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“We’re like a brewery who’s discovered that people are drinking wine”

Head technologists from around Europe gathered high above London at the Shard for another TVBEurope/Avid roundtable

“We are like a brewery who has discovered that people are drinking wine now” was how TV2 Denmark’s Kjeld Skovlund described his fellow TV broadcasters at Avid’s industry roundtable high above London at The Shard last week.

The roundtable, held in association with TVBEurope sister company, TV Tech Europe, was hosted by Media Asset Capital director Jeremy Bancroft. Guests included representatives from Discovery Communications, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, Norwegian production company OB-Team, Scotland’s STV, Ireland’s TV3 Television, ITV, TV2 Denmark, and, of course, Avid.

There was universal agreement that the key issue for broadcasters now is negotiating the transition from a traditional linear business model – and everything that entails, from technology to workflow to mindset – to a fully digital, IT-based business model – and everything that entails. No one at the roundtable disputed that the industry was at a major turning point, the question now was “What are you doing about it?”

Increasingly, digital teams, once seen as add-ons to the network’s infrastructure, are being integrated into the main production teams. The “VOD team” of one broadcaster at the table, initially brought on to post content online, has now evolved into the key team whose job has moved beyond merely posting content to specialising in turning video into different formats and distributing it anywhere in the world it needs to go.

Said one participant, “I have five engineers. But I have ten people putting stuff online.”
TV networks are having to move at the speed of IT now too. Gone are the days of a leisurely 9 month progression of design, procurement, and deployment. Continuous updating and iteration is essential for both broadcasters looking at improving their infrastructure and for the vendors supplying them. And with that speed of deployment, broadcasters are demanding flexibility, with API’s that they can adapt to their own needs.

“As the TV moves moves into the IT world,” said Ian Baker of Discovery Communications, “start looking to hire IT people, not broadcast people.”

Both TVBEurope and TVTech Europe will cover the roundtable in full in our upcoming print magazines.