BBC: Beware predictions of falling storage costs

Every year the storage industry is beset with predictions that storage costs have dropped by 40% from the previous year but Paul Cheesebrough, BBC technology controller, warns that networks and stations who make purchasing plans based on the 40% number could be in for a surprise when the storage is delivered and up and running.

It s not the cost of the storage but the cost of managing it that is the real expense, he said during a presentation at Grass Valley s 2006 Media Summit. And the cost of managing that storage actually goes up rather than down [like the cost of the raw storage] making the real cost drop only 10% per annum. You need to be careful of predictions.

The comments were part of wider ranging discussion of the BBC s move to HD later this year and the creation of an on-demand service that will make all of the BBC s content from the previous week available via broadband download.

The on-demand service just completed a trial phase where 5,000 consumers were able to download programs to their computers. A wider trial will be launched later this year and will delve into some of the rights issues facing the BBC and anyone launching broadband-based delivery services.

As for HD, Cheesbrough says the trial will involve terrestrial, satellite, cable and even broadband delivery of HD content. The World Cup coverage in HD will definitely be a watershed moment in Europe, he added.

While Cheesbrough warned of storage cost predictions he does embrace one for HD: At some point around 2008 purchasing SD gear will actually be more expensive than HD gear, he says. That s why we make sure that any equipment refreshes we do are HD capable and also fully compatible to our tapeless initiative.

Right now the BBC is working with Panasonic s P2 and Grass Valley s Infinity tapeless systems, both of which help the organization become more IT oriented. Cheesbrough says P2 was recently successfully used for BBC Olympic coverage from Torino, Italy.