By Gerry McAree, Vice President of Sales, East Coast, Globecast Americas
It’s been several months now since I joined the sales and marketing division of Globecast Americas. But what drew me to Globecast as a company? As some will know, I have been working in hi-tech sales for at least 20 years, with most of that spent understanding and selling products into the media industry, particularly around media transport.
In what is a fragmented and rapidly evolving marketplace, I was looking for a company that was fiscally responsible, understands the rate of change and is able to continually improve its operational infrastructure to support these changing customer requirements. None of that is easy. Being owned by Orange, under the wing of Orange Business Services, and with the commitment shown by the leadership teams around the world – not least in the Americas – I could see in Globecast a company that’s thinking clearly and is devoted to what it’s doing. If you want to accomplish anything, leadership commitment is essential.
There are clear trends that of course we all see that don’t need repeating here. And that means challenges. But let’s not forget that change is both a challenge and an opportunity. Yes, we still (and always) want to make it as simple as possible for our customers to manage and deliver content. We want to reduce the costs of origination, platform management, fiber, and satellite transport and teleport use for our clients. But we want — and need — to continue do more than that.
Let’s take the development of our Digital Media Hub (DMH) as a prime example. DMH is an integrated – yet modular – suite of digital services for cross-platform live event distribution. As you can read in this recently published blog by my colleague Richard Pialat in France, the development of this didn’t happen overnight. Globecast worked with multiple customers to understand their requirements, build a service that answered each need, which led to the gradual development of DMH. Of course, ultimately in order to productize something, it needs to be replicable. But, and this is where DMH’s modularity comes in, it also needs to be able to create bespoke solutions for clients where necessary.
In short, it allows us to create tailored customer packages fast, wherever that customer is in the world, all from a single supplier to increase content monetization, not least of which sports rights, so our customers can grow their ROI.
DMH takes advantage of virtualized and cloud-based technologies and this trend is echoed in the wider playout sector. Having launched our cloud-based playout service at NAB 2018, the first customer take advantage was Virgin Media in the UK with the launch of Virgin TV Ultra HD in September. Cloud playout is great for quick launch, trial or disaster recovery and isn’t necessarily right for all our customers at this point, but again, it allows us to tailor our offering to each and every client.
Another developing trend is the increase in terrestrial media transport services as, in some cases, customers move away from satellite. This is not in any way to say that satellite isn’t still crucial to what we do – our partnerships with satellite operators are extremely valuable to us – but, at the risk of sounding repetitive, it’s about us being able to be flexible and responsive to customer needs.
Our GCXN service is a prime example. GCXN provides technical management of the transport of broadcast services over the public Internet. It can be used for primary and secondary distribution with broadcast-grade quality and comes as a standalone service or as a complementary solution to satellite services.
Lastly, while you wouldn’t necessarily know this if you look at decisions other companies have made in 2018, the occasional use (OU) business is growing with live events and sports. We have seen a consistent increase in demand from customers over the last couple of years, from the traditional major global sports events in which we’re involved (sadly we can’t name names) to the growth in niche sports using live streaming and, in some cases, DMH.
We’ve also been very active in the news field in 2018. As an example, we provided a wide range of services – not least to US broadcasters – to cover Armistice Day. Clearly, this is a sensitive subject and not one that we felt right to talk about at the time. But equally, we also believe that bringing this coverage to the world was vital.
The further along we move into 2019, the key thing for us to remember is that being able to offer new and different services is crucial in what is a rapidly evolving media landscape. To experiment and think openly and creatively are important. I’m so delighted to be part of a team that does just that.