By Kieran Kunhya, CEO, Open Broadcast Systems 

The global chip shortage has of course been well documented and is having an impact across almost every industry imaginable. The broadcast industry is no exception. In fact, I would argue that supply chain issues are one of the biggest challenges we are facing right now. We are seeing eye-watering lead times for a lot of critical broadcast equipment, in particular networking equipment and this is causing massive problems for the entire industry. 

“We can’t be waiting a year for equipment in the broadcast industry” 

Someone recently said exactly this to me. Of course, this is right, particularly in this industry. Broadcasters are increasingly under pressure to deliver content and adapt schedules at very short notice. This is of course especially true for live events that can change at the last minute or that can prove to be more popular than anticipated. Being able to very quickly adapt the infrastructure and spin up more capacity is therefore hugely important and one of the reasons why cloud services are becoming more popular within this environment.

This means that broadcasters need the flexibility to adapt very quickly, add in different equipment, or scale operations as required. The problem is that supply chain shortages mean long lead times and that is making those quick changes impossible for many. It is not surprising that the knock-on effects are having a widespread impact throughout the industry.

Adapting our approach

Just as broadcasters have had to adapt their approach to creating and distributing content, we, as equipment providers, need to adapt our approach to delivering the tools and services they need. If a part we normally get is unavailable or has a long lead time, we need to be flexible enough to source that same part elsewhere. Of course that can be more challenging for broadcast-specific parts and hardware. Many so-called IP tools are embedded into fixed function broadcast hardware which doesn’t afford the flexibility needed. If it isn’t available, those providers have to sit it out and wait.

At Open Broadcast Systems we are tackling the supply chain problems in two main ways. Firstly, all our products are based around commodity server hardware. This means that we are able to offer different hardware platforms. Often there are suitable alternatives available much quicker so we can still fulfil customer orders in very short timeframes.

We also have substantial stocks of broadcast specific parts. As we saw the problems beginning to unfold, we went to great lengths to ensure we were fully stocked up. We have gone the extra mile (literally) in many cases, obtaining parts from as far away as New Zealand. This includes capture cards and network cards, which are currently very difficult to source quickly.

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it is very likely that the supply chain challenges will continue for some time. Equipment providers need to ensure they are flexible enough to address the shortages. Get in touch to find out how we are doing that to help you deliver great content with a moment’s notice.

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