By Denis Genevois, VP marketing and communication
We all wished by now that we wouldn’t have to start this year’s end-of-year roundup with the same words as last, but as with 2020, we hope that you’re all as safe and well as possible and that you remain so.
There’s no doubt that 2020 was a tipping point in terms of moving further from the old world into the new, with the pandemic pushing technology and people to its limits. But what it showed is that the technology is there for people to work in whatever way achieves their goal, be that onsite, full remote production or anywhere in between. 2021 has seen this extended to the point that in many ways technology itself is no longer the limiting factor, rather it’s our imaginations and legacy ways of thinking that are the only limitations. Our media supply chain capabilities are equally as flexible, supporting the creation, processing and distribution of content for today’s multifaceted viewing world.
We are not here to dictate solutions
We saw this at the Summer Games in Tokyo with a multitude of technical solutions and associated workflows. This echoes a key theme that we have discussed this year: As a modern media services provider, we are not here to dictate solutions to our customers; we are here to understand both business and technical requirements and then to use our comprehensive toolkit of technologies to create bespoke solutions. This may involve fibre or satellite or both. It might involve the cloud or public internet or both. Then there’s the possibilities afforded by 5G – we have worked on a key 5G trial, more of which in the new year.
With the modern demand for more content from each event and more access to that content – live, VOD, social and so on – we work with our customers on an event-by-event basis to create exactly what’s required.
Cloud playout with Crown
News that immediately leaps out this year is our work with Crown Media. The media company chose us for the cloud migration of primary US linear and OTT playout services for its Hallmark channels. We’re providing it with evolutionary primary cloud playout services for its three channels: Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama — which reach more than 150 million homes in the US. The five-year deal solidifies Globecast’s management of the primary playout of both the linear and OTT feeds of the channels, alongside all terrestrial and satellite distribution to MVPDs and VMVPDs. We’re also handling the streaming of Hallmark’s TV Everywhere offering to mobile devices.
As Chris Pulis, CTO Globecast Americas, said in an IABM article earlier this year, “This is a powerful vindication of the complex and comprehensive work we have done to allow customers to take advantage of the flexibility of cloud playout. Cloud playout is a paradigm shift. There are customers that know they are ready to make the change, but even among those, many are still apprehensive. It’s vital for us to understand that dynamic and bring them along on the journey in order to help make that leap into a “new normal”. We help them understand how systems are virtualized in the cloud and how the process flow is different from on premise. One point that’s very important to make customers understand is all of the principles of redundancy still apply. Failover is central to the design of our cloud architectures, but we have to acquaint them with how this works in this new context.”
Always out in front
We also announced a multi-year, multi-sport partnership with Infront to provide global distribution services. As a prime example, 2021 saw us support Infront’s coverage of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships as part of this multi-sport partnership. We provided all of the encoding and connectivity from the site for the contribution path back to London via fibre, along with international distribution of the world feed.
Onsite, encoding and monitoring solutions were also supplied across two diverse stadiums in Riga, allowing for full diversity and disaster recovery while adapting to COVID protocols. With Globecast’s engineering talent, we were able to provide dual and diverse MCRs, not only for all the feeds going out but also the return global distribution feeds so that Infront could see what their customers were receiving. The feeds were sent to the UK for onwards distribution using our teleport infrastructure.
Alongside our premium connectivity, we’ve really focussed on our customer approach with this partnership, providing a very ‘high touch’ service, which is paramount in today’s market. Our aim is to continuously exceed customer expectations, from the initial bidding process through the entirety of the contract. As part of our ongoing efforts to continuously improve our QoS, not only from a technical standpoint but also from a customer service perspective, we ensure that Infront has complete access to all members of the team.
Partnering with Gravity Media
Technology partnerships have also been a theme of 2021 as we announced a relationship with Gravity Media, with whom we’ve combined to provide end-to-end production and connectivity to customers at next year’s major soccer event. Gravity Media will be providing a range of onsite technical facilities from standup positions to complete temporary studios for broadcasters from around the world to use. This will then be supported by our market-leading, fully redundant satellite and fibre connectivity as well as public internet reach if desired. Gravity Media will also provide post-production services for broadcasters.
Globecast has been active in the OTT space for many years with its TV Everywhere OTT services for linear FTA channels. This year has seen us significantly expand our OTT solution portfolio with an end-to-end integrated service offering, optimising both business and technical approaches. We’re partnering with a range of technology suppliers depending on market sector, providing bespoke services to satisfy each unique business case, integrating a rich ecosystem of partners combined with Globecast’s extensive expertise. This allows customers to maximise content monetisation across multiple screens. We are concentrating on key market sectors: telcos, broadcasters, sports rights holders and other live event organisers. In addition to our current and historical OTT partner, EasyBroadcast, we’ve already announced a partnership with Viaccess-Orca and MainStreaming for OTT solution development.
While IBC didn’t happen, sadly, nor NAB, you can read more about our plans via our IBC show preview, including the latest about Globecast Managed Cloud Network as well as remote production capabilities. Indeed, SVG Europe will shortly be publishing our thoughts about this in an interesting article so keep an eye out for that. We wish everyone a happy and safe 2022.