Largest-Ever Study of Broadcast Market Reveals Top Industry Trends of 2012

Posted by Joe Zaller
Apr 05 2012

This is the first in a series of articles about some of the findings from the 2012 Big Broadcast Survey (BBS), a global study of broadcast industry trends, technology purchasing plans, and benchmarking of broadcast technology vendor brands. Nearly 10,000 broadcast professionals in 100+ countries took part in the 2012 BBS, making it the largest and most comprehensive market study ever conducted in the broadcast industry.


The 2012 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index

Each year, Devoncroft Partners conducts a large scale global study of the broadcast industry called the Big Broadcast Survey (BBS).  Nearly 10,000 broadcast professionals in 100+ countries participated in the 2012 BBS, making it the most comprehensive study ever done in the broadcast industry.

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


Changes to the Trends Measured In 2012

This is the fourth annual BBS study, and a lot has changed in the broadcast industry since we started in 2009.   In order to ensure that the trends we measure in the BBS are the most relevant to the industry we spend a consider amount of time each year seeking feedback about the structure of our reports from a wide variety of industry professionals including broadcasters, broadcast service providers, technology vendors and consultants.

Based on industry feedback, we added a 16th trend to our list this year: “cloud computing / cloud services.”  In 2011, we added “analog switch-off.”

Adding extra trends to the list we measure enables us to make sure that we are keeping our market studies up to date by tracking the most relevant issues facing the industry.

The trade-off is that by adding a new list to the trends we measure makes it more difficult to do a year-over-year comparison of these trends and how they have changed in priority over time.  Nevertheless we felt that the increasing importance of cloud-based technologies, services and business models was such that it warranted inclusion in our 2012 study.  Please note that the addition of cloud computing / cloud services likely “cannibalized” a small percentage of responses from other trends in this year’s ranking.


The Top Broadcast Industry Trends in 2012

To create the 2012 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index, we presented BBS respondents with a list of 16 industry trends and asked them to tell us which one trend they consider to be “most important” to their business, which one trend they consider to be “second most important” to their business, and which other trends (plural) they consider to be “also very important.”

In order to create the BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index, we then apply a statistical weighting to these results, which is based on the commercial importance of each trend we measure.

Please note that our goal from this question is to help clients gain insight into the business drivers behind the respondent’s answer. Therefore, we asked this question in the context of commercial importance, rather than “industry buzz” or technology hype.

The table below shows the 2012 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index. Please note that this chart shows a weighted index, not measure the number of people that said which trend was most important to them.  Also please note that this chart measures the responses all non-vendors who participated in the 2012 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.



In 2012, multi-platform content delivery is clearly the dominant trend as broadcasters and content owners continue to refine their business models for the generation of new revenue streams through the monetization of video and audio assets. At the same time, technology vendors are continuing to develop solutions to repurpose content for optimal performance on any platform, and to run targeted ads alongside that content.

It’s interesting to note that since the first BBS was published in 2009, “multi-platform content delivery,” “transition to HDTV operations,” file-based / tapeless workflows,” and “IP networking and content delivery” have been at the top of the BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trends Index.  However their relative position has shifted dramatically, with  “multi-platform content delivery” becoming increasingly important over the past four years (it was the number four trend in 2009, well behind that year’s top trend: transition to HDTV operations).

Although multi-platform content delivery is the headline in 2012, there are quite a few other interesting things to consider in the above chart.

For a number of years the transition to file-based workflows and the transition to HDTV operations have been major revenue drivers in the broadcast industry, and it appears that this will continue to be the case in 2012.  While there’s no doubt that these trends have been increasingly eclipsed by multi-platform content delivery, the key question is whether this translates into decreased capital expenditure for these projects.

We provide significant coverage of the global transition to file-based workflows and HDTV operations in the 2012 BBS Global Market Report (a paid for report). This includes a breakdown of where broadcasters are in their transition to HD, and a look at the upgrade plans for more than a dozen product categories. We’ll also be publishing more information here about project-based spending and the HD transition in future articles.

While on the topic of file-based workflows and the HD transition, it’s interesting to note that 2012 is the first year that the transition to file-based workflows has ranked higher than the transition to HDTV operations.   This is presumably due to the fact that many broadcasters have a firm grasp on their transition to HDTV – they understand what’s needed and how to achieve a smooth transition even if they have not made the move to HD yet.  This and the strong showing of “IP networking & content delivery” show that broadcast technology buyers continue to look for efficiencies as they transition to new technical platforms and business models.  The desire for broadcast technology buyers to gain operational efficiencies will likely continue to be a strong macro driver in 2012, as broadcasters continue to deploy new workflows.

The increasing importance of file-based technologies has implications for the broadcast industry in terms of both workflows and product procurement. Our previous research shows that broadcasters are moving to file-based workflows not only to achieve greater speed and efficiencies, but also to reduce cost. During the recession, technology budgets were typically prioritized towards solutions that add revenue and/or reduce cost. Now that the industry is recovering from the downturn, it’s likely that the way technology is purchased will remain focused on these commercial priorities.  For example the trend “move to automated workflows” ranked higher in 2012 than in previous years, further supporting the thesis that efficiency is an increasing priority for broadcast technology buyers.   We have recently completed several research projects for the IABM (the trade group that represents media technology suppliers worldwide), which provide more information on this topic.  These reports are available to IABM member companies through the IABM’s market intelligence portal as a benefit of IABM membership (disclaimer: I have a commercial relationship with the IABM).

As mentioned previously, “cloud computing / cloud based services” was added to the list of trends we measured in 2012.  It seems that you can’t read anything about technology these days (broadcast or otherwise) without coming across some mention of “the cloud.”  So it’s interesting to note that cloud technology is ranked #7 in the 2012 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trends Index.  Why is something so important to so many people in the middle of the pack?  This is probably because there is still a lack of understanding widespread understanding about exactly how the cloud will impact the business models of broadcast technology buyers.  Nevertheless, it has made a strong showing this year, ahead of another previously much-hyped technology, 3D, which ranked #8 in 2011 and fell to #10 in 2012.

The rankings “improvements in video compression efficiency” and “video-on-demand” were static versus the previous year, while targeted advertising and 3D dropped several places each versus the previous year.

As with previous years, the bottom four trends were: “transition to 3Gbps operations”, “transition to 5.1 channel audio”, “outsourced operations” and “green initiatives”.

We’ll take a more in-depth look at the year-over-year changes in a subsequent post.


Keep in mind when reading this information that all data in this article measures the responses of all non-vendor participants in the 2012 BBS, regardless of organization type, organization size, job title or geographic location. Responses of individual organization types or geographic locations may be very different. Granular analysis of these results is available as part of the full 2012 BBS Global Market Report. For more information about this report, please contact Devoncroft Partners.




Related Content:

The 2012 Big Broadcast Survey – Information and available reports

The 2011 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index

The 2010 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index

The 2009 BBS Broadcast Industry Global Trend Index


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