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IP for Broadcast: Competitive Advantage or Table Stakes?

It's no longer a question of why transition to IP-based platforms, but rather when and how. As with any new technology adoption, these questions can be tough to answer. Here are a few things that can help narrow the discussion.

When do I move to IP?

A primary reason for being first to move to a new technology is to establish a competitive advantage. To develop a sustainable competitive advantage, an organization needs to have a resource that is (1) valuable, (2) rare, (3) imperfectly imitable, and (4) not substitutable by a resource that does not meet the previous three criteria.1

That competitive advantage is perishable. Other organizations eventually adopt similar technology (think live broadcast trucks in news). To determine how long a new technology can be a competitive advantage, you have to decide where the market is in terms of the adoption curve. Even "early majority" adopters enjoy some of the benefits of competitive advantage, but once the "late majority" begin adopting there is no unique value. It has become table stakes to operate in a changed environment.


As many of the major networks and outdoor broadcasters are just completing their first IP installations, the largest window of competitive advantage starts now.

How do I move to IP?

There are a variety of IP solutions for broadcast on the market today. They can be simplified into two main camps: Proprietary and COTS. As these two camps don't get along well at the moment, you will need to choose which alternative is best for your organization.

Answer the questions on this checklist as they apply to your organization  2 


Add up the responses. If the total number of "yes" responses is higher than 10, then a COTS-based solution is likely to be a better fit for your organization. Studies show that the four major trends leading to decreased usage of proprietary software are faster development time, more complex projects, ease of use and predictability, and the desire of senior management to avoid risks and to focus on core competencies.

Benefits of a COTS-based Solution

While either a proprietary or a COTS solution can help you transition to IP/4K UHD, a COTS solution that builds on existing data center models provides:

If any of the reasons shown in this list are important to you, the best way to achieve them is with a COTS model.

In terms of sustainable competitive advantage, it is likely that a proprietary solution will become quickly obsolete as the COTS solutions which are on the market today provide as good, or in some cases better, performance on an open-standard platform. Combining fast obsolescence with high cost and risk factors makes in-house development less desirable for complex projects.

If you are looking for a competitive advantage through technology then now is the time to transition. We'd like to hear what you think about when and how you plan to transition to IP. Please post your comments below.

By: Chris Merrill, Director, Product Marketing