Newsroom automation in 2020: Do more with less



Written by Jon Reddick, Technical Product Manager, Grass Valley

Broadcasters and content producers are operating in a fast shifting mediascape. Consumer viewing habits are becoming more fragmented, while growth in the popularity of online video services continues to bring new competition.

In fact, according to Statista, 64 percent of internet users in South Africa consume online videos, and, over-the-top TV and video revenues in Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to explode from just 37 million U.S. dollars in 2016 to around 467 million by 2021.

Part of this change in viewing habits is seeing consumers increasingly demand access to news content in a range of formats – from social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter through to streaming live news on over-the-top services. Media organisations have never been under greater pressure to deliver compelling news stories to the viewer anytime, and anywhere. It is critical for media organisations to invest in newsroom technology that enables them to do this cost-effectively and to the highest quality standards.

In a world where viewers are able to access news in almost real-time, news production teams are faced with the challenge of managing unscripted or breaking news effectively.  Newsroom automation allows individuals or small teams the ability to execute productions that previously would’ve required dozens of operators at as many workstations, thereby cutting the cost and numbers of manpower needed. Automation is literally the ability to do more with less, and to be able to do it more reliably. It is therefore crucial for broadcasters and content owners to work with vendors that understand this and know how to harnesses technologies to make automation a viable reality.

The Grass Valley impact

One of the biggest issues facing broadcasters when it comes to automating news production is complexity. Setting up a new production workflow can be complicated. At Grass Valley, our mission is to overcome the complexity and to enable broadcasters to make these transitions with ease. We are continually evolving our automation solutions; from the Emmy Award-winning Ignite to the new streamlined GV Pace, all created to scale as needed, from full Media Object Portal MOS integration to simple and direct device control.

GV Pace, launched in September 2019, is Grass Valley’s automation-assisted manual control system for fast-paced, dynamic, live unscripted production. It gives users a rich, off-the-cuff automation tool that is accessible in a web browser, freeing users from the traditional blockers of PCs and machines in the control room, which provides them with better control of their on-air experience.

As viewers expect the latest up-to-date news, newsroom automation will become even more critical to delivering news fast and to a high standard. Grass Valley’s Ignite Konnect is a platform of automated production control (APC) solutions. It is the central point of management for control room devices and the link between the control room and the newsroom. As a result, staff can be reassigned to the field to better serve communities through additional newsgathering, support 24-hour multicast channels and deliver real-time cut-ins

It is clear that vendors need to further adapt their solutions to meet changing business models. Forming real partnerships with customers, and understanding their needs and challenges is the only way to keep up with the shifting media landscape and ensure success for both Grass Valley and our clients.

Grass Valley’s solutions and the features they offer are very rich and mature, but the core focus to ensure customers can meet consumer demand is by offering tools on new platforms, and also through new commercial models, allowing customers to pay for the solutions they need in the way which best suits their business. As our solutions evolve, Grass Valley will continue to be able to offer systems that scale dynamically and are paid for based on consumption or rental models, rather than traditional capital expenditure. 

The 2020 landscape

Today’s newsrooms are being called upon to generate more content for more distribution streams than ever before; everything from primary outlets and sub-channels to web and mobile, social media content generation and more. The challenge that broadcasters and other content owners face is to stay ahead of these evolving consumer habits by creating content that meets the many different types of viewers.

As consumer viewing habits become more disjointed, news broadcasters have to address a wider range of digital platforms in addition to its traditional linear services. This need to meet consumer demand for more stories anytime, anywhere, on any device is often expected with no change in resourcing, making it even more crucial for newsrooms to invest in optimal tools and technology. As newsroom tools transition to web-based control platforms, newsroom users, especially in the field, can access production tools from any device in a web browser making them more agile and more able to deliver breaking news faster.

Grass Valley is represented by Protea Technology Group in South Africa.