IBC Q&A: Cobalt Digital’s McAlpine discusses ImmediaTV acquisition and the future roadmap

In an effort to accelerate growth of its IP product line, Cobalt Digital announced on the opening day of IBC 2016 its acquisition of Silicon Valley-based video-compression/transport/processing supplier ImmediaTV. The move doesn’t come as a total shock, as both companies are openGear vendors and have teamed up in recent years to create bundled solutions for mutual customers.

The deal marks Cobalt Digital’s first-ever acquisition and will bring ImmediaTV’s MPEG-4 AVC video compression, digital-video transport, and digital-video–processing equipment into the Cobalt portfolio. Cobalt is a long-time reseller of ImmediaTV’s MPEG encoder, decoder, transcoder, and gateway openGear products as a part of jointly designed, bundled solutions.

Bob McAlpine at Cobalt Digital’s booth at IBC 2016

Bob McAlpine at Cobalt Digital’s booth at IBC 2016

Other news at the show includes the European debut of Cobalt’s 3G/HD/SD-SDI multirate router cards for openGear and the launch of two new SCTE-104 DPI and processing options for the company’s openGear cards and BBG-1000 Series standalone processors. Cobalt also announced that TNDV: Television has installed seven frames of its signal-conversion and -distribution gear in its first fully native 1080p/4K-ready production truck, Exclamation.

SVG sat down with Bob McAlpine, EVP, sales and marketing, Cobalt Digital, to discuss the ImmediaTV acquisition, products at the booth in Amsterdam, and how he sees the path to IP — as well as 12GB-SDI — playing out in the coming years.

Why did the ImmediaTV acquisition make sense from a strategic point of view?
ImmediaTV is a strategic partner and an openGear partner along with us. So we’ve been working with them for five years, and we’ve worked together to create [bundled solutions] for our customers. As technology changes, we are becoming more IP-centric, and we already have several projects that will utilize their solutions. We know them well.

We also have a full sales team, and they have had one sales person. They already have a very strong customer base, and we’re excited about that as well. We’ve had their pricing and their product in our catalog for years, and we know the partners they sell to very well. So our goal is to take the burden of the housekeeping of a business away from them and let them be the great technologists. [ImmediaTV co-founder/VP, engineering,] Ciro Noronha and [co-founder/CTO] Bill Slattery will maintain their office in Santa Clara, CA, and they will essentially become the autonomous compression division of Cobalt Digital. They will report to our VP of engineering, Ryan Wallenberg.

Since we know them so well, as we’re working on projects, we can now [call] them up and say, ‘We have a little issue; what do you think?’ So we bring marketing and product management and the infrastructure to allow them to focus on what they do best: technology.

What else is new at IBC 2016 for you?
We have a new router card that we introduced it at NAB and [we’re] debuting in Europe. We’ve [listed] it in the best-of-show nominations. It is the only router card in the openGear consortium, and it’s an assist for our multiviewer and others in openGear when necessary. It can be as large as 24×24 [configuration] for 3G, but it also can be a 12×4 [matrix] for 12GB-SDI. So we’re breaking into that area, and that becomes our hook into 12G-SDI.

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the potential use of 12G-SDI over coax as a near-term transmission solution for 4K productions in lieu of IP. Where does Cobalt Digital stand on this issue?
12GB-SDI is incredibly cost-effective and easy to use. The chip cost to put it on a board compared to IP, in terms of the software licenses and the complexity, is [very low]. So why can’t they coexist? Why can’t they live together? Why does it have to be one or the other? The potential of IP is very powerful, and we’re all for IP, but we don’t believe SDI should just go away. Things are working themselves out [in the marketplace], but we get an opportunity to show off some of this new technology and actually wait for the demand. We have some very dedicated projects for IP, but we have to listen to the market and keep our ear to the ground so we can react. Overall, our business has been fantastic the last year and a half, so we’re excited about the future.

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