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Harris Broadcast goes OTT with Imagine

6 December 2013
Harris Broadcast goes OTT with Imagine

Harris Broadcast has announced its intention to acquire Imagine Communications, a specialist in online video and OTT. Imagine is based in California, with R&D facilities in Israel.

Harris hopes that Imagine’s combination of video processing, adaptive bitrate transcoding and statistical multiplexing technology will improve the bandwidth efficiency and density needed for improved TV everywhere services. According to Charlie Vogt, CEO of Harris Broadcast, “you make company acquisitions for one of three reasons, and if you can score all three you are doing really well.

“First and foremost, you add complementary capabilities to your business,” he explained. “Second, you would like the acquired company to bring some new customers to you. And third, you acquire intellectual property and in particular in the form of people – new development skills. I think this acquisition checks all three boxes.”

Vogt has said previously that he sees the broadcast and media market being an increasingly software-driven business, and this acquisition underlines that strategy. Imagine Communications provides the technology for very high throughput online video, using adaptive bitrate streaming to optimise video quality and the user quality of experience.

The software runs on virtual machines on blade server hardware, which is consistent with the Harris Broadcast plan for future product development. The intention is to see much of its range of solutions running in software on commoditised, off the shelf hardware.

“The acquisition means we are able to provide our customers with an excellent offering in the online video space,” Vogt said. Emphasising the crucial importance of this for the future of the industry, he said “Despite all the noise from the existing customer base – many of whom are frankly pleased with the linear ad model – there is more activity now going on in online video.

“Imagine Communications complements our existing transcode products we are already selling to content businesses, allowing us to deal with the distribution end too,” he added.

Vogt also made the point that this action underlined the renewed strength of Harris Broadcast as an independent business under the Gores Group. “It sends a loud message to the market, along with the people changes I’ve made, that the Gores Group is really behind Harris Broadcast as a market leader.”

The shares of Imagine Communication, which are currently largely held by venture capital funds, will be transferred to Harris Broadcast when the deal is closed, currently expected to be 1 January 2014.

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