AI in Media and Entertainment: IBC2018 in Review

By Chem Assayag

Wherever you talk to broadcasters nowadays, it’s never long before the name Netflix is either dropped into the conversation or you can sense its lurking presence. The opening IBC Conference keynote was no exception either, the SVOD giant’s influence looming large as BBC Studios chief executive, Tim Davie, revealed that the ITV and BBC Worldwide SVOD service, BritBox, which launched in March in the US has just passed 400,000 subscribers.

It’s intriguing to see rival national broadcasters that compete fiercely in their own territory combine to target viewers in another country. This is the sort of distortion that Netflix is bringing to the market and Davie admitted that the same sort of collaboration might be necessary in the UK as well to scale up a SVOD service to compete against it in the future.

Another UK broadcaster, Channel 4’s COO, Keith Underwood, meanwhile argued that scale was not the be all and end all.

“Scale alone is not sufficient for success. David didn’t beat Goliath by piling on the pounds. The victory came by being agile, nimble and deploying smart technology.”

Against a backdrop of industry mega-mergers, Underwood maintained that there were huge opportunities for niche operators as long as they acted quickly to the way that the industry is being reshaped by the FAANG companies in particular.

“Distinctiveness can defeat scale,” he said.

This theme was picked up numerous times during the conference in more than one session, with possibly the most memorable metaphor for the situation being coined by Walter Iuzzolino, founder and curator of AVOD niche drama service Walter Presents.

“They [Amazon & Netflix] are in a different complementary market,” he said. “They lavish enormous amounts of money and offer everything like a supermarket, whereas we are more like a delicatessen, where you go to get something distinctive and special.”

Artificial Intelligence and Media at the Fore

The Cloud has been a big theme of past IBCs, but this year was so pervasive, so ubiquitous that you almost failed to notice it. Indeed it has become to mainstream so quickly that you only really register it when it’s not there and a rare new product on the Exhibition show floor doesn’t include it when by rights it should.

Similarly, the transition towards IP seems to have an unstoppable momentum. There are details still to be ironed out in terms of the exact migration path and network bandwidths, but with even the show’s own IBC TV channel moving to an IP production workflow these probably won’t slow the increasing speed of adoption down.

The big story this year though was Artificial Intelligence and media, which was pretty much everywhere in Amsterdam, as the benefits — or at least the potential benefits — of AI technology were pointed out at all levels of the industry.

Some of this was a bit forward-looking perhaps, such as AI predictions regarding how popular characters and plots will be with audiences feeding into a show’s development. Even one of the co-authors of BBC Research & Development’s paper ‘AI in Production’, the winner of IBC’s Best Paper Award 2018, admitted some of this was fanciful and that AI production systems would never match the quality of skilled craftspeople.

Nevertheless, as the IBC Daily reported, to date the BBC’s system, called Ed, has been used with some success to create automated footage from sports events and studio-based panel shows using simple locked off camera setups.

In fact, AI is having an increasing impact in the here and now. Endemol Shine Creative Networks chief executive, Lisa Perrin, said her group is employing AI techniques to log scenes on one of its flagship formats, Big Brother; work previously undertaken by “banks of people typing in scene descriptions and time codes.

“This technological revolution of AI is opening huge possibilities for places we couldn’t go to before and things we couldn’t see on budgets that are increasingly challenged,” she continued.

Here at VO we were contributing to the buzz surrounding the technology too, as this snippet from IBC365’s show review proves.

“Viaccess-Orca was promoting its artificial intelligence-enabled detection of service anomalies, such as content piracy incidents, that can, the company said, provide invaluable insights into the operational challenges faced by a premium content service provider.”

5G was another disruptive technology very much at the edge of many people’s thinking at the show, with content being touted as ‘its killer app’ in numerous speeches and presentations. However, one interesting subplot developing is that the telcos that will build out the 5G networks have no interest in replying the same circumstances that surfaced in the US surrounding net neutrality and saw them potentially reclassified as a utility.

“We are so far behind the OTT players we are not even at first base,” commented Matt Stagg, director of mobile strategy at BT Sport. “And we don’t want to be the dumb pipe for others.”

One more thing worth noting at the show was the rise in Android TV deployments and technologies. We were involved here too (see our press release from IBC: Wibox Launches Android TV 4K Offer on STB Secured by Viaccess-Orca) but even so the amount activity in the sector is surprising.

“I have never seen anything grow as fast as this,” said Accedo’s Fredrik Andersson at the What Caught My Eye conference session on Innovation. “The number of Pay-TV providers looking at launching on Android went from tens to hundreds in less than two years in what is normally quite a conservative market.”

Key Takeaways from IBC2018

Elsewhere, momentum built behind UHD, with South Korea even planning to switch off HD transmissions by 2027, and HDR; the Alliance for Open Media started talking about AV2 development even as some of the first AV1 implementations debuted on the show floor; VR continued its slightly bumpy path to the mass market; and IBC as a whole made a welcome embrace of diversity, increasing the number of female speakers at its conference from 14% last year to a far more representative 37% in 2018.

Last word for IBC2018 though should go to Maria Garrido, chief insights & analytics officer at global agency Havas, who anchored the IBC Audiences conference stand with a session looking at how traditional media can compete in the digital space. To summarize:

  • The industry must spend more on innovation if it is to survive increasing competition
  • “The TV industry isn’t dead – yet! It still has 34% of the pie in terms of ad spend but this will go down to 31.3% in 2021 while platforms such as mobile will grow to 30.5%.
  • “If you take out all live and sports from live TV in the US, the total audience drops 19%.
  • “More innovation is required to grab the attention of Millennials, Generation Z and Tweens. With Generation Z you have eight seconds before they are on a mobile or tablet.

Eight seconds isn’t long and if we were to predict anything following the show it is that there will be more and more emphasis from all across the industry on perfecting the experience it offers consumers during that brief period. What’s more that feels like exactly the place where AI in media and entertainment might have an increasing impact in future years. Offering the right customers the right content at the right time has never seemed more important.

About the Author: Chem Assayag

Chem Assayag is VO’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Business Development. With a strong experience in the world of digital television and content services, and during his tenure at OpenTV, the worldwide leader in interactive television, he managed operations in Europe and the Middle East, growing revenues in the company’s largest business region. Chem also led the worldwide sales, marketing, and business development functions for the MediaHighway® product line at NDS (now part of Cisco Systems). In the late 2000s he was also a key figure in Europe’s mobile TV and mobile broadcast industry, leading Qualcomm’s MediaFLO division in the region. Aside from his corporate sales and business experience, Assayag is an entrepreneur who founded, managed, and sold his own company, and has also driven a number of business startups. Chem graduated in management from EM Lyon, and holds a postgraduate degree in media management from ESCP Europe.

Read the article on Viaccess-Orca website


DataMiner awarded best NMS & orchestration solution at IBC

Skyline impressed the judges with the AI-powered DataMiner Augmented Operations, and demonstrates once again that the DataMiner end-to-end multi-vendor network management and orchestration solution is truly unrivaled.

“Skyline’s extremely happy with this prestigious award. This is the result of our continuous and relentless efforts to redefine how broadcast and media companies can manage and orchestrate their entire operation end to end, literally across any vendor and technology boundaries, and to continue to be a real trail blazer. And that’s one of the many reasons that so many broadcast and media companies around the world partner up with Skyline,” commented Ben Vandenberghe, CEO at Skyline Communications. “The fact that we have that track record of continuous innovation, combined with the fact that we are a truly vendor-independent partner of our customers, which eliminates all potential conflicts of interest, is of huge strategic value for broadcast and media companies. In today’s changing environments, it is so essential to constantly adapt and integrate new emerging technologies on the fly in a true devops style. Our DataMiner provides that ability, along with many other strategical advantages.”

Skyline’s DataMiner is the only NMS and OSS platform on the market that leverages state-of-the-art big data and artificial intelligence technology. At IBC 2018, the spotlight was put on DataMiner Augmented Operations, which truly unlocks proactive management. The cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology is built into the core of the network management fabric and creates an omnipresent intelligent entity that is particularly designed to operate in a highly contextual and real-time fashion. There’s no doubt that these innovative DataMiner features made the decision of the CSI Awards judges much easier.

Anevia partners with Red Bee Media

Anevia’s Genova Live software video encoder is a key part of Red Bee Media’s modular OTT platform, built on a microservices architecture that is operated in the Cloud to provide both flexibility and scalability. The solution was one of the first deployments of a Dockerized OTT video streaming services for live events and was used when Red Bee Media enabled McDonalds to show all FIFA 2018 World Cup matches in all their restaurants in Sweden.

“When we look for ecosystem partners, we consider three aspects. Of course, price is an important factor, but we are also specifically looking for partners that have a rich feature offer, and are fast – speed is vital to our operations. Anevia answers all of these criteria: Genova Live has a rich feature set that will allow our managed OTT platform to grow as market needs evolve, and Anevia’s development team has a very fast turn-around time and deployment support matching our Continuous Deployment model at Red Bee Media”, says Anders Wassén, Head of Online Video Development at Red Bee Media.

Genova Live’s containerized architecture makes it highly scalable to enable Red Bee Media to deploy new sites and new channels within minutes. The software encoders have an Ultra-Low Latency original design, that is especially adapted to live events such as the Soccer World Cup series, and feature 4K UHD encoding and transcoding with a combination of CPU and GPU acceleration.

According to Jerome Blanc, EVP Compression Products at Anevia, “We are very proud to partner with Red Bee Media on their virtualizable OTT video platform. Anevia is one of the first companies to Dockerize video compression technology and we see this as a growing trend in the video streaming market. Red Bee Media’s deployment of this solution with McDonalds restaurants in Sweden is a good example of this!”

Anevia will demonstrate their Ultra Low Latency software compression solutions at IBC, from 14 – 18 September at the Amsterdam RAI, on stand 5.B66.

Ekstraklasa Live Park uses LYNX Technik AG to support the highest level of interconnectivity in their new UHD/HDR OB Van

Live Park’s 16-camera OB Van leverages several LYNX Technik AG® products to ensure for the highest level of interconnectivity, for flawless fiber signal transport, multi-site workflows and remote productions. The OB Van will be at IBC show in Amsterdam (14 to 18 September) at the Broadcast Solutions stand O.E02.

Szymon Wramba, CTO at Ekstraklasa Live Park on the use of LYNX Technik equipment in the OB Van: “To be as flexible as possible, thinking about I/Os and to have reliable connection lines during productions, these are two key factors in our understanding of multi-site workflows and interconnectivity opportunities. With their reliability, flexibility and ease of use – already field-proven in our HD OB – LYNX Technik’ tools are perfect to achieve this goal. The modules offer all interfacing options we need and you can simply say those are „connect and forget” types of devices that you don’t need to care too much about.”

Several tools from processing and conversion specialist LYNX Technik AG play a decisive part within this concept. LYNX Technik AG®, a provider of software-defined modular interfaces for broadcast as well as professional AV and industrial signal processing applications, provided several units of its yellobrik modules to work as interfaces in the OB Van. One means to ensure signal transport and syncing the Live Park’s use of yellobrik devices in the OB Van for connection of three compact/Goal cameras.


For interconnectivity purpose and in each several yellobrik modules are used, e.g. for syncing of the video signals and for the return path of the 3G video signals (O RX 1802-2 LC). In total four yellobrik modules O TR 1410 are in place and handle up to 4x3G SDI signals via fiber lines on SFP transceiver modules. To connect to and to control the goal cameras and the Riedel Bolero system, O BD 1510 E units are in place. Working as a matched pair, they function as a 4-port Ethernet switch, providing two standard RJ45 Ethernet ports at each location bridged with fiber. The fiber link supports distances up to 10 km and provides a single, high-speed 1Gbit error-free optical connection between the two locations.

Visitors of IBC can see the Ekstraklasa Live Park OB Van live at the Broadcast Solutions stand O.E02.

If you want to know more about the LYNX Technik product portfolio, visit the LYNX Technik stand in hall 8, C70.

Simplylive with European Premiere of ViBox Mini solutions at IBC2018

The Mini is the new compact and powerful member of the ViBox product family. The ViBox Mini offers all applications, such as the ViBox live production system, SloMo, Ref&Box or BMR, available with 4 or 8 channels. This portable, high-quality solution makes it even easier to dip into live productions and especially in sports review.

With its small form-factor – less than 7 kg – and innovative workflows and functions it is the only tool users need to produce cutting-edge content or review matches without thinking about the technology behind. Although defined by a small form-factor and significant cost advantages, ViBox Mini represents the high-quality and professional approach, typical of all Simplylive products. The combination makes ViBox Mini the perfect entry-level model for smaller companies, productions or clubs.

The Ref&Box Mini is the ideal tool for referee review, coaching or team analysis, medical review and concussion protocols. All Ref&Box Mini products follow IFAB requirements for the VAR implementation. With its small form factor and reduced weight (less than 7 kg) Ref&Box Mini’s portability is a great advantage for users to expand options beyond official review into coaching and video analysis applications.

See the possibilities of the ViBox Mini live at IBC Show (14 – 18 September 2018) at the Simplylive stand 3.B19.

Orange Slovensko selects EUTELSAT 16A to expand its pay-TV offer via satellite

Orange Slovensko has signed its first-ever multiyear contract with Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) expanding its pay-TV offer via satellite and enabling a nationwide reach across Slovakia.

Eutelsat’s 16° East position is already a key video neighbourhood for Slovakia thanks to its exceptional channel line-up tailored to local viewers. Orange Slovensko will broadcast from EUTELSAT 16A satellite to extend its existing offer to reach households not covered by its FTTH network.

Under this contract with Eutelsat, the platform delivers 38 channels, with more than half in HD. These channels are available in 3 main pay-TV packages, plus additional thematic and premium channel add-ons, starting at 6 euros per month. The service includes exclusive distribution of Orange Sports channels, home of Champions League matches for the Slovakian territory for the next three seasons as well as other highly valued football, ice hockey, basketball and mixed martial arts (MMA) content.

Pavol Lančarič, CEO of Orange Slovensko said: “By launching our own Orange TV satellite service, the availability of our television services to the public will grow dramatically. The premium content offered by our television will be available to almost all Slovaks.”


Michel Azibert, Chief Commercial and Development Officer of Eutelsat, added: “We are delighted to be working with Orange Slovensko as they expand their pay-TV offer to all of Slovakia. This contract reflects the efficiency of satellite to reach communities across a territory and the strength of EUTELSAT 16A’s coverage over Central Europe. We look forward to continue working with Orange Slovensko as its offer evolves to guarantee the best quality of content to audiences across the country.”

Meet Eutelsat at IBC, 14-18 September, hall 1, stand D.59

Viaccess-Orca and SoftAtHome Demonstrate End-to-End Addressable TV Solution

At IBC2018, Viaccess-Orca (VO), a global leader providing OTT and TV platforms, content protection, and advanced data solutions, and SoftAtHome, the technology company dedicated to the digital home, will jointly demonstrate an end-to-end, best-of-breed solution for addressable TV with their partner Viznet.

The preintegrated solution enables household targeting on operator-controlled devices, including frame-accurate Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) on set-top boxes (STBs) for linear multicast and on-demand TV.

“With TV advertising revenues being challenged by digital advertising, channels see addressable TV as a new growth opportunity. For this opportunity to come to fruition, operators must offer notably granular audience segmentation capabilities across their footprints. However, subscribers’ data privacy and security must be a top priority, especially in the wake of EU’s stringent General Data Privacy Regulation, or GDPR,” said Alain Nochimowski, Executive Vice President of Innovation at Viaccess-Orca. “VO is proud to contribute its proven, hands-on data science and security expertise to help operators extract cross-screen TV audience insights and pave the way to innovative data-enabled TV advertising models.”

The addressable TV solution integrates VO’s audience management capabilities, which pushes the envelope for the enrichment of TV viewership data beyond the requirements of TV business analytics (namely, content promotion, upselling, or churn detection) to fuel the programmatic advertising value chain with unique AI-extracted insights.

The SoftAtHome DAI solution for STBs provides the core technology enablers to implement simultaneous targeted ad insertion for millions of households, including frame-accurate ad insertion on live and on-demand content. With its Eyes’ON TV-ad audience measurement solution, SoftAtHome also delivers an advanced tracking solution to monitor and monetize inserted ads.

“The ability to provide a frame-accurate dynamic ad insertion technology to meet the demanding requirements of TV services providers — notably in terms of user experience and service scalability both for linear and on-demand content — will be key to the success of addressable TV,” said David Souhami, Marketing Director, Innovation and STB, at SoftAtHome. “The TV industry, including content owners, has recognized the unique benefits of our DAI and audience-metering solutions, already being tested by leading European TV operators.”

Viznet brings to the table its combined advertising and TV industry expertise, providing technology solutions to facilitate ad decisioning and bridge the programmatic ad world with the TV world, enabling players to access substantial addressable TV revenue opportunities.

“Addressable TV is an amazing opportunity for TV channels and advertisers while improving ad relevancy for users,” said Stephane Bismuth, Co-founder and Co-CEO at Viznet. “By working together with VO and SoftAtHome to create a world-class targeted advertising solution, we are helping all players to benefit from this fast-growing market.”

The addressable TV solution will be demonstrated at IBC2018, Sept. 14-18 in Amsterdam on both VO Stand 1.A51 and SoftAtHome Stand 1.C29.