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Published on 15 Dec 2020
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By Olivier Zankel, VP Communication Group, Globecast

Well, that was an unexpected year, to say the least! Thinking back 12 months, the world was a very different place. While progress is being made, we know that for many the end of 2020 still means some form of lockdown or restricted movement. We wish everyone well and that you and your families are safe.

Two of the key themes of 2020 have been adaptability and service continuity – both ours and, of course, our customers’. When lockdowns first began, we immediately finalised and deployed a clear Covid-safe plan to guarantee service continuity. For many, television became not only the form of entertainment during tough times, but it was also central to spreading health and safety information via the latest pandemic news. We worked closely with our customers to provide seamless services and, crucially, worked hard to communicate exactly what we were doing and why.

Thinking differently

Yes, we had to think differently, accelerating existing remote working plans from both staffing and technological angles. This is a point that Jérémie Mékaelian, Director of Sales and Contribution Projects for Globecast in France, made in a Q&A in September. He said, “One of our major areas of innovation today is developing remote working solutions for our clients. While remote working is perfectly suited to carrying out even very substantial tasks, managing these projects this way is complex and requires precise organisation and in-depth workflow for perfect execution.”

It’s a point with which Liz McParland, Commercial Director, Contribution, based in the UK, agrees in a soon-to-be-published SVG Europe article. Sports broadcasting has clearly been badly hit by the pandemic. But in order to bring live competitions back to screens as fast as possible, Globecast worked hard to implement new protocols. McParland says, “Of course, restrictions extend to the level of onsite production staff, meaning broadcasters, producers and suppliers are now incredibly careful in managing their production procedures and schedules. Being Covid-secure is a number one priority.” Remote working practices were central to helping bring live sports back and many of these practices will be adopted – and adapted – across 2021 and beyond. What became really clear, as McParland also notes, is the cultural importance of live sports.

Robust and flexible playout

In July we announced that Virgin Media had turned to us to provide a robust and flexible playout solution for its ‘pop-up’ HD exercise channel Get Moving. During these difficult Covid times, online and TV-based exercise classes and workout recommendation shows became extremely popular as people want to get, or maintain, fitness and to feel part of a group. Virgin Media initially launched the channel itself but then decided that a more robust, flexible and fully managed playout solution was needed, which is why they turned to us.

There is a continuing trend, pioneered by Globecast, towards cloud playout and we will have major US-based customer project news in this regard in 2021. Back in May, we shared an interesting blog, written by our very own Ian Redgewell, Head of Media Management, exploring infrastructure as code (IaC) in playout. Briefly, IaC is the process of creating and managing cloud-based technologies using scripts – hence code – to do so. The script is then “read” or accepted by systems like AWS’ CloudFormation or the cloud-agnostic solution from Terraform. The systems created using IaC can be as simple or as complex as required i.e. entirely cloud-based complex playout infrastructure can be generated far more quickly and cost-effectively via this method.

October saw us announce that AMC Networks International – UK (AMCNI UK), based in London, UK – had selected Globecast to provide comprehensive playout and distribution services for its EMEA roster of 21 channels. AMCNI UK is a new customer for us. Playout is handled using a combination of software-based technology, the cloud and playout servers, located at Globecast. A very small amount of IaC is being used to handle ad sending, acceptance and delivery into the playout system.
Our team in South Africa also completed a playout project for educational channel provider Mindset for the launch of Mindset Pop. It features educational programming covering the entire General Education and Training (GET) phase. Our team worked very quickly to get this on-air as fast as possible, using a “light-touch” playout solution. We also announced considerable OTT success across the continent, with Bofinet and a range of other customers with our TV Everywhere solution.

We mustn’t forget to mention two popular state-of-the-market blogs that we shared during 2020, one by Alan Hird, MD of Globecast in Africa and the other by Shankunt Malhotra, MD of Globecast in Asia.

A view from the US

Meanwhile, in the US, Senior VP of Sales Tim Jackson penned an excellent piece about 5G, C-band and alternative distribution models. Also in the US, Germany-based broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 chose us for the licensing of its ProSiebenSat.1 Welt German-language TV channel exclusively in the US for MVPD, cable operator, OTT platform and IPTV distribution and non-exclusively in Central and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Technical delivery of the signal is being managed from Globecast’s Media Center in Culver City, CA.

We know that 2020 has been a tough year for everyone but there is light on the horizon. Have a great holiday season.

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