IP Tops 2019 Ranking of Most Important Commercial Trends in Global Media Technology Sector

Joe Zaller | August 29, 2019

This is the first of a series of articles that discuss select findings from Devoncroft’s 2019 Big Broadcast Survey (BBS), a global study of broadcast industry trends, technology purchasing plans, and benchmarking of broadcast technology vendor brands.


Measuring the Most Important Trends in the Global Media Technology Sector

Each year, Devoncroft Partners conducts a large-scale global study of the broadcast industry called the Big Broadcast Survey (BBS).  For the past 11-years, between 6,000 – 10,000 media technology professionals in 100+ countries have participated in the BBS, making it the longest-running and most comprehensive study of the media and broadcast industry.

Large, representative samples are only way to reliably track and predict technology adoption in the global media industry and we very much appreciate the time and effort that respondents devote to the BBS each year.  We read and very much appreciate all feedback from BBS respondents.  Your comments are incredibly helpful to the ongoing evolution of the survey.

For those parties interested in a more detail review of the data gathered in the 2019, multiple Reports are available for immediate delivery.

Further, the agenda for the 2019 Devoncroft Executive Summit | Amsterdam is driven entirely from our ongoing broadcast industry market research, including the BBS. We hope to see you in Amsterdam on September 12, 2019, where industry thought-leaders will discuss and debate the most important commercial and technical issues facing their organizations.


How Trends Selected for Inclusion in the BBS Media Technology Global Trend Index

In an industry as dynamics as media technology, things change quickly.  Our objective is to ensure the trends we measure each year are the most relevant to a rapidly changing market environment. Before publishing the survey, we spend a considerable amount of time seeking feedback from a wide variety of industry professionals about all aspects of the data we collect through our research activities.

As part of this process, the composition of the BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index is reviewed each year in conjunction with Devoncroft clients, broadcast technology end-users, and a variety of domain experts.  New trends are added to the Index when BBS stakeholders believe that the value of this additional trend information outweighs the resulting distortion of the year-over-year comparisons.

A deliberately conservative strategy is used when considering adjustments to the index.  By keeping changes to a minimum, we allow for a more straightforward comparison of how trends were ranked versus previous iterations of the survey.

Based on discussions with clients, end-users, and experts during the planning stages of the 2019 BBS project, we decided to add “5G” and combined the formerly separate trends of “Transition to HDTV operations” and “Transition to 3Gbps (1080p) operations.”

The benefit of this change is that we were able to capture a significant amount of information about information about the perceptions of 5G and the transition to HD/3Gbps infrastructure, including deployment plans and timelines for adoption.

The downside of this approach is that the inclusion of a new trend and the combination of two previously separate trends has a cannibalization effect on the rankings of all trends in our Index. Therefore, readers should be aware that it is not possible to make a 1:1 comparison of how trends were ranked in 2018 versus 2019 across different demographics.


The 2019 BBS Media Technology Global Trend Index

One of the key outputs of the BBS is the annual BBS Media Technology Global Trend Index, a ranking of the broadcast industry trends that are considered by BBS respondents the most commercially important to their businesses in any given year.

To create the 2019 Big Broadcast Survey Global Trend Index, we presented BBS respondents with a list of 20 industry trends and asked them to select the one trend that is “most important” to their business, one trend that is “second most important” to their business, and the other trends (plural) they consider “also very important.”

We then apply a statistical weighting to these results, based on how research participants ranked the commercial importance of each trend.

Please note the goal from this question is to help clients gain insight into the business drivers behind the respondent’s answer.  Therefore, respondents were asked to rank these trends in the context of the commercial importance to their business, rather than “industry buzz,” or “cool technology,” or marketing hype.

The 2019 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index is shown below.


When reviewing the data presented above, readers should note the following about the 2019 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index:

  • It is a measure of what research participants say is most commercially important to their businesses in the future, not what they are doing now, or where they are spending money today (these topics will be addressed in future posts)
  • The data in the chart above is visualized as a weighted index, not as a measure of the number of individual respondents who said which trend was most important to them
  • It measures the responses of all technology purchasers (i.e. non-vendors) who participated in the 2019 BBS, regardless of company type, company size, geographic location, job title, etc. Thus, the responses of any demographic group such as a particular company type or geographic location may vary widely from the results presented in this article.


Analysis of the 2019 BBS Media Technology Global Trend Index

For the past nine years, OTT – multi-platform content delivery was ranked by BBS respondents as the industry’s most important trend (the Transition to HD was the #1 trend in 2009, the first year we conducted the BBS).

For the first time since 2010, Multi-platform content delivery was NOT ranked the most commercially important trend to the global broadcast and media industry.  Instead the number one trend was ‘IP networking & content delivery.’

We see the emergence of IP networking and content delivery as the top-ranked trend in 2019 as an important moment of the evolution of the industry, because it indicates that upgrading to IP-based operations is an important commercial issue for media companies globally.

It is also consistent with our previous statements that 2019 will likely be an important inflection point in the industry-wide adoption of IP-based technologies. This is the year that IP moved off the drawing board, out of standards bodies, and beyond one-off marquee projects and began to become more widely understood and adopted by both buyers and suppliers of media technology products and services.

At the upcoming Devoncroft Executive Summit | Amsterdam a panel of experts will update the audience on the progress of their journey to IP-based operations, share best practice, and discuss what is still required to get all the benefits out of an IP-based operational paradigm.

‘IP networking and content delivery’ has been part of the BBS Media Technology Global Trend Index since its inception in 2009, and it has always been among the top-ranked industry trends.

In the 2018 BBS Global Trend Index ‘IP networking & content delivery’ was ranked second, closely behind ‘Multi-platform content delivery.’  Indeed, when we wrote about industry trends in 2018, we mentioned the noticeable convergence among the top trends.  In fact, in several 2018 BBS demographic reporting groups (i.e. customer types) ‘IP networking & content delivery’ was identified as the top trend.

The measured index gains of ‘IP networking & content delivery’ align with Devoncroft interviews of technology end-users.  Many end-users view the transition to IP-based infrastructure as the most fundamental change having occurred during their tenure in the industry.  The statement is supported by the observation that a transition to IP-based infrastructure isn’t just a refresh of part of the technology architecture, it is a re-imagining of all aspects of the operations – infrastructure, systems, interoperability, processes, and users.

Though it gave up the top spot for the time in almost a decade, it is wrong to conclude ‘OTT – Multi-platform content delivery’ is not important – far from it.  It remains an existential circumstance (as much opportunity as challenge) confronting decision-makers in the sector.

Having tracked the most important industry trends for more than a decade Devoncroft’s BBS provides a rich data set that allows media technology strategists to see and better understand the evolution of technology adoption and end-user preference.

When considering ‘OTT – Multi-platform Content Delivery,’ we note an interesting divergence in the business strategies of global media companies, which now includes options ranging from internal builds, outsourcing to a managed service provider, partnering with an OTT Components provider, and more-recently collaborating with other media companies to achieve national, continent-wide, and even global scale. The way each media company has approached these strategic options has considerable consequences to all parts of the media technology ecosystem.

Ranked #3 in the 2019 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index is ‘4K / UHD.’  Certain constituencies in the industry remain hopeful 4K / UHD is the next major driver of infrastructure upgrades – similar to the transition to HD over a decade ago.

The relative interest in 4K / UHD across industry constituencies (customer type, geography, etc…) illustrates the importance of reviewing more granular categories of respondents, beyond just global results.  The #3 ranking is driven by the production community in the global media community.  There is great enthusiasm by production professionals for the employ of 4K / UHD for certain use cases, in particular to preserve the archive value of content.  However, whether (and when) this enthusiasm will scale beyond segments of the production environment or given geographic regions remains an open question.

In the 2019 BBS Global Market Report, we provide significant coverage of the transition of global broadcast infrastructure. This includes a breakdown of the current and projected future infrastructure installment across analog, standard definition, high definition, 3Gbps operations, and 4K / UHD.

“Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning,” is the #4 ranked trend in 2019, up from a ranking of #7 in 2018.  ‘Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning’ and this year’s #5 ranked trend ‘Move to automated workflows’ have displaced ‘Cloud computing / Virtualization’ from a ranking of #4 in 2018 to a ranking of #7 in 2019.  This is especially interesting because both ‘Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning’ and ‘Move to automated workflows’ are in many respects associated with the adoption of and migration to public cloud platforms. Therefore, it is interesting to see trends associated with (and/or reliant on) cloud adoption ranking higher than actually moving to the cloud.

The topics of ‘Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning,’ ‘Cloud computing / Virtualization,’ and ‘Move to automated workflows’ are natural to group under the broader subject of media supply chain.

Our discussions with early adopters of cloud-based media supply chain technologies indicate that it is possible to achieve meaningful savings once an organization has migrated their supply chain to a cloud-based paradigm. However, getting there is not straightforward.

Indeed, we’ve heard from multiple broadcasters that there is a need for a new type of service provider that can help media companies migrate to new operational paradigms including IP-based operations, remote production (REMI), and public cloud.  There is no “systems integrator for the cloud,” so the technical, operational, and financial risks all fall back on the broadcaster who must “stitch together” applications in cloud and IP-based environments.

The need for a new type of service provider will be one of the discussion topics during the 2019 Devoncroft Executive Summit | Amsterdam.

There is of course a substantial amount of additional data captured in the 2019 BBS on what technology segments end-users are deploying and planning to deploy cloud services, along with what efficiencies they hope to achieve by deploying cloud services.  This data is presented in the 2019 BBS Global Market Report (available for purchase).

Looking back on the past 11 years of the BBS Media Technology Global Trend Index highlights the massive changes that have taken place during the past decade.  At a high-level, the changes in the commercial importance of broadcast industry trends illustrates a recurring theme in Devoncroft research, conferences, and events:

Technology in the broadcast industry exists to support the business model of the media company. These business models have changed radically over the past decade.  Consequently, everything about technology must also change, including how it is designed, what supplier designs it, how it operates, how it is bought and sold (commercial model), how it is paid for, etc.

There are many examples of the changing technology landscape.  Consider the Transition to HDTV Operations, which was the #1 ranked industry trend in 2009. At that time, the majority of broadcast products were hardware-based and sold on a Capex basis. In 2019, the transition to HDTV was was ranked #19 out of 20, and “IP Networking and Content Delivery” had risen to the top-spot.

We plan to write much more about the 2019 BBS and the 2019 BBS Media Technology Global Trend Index, so please check back for further posts.

Also, as noted, we plan to discuss the results during the upcoming Devoncroft Executive Summit | Amsterdam.



The information in this article is based on select findings from the 2019 Big Broadcast Survey (BBS), a global study of broadcast industry trends, technology purchasing plans, and benchmarking of broadcast technology vendor brands. Several thousand broadcast professionals in 100+ countries took part in the 2019 BBS, making it the largest and most comprehensive market study ever conducted in the broadcast industry. The BBS is published annually by Devoncroft Partners.

Granular analysis of these results is available as part of various paid-for reports based on the 2019 BBS data set. For more information about this report, please contact Devoncroft Partners.


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