Globecast outlines future vision for content creation and distribution

Philippe Bernard, chairman and CEO, Globecast

Philippe Bernard, chairman and CEO, Globecast

At a recent event in London Globecast – which carries audiovisual content to TV channels, both linear and non-linear, around the world – offered some thoughts about how it sees its market developing in the years ahead. With a customer base representing more than 800 public or commercial channels, it’s certainly a substantial portfolio of interests to accommodate.

Philippe Bernard, chairman and CEO at Globecast, told SVG Europe about the two main customer groups the company sees the market splitting into the over coming years – OTT mobile-based players, and traditional premium brand broadcasters. “For our traditional market — the Discovery’s and the BBC’s out there — these big players have money to invest and differentiate themselves though quality of content. At the other end, you have low-cost, video and TV over mobile players, mainly telcos looking at short format series.

“In the middle there are the limited budget guys and they will be faced with a tough future, so our strategy is to focus on the two extremes. The premium brands want a multiformat strategy and technology like Low Elevation Orbit (LEO) satellites, while the low-cost brands require a full package on a low-cost platform with support.”

Bundled content for pay TV

Bernard continued: “If you discuss with Vivendi or Universal what they want to do in Africa, they consider it will be about mobile. For that you need short-format content of about three minutes per episode, and series distribution. For people that only spend about $1 per month on their mobile phone, if you want to address the African market you have to try and get half a dollar more from them, so to get that you need to deliver content in the way the user wants to view that content, when and where they want to view it. It’s a growing market.”

Regarding the use of bundled content, Bernard commented: “We buy from content owners and bundle it for distribution by mobile operators on pay TV platforms. When a telco comes to Globecast it’s to get the full package. We are number one for distribution and occasional use, and we want to become the innovative player on the media management market for international players. But what does innovation mean?

“In the French presidential election, [Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric] Macron’s team asked us to distribute any coverage of Macron to Facebook Live. The big news channels in France were quite upset! We used a combination of traditional and new ways of distribution [to make that happen]. It was innovative. They wanted to be on Facebook Live so they can control that channel. It was very controlled; everything was managed by Macron’s communications team.”

Bernard noted that in 2016, Globecast delivered 40 big events to Facebook Live. In the first month of 2017 it delivered 45, “so there’s a big opportunity to look at monetarily; a huge opportunity to keep the top line growing. For Facebook Live, we expect around £2 million in revenue for Globecast in 2017. It is also very complimentary for our customers,” said Bernard.

Looking to the skies

Meanwhile, Globecast currently has capacity on 27 satellites. As to where it is taking its satellite technology strategy for the future of OTT compliant streams to feed pay-TV telecom operators, Sylvain Merle, CTO at Globecast, stated: “Today High Throughput Signal (HTS) satellites are becoming available in the market. HTS is the same as existing satellites, but you can have a bigger bandwidth so you can transmit at a lower cost, for many channels and multiple profiles. So we are working with partners to use HTS satellites by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018.

“Next we have LEO satellites. We have a two to three year projection on when we will begin using these, so by around 2020. LEO satellites work in a constellation, and you need 860 of them to make a constellation. The LEO satellites can actually communicate with each other to create a real network, like a mobile network, and have a 20% greater throughput than HTS. Satellites today are 36,000 kilometres above Earth, but LEO is just 400km above Earth, so LEO will have a big impact because the latency is low. So the idea is to create a sky network for IP and the internet. You will be able to use LEO to feed OTT compliant streams to feed pay TV operators, in places like Africa for instance, where broadband coverage is very low. We are in discussion with OneWeb [about LEO]; they are going to launch the constellation, which should be finished by 2020. The first one is already launched.

“This is one innovation we want to push today to reimagine broadcast. We can deliver video over the internet today, but using the LEO constellation will be popular. It will be a revelation for video consumption, especially where fibre today is not very good; it will bring bandwidth to where today it is not available.”

Cloudy with a chance of content

Next up for aggregated services at Globecast is a move to the cloud, says Merle. “Customers today are asking us to deliver media services and do distribution. This is a way for our customers to have full service from end to end, with us aggregating all these services together.”

Media Factory, Globecast’s system of taking content from anywhere, processing it in any way needed and delivering it to anywhere and to any device, is moving to the cloud. In the cloud, customers will be able to use Media Factory to create services at the click of a button. Globecast is building and deploying new solutions and enhancements to create five core services that will be used throughout its media management business by: creating an automated agile asset handling solution for VoD services, linear playout, OTT services and a customer facing asset management portal; optimising services technically, operationally and commercially; and deploying these enhancements on a hybrid of private/public cloud and on premise architecture. Media Factory’s Ingest, Portal and Schedule sections will be ready to move into the cloud at the end of this year.

Bernard commented: “Media Factory in the cloud means there is no longer an entry barrier [to broadcast] through CAPEX because everyone can use the cloud. Instead of saying it is complex to do, having to get the teams and having to get the hardware together, which can take months, it will take hours. I think that’s a real breakthrough in this industry, a real breakthrough.”

Bernard also stated that Globecast will be multiplayer to the cloud providers used for the Media Factory cloud service, in combination with the company’s own on-premise servers.

Remote sports production

The company also spoke about the Ligue 1 football match on 1 December between Bastia and Bordeaux. Merle stated: “Sports broadcasters are under pressure to reduce technology costs and they need to optimise logistics on how to produce these events, yet they need to have all facilities available to them. Currently, we offer traditional broadcast ecosystems, so teams into the venue with OB vans, camera operators, local editing, etc, for a one-way production feed. However, we have done some tests on a new way of delivering remote production.”

At the Bastia and Bordeaux match, Globecast tested remote production that is ideal for sports broadcasters who have spent a great deal of money on the rights to produce content, and therefore need to identify ways to maximise their use of that content while reducing costs.

Globecast transported five live latency-free camera source feeds between the Bastia stadium – where the match against Bordeaux was played – and Paris, over 715 miles, to beIN site La Factory, a central production site with an OB van. Transporting content over a business Ethernet (Orange) link at 1Gbps meant the live event could be produced remotely and controlled from the central production site where the director was located in Paris.

Bernard stated: “For customers, this reduces the cost of production as it is managed locally in Paris or wherever [it is needed]. Secondly, you maximise the value of the [football] content that is purchased at a very high price; with audio and visual signals, two-way streams and comms between the different teams and equipment as well as data streams, you can maximise multiformat distribution.”

This was the first occasion on which such tests were carried out in France, concluded Barnard: “You need fibre on demand available to do this, but [given that] it’s an opportunity for smaller broadcasters to broadcast from smaller events.”

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