How Live Events Are Set To Revive the System Camera Market
The System camera market was brought to a standstill by the Coronavirus pandemic in FY2020. Strict Government-mandated lockdowns in many countries resulted in live events being canceled or postponed across the globe, original content production stalled and as a result, the demand for system cameras plummeted. As professional broadcasters turned to remote production workflows to minimize the risk of virus transmission, budgets for on-site equipment were reduced, resulting in year-on-year decline of the system camera market, with a 25% downturn in market volume, and a 26% fall in market value. However, a more consistent live sports calendar and the return of other live events over the course of 2021, enabled by vaccination rollouts and testing measures, has put the product category on course to achieve annual growth in FY21.
The Paradigm Shift to PTZ Cameras
This forced migration to remote production throughout FY20 resulted in a paradigm shift in attitudes toward certain technologies, including professional pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, which in turn caused some concern that the recovery of the system camera market may be inhibited by the adoption of alternative technologies. Previously, PTZ cameras were not considered relevant for use in high-end productions due to their perceived lower quality output in comparison to system cameras. However, IP capable PTZ’s proved an attractive proposition to maintain production, for both live and recorded content. Not only did their IP functionality easily enable remote operation, reducing the need for onsite crew, it also contributed to reducing travel costs. This has made PTZs a cost-effective solution to help broadcasters and production companies capture content safely during the COVID era, at a time when budgets have come under increased pressure. This has resulted in concerns that PTZs may partially replace the role of system cameras in live broadcast and content production, causing continued decline in the system camera market. However, this is unlikely.
Positive Growth Ahead for the System & Box Camera Market
Research for Futuresource’s latest System & Box Camera Annual Market Report found a positive outlook for the market. There is still a strong desire to invest in next-generation IP and 4K HDR cameras over the coming years, as projects and orders that were stalled during FY 2020 are resumed. As live events have returned with more frequency and certainty, continuing into FY 2022, content providers have returned to making optimal use of the advantages in image quality and operation that are afforded by system cameras. Many producers now consider system cameras and PTZ cameras to be complementary video acquisition devices that can be used in tandem to increase content coverage and enhance the consumer’s experience with more numerous and unique camera placements. Consequently, Futuresource forecasts 40% growth in the volume of system camera sales in FY 2021 vs FY 2020, as investment in this camera category returns.
Live Events to Provide Innovation & Investment
2022 is set to be the year live events return en masse after over a year and a half of postponements and cancellations around the globe. This is expected to drive renewed investment in system cameras, as broadcasters try to maximize the appeal of live sports and events as they face increased competition for consumer watch time from OTT video on demand platforms. This is anticipated to catalyse more innovation and investment in premium system cameras capable of slow-motion image capture, or larger sensors for filming with a shallow depth of field, as well as bolstering the size of camera fleets to increase coverage, all of which will drive sell-in of system cameras. This sell-in will be further boosted in the short term by the market regaining its cyclical nature of fleet renewals and upgrades after their cadence was disrupted by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having abstained from renewing aging technology for the past year and a half, many broadcasters and production studios will be looking to update their current fleet in preparation for events such as the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. IP capable cameras will be of even greater interest than before in order to integrate with new remote production workflows developed since the beginning of the pandemic.
System Cameras to Remain Key to Production Quality
Despite the challenging conditions of FY20 leading to a downturn in the system camera market this has only been temporary. System cameras’ status as the pinnacle of quality in live production has proven integral to them remaining relevant in broadcast production, despite the threat of cannibalization from the emergence of alternative acquisition devices. While innovations in production infrastructure took priority of budgets in FY20, they have proven to be an enabler and accelerant of new workflows, which will underpin the deployment of next-generation cameras in the coming years.
The System and Box Camera Market Report explores global changes in the market from FY 2017 onwards, including forecasting up to FY 2025. With regional breakdowns of North America, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific’s as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Futuresource’s annual market report covers the full scope of the industry, including specification insights such as the progress of 4K.