SVG Europe Sit-Down: SIS LIVE’s David Meynell discusses “rapid expansion” of Anylive fibre network
At the time of writing the SIS LIVE Anylive fibre network – which connects key broadcasters, major switching centres and content aggregators – covers in excess of 70 major sports stadia and venues. But this total is rising rapidly as SIS LIVE managing director David Meynell confirms to SVG Europe that the company is “beyond” where it expected to be at this point on its journey towards a long-term target of covering 200-plus sites with fibre network connectivity.
The current reality and future roadmap for Anylive will be a primary focus for SIS LIVE at IBC next month, where the company will also release specific details about Anylive+ – its new range of services set to extend the capabilities of the Anylive network to include remote production options. With its uplink and streaming services continuing to perform strongly, SIS LIVE’s progress since it departed the OB business in late 2013 is proof of the old adage that as one door closes, another one opens…
Would it be fair to say that you have got further than you expected at this stage in the development of Anylive?
Yes, I think that is fair. We made a decision about two or three years ago to invest more in our fibre infrastructure. Coming from a more traditional SNG background we could see that there was a lot of growth [potential] in terms of connectivity for broadcasters to be able to work with content from different sectors and sources, which we saw as being HD, UHD and potentially remote production. So we invested in that and created a new core route which offers a better way of monitoring and controlling our own network and enables more control over it. The network [itself] has also been expanded significantly, for example to cover more horse-racing grounds. We are also doing a lot of work with other broadcaasters for Premier League football in HD and UHD now. [Looking ahead] we are competing aggressively for new contracts and RFPs, and are also looking forward to [developing our ability to support remote production] with the launch of Anylive+ at IBC.
How many locations are covered by Anylive at the moment?
We are at about 70 locations now and have a target of circa 200 venues in the next two years. We want to become the most significant provider of media networked services in the UK. In the last year we have added snooker, darts and other sports, so we really do have this great developing portfolio.
One of the unique aspects of what we offer as a service provider is our scale and the number of technologies we bring to a party. ITV Sport and the Rugby World Cup is a good example. ITV Sport was seeking exceptional levels of service and resilience, so in addition to installing fibre we offered a microwave backup in larger venues and satellite backups for every single event. So we can deliver dual or triple resilience, and that ability to offer diverse technologies really makes us unique in the UK.
I should add that we have also been adding new people to support our growth – including John Cuggy, who joined us as head of technical sales support in July 2015, and has been helping us to deliver networks and promises to customers.
To date we have had exceptional feedback from our customers about the scale of the infrastructure as well as our technical ability, innovation and flexibility. Our attitude is a big part of it, I think.
Satellite uplink remains a key part of the business, but do you think that will still be the case in 5-10 years from now?
Yes, I do, but it is definitely changing. We have some very big contracts in this area, for example with ITV, ITN and [ITV breakfast show] Good Morning Britain to provide uplink feeds. But while a lot of live trucks are still being used for now, there is also [a greater willingness] to accept streaming from mobile or Skype.
Finally, what can you tell us about your presence at IBC 2016, where you will be exhibiting on stand 1C55?
We will be highlighting the expansion of Anylive at IBC as well as the launch of Anylive+, which is about remote production. Our offering there will be using the backbone of our fibre network plus whatever bits the customer wants to add. [The aim is to] look at the value chain and see how we can support broadcasters and work with them to provide more bandwidth, multiple cameras from each site, etc. We will also be highlighting our developments in other services, such as streaming.