04 (discovery and registration of IP sources and destinations) and IS-05 (connection management) specifications on top of the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards to their solutions.

In that same realm, UHD over IP is a hot trend in some regions of the world. Large-scale UHD rollout is still years away, but as our users prepare, IP is a logical route to take. It is enabled by high-performance COTS networks and high-bandwidth storage solutions. A hybrid mix of SDI and IP is another option that’s popular right now too.

IBC Trend 3: The scalability of live OTT is finally being addressed

One of the biggest challenges with live video streaming is being able to handle the unexpected peaks in viewership, especially during premium sports events. What’s the answer? How do we scale? Three building blocks are needed: a good compression technology, state-of-the-art streaming capability with low latency, and advanced caching.

IBC2019 was the perfect platform to orchestrate a solution. During the show, we saw cloud-native platforms that provide real-time scalability for mission-critical, high-demand live video streaming services. We also got confirmation that the Streaming Media Alliance is seriously considering network orchestration. Today, all of the pieces involved with live OTT delivery — from the client to CDN, network, origin server and cache — don’t work together. These are huge steps in the right direction to resolving the existing scalability issues for live OTT.

IBC Trend 4: Broadcast sports is becoming more personalized

Personalized experiences are common in OTT sports environments, and at IBC2019 the broadcast world took a step in that direction with Google and partners demonstrating an integrated OTT and broadcast live sports workflow on Android TV™. Sports fans: get excited because soon you’ll have access to tailored features such as picture-in-picture, multi-view and personalized mosaic on OTT and hybrid set-top boxes.

One of the reasons this is a compelling offering is because the industry has finally gotten the latency of live sports OTT on par with broadcast. If the broadcast and OTT feeds were not in sync this would never work.

IBC Trend 5: 8K and 5G are in the experimental stages

8K and 5G were also big trends at IBC2019. Right now there’s no business model for 8K — it’s purely in an experimentation stage. And 5G is a ways off into the future — with networks expected to be rolled out in 2022 at large scale. What we saw at IBC2019 was that it’s possible to deliver high-quality live sports at low bitrates. During the show attendees saw 8K footage of a premium tennis event delivered over 5G networks. It used to be a popular thought that you needed 100 Mbps to deliver 8K. IBC2019 demonstrations proved that it’s possible to deliver 8K at bitrates as low as 11 Mbps and 39 Mbps for the most complex content, which starts to challenge the announced performances of MPEG VVC to be standardized in 2020. This is all possible because of powerful cloud-based, single-quadrant encoders coupled with content-aware encoding technology. For some, that might be motivation to jump on the 8K bandwagon in the near future.


IBC2019 gave us a glimpse into what’s on the horizon for broadcasters, as well as content providers that want to deliver their content through classical pay-TV operators or using an OTT delivery mechanism. IP, UHD, cloud, SaaS, content personalization, 8K, 5G, and live sports OTT were among the biggest trends.

Software-as-a-service is a gateway to support the technology trends identified at IBC2019. Not only does it enable more efficient and cost-effective delivery of high-quality video on every screen, it supports a range of use cases from linear channels to personalized broadcast TV, live sports streaming, disaster recovery, UHD and more. With SaaS, service providers, broadcasters and content owners can stay one step ahead in the video evolution.

About Thierry Fautier

As Vice President of Video Strategy at Harmonic, Thierry Fautier is in charge of defining and driving the execution of the long term strategy of Harmonic’s video business. In addition, Fautier is the current President of the Ultra HD Forum, the global organization responsible for promoting market adoption of UHD by defining industry best practices for the phased introduction of the wide set of technologies that will facilitate the next-generation viewing experience.