Purchasing Preferences of Broadcast Technology Buyers – “Best-of-Breed” or “One-Stop-Shop?

Posted by Joe Zaller
May 11 2010

In previous post, I looked at the purchasing channels that are typically used by different types of buyers when broadcast technology products.   This reveled that there is considerable variation in the way broadcast technology products are purchased.

Today I am going to look at how buyers of broadcast technology products prefer to purchase – a “best-of-breed” approach (evaluating products from multiple vendors) or a “one-stop-shop” where one vendor provides a complete solution.  

There are a huge number of vendors in the broadcast technology space, and the industry’s vendor community is fragmented.  Major international trade exhibitions such as NAB and IBC often have between 1,000 and 1,500 exhibitors at their shows.

On the one hand are the many vendors who are relatively small and specialize in one or two product types.  There are also a small number of large international vendors who produce dozens of product types.

There are obvious advantages that come with the scale that large companies have achieved, but small companies often argue that their more nimble, focused approach results in superior products.

This has led to an ongoing debate within the broadcast industry about whether it’s better to buy so called “best-of-breed” solutions from a variety of suppliers, or go to one large company and buy everything from a single vendor.

There are pros and cons to each approach.  Dealing with a number of companies may indeed enable buyers to assemble a “best-of-breed” system, but this approach brings the possibility of interoperability issues and potential finger-pointing between vendors if things go wrong.  Dealing with a large “one-stop-shop” gives buyers the peace of mind that interoperability issues have been solved, that there is one phone number to call if things go wrong, and that there will be no finger pointing.

To find out what the market thinks about this issue, respondents to the 2010 BBS were asked the following question:

When purchasing broadcast technology products, do you prefer to buy from a single “one-stop-shop” or select “best-of-breed” solutions from multiple vendors?


In an era when vendor consolidation is on the rise, it’s interesting to note that where possible, the majority of traditional broadcast technology buyers prefer to evaluate and purchase so called “best-of-breed” solutions from multiple vendors.

Broadcasters, as well as cable programmers, playout, and centers cable / satellite / IPTV operators showed the strongest preference to select best-of-breed solutions. These customers typically have large-scale operations requiring large amounts of technology products.  They also tend to have significant technical resources to evaluate and select best-of-breed solutions.

Conversely, film studios, government and educational buyers exhibited the strongest preference to purchase from a single supplier.  This reflects the fact that there are several strong dealers who cater specifically to the Hollywood studios; and it’s likely that government & educational buyers may consider local dealers and systems integrators to be single suppliers.

Once again, these results show that there is considerable variation in the broadcast technology purchasing process, based on customer category.  They also highlight the importance to vendors of developing go-to-market strategies that encompass direct sales, while at the same time developing and maintaining strong relationships with third-party players in the distribution channel.

This article is based on the findings from the 2010 Big Broadcast Survey (BBS), a global study of industry trends, technology purchasing behavior and the opinion of vendor brands.  With more than 5,600 people in 120+ countries participating, the 2010 version of the BBS is the largest and most comprehensive market study ever done in the broadcast industry.

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