This year’s NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show had written/unwritten themes:

  • bigger, faster, cheaper.
  • close enough is good enough.
  • what happens when the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) “steals” the broadcasters’ spectrum

Content Insider #142 – Whither Broadcast Storage

The Insider

June 2010

Content Insider #142 – Whither Broadcast Storage
Content … Keeping the Old Gals Around for a Few More Years

Author: The Insider

This year’s NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show had written/unwritten themes:

  • bigger, faster, cheaper.
  • close enough is good enough.
  • what happens when the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) “steals” the broadcasters’ spectrum

Dr. Richmond explained the NAB attendee’s dilemma, “You see, when the mind houses two personalities, there's always a conflict, a battle.” 

“I think I must have one of those faces you can't help believing.”Norman Bates, Psycho, Paramount Pictures (1960)

The eye candy was there – stereoscopic 3D, eye-popping/bank account-sucking cameras, consolidation/outsourcing, mix and match, NLEs (non-linear editors), MPEG-4 solutions and online/mobile DTV solutions.

Mobile is important for the broadcast folks to get right, hence several wireless carrier business deals to monetize their content.

Anyone who could was hyping their involvement in Avatar and the Augusta Masters (looked dynamite in 3D … if you’re into golf).


3D All the Way – At NAB this year, Sony’s Executive Hiroshi Yoshioka and his team put their best images forward with a full range of 3D and HD solutions for high-end professionals as well as event videographers and “others.”  They and the other major players showed exciting hardware/software solutions and results you could almost reach out and touch.  Photo - NAB


Camera Glory

Sony, Panasonic, RED, Canon and others showed super 3D cameras, but for all the bragging rights, there were few prospects.  

As one attendee noted, “I can pay $10,000 vs. $55,000 and no one – least of all, the viewer – can tell the difference?  Cripes, I’m trying to upgrade the whole back room for $100,000!”

Networks and stations still have to finish upgrading to High-Def. 

Every network has a 3D broadcast initiative, including ESPN and Discovery, that will launch 3D channels later this year

Most of the stations are also struggling with delivering three-screen service – TV, online, mobile – to catch every set of eyeballs possible.

The movie industry may be coming off a healthy year, but like the Nets and stations, they cut down on the number of engineers who attended “just to stay abreast of technology.”

The production/NLE folks – Quantel, Autodesk, Adobe, Grass Valley, Boris FX, CineForm and others – really put their best collective feet forward. 

Doing it better, faster, cheaper really helps in post-production because every engineering group is operating leaner.  So they’re turning to IT-based, non-proprietary solutions.

Norman got a little confused but noted, “She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother.”

Everywhere we looked, we saw a huge demand for what really matters … storage!


Content Everywhere – Hollywood and broadcast production/post-production/”later” folks keep their professional content just like ordinary folks.   They’ve got raw footage, processed content and finished materials on flash, tape, film, discs…almost everywhere.  Your stuff is your life, their stuff is their livelihood.


All of the HD, 3D stuff at NAB produces trainloads of content that has to be stored. 

The industry is producing an order of magnitude more data than just a few years ago. 

How much is an order of magnitude?  According to one of the DVDA members at the show … “a huge crapload."

That’s a lot!!!!

The digital files from the most recent movies are more than a Petabyte in size on par with Pentagon storage requirements.  

The Big Store
Looking around the NAB floor and you see that storage is a helluva’ growth business.

How good and why?

  • Higher-resolution and stereoscopic content requires more digital storage.
  • Storage technology and implementation of items such as MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 advanced video compression is changing the media and entertainment storage hierarchy
  • Between 2009 and 2015, the industry will see a 10X (Figure 4) increase in storage capacity needs and 12X growth in capacity shipments per year (4,094 PB to 47,291 PB).
  • About 96% of the total storage capacity will be used for content archiving and preservation in 2015 (Figure 5), increasing to 96% of total capacity by 2015.
  • In 2009, 86% of the total storage media shipped for entertainment content was tape (Figure 6), 10% HDD, 4% optical and 0.3% flash memory (digital cameras and some media servers).  By 2015, tape will decline to 83%.
  • Total revenue for storage media will increase 4X between 2009-2015 ($415 M to $1,642 M).

Unending Growth – Hollywood/broadcast engineers are faced with a staggering 10X growth in requirements for storing their content in multiple formats for multiple screens.  With the speed of technology change and digital deterioration, they are trying to determine how to save and retrieve the content 10…20…more years from now.  Source -- IDC

Saving for Tomorrow – The content industry uses a lot of disc and hard disc media for post-production and content distribution.  Flash also enters the picture for some content acquisition.  But most of the industry’s storage capacity is devoted to archiving materials – including raw footage – for future generations. 
Source – Coughlin Assoc.

Storage Media – We find it tough to believe that so little hard disk, optical and flash (O.K., we probably believe the flash percentage) capacity is used in the content business, compared to tape.  The dollar volume for the first three media is large but for tape, it’s huge and will enjoy overall growth even over the next five years. 
Source – Coughlin Assoc.


While the lifespan of a production is relatively short just a few years – the real money made is in the film, show, series afterlife. 


Long, Profitable Tail – Chris Anderson’s Long Tail concept isn’t theory in the entertainment industry it’s a fact…a very profitable fact.  Networks, production studios, local stations and increasingly independent producers are turning old video content into profit by selling replay rights around the globe long after the initial showing.  The archives and libraries represent major profit centers throughout the industry.  Source – Chris Anderson


Movies like “Gone with the Wind” and “Psycho” are shown almost daily somewhere in the world.  The same is true of “I Love Lucy,” “Sid Ceasar” and other shows you can only faintly remember. 

In every movie production and broadcast facility around the globe, hundreds of movies and TV shows stored on unstable film have been lost forever.

The hardware customer noted, “Death should always be painless.”

The big (unanswered) question is the same that haunts every segment of business, industry, society … “How do you preserve today’s digital content for posterity?”

The industry is looking long and hard at their growing movie footage and text problem. 

Hardware and operating systems change every time you turn around. 

Storage media – any of it – doesn’t have the shelf-life of well-protected film. 

Bits deteriorate. 

A few here…few there…viola, corrupted, lost files.

Some of the best stuff is in the back/forth communications between directors, producers, production folks.

It used to be all of that was on paper.  Now, it’s emails, IMs, whatever and no one saves the stuff!

They have a tough enough time trying to figure out how to save the final product. 

But the broadcast/movie industry is spending more time, money, effort on preserving the content they have than in developing new content.

The right storage technologies and the right content rotation schemes (hopefully automated) can save the media industry’s inventories. 

It’s better than money in the bank!


Cool, Dry Storage – The industry’s temperature and humidity controlled vaults hold some of the best (and most valuable) “old time” television and movie content you can view.  Maybe Bates Motel isn’t a good storage place, but industry experts are constantly searching for the very best long-term solution.  Image Source – Paramount Pictures


I suppose we can check the stuff into the Bates Motel until they get it figured out. 

Norman said there was plenty of room, “Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.”

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