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Red Bee: 15 years of challenging the media industry

Steve Nylund, Red Bee Media's CEO, and CCO James Arnold discuss the company's 15th anniversary

Red Bee was born in media in November, 2005. A significant moment for the new company, but also its former owner the BBC, which had placed its trust in Red Bee to meet its future broadcasting services needs whilst it focused on its core activities. This was a defining moment in the evolution of the broadcasting services industry that would create waves of change, not only in the UK, but in Europe and the rest of the world.  

These were exciting times, and the words of Red Bee’s founding CEO, Pam Masters (2005-2009) capture the moment and the promise: “It was an enormous and exciting challenge for me to grow and develop this media business and to give it the necessary skills and services to become a worldwide media company. I always believed in its potential – it was unique – and future changes in the fast-developing media world would give us great opportunities.”

As Red Bee developed its commercial offers, outsourcing became an increasingly viable option for the broadcasting industry – even for activities that until then broadcasters had considered core, and something they had to do themselves. Fast-forward to 2020, where content development and acquisition, consumer propositions and audience retention is central for most media businesses, Red Bee’s role as a trusted partner and business enabler has never been more relevant.  

Over the past 15 years, Red Bee has become a global business adding colleagues and customers across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and the US. And not only catering to traditional broadcasters, but also new businesses looking to enter the media space, reach niche audiences and monetise content in new ways. As another former Red Bee CEO, Bill Patrizio (2009-2012) says, “I fondly remember being part of so many bold moves…our navigating the strategic pivot from traditional TV broadcast to OTT services, the push toward ever-richer metadata to enhance navigation and personalisation, using automation to improve the speed and accuracy of access services.”

We are particularly proud that as we extended our business into new markets and areas of activity, we continue to be the trusted partner for almost all our broadcast customers from the earlier days of Red Bee. Not just in the UK, but internationally as well in France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia.  We consider this a testimony to our ability to adapt to new circumstances and realise opportunities afforded by new technologies and ever-changing consumer behaviours. We continue to deliver on our promises, and we don’t take anything for granted in an industry characterised by constant change. Patrick Tillieux, CEO 2012-2014 says, Reliability, flexibility, continuous improvement are not hollow words for Red Bee. These are ingrained characteristics; they make a difference.”

In 2014, Red Bee was bought by Ericsson. Overseeing this acquisition was Thorsten Sauer, CEO 2014-2017, who describes fond memories of Red Bee. “One thing really stands out above all, the pleasure to work with a group of highly driven and talented individuals that appreciate the importance of the task for the customers and keep innovating every day.”

Continually challenging ourselves to stay relevant and deliver value in such a dynamic industry remains our main objective. First generation outsourcing achieved operational efficiencies and reduced costs.   However, this alone is no longer sufficient, and we see our role more as a strategic partner to enable our customers to realise the full value in their assets and rights to meet their business goals. Never more so than today as we support brand new ventures whilst at the same time supporting the continuing development of our existing customers and established businesses.  

In 2020 we are ushering in a new generation of managed services and outsourcing in the media industry. It is no longer bespoke solutions, long-term contracts and heavy tech investments. Instead we are offering multitenant, scalable platforms that grow and evolve with our customers’ needs thanks to innovation made possible through cloud-based infrastructure and software-based workflows. 

With these platforms as a foundation, our focus on the future and fantastic people working across the globe, Red Bee will continue to develop and grow, and we expect the next 15 years to be every bit as exciting as the first 15.