The Case for Pro AV IPTV

Over the last two years of AVWeek we have tacked the subject of IPTV; getting video over the Internet in some way or form. It has been the subject of more than a few criticisms about the show and me as the producer. The main thrust of these complaints are that the Pro AV community should not worry about IPTV as it is a purely Residential AV issue. This blog post will question that very notion.

Twenty years ago if you wanted to do a presentation to the board of directors you would have been given the keys to the executive board room where the latest in technology was housed. The large format projector that was the size of a Yugo, the push button controller that controlled everything, and the computer where the presentation was loaded from your CD-Rom. Most of your colleagues would only see a system like this in the board rooms of Fortune 500 companies. Certainly not in their family rooms at home.

Today, much of what was in the high-end board room of the early 1990s has made its way into our homes. The Yugo-sized projector has been replaced with a flat screen display, but the functionality is there. You can take any source and view it on your home display. Something happened in the transition from bringing Pro AV to the Home AV market; the source of innovation changed. Instead of the company executive saying he wanted what was in his board room in his living room, he was saying the opposite. You can make the argument it was the digital conversion or the consumerization of various products. The reason doesn’t matter, but the first time you were asked to get the president’s iPad on the projector… wirelessly, that’s when it happened for you.

That brings me to the subject of IPTV. This idea of using the Internet as a transport for video is still developing. It is going through momentous changes and will not settle down for quite some time. If that makes you nervous, then don’t bother yourself with it. However, the first time your client wants to have a single source to view their YouTube and Vimeo channel as well as other sources of “Internet video”, you will wish you had at least an idea of what they were talking about.

This is the part of the blog that is prediction, but predictions based on reading NAB and Broadcasting & Cable for the last fifteen years. There will come a day when having a broadcasting tower and license won’t mean a thing. Stations are already beginning to shy away from positioning themselves with a channel number and are focusing more on their call letters (WABC) and websites. It has been slow and slight, but it has happened. Tonight, watch your local news and count how many times they reference their website rather than their channel number. That is because their website is the new channel number. Whether it is developing a Roku channel or simply offering every video they produce available online, the broadcasters know where “broadcasting” is going, and it is going to the IPTV. Internet video, or IPTV, will be the next big shift that happens in broadcasting and we as AV professionals need to be ahead of the curve on it.

That means that manufacturers need to begin developing products that are video “catchers” for any sort of IPTV that is out there. Think of a Roku box on steroids. Crestron had a product in the ADMS, but it has been discontinued. The professionals down the line of integration, both integrators and technology managers, need to stay abreast of the developments in the IPTV marketplace to better answer end-users requests and questions. The art professor who wants to show the latest “True Blood” to his class  (yes, this has happened) and then show a video blog or YouTube video breaking down the episode all from the same box should be told when that can happen. Currently it is using computers. As we move into a post-pc era, this will need to shift to appliances that can grab video from anywhere on the Internet and play it back in a seamless manner. This is why IPTV matters to the Pro AV market. We need to be prepared for anything clients will ask us to display and this is quickly becoming one of those sources.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.

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