Broadcasting remains the lifeblood of the satellite industry, but as we enter a more fragmented broadcast landscape, the impact of the new environment on satellite and broadcasters themselves remains uncertain.
To stay relevant in a landscape dominated by multiple devices with access to video content, broadcasters will need to be very savvy with their strategies and technology investments. In this exclusive broadcast roundtable, key technology executives from four major broadcasters discuss changing landscape plans, where they will be investing in technology, as well as their future demands for satellite. Taking part are Dany Harrison, chair of Technology Strategy Board, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); Cécile Leveaux, CTO, Euronews; Francois Schmitt, deputy managing director, Broadcast & New Media, Eurosport; and Mike Donovan, senior vice president of Engineering and Satellite Distribution, Scripps Networks Interactive.
VIA SATELLITE: What are the major technology/infrastructure challenges facing your organization this year?
Harrison: We just completed the deployment of a new architecture for our network, what we call our ‘NGCN’ (Next Generation Converged Network). We are connecting all of our production centers across Canada on a high-speed, fiber-based, bi-directional network. This new network allows us to search and browse and drag and drop from any site to any other site. The next big step for us will be our media asset management strategy to fully transfer to a file-based environment. It is like connecting the dots. All of our centers are pretty much file-based, but now we have to connect them together, and that is our next big challenge. In a world of different technologies, everyone is trying to push for their technology to become the standard. This is not a new debate. In a Media Asset Management (MAM) environment, when you have to connect systems and content, it is one thing to create content, but it is another matter to know it has been created at a remote site, that you can have access to, that all the rights are cleared and that you can drag and drop and repurpose it for your own usage. That is a big challenge for any broadcaster or content provider right now. We are designing an overall MAM strategy fit for us. We will then work with the technology providers on a timeframe of 12 to 18 months.
Leveaux: We have two big projects this year. The first one could be described as a moving project, as we are moving into a new building in two years. We use this new building as an opportunity to modify our organization. So, we will have more journalists in contact with the end-users. Today, our journalists’ jobs are to produce content and deliver it for broadcast. Now, these journalists need to have a direct connection with the customer so they can see the quality of their work. We will use this building project to carry out these changes.
The other major project is looking to implement a new product management system, similar to what goes on in traditional industries other than broadcasting. We are managing this new system, which is not just about media asset management, but also about managing the production side of things. For example, we can automatically assign different content to customers. With this kind of system, we can publish automatically to different platforms. We currently have 500 videos that we send to customers each day, so we need to rationalize that and have a new system. It will help us reduce costs.
Schmitt: The first major challenge is to move Eurosport to HD and even though we have been in HD since 2008, we have to change the infrastructure throughout Europe in order to do this. The current challenge is to have a complete HD platform. The next challenge is to continue to develop our four-screen strategy. We are working on our ability to broadcast our TV channel anywhere on any screen. We have developed our player on the iPad and the iPhone. The plan now is to bring that to the connected TV.
Donovan: We are focusing on disaster recovery this year, particularly in terms of the linear broadcast services. We are finding that we want to harden what we are already doing, and we also want to take advantage of some of the file-based workflow opportunities that are available. When a lot of these disaster recovery systems were put in place, it was not quite as easy to move content around. There was still a huge amount of tape-based content, and even though it was being archived as digital files, it was more and more difficult to move the files around. Now, with much larger broadband connections available and much more ubiquitous file formats between servers, it is possible to create a disaster recovery scenario that is purely file-based content. In theory, it could happen anywhere. If you were to have all of your content in some cloud-based storage, now your disaster recovery can be available at any number of different locations, rather than having just one dedicated facility that provides your disaster recovery. That is a major thing that we are looking at in 2012.