2017 was a monumental year for us. Firstly, it was our 10th year of business. Secondly, we saw the business grow from myself and my husband to a four-person team. It has been quite strange but also really exciting adapting to being an “agency” as oppose to classing myself as a freelancer. I think anyone who has had the pleasure of working with Amy and Kailea this past year will agree that they are doing a sterling job of continuing my ethos of really caring about each and every client.
2017 also saw the addition of two new clients, both of which I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for some time: ETL Systems and Object Matrix. It has been fantastic to be able to work with both of these more closely and help them get traction in the media.
2017 has also been an interesting year for the industries we serve, namely media and satellite, with some crossover between the two.
Broadcast and Media
In the broadcast and media world, we are seeing a veritable explosion of over-the-top (OTT) services available across multiple devices. This includes a number of niche services, capitalising on the multi-service consumer who is signing up to various services to meet different consumption preferences. The rise of OTT is having a prolific effect on the traditional broadcasters which are increasingly looking to launch their own OTT services. Companies like Accedo can of course help there, especially since the launch of its Android TV launcher. Earlier this year, Accedo issued an interesting whitepaper about the global interest and opportunity for the Android TV platform.
One of the biggest challenges for traditional broadcasters launching OTT services is that of advertising. With ads all a different length and some shown on linear TV not allowed or appropriate for online viewing, it is really difficult to replace those ads with something of exactly the same length. Another client of ours, Crystal, launched its Crystal Metadata Cloud earlier this year to provide frame-accurate synchronisation of metadata with video and audio at any point in the distribution chain.
With more and more content being produced, and distributed to multiple platforms, it has never been more important to be able to manage that content and store it intelligently. It has absolutely no value if it is just dumped in an archive never to be found again. Cantemo’s flexible and scalable media asset management solutions mean that its customers can keep that media well organised, easily searchable, and workflows can be automated. It can also be integrated with other tools, such as the digital content governance and object storage solutions from Object Matrix. MatrixStore keeps that content secure, but it also is searchable within the archive and has a number of functions in place to ensure disaster recovery and business continuity. Tim Child, Cantemo’s CCO, gives his view on the Cantemo blog on what the future has in store for media companies. If you want to know more about the trends for storage in 2018, check out the blog post by Object Matrix CEO, Jonathan Morgan.
Whilst distributing video content over the internet has become common place, IP at contribution is still held in dubious regard by many, fearing it won’t be reliable enough. However, there have been some interesting developments this year. Earlier this year, I went to the Broadcast Tech IP Summit. If you missed it, you can read my roundup of the event here. It was interesting to hear about IP starting to be used in a number of different parts of the chain, including the first IP outside broadcast trucks. In particular, our client Open Broadcast Systems has been working with broadcasters to enable all IP, and all over standard off-the-shelf IT hardware. What this means it is much more flexible, as you can put any number of applications in one piece of kit, plus scale up or down at any moment. It is also consequently much more cost-efficient. Earlier this year, it completed a project with Sky for an all IP Master Control Facility. Unlike many other IP projects, it is entirely end-to-end IP and end-to-end software based and it is being used by Sky News every day. If you have a bit of time to spare, check out Kieran Kunhya discussing why broadcasters suddenly care about IP at Demuxed.
Of course another big trend is the increasing use of video for marketing use and other corporate use. That means the people developing videos are no longer just broadcasters. Groovy Gecko has for a long time been providing cutting-edge webcasting services to enable companies to reach audiences with live and on-demand video. Over the past couple of years, it has seen a massive increase in the demand for streams into Facebook. Jake Ward, Groovy Gecko’s Business Development Manager, believes 2018 will bring yet more tech innovations whether it’s AR, VR or 360°.
This rise of video being used by a wide range of companies is what inspired Cantemo to launch its cloud video hub, iconik. It makes it easy to share and collaborate on media, even with colleagues or stakeholders in the opposite reaches of the world.
As I said above, there is some crossover between what we do for our satellite clients and our broadcast clients. That is mainly because broadcasters are one of the biggest users of satellite technology. Whilst many rival technologies see a dim future for satellite when it comes to broadcast provision, ETL Systems recently argued that satellite will continue to be extremely relevant for the broadcast industry, if not even more so. You can read the article in the Broadcast Bridge.
The satellite industry is also rife with innovation, from high throughput satellite to small satellite constellations. It has been these innovations that have made satellite broadband a viable alternative, especially where no other networks are available. Our client, Global Teleports, has delivered satellite broadband provision to a number of business, including campsites and farms. This year, it also provided QuadSat with service for the first ever live stream from Easter Island.
In the latest Satellite Evolution, Alvaro Sanchez of Integrasys discusses why that innovation means even more innovation is needed right through the chain to properly make the most of these advancements. It is more important than ever to properly monitor these networks and ensure they are error free. This is also an area where Crystal can help, with its monitoring and control solutions.
Maintaining an error-free space environment is also the main point of topic for both the Space Data Association, which is working to provide conjunction analysis and radio frequency interference tools and alerts for its members; and the Satellite Interference Reduction Group. Both industry associations are not-for-profit and working to create a better environment for all within the satellite industry.
Whilst the majority of our clients are in media and satellite, occasionally we like to shake things up a bit. We have been working for ICE Technology Services, a technology consultant, specialising in the travel and cruise industries. The really interesting thing is that a lot of the things we are discussing across our normal industries are equally applicable here, such as VR, AI, and personalisation.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
It just remains for me to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am thoroughly looking forward to what promises to be an even more fun-packed 2018.