What is broadcast quality?
Believe it or not, this question was presented to me by one of the major broadcasters when they were in for a meeting at Adobe headquarters. "What is broadcast quality," they asked? Now the two gentlemen from the company we spoke with were very intelligent so they weren’t truly asking the question, but rather to make a point. However, the question intrigued me.
What is broadcast quality?
The quip and answer I heard had the ring of truth – "Whatever goes on the air is broadcast quality."
Does this strike you as it does me? The implications?
It means that the quality is secondary to the content that is being shown. The story, the image, the impact is more important than the actual quality? In this world of HD, content can come from a user posting to YouTube. Looking for an example? How about the final video a certain Iraqi leader? It was on every broadcast channel and it was shot on what? A cell phone!
When I think of all of the conversations that I have with people talking about what next camera to buy and how much this piece of equipment costs, I think now about how this is many times irrelevant to what you’re capturing. If you’re in the area where a tornado touches down and capture it on your old single CCD DV camera and call the local news company will they take it? Probably. If you post a cell phone video on YouTube of a surprise appearance of (fill in the name of your favorite band) in a dumpy bar will people watch it? Yes.
It’s just like my recent post entitled, "It’s still about the story…" Great content without substance has no relevance. Poor content with substance is important and relevant.
If you’re on the business side of the equation, another way to answer the question of what is broadcast quality is like this: "Whatever people want to watch" One conclusion that I draw from this is for us to consider (again and again!) what do people care about and want to watch?
What perhaps is even more interesting is what will happen to viewing habits as more and more channels show up on the internet. In the ‘ole days’ we had a dozen channels if we were lucky. Then along came cable and more specialty channels such as ESPN. Back then, nobody thought a 24 hour cable network dedicated only to sports would ever make it. Boy were we wrong about that one! Now, we’re on the cusp of having access to thousands or tens of thousands of channels with the Internet. Within Adobe we often talk about this phenomenon that as more channels become available, they will become increasingly more specific. One example we often mention is the knitting channel. This would never make it on the networks, let alone a cable channel because it is too narrow a focus for a mass audience. However, if we take the number of people interested in knitting across the world, we would have many tens of thousands that would watch it.
The emergence of the Adobe Media Player will enable people to have a viewing experience like TV but with the Internet – both in an offline and online mode. It will empower people who are passionate about topics such as knitting to create content to reach their intended audience. This makes me question what the landscape of broadcast will be in the future. If you haven’t taken a look at what the Adobe Media Player and AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) environments are all about, you can get started here:
So what is broadcast quality? I would still say that the answer is both "whatever goes to air" and "whatever people want to watch." The one that I’m still figuring out is, "What is a broadcast?" Maybe you can help me answer that one.