Centre of the Universe: Grass Valley to focus on GVMU with new business models and technical abilities
As the media and entertainment industry continues to face digital disruption, Grass Valley (GV) is focusing on Media Universe as a way for broadcasters and media organisations to drive down operating costs, focus investment on producing the best content, and align investment with revenue.
As Louis Hernandez Jr, executive chairman at Grass Valley and founder, managing director and CEO of private equity firm Black Dragon Capital, says: “GV has one of the most comprehensive product suites in the industry, incredible IP and some of the most sophisticated clients in the world. In the next phase of GV you’re going to see a pretty significant expansion in current products and see us lead with cloud-based solutions, more flexible business models and the most open, integrated system that we have in the industry.”
To achieve this, Grass Valley Media Universe will be positioned at the centre of everything the company does to help customers meet the demands of needing to create more content for more platforms with tightening budgets.
Hernandez Jr explains: “Media Universe is a shared cloud-native – and cloud native is important – digital technology platform where individuals, groups and organisations can work together on a shared ecosystem. We have connected hardware devices, software-only solutions, alliances, all sharing this global platform in this new digitally connected community. It’s a really exciting development and it’s now really starting to accelerate in capturing the imagination of the industry.”
At the core of the GV Media Universe is AMPP, Grass Valley’s Agile Media Processing Platform, which is designed specifically to meet the requirements of live media and address the challenges brought about by digital disruption.
Sydney Lovely, chief technology officer at Grass Valley, says: “We really think of AMPP as the centre of the Media Universe, it’s the operating system, if you will, the connective tissue that connects everything together.”
It consists of three main aspects, agile management tools, elastic platform services and intelligent media technologies.
Lovely adds: “We have 17 patents underlining these intelligent media technologies, which are really around solving very difficult media-centric problems in a distributed or cloud environment; things like latency or egress/ingress, that prevent the industry from taking advantage of cloud. We’ve built a whole set of technologies to solve those problems. Fundamentally, our thesis was if we built AMPP for live, everything else would be downhill from there – and that’s truly been the case.”
Lovely also highlighted a number of benefits of AMPP that often get overlooked. For example, the need for software commissioning and costly upgrades/rollbacks are eliminated. The open API-based approach of AMPP also enables ease of customisation and support is streamlined as the platform is actively monitored so any issues can be identified and resolved quickly.
“Fundamentally, our thesis was if we built AMPP for live, everything else would be downhill from there – and that’s truly been the case”
Innovation at the company is not just limited to the technical side, however, as Neil Maycock, chief marketing officer at Grass Valley, explains: “We want to innovate not just with our tech but with our commercial models and how we engage with customers. We have a broad portfolio but we don’t do everything, so we’re working at building alliances and partnerships that allow the GV Media Universe to be much broader than what Grass Valley can offer.”
This has led to the introduction of a number of new commercial agreements and models which the company believes will enable digital transformation. This includes offering OPEX solutions that allow costs to scale with revenues and multi-year strategic commercial agreements designed to offer certainty and shared savings.
In excess of $67 million worth of agreements have already been signed, including with ASG, Logic and ES Broadcast, and more will be announced in the near future. According to Maycock: “They lower the unit economics, that means it makes the elements that our customers are using from Grass Valley more cost effective to deploy and it creates greater flexibility. By having that multi-year commitment we can work together in true partnership to realise better value.”
He continues: “I see so many companies in their marketing use the phrase ‘end-to-end solution’. Well, I don’t think any company offers an end-to-end solution and our customers do need a broad capability. Proactively partnering with a range of companies really broadens the capabilities of the GV Media Universe. This will allow us to get closer to that ideal of an end-to-end solution all powered by that common technology base with AMPP, while not making a customer 100% reliant on a single vendor.”
“I see so many companies in their marketing use the phrase ‘end-to-end solution’. Well, I don’t think any company offers an end-to-end solution”
While AMPP brings a lot to the table, GV Media Universe is broader than this platform and connected devices are key. The GVMU encompasses the company’s whole portfolio – from cameras and switchers to IP infrastructure and control – all of which comes together to create a combined solution set.
“What’s really exciting,” adds Maycock, “is the new operating models that we can enable with AMPP. We’ve done really innovative workflows, particularly during the pandemic where we had a step change in the demand for remote operations and people had to introduce new ways of working.
“We were able to combine traditional products with our cloud platform, our distributed model, and enable these whole new ways of working. And that extends to the alliance programme. So, you can do this with the Grass Valley portfolio but then we bring in our alliance partners to add capabilities that we don’t have, so you get all this ability to innovate by everyone leveraging the AMPP platform.”