Deluxe offers broadcasters an alternative to managing their own master control and playout complete with commercial insertion, branding and all of the other accoutrements of television.
At the core of the service offering is IP transport and virtualization of functions traditionally done with standalone black boxes running proprietary software in equipment racks.
Shortly before IBC 2016, I connected with, managing director of Deluxe MediaCloud, on the telephone with one simple goal. I wanted to get a sense before I went to Amsterdam of how broadcasters are responding to IP and virtualization as an alternative to traditional broadcast functions, like playout, master control, MAM and delivery.
What follows is a portion of that interview. In it, Cimelli says he has seen lightbulbs start to go off in the minds of some broadcasters -particularly in Europe- about how IP can improve their workflows and businesses.
There remains a concern on the part of some about security of media assets in this environment, he says. However, he is confident that those fears can be allayed with time and experience demonstrating how security measures taken have been effective.
Where is the industry when it comes to virtualizing the functions that put its programming and commercials on air?
I’ve been in the broadcast industry for 20 years, and what I have realized over that time is that this is just a journey that we are all on.
We’ve had these traditional analog TV channels and media services where the infrastructure was just immense and very expensive.
We went from there in the late 1990s with the digital era and with that came an explosion of channels and markets and audiences.
It’s quite interesting because although the markets were huge and content was demanded all over the place for these new markets and channels, clearly there is no way traditional hardware-based infrastructure could just be easily expanded to service all of those territories.
So we took it upon ourselves to move the goal post quite a bit forward and came out with a brand new business called MediaCloud.
It’s aimed at providing IP delivery and contribution with a software-based infrastructure coming out of datacenters.
Yes, but how has the reception been by broadcasters?
I don’t know if you are aware, but we are currently delivering the NFL completely over IP across Europe. And we have in excess of 15 broadcasters.
What is really interesting is they have the option of IP delivery of the NFL or they have satellite. With IP, we are able to give them very high quality — as in literally a lot of bandwidth of content, so 40Mb/s of feeds of all the games, Super Bowl and everything — or they can take a traditional satellite feed. They’ve all taken the IP feed.
That’s really interesting because you would think with a plan like the NFL, people would think, “Let’s stick with traditional satellite. It’s what we know and it’s safe.” But they’ve chosen to take the IP feed.
I think there are two reasons. One is it is the NFL brand, so they reason that the NFL wouldn’t want delivery over a platform they didn’t trust.
And secondly it is Deluxe, and they know Deluxe wouldn’t be offering delivery over a platform that’s rocky.
Does this growing comfort with IP extend beyond delivery of the NFL?
We have started to unfold this network across Europe — for lots of things, not just the NFL.
Broadcasters are saying to themselves, “Hang on a minute, I now have not just an IP feed, but I have very high quality streams that I can access at any time, that I can send to some of my affiliate stations, that I can treat as a contribution service, that I can deliver at headends, that I can deliver to my own departments to trigger workflows at production facilities to take content out of live streams.”
All of those different sorts of IP-powered applications have completely changed what the business was all about when we started, which was delivering the NFL via IP.
Suddenly people have woken up to the fact that this has opened up a whole new way of working.
What about the fear factor, specifically that if broadcasters let go of their media assets and push them up to the cloud that they lose control over keeping them safe?
It is such a different world. When this whole IP hit the market, there was this initial feeling that that’s too risky. That IP delivery is meant for the internet, for OTT services to a website.
But actually that’s not the case at all. It is highly secure because in the IT environment it is much easier to encrypt signals.
Broadcasters definitely want to know that — whether it is private cloud or public cloud — that they can access content to edit, and want to know it is very safe.
They want to know that no one can just get access to it. And this concern is not just about third parties.
They must make sure that the person hosting the service has controls that don’t allow any field engineers to log on to these platforms and accidentally show content other people are working on. This is very important to Deluxe.