Ian Trombley on NBC Universal’s Satellite Demands – From our Archive

In the last few years, the broadcast landscape has changed dramatically, particularly with the emergence of OTT providing a very competitive threat to broadcasters and DTH players alike. Netflix has been nothing short of a phenomenon and is now one of the most recognizable broadcast brands in the world. However, at IBC a few years ago, the talk of OTT and companies like Netflix was fairly minimal. In this interview from 2010, we talked to NBC Universal about their use of satellite technologies to  better provide content to audiences. This article was originally published on September 2010 during IBC.

NBC Universal is looking for more flexibility from satellite providers as the broadcaster assesses how it will use satellite technologies in the future, according to Ian Trombley, executive vice president, technical operations, NBC Universal.

In this interview with Via Satellite, Trombley discussed his needs for providing video content around the globe and what else he would like to see from the companies that support content delivery.

VIA SATELLITE: What are your demands for satellite capacity?

Trombley: Clearly, we are heavily reliant on satelilte capabilities in our relationships with satellite providers. When you have a portfolio of this many broadcasting and cable properties, you have a large reliance on partners in this industry. That alone, clearly, is not the single means of content movement and distribution, especially now the way this industry is going. It opens up a whole wealth of opportunities to distribute content in different ways. What is interesting is that we are starting to see traditional satellite providers get this and come out with a more holistic approach on how we can move this content.

VIA SATELLITE: Can you give us an example?

Trombley: There are now specific vendors that will sit down and say, “Let’s not just talk about how many channels you want to launch, but let’s talk about what you want to do with these channels. Potentially, we can give you a better solution if we understand your strategy.” An architecture solution might be a combination of fiber and circuits along with satellite capabilities. These are the discussions I look forward to. Once upon a time, this was very easy. If the vendor says, “I need a slice of this transponder,” for example, it was an easy deal. It is no longer like that. Now, it is a case of here is what we are trying to do. Not everyone is doing it, but we like it.

VIA SATELLITE: Do satellite providers have to have a more open approach?

Trombley: I think it would be in the industry’s best interests to look at adjacent spaces. I am not saying they should move into adjacent spaces. I think satellite players should look at partnerships, JVs, solution providers. This is what I think would be interesting for satellite players to do.

VIA SATELLITE: Are you seeing any evidence of this?

Trombley: I am not seeing a tidal wave of change. Clearly, when you talk about exploring into adjacent spaces, it is not the easiest thing to do. I am seeing some of the service providers look at this and talk about it, but I don’t think anybody is really there yet.

VIA SATELLITE: When you are looking at delivering content, do you target more global providers or the regional players?

Trombley: We do both. It is really dependent on who we have done deals with. There are a few service providers that we have extensive deals with, and then there are some we have smaller deals with. We look globally, but some deals we do require more focus in some of those locations. They might only be taking feeds from a certain vendor, so that makes it a challenge to move someone else in. We have to take a look at the broader picture.

VIA SATELLITE: What would your message be to the satellite industry in terms of serving broadcasters better?

Trombley: I firmly believe that we are all facing the same challenges in this industry. Emerging technologies are forcing us to make rapid decisions and commitments about the best way to reach the consumer. For the satellite industry, they have to make sure that they are paying attention to the content providers as well as the customers. I think there are enormous opportunities to work together to ensure that all of us are well positioned to deliver consumers the content they want.

Individually, everyone might be innovating, but together, we have to come up with industry standards. I do like it when a service provider comes up to us and says, “Let’s take a look at the whole problem, the whole challenge, and how we can solve it.” I am very interested in creative ways to move forward.

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