The Broadening Impact of Broadcast Integration

Use of studio-quality cameras and expanding applications among markets such as corporate, house of worship and education put a different spin on broadcast opportunities.

Broadcast… what do you picture when you read that word? Some think of a radio tower, others think of a newsroom, maybe a TV anchor person, or perhaps a control room filled with a gazillion displays.

What comes to your mind?

If it’s not dollar signs, it may be time to reevaluate broadcast in your business.

For many integrators, work is filled with equipment and solutions focused on the presentation of previously created material where their skills impact the signal flow: PowerPoint created on a customer-provided computer, playback of a pre-packaged DVD, or maybe educational material displayed using a classroom projector.

With the exception of microphones and video conferencing, the media shared in an installed solution does not pass through the system until it is in its final form. While this may be the case for the majority of integrators, it is no longer the case for the majority of systems.

A market shift has positioned broadcast-quality cameras to help non-professional end users move from a restrictive playback-only world, to the flexibility of capturing and sharing original content. According to Panasonic, more broadcast equipment is being purchased for non-broadcast environments than for broadcasting itself.

Related White Paper: Jumping on the ‘Light Broadcasting’ Bandwagon

Some popular markets include higher education, corporate, houses of worship (HOW), and sports venues. While the image capture equipment used in these systems is designed for professional use, this is where all similarity to conventional ideas of broadcasting ends.

Let’s consider remote camera systems in a HOW environment. In a common application, the camera follows the worship leader while the image is projected on a large screen for congregants in the main sanctuary and perhaps overflow rooms. The camera’s pan, tilt, zoom, focus, color settings, and other functions are accessed remotely via RS-232 or IP from a control unit, or over the Internet using a web browser.

These same cameras are widely used to capture the action in popular reality TV shows and some share the imager of several studio cameras. To be clear, I’m not suggesting you change your business model and start installing transmitters or building production studios.

You don’t even need to learn new formulas. Broadcast-compatible production equipment has made major inroads into our world, to an extent where the term “broadcast” has become a ubiquitous misnomer. Yet the name sticks, striking fear in those who may think they need to get an FCC license to stay competitive.

In response, some manufactures now offer consulting, installation and training by factory engineers as SKUs available for resale by integrators to end users. The term “light broadcast” had cropped up for a while to refer to the utilization of broadcast-quality production equipment in a non-broadcast environment. There is probably a better term we can collectively devise.

While the term “broadcast” evokes concerns of treading in unfamiliar waters for integrators, more significantly it can create the impression of “unnecessarily expensive” for end-users. “After all, we’re just a [insert your pick: church, school, small local college, etc.].”

Related: Asia-Pacific Enterprise Video Market to Grow 30% by 2019

“Light” also does not give credit to the quality of the equipment, and potentially undermines attempts at cost justification for required functionality when compared to consumer equipment.

IMAG, for “Image Magnification,” is a description commonly used in situations where we need to make performances visible beyond what can be seen with our eyes alone (such as the previous HOW example). While this works well in some situations, it doesn’t cover the spectrum of the market potential.

For example, IMAG excludes recording or streaming functionality, which are very common in HOW, education, corporate and other bread-and-butter markets. Perhaps a simple term like “video production” bridges the gap between pro AV and traditional perceptions of broadcast.

While a change in daily jargon may be an unrealistic expectation, the idiomatic use of broadcast in our world is very similar to what we already know. The primary difference is we can now bring our revenue stream earlier in the signal chain and facilitate our customers’ ability to capture and create their own material.

Furthermore, when considering the proportion of projects that now require some form of image capture, a rudimentary understanding of the market, technologies and products should be considered a necessity for any commercial integrator seeking long-term competitive viability.