Circumnavigating broadcast challenges and managing growth with LTN Global

LTN Global’s executive chairman and founder, Malik Khan

LTN Global, a new Gold Sponsor of SVG Europe, is in the process of building on its 2019 acquisitions of Niles Media Group, Crystal Corporation and Make.TV, while also circumnavigating the coronavirus pandemic that is currently challenging the sports broadcasting industry. Here, we talk to Malik Khan, LTN Global executive chairman and founder, about overcoming adversity and growing as a business.

Where do you see the biggest challenges in sports broadcasting over the next 12 months, and how might these be overcome? 

The sudden shutdown of nearly all sports events worldwide has had a profound impact on the entire sports ecosystem. With the sudden dearth of live sports events to cover, the biggest challenge for sports broadcasters lies in finding creative ways to engage viewers, and the stakes are high. People are looking to lower their in-home entertainment costs or transfer their investment to services that offer other types of content.

Teams, leagues, colleges, conferences, national and regional sports networks, over the top (OTT) sports platforms, and even advertisers; everyone has had to cope with this shutdown. The financial impact has already been in the billions, but the most profound impact will be the adjustment of this industry to the ‘new normal’.

To address this challenge, broadcasters can take advantage of tools created in the social media space to make broadcasts more interesting; nurture existing relationships with their established viewer base; use remote production techniques to capture interviews and commentary from a distance; explore new genres and niche content; and stand ready to launch coverage as soon as live sports content from around the world once again becomes available.

A couple of examples:

Remote production of events will become more widespread because this model offers very significant cost advantages and flexibility without sacrificing production quality. LTN already has used the LTN Flex production service to produce and distribute live horse racing from Louisiana Downs with just about the entire production staff working from home.

Enhanced viewer interaction using technologies that allow live audiences to interact and become part of the produced show are being used more widely. LTN Live Video Cloud technology is one such technology, and during the current crisis it has been used widely to allow viewers to use their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to interact with events from their homes. Using this LTN technology, event producers can curate and publish these live interactions as part of the produced final feed.

How will coronavirus impact and affect sports broadcasting this year?

We’ve already seen coronavirus cause the cancellation of major sports and entertainment events, and these are the lifeblood of the sports broadcasting industry.

Looking ahead over the coming 12 months, it’s safe to say that event organisers, sports federations, and individual leagues and teams will take a conservative approach, minimising risk to both athletes and the fans who gather to cheer them on.

Events have been moved to the fall, and it is possible that professional sports leagues will be able to reschedule some part of the regular season for later in the year.

Nevertheless, the uncertainty surrounding the virus means there is not yet a firm timeline for the return of live sports, and broadcasters are being forced into a wait-and-see approach to future coverage and programming.

What broadcasters do know, though, is that in coming weeks or even months, people will spend a lot more time at home and a lot more time watching TV.

We believe the sports world will be forever changed. When sport does come back it will reignite production interest like never before.

Where are the biggest trends going to be in sports broadcasting over the next 12 months, why, and what is LTN doing about them?

One trend across sports broadcasting will be continued experimentation with and deployment of remote broadcasts. With people across the world staying safe in their homes, some broadcasters have created makeshift studios in the homes (or garages) of talent and on-air personalities.

With our LTN LEAF Flypack, LTN makes it easy to turn these and other temporary studios into endpoints on the LTN Network and to ensure reliable transport of high quality video.

LTN Global is a worldwide leader in media technology that positions broadcasters and digital content companies to win the future of video. LTN’s digital media ecosystem unifies, optimises, and automates the video workflow, empowering users to acquire, transform, deliver, and monetise content at scale. Drawing on our four pillars (create, connect, command, and transport), LTN’s modular solutions streamline each stage in the digital and linear video chains, from production and publishing, to transformation and transport. Leveraging the world’s fastest and most reliable IP video network, LTN is a trusted partner with a reputation for multicasting transmission-critical, broadcast quality content to any device and any platform, anywhere in the world. LTN brings customers greater efficiency, agility, and creativity in delivering more content to more viewers, driving value from any source to any screen.

What is important about LTN’s next generation video services architecture? How will it change or improve the way sport is broadcast today, and why?

In establishing its uniquely robust network for IP-based transport, LTN has built a global backbone network around innovative and patented technology including Rapid Error Recovery (RER) protocols and Dynamic Multi-carrier Routing (DMR) algorithms and architecture.

This two-pronged effort allows us to offer highly reliable fully managed video transport with exacting SLAs with metrics that match or exceed those available from satellite or fibre service. Already in use by many of the world’s largest and most demanding media companies to distribute high value, full time channels worldwide, LTN services improve sports broadcasting by enabling unparalleled scalability, 24/7 monitoring and support from a dedicated NOC, secure and protected delivery of feeds, and a flexible and cost effective pricing model.

How is LTN building on its 2019 acquisitions of Niles Media Group, Crystal Corporation and Make.TV? 

Integrating the innovative technologies and incredible talent of the newest members of the LTN Global family (Niles Media Group, Crystal Corporation, and Make.TV), we’ve built a universal media technology ecosystem with modular solutions and managed services that drive efficiency and value from end to end, from production and publishing to transformation and transport.

Fully managed modular offerings available within LTN’s universal media technology ecosystem include LTN Production services and media processing; LTN Control scalable, cloud-enabled video production platform for live and streaming video; LTN Channel Management technology for metadata enrichment, monitoring, and advanced advertising; and the LTN Transport fully managed network for guaranteed IP-based live video delivery.

How is the company creating a new remote production model for live sports, and what is that model?

LTN has grown from a company specialising in fully managed, mezzanine-quality, point-to-point contribution links for special events and content aggregation to a full-service provider that can acquire, transform, deliver, and monetise content at scale.

Eliminating the need for a production truck full of equipment and people, LTN is changing the way sports content is produced and delivered.

Transporting the camera outputs and other venue feeds directly to its centralised production facility, LTN uses this model to enable more economical production of professional-grade live broadcasts.

Our synchronous, low latency, high quality network, which has not had a single second of downtime in the 11 years it has been in operation, is a perfect fit.

Why did LTN join SVG Europe as a Gold Sponsor? What do you expect to get out of this Sponsorship, and how will it benefit LTN?

We joined SVG Europe because the platform offers access to valuable educational resources and opportunities, and also because it gives us a forum in which to share ideas; explain new techniques, technologies, and business models; promote our brand; and address audiences that can benefit from our solutions offering.

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