IBC 2016: Gearhouse Broadcast has eyes on U.S. market with Super Truck; Completes London Stock Exchange project

Gearhouse Broadcast is building a 4K super truck that will be available for use throughout the USA as the company looks to expand its presence. Based in Los Angeles, CA, the new mobile unit has been commissioned to add to Gearhouse’s mobile business in the region, which has experienced continued growth in recent years. It is being designed specifically for the US broadcast market, giving customers further benefits from Gearhouse’s experience in providing the technical equipment, facilities and services to capture the world’s most watched content.

The new 4K truck is being built by Gearhouse Broadcast’s UK-based systems integration team and specialist coachbuilder A Smith Great Bentley and will be available for 4K and HD productions in early 2017. It will feature 16 Sony HDC-4300 4K/HD cameras with six additional inputs for RF cameras and can deal with another ten remote inputs.

John Newton of Gearhouse Broadcast

John Newton of Gearhouse Broadcast

The truck has a main control room and an ancillary control room for second language or webcast subswitch. The monitor wall will consist of 24 Boland 4K monitors driven either as Quad splits or single input 4K monitors from the main router giving total flexibility in HD or 4K. It will be the first truck in the US with an entirely 4K monitor wall. The vision switcher will be a Grass Valley Karrera K-Frame S-series 4ME switcher, and there are four 12 channel EVS XT3 ChannelMAX live production servers, the router is an Imagine Communications Platinum IP3 28RU supported by a Lawo VSM control and monitoring platform. The audio mixer is a Calrec Artemis 56 fader and communications is through the new RTS Adam modular matrix intercom.

“This new 4K supertruck will be designed, built, integrated and finished to the highest standards, specifically for the US live production market, of which we have an excellent understanding” says Marc Genin, managing director of Gearhouse Broadcast USA. “The flexible lay out means that it can be used for both sports and entertainment and the integrated wireless capability is a real bonus.”

Gearhouse Broadcast COO Kevin Moorhouse adds: “We have a blueprint for successfully delivering and operating a native 4K OB supertruck with our HD8 truck in Australia that has been phenomenally successful in the 18 months since its launch. The time is now right to introduce a similar spec vehicle into the North American market, where demand for our industry-leading services is increasing at an impressive rate.”


Gravity Media Gets Financial Lift

In other Gearhouse news, Gravity Media Group (GMG), the owner of worldwide broadcast services specialists Gearhouse Broadcast and Hyperactive Broadcast, has secured a substantial investment to fund future global growth by selling a minority stake in its business to investment management firm TowerBrook Capital Partners (TowerBrook).

The deal follows an extensive global search by GMG and its advisors, Deloitte, to find a suitable partner to fund aggressive expansion of GMG’s global business, with a particular focus on the USA in the short term. Under the terms of the deal GMG founder and CEO John Newton and his existing management team will remain in position and retain majority control of the Group. They will be supported by two additional non-executive directors, Gordon Holmes of TowerBrook and Dave Checketts, the highly regarded former President and CEO of Madison Square Garden. Checketts has extensive experience operating US sports franchises along with award winning TV networks MSG Network, FOX Sports Network and CSTV.

Formed in 2000 following a management buyout by Newton and his leadership team, GMG has grown rapidly into a truly global business. It provides the technical equipment, facilities and services to capture the world’s most watched content – from iconic live sports events such as Euro 2016 and Formula 1 to hugely popular live entertainment programmes such as The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! Through its six subsidiary businesses GMG employs around 220 people across its UK headquarters and offices in Australia, USA, France and UAE.

“The investment by TowerBrook Capital Partners will enable Gravity Media Group to grow and innovate to realise our ambition of becoming the global leader in supplying equipment, services and consultancy for the live broadcast sector,” says John Newton, founder and CEO of GMG. “It brings industry and operational experience, as well as capital, and has a strong track record for being a patient and added-value investor.”

He adds: “As far as our customers and employees are concerned, nothing changes – other than we will be able to support more customers and events in more locations around the world. The management team remains the same, and we’ll still focus on staying true to our core values of quality, reliability, technical innovation and outstanding service.”

TowerBrook Capital Partners brings impressive pedigree in adding value to its investments. It does this by optimising the performance of a portfolio company through a combination of rigorous analysis and effective partnering with experienced, talented managers. With a fund value of      $8billion, it currently owns stakes in the St Louis Blues NHL sports franchise and InfoPro, the leading business to business information services provider in France.

The search for an investment partner was managed by Deloitte’s lead advisory team in Sydney, Australia, but also drew on the professional services firm’s worldwide network in London and New York. It was led by Damien Tampling, technology and media partner at Deloitte.

Commenting on the announcement, Tampling says: “GMG has done incredibly well to grow to its current size and global footprint with absolutely no external capital. As one of the more diversified players in the global outside broadcast space, its tie up with TowerBrook will put it in a great place to disrupt the market as the broadcast industry goes through some exciting changes. There was serious engagement from several trade and private equity suitors. But the fit with TowerBrook most strongly aligned to the ambitions of the shareholders and management team to take the business to the next level.”

Deloitte also carried out the vendor due diligence and significant advisory work in London and Sydney. The sale was overseen in London by GMG’s principal legal advisers Dentons.

And in a last bit of new, Gearhouse Broadcast has completed the HD upgrade of the studio complex at the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The systems integration project included the design, supply, installation, test and commissioning of all the broadcast equipment and interconnections required to upgrade the studios to a fully HD production facility. It includes the first UK installation of a Ross Ultrix routing system which has been combined with a Ross Carbonite production switcher. Completed on time and within budget, the upgrade process was carefully managed to minimise the impact on day-to-day operations at LSE.

Located in the heart of the City of London, the broadcast facilities include four studios, all of which are available to hire. They are primarily used for the reporting of live financial and business news for television and radio, the production of video content, as well as media training.

Studio 1 can accommodate up to five people and comes with a wraparound video wall, LED colour changing set and four Sony HD Cameras, three of which are mounted on pedestals. Studio 2 is a chroma-key green studio complete with a remote operated HD camera, ideal for down-the-line interviews with broadcasters. Studio 3 offers a live view of London’s Paternoster Square that can be captured through a remote operated HD camera, while Studio 4 is a flexible space ideal for pre-recording content. The facility has direct incoming and outgoing fibre lines to BT Tower for enhanced connectivity.

David Phillips, business development director for systems integration at Gearhouse Broadcast, says, “The SI business is changing so vendors need to be more flexible in their approach to projects, both operationally and commercially. The scale of our business meant we were able to provide temporary solutions to LSE during the installation process to keep them on air. It also enabled us to be able to deal with any potential delays from third party equipment suppliers by temporarily bringing in stock from our own inventory if necessary.”


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