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Published on 28 Jun 2018

This is an extract from a presentation made at the Orange Summit by Sylvain Merle, CTO and COO at Globecast

Trends in media

We have seen throughout the day how technology has a role to play in helping the media to rise up to its challenges, in particular that of the rush for viewers, by making the most of content.

However, the way in which your content is used and consumed is changing fast.

Our ecosystem has been rocked by the new arrivals, GAFA.

The younger generations watch content on other devices, in other formats, at a time of their choice….

And that requires us to transform the way in which we both conceive and produce content, and of course to distribute that content on these new channels.

In our industry, this transformation results in a market tendency

  • to focus more on short, service-oriented schemes,
  • requiring high reactivity for the rapid implementation of solutions,
  • limiting investments, preferring Opex rather than Capex,
  • and also allowing temporary services to be launched, either to test a market, segment or audience, or to broadcast events of a limited duration.

We also know that content is what truly matters. Whoever has the most exclusive, most distinctive content has the best chance to obtain value from it and promote their brand.

And it is on content that you, the broadcasters, should be concentrating, on this creation of value. What the sector currently needs is an extreme simplification of the processes to create, produce, process and broadcast this content.

Remember there was a time when the whole sector was talking about MAM, then the more innovative moved on to DAM, then came the Workflow Engine concept, and now we talk instead of orchestration, to be able to manage not only operational technical aspects, but also provisioning, supervision, analytics or even purely financial aspects in order to track revenue or costs.

All of these new requirements need new methods to be implemented in our organisations and new tools to be adopted in order to join this new digital method, and thus proceed with this famous transformation.

What is transformation?

As Technical Director, either of a broadcaster as I was previously, or for a carrier, such as Globecast today, this question of transformation is therefore a truly multi-faceted subject.

Not only does it cover purely technical considerations, it also covers operational, editorial and financial considerations, as well as those relating to human resources and new skills to be acquired.

And it’s true that transformation is a complicated issue. It is not an innate process: humans resist change. …. And that raises a lot of questions.

To find out how to go about it, and since we must always understand the reasons behind what we do, we stopped to ask ourselves: Why must we transform? What are the real objectives behind this transformation?

5 main ideas emerged:

  • To improve reactivity to roll out services more quickly, and improve our Time To Market
  • To ensure our service is more reliable, and work on QoS
  • To simplify the processes, to make life easier for employees, and therefore for our customers
  • To create new services, new offers
  • And finally, to streamline and optimise our production costs

We quickly realised that there was a common factor in all of these 5 points: the customer.

In all honesty, on reflection, that didn’t really surprise us, since we are here above all to serve our customers. It is therefore fairly logical for our objectives to revolve around them.

This analogy can also be transposed to you, the broadcasters, in relation to your audiences.

Just like us, you have your customers, YOUR audience to win over, to capture, to seduce.

And I believe that this reflection can help to decide how to tackle this issue of transformation, how to get to grips with the subject, or at the very least provide guidance as to the path to take.

So how did we go about it at Globecast?

I can give you 3 examples illustrating what we did.

  • First of all, the creation of a new role within the company, reporting directly to our President, representing customer relations, with a view to breathing new life into this component throughout our organisation, with each employee, each department
  • We also started a program for the creation of a digital customer portal allowing access in real time to the supervision of the services we provide to our customers, whether that be for distribution offers or media management.
  • And in our internal organisation, during the product creation or project management stages, we systematically implemented a partnership between a technical leader and a business leader, speaking for the customer and the market, ensuring that the product is perfectly in line with the expectations of the market.

Technological projects

On the more technological side, we started a wave of transformations and migrations of our infrastructures to formats and standards such as, in particular, public Internet and virtualisation.

This first project has now come to an end:

  • our terrestrial fibre network is now entirely in public Internet format.
  • we have virtualised all of our tools for the management and supervision of our infrastructure

For us, that was a necessary first step, to lay the preliminary foundations. As a result, we can now envisage and commit to providing our offers and products using this method of virtualisation, or even “cloudification”, depending on usage. This will be the case in particular this year with our offers for:

  • headend encoding
  • playout
  • and VOD or Catchup content management

Furthermore, one of the first offers to be provided on a cloud is our CINEMA DELIVERY offer. A pilot for this project was started last year, which also allowed us to acquire a certain number of skills on how to design, integrate and supervise this new type of infrastructure.

For those of you who do not know this service, CINEMA DELIVERY is an offer allowing films to be delivered in digital format from distributors to cinema screens. And this offer currently covers more than 70% of the market in France.

In this example, the use of the Cloud allows us to absorb peaks in activity, in the event of a rush of blockbuster releases, by diverting some of the traffic onto the Cloud when the infrastructure we host reaches saturation. We therefore continue to offer a quality service and fast delivery of films in all circumstances.


As you know, carrying your content to your audience is the heart of the Globecast business. For this, we have a network consisting of:

  • satellite transponders,
  • our teleports,
  • and also our terrestrial fibre network.

This network allows you to reach your buyers pretty much anywhere on the planet.

In order to be able to offer more innovative new services, we felt that the Public Internet could be an interesting alternative to traditional networks in certain usage scenarios, and a few years ago we opted for this approach.

We first thought of monitoring, backup or disaster recovery usage, which seemed fairly natural to us.

But now, some of our customers have entrusted us with part of the primary distribution of their antennas in order to supply some of their buyers using this technology, which currently offers levels of quality and reliability which are perfectly acceptable for this kind of usage.

I could give you the example of a famous international news channel based in Lyon which we carry using this technology to more than sixty operators around the world. That channel is Euronews.

We were able to roll this network out quickly to these 60 buyers, with a controlled budget, and thus remain compliant with the strategy of this customer, who wanted to increase their distribution, but above all be able to localise their content or the language based on the destinations, and therefore make the most of their content.

It is here that we can see the full scope of this innovation: we were talking before of the importance of understanding the reasons behind what we do.

Mixing Technologies

To conclude, I would also point out that innovation in our sector also requires partnerships with a group of companies, whether they be established companies on the market, like some of those we have heard this afternoon, or start-ups offering specialised and highly-targeted solutions.

And it is mixing these technologies and these innovations, combining them with older ones, that allows us here at Globecast to provide end-to-end offers, and thus innovate through service.

For example, for a few years now, we have had a fleet of hybrid SNG buses, capable of:

  • processing both the satellite transmission and the coding for terrestrial fibre links,
  • providing Internet connectivity on the sites of our customers’ events,
  • and also adding 4G, and soon 5G, type transmission services.

This is what allows us for example to manage the transmission and international broadcast of all football matches in the French Ligue 1 for a sports channel.

In the media management domain, we can also see the full extent of what the aggregation of services has to offer for the creation of complete offers.

We created the Globecast Digital Media Hub, which is a media services platform, including modules for VOD management, Catchup, playout and clipping for publication on social networks, and also all the tools allowing content to be exchanged between rights holders and their customers.