IBC Q&A: Richard Craig-McFeeley, Tata Communications

Sports-wise, what has been the headline story of the past 12 months for Tata Communications?
The main headline over the last 12 months has been that of growth. There have been a number of success stories across both live and file-based workflows. We have had a number of client wins in the sports space, which we will be announcing shortly. We are also expanding our network and services with PoPs going into new and exciting regions.

Industry perception suggests that Tata Communications has arrived at some kind of global tipping point. How would you assess the company’s current progress?
We have transitioned from being perceived as a telco looking at media into a fully fledged media-services organisation with the infrastructure of a global tier 1 telco. By leveraging our infrastructure, we are able to offer a full suite of services for workflows across the live and file-based domains. In addition, by building strong partnerships in the industry, we are also able to provide solutions to meet any additional requirements. The level of progress is illustrated by a number of new customer wins and significant expansion to both our network and services.

What will be the next landmark in the fibre revolution? And what you can tell us about Tata Communications’ immediate plans?
We firmly believe more and more broadcasters will migrate their contribution and distribution requirements over to fibre. This change is more evident in the sports sector. Several influences are driving this change.

The competition for, and the cost of, sports rights is increasing rapidly. Each renewal cycle for any of the major sports results in a huge increase in fees paid for sports rights. The carriage of the video required to monetise these rights is abso­lutely crucial. So reliable and secure video carriage via fibre is essential.

Consumers are demanding access to sports content whenever and wherever they are on an expanding range of devices. This is driving the future adoption of 4K for large screens and streaming delivery for mobile devices. Combine this with live, postproduced, and archive content with multiple rights per territory, and the problem grows massively. Our global fibre network combined with our Video Connect service and CDN solve these challenges.

Broadcasters are looking for new and innovative ways to improve their live content and reduce the amount of equipment and people needed at remote events. The large bandwidths available with fibre allow fully collaborative workflows between remote sports locations and centralised production centres. This reduces staff, travel, and management costs while integrating live operations with archive. This level of collaboration is not possible over satellite, and we expect this to be a growth area over the next 12-24 months.

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