A new year brings new trends in broadcasting. At Comrex, part of our job is predicting the next big thing. In the following conversation, Sales Director Chris Crump discusses what’s coming next in 2018. 

Chris Crump, Sales Director for Comrex

What trends do you expect to see at trade shows this year? What are the big things in radio that people will be talking about? Big things in television?

Virtual radio is the big buzz for 2018.  We’ve already seen virtualization of facilities in Europe from broadcasters like the BBC and we were a part of the innovative project.  Many US and European console manufacturers have started to actively promote “virtual” solutions that essentially reduce hardware requirements for facilities while increasing functionality and centralization of control. We’ve already seen this trend in television as well and it will continue with the adoption of the SMPTE 2110 video over IP transport standard.     

There’s an industry-wide transition from ISDN to IP already underway – most telcos are expected to retire ISDN by 2025. People are getting more and more comfortable with adopting IP. What can we expect to see from this transition going forward?

Keep in mind that many telcos, especially in the US, have already sunsetted ISDN or at least, in the case of Verizon, made it very “inconvenient” to establish new service.  We’ve heard many anecdotes from our customers about “through the roof” pricing increases.  Fortunately, we saw this coming more than a decade ago and developed our innovative BRIC (Broadcast Reliable Internet Codec) Technology.  We’ve been at the forefront for Audio over Internet for broadcast since 2004 and our BRIC codecs are integral to the operations of most of the world’s largest broadcasters.  We continue to innovate and improve our technology with features such as CrossLock which provides an unparalleled level of reliability for transporting mission-critical content over IP links.

How will the sunset of ISDN continue to affect voice-over?

Many of the leading voice-over talent working today have a strong broadcast background and most have used Comrex during their careers.  So, we get a lot of crossover as a result.  But for those that weren’t in broadcast, we are helping them to understand the benefits and reliability of our IP codecs as a superior option to ISDN.  There are lots of production houses that are either losing ISDN service due to their provider or getting rid of the service due to the cost.  We are rapidly finding a home in these facilities as a result.  Our Opal IP Audio Gateway is offering a viable option also for audio delivery and we are just beginning to see increased interest and adoption.

Podcasting has become a cultural phenomenon in the last few years. What trends do you expect to see in this area?

Podcasting is interest to us because it is a really an outgrowth of radio’s response to the way people, especially radio listeners, are consuming content.  There are LOTS of podcasts available all over the Internet and a lot of really bad ones.  But broadcasters understand how to entertain and present interesting and creative content.  A part of that is engaging the audience with interesting guest interviews.  Our Opal IP Audio Gateway provides podcasters with an easy way to bring a live guest into an interview without sounding like they are on a cellphone with horrible audio.  Having a guest sound like they are with you in the studio provides a host with instant credibility and it provides the listener with a most enjoyable, higher quality listening experience.

What new avenues is Comrex expecting to explore in 2018?

First and foremost, we love broadcast because we are broadcasters. Our mission has always been to provide the most innovative and technologically advanced tools to allow broadcasters to create the most innovative and interesting content.  So, whether it’s television, radio, podcasting or sheep farming, we are open to helping our customers create.  We’ll just keep doing what we are really, really good at and see what 2018 brings us.

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