Reimagine your transport strategy with IP-based video distribution

July 26, 2023 by Rick Young, SVP, Head of Global Products

Gloomy reports about the ‘death’ of linear television continue to be greatly exaggerated. What is not exaggerated is the unbelievable pace at which our industry is changing. Audiences are consuming content in new and ever-changing ways, presenting tough challenges and exciting opportunities for the biggest media companies in the world. As a result, leading organizations are evolving their workforce and workflows to not only survive, but thrive amid the uncertainty.

When it comes to futureproofing your video distribution strategy, there are four simple steps to set you up with the foundation for business success in today’s constantly shifting, unpredictable media landscape.

1. Getting comfortable with IP-based video distribution

Here’s the good news. If you’re considering migrating to IP-based video transmission, you won’t be the first. IP-based video transport technologies have matured far beyond the initial bleeding edge and are being deployed on the biggest stages. Every day, Tier 1 organizations harness IP transport for the contribution and distribution of high-value content feeds — both for full-time channels and premium live events.

Here’s the even better news. Fully -managed IP-based video distribution has been tested and proven for the highest-value scenarios. Major media organizations, broadcast networks, and consulting firms have run extensive testing, methodical evaluation, and proof-of-concept projects to explore managed IP transport as a reliable, flexible, and scalable alternative to legacy satellite workflows — and the results speak for themselves, meeting stringent demands around key criteria such as:

  • Reliability

  • Quality

  • Latency

  • Failover and redundancy

  • Disaster recovery

LTN recently received an ‘A’ grade from a Tier 1, top 4, broadcast network following one of these extensive and rigorous evaluations. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to learn more about our results – you can get in touch here.

And, for more information on how other major networks are getting comfortable with IP-based video distribution, you can watch my fireside chat from NAB Show 2023 with John Footen, Deloitte’s Managing Director of Media and Entertainment here.

2. Long-term media strategy

Beyond replacing legacy systems, saving on operating expenses, and making your business run more efficiently, it’s important to evaluate your future needs and take a broader view of your organization going forward. Making smart technology choices today provides you with the flexibility to adapt quickly and easily harness emerging opportunities in the future.

For example, are you looking to move past the one size fits all advertising model provided by traditional satellite and fixed fiber networks, in favor of growing revenues through targeted advertising enabled by multiple unique platform deals? Do you want to explore new ways of efficiently versioning live event content and full-time channels at scale to maximize reach and monetization across regions and platforms? If the answer is yes, a content targeting business rules engine over a managed multicast-enabled live video transmission over IP is for you.

Live sports draws in viewers and keeps them signed up for a service. It's a critical piece of an overall content strategy that reduces churn while driving value. Forward-thinking content owners need to consider how they can move blackout and rights management directly into the transmission network for a more intelligent, agile, and flexible distribution model. Leaving the implementation of complex business rules to basic edge devices like IRDs switching sources based on remote command is too limiting and inflexible to cut it at the highest level. With live sports, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Efficiently delivering an ever-increasing amount of live sports content, with more versions of that content, all while enabling 4K and UHD quality requires reliable, scalable video transport infrastructure.

3. Tailored planning for a seamless migration

Failing to plan means planning to fail. At the same time, each organization’s needs and requirements will vary. There isn’t ‘one way’ or ‘the right way’ to kickstart an IP migration. Different organizations and channel types will require varied processes, and technology providers need to take a tailored approach to ensure a seamless transition. How might this look?

  • Deploying IP as a backup mechanism in initial phases

  • Running a dual illumination period to allow an extended transition for affiliates, endpoints, and partners

  • A faster launch and transition. We recently worked with a major RSN (regional sports network) in the US to complete a full migration away from satellite and onto the LTN Network in under ninety days, saving time and driving cost-efficiencies.

4. Activate, monitor, and extend your IP-based video distribution future

Media companies shifting to IP need assurances they will have a stress-free changeover and ongoing reliability as new services drive new opportunities. Working alongside a trusted provider with proven expertise, end-to-end management, and always-on support gives content owners the peace of mind to make the full IP transition a simple, frictionless process.

It’s vital not to underestimate the moving parts required for a strong project management organization, which may include internal training, affiliate coordination, hardware deployment, and software configuration, along with the need to deploy or manage ISP services. On top of that, in today’s hybrid media ecosystem, media customers need interoperable solutions that can slot in seamlessly to existing workflows, integrate with other protocols and standards, and scale as necessary – with near-zero impact on operations and minimal CapEx investment.

Once the migration is complete, critical tooling, dashboards, and alerting mechanisms are vital, especially as new channels, new versions or targeted variations are required to reach viewers wherever they are.

Thankfully, choosing the right partner means media brands can avoid some of these complexities altogether. Executing an IP migration requires a great deal of preparation, but technology partners exist that do this every day for a living so that media leaders can stay focused on where they add the most value — content, brand, audience growth, sales and affiliate deals across all platforms.

It makes business sense to leave the complicated technology headaches to managed service providers with the resources, technical knowledge, and market relationships required to launch or revamp a distribution model quickly and cost-efficiently. In 2023, the world’s biggest media companies shouldn’t need to think too hard about technology when defining their future roadmap — re-imagining global media distribution for high-value live content is a simple business decision, and it’s easy to get started.