Posts Tagged ‘2014 Broadcast Industry Trends’

Arista Networks Files for $200 Million IPO

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast industry trends, Broadcast technology vendor financials, SEC Filings | Posted by Joe Zaller
Apr 02 2014

IP switching vendor Arista Network has filed for an IPO and plans to raise as much as $200m.

The company has garnered a great deal of attention from leading broadcast technologists because one of its products enables frame-accurate switching of uncompressed HD-SDI video over IP (SMPTE 2022-6).

Arista, whose core customers are high-speed financial traders and cloud computing firms, had revenue of $361.2m in 2013, up 87% versus the previous year, and its net income doubled to $42.5m.

Based on these results, it’s clear that the company is aiming for data center and financial clients rather than the much smaller broadcast routing switcher market.

Nevertheless, Arista has made friends in high places in the broadcast world.

At the annual SMPTE technical conference in October 2013, Artista founder Andy Bechtolsheim co-presented a paper with Thomas Edwards, VP of Engineering & Development at FOX NE&O called “Video Processing in an FPGA-enabled Ethernet Switch,” which described how Fox has tested Arista’s product in its lab.  Although Bechtolsheim was careful to note that the demonstration was a proof-of-concept rather than a product, Edwards said that Arista products showed great promise, by performing extremely well and not dropping a single packet.

At the time of the 2013 SMPTE conference, Edwards said “FOX NE&O believes that professional media networking is the future of the broadcast plant, including the networked transport of our uncompressed high-definition live video streams. We believe that converging our video streams onto the Ethernet infrastructure will provide enhanced agility and flexibility to our business, and also it may potentially bring savings by allowing us to purchase more COTS hardware and thus benefit from economies of scale. The broadcast industry is at a very early point in this technological transition, so FOX NE&O greatly values Arista Networks’ contribution to this proof-of-concept to help test out some of the basic video processing requirements of professional media networks.”

Fox is not the only proponent of moving towards a truly IP-based infrastructure, governed by software defined networking (SDN). Indeed this shift may be one of the biggest technology trends over the next 5+ years, and bring major changes to the industry as a result.

Last month Eric Wolf, VP Technology Strategy at PBS told the audience at the HPA Technology Retreat that his company’s new disaster recovery center that’s based completely on virtualized IT systems, along with “little bits” of traditional broadcast gear.  Although this new facility is not yet based on SDN or cloud enabled, it’s the first step on the path.  DR is a great test facility so it’s a positive step along the way, “but as we look at our next big playout system, the big question on the table is whether we can go all IP for all the routing in the plant and the suspicion is that we can.”

Speaking at the same event, Fox NE&O EVP and GM Richard Friedel said IP is “well along the way towards becoming real. We do have IP-based routers in our plant today, and IP technology is just going to proliferate.  If you walk into any of our equipment rooms at the moment, there is almost no classic broadcast vendor anymore. Instead you’ll see rows of Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Cisco. We’re really in an all-IP world now. We’ve got huge virtualization farms already and this is coming. In five years no one will build a plant of our size that’s not based on IP concepts.”

But it’s not just IT companies who are pushing software defined networking.  Traditional broadcast vendors are also embracing SDN and applying it to the broadcast infrastructure.

Last week Imagine Communications (formerly Harris Broadcast) introduced MultiService SDN, which the company says is “a SDN framework that creates a fully virtualized network fabric for deploying advanced services, and enables the video bit flow to be software-mapped, simplifying the network architecture of media companies operating in hybrid environments with both baseband and IP workflows.”

Another notable example of this trend include a Silicon Valley start-up called SDVI, led by Omneon co-founder Larry Kaplan, who said last year that the focus of his new company is to bring SDN technology to the broadcast industry.

Belgium-based SDNsquare, whose CEO and co-founder, Lieven Vermale, is the former Director of Technology and Innovation at the European Broadcasting Union, is another start-up operating in this area.

One important group in the transition to IP-based broadcasting is the EBU-SMPTE-VSF Task Force on Networked Media (JT-NM), a cross-industry group of broadcasters and technology vendors working to define the future of the all-IP broadcast facility. You can download December 2013 JT-NM whitepaper here.

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Related Content:

Arista Networks S1 (IPO) Filing — March 31 2014

Press Release: Imagine Communications Introduces Software-Defined Networking and Workflows

EBU/SMPTE/VSF Joint Task Force on Networked Media (JT-NM) Gap Analysis Report, December 2013

VSF, EBU, and SMPTE Create Joint Task Force to Define Future of Networked Media for Professional Applications

Press Release: Arista Networks and Fox NE&O Debut Network Integrated IP-Video Processing Proof of Concept

Software Defined Networking – Coming Soon to a Broadcaster Near You?

VSF, EBU, and SMPTE Create Joint Task Force to Define Future of Networked Media for Professional Applications

TVTechnology Article: Larry Kaplan, Omneon Co-founder Launches Media Software Company

SDNsquare

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Broadcast Vendor M&A: Belden Completes Acquisition of Grass Valley, Will Invest $25 Million in Integration of Combined Business

Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A | Posted by Joe Zaller
Apr 01 2014

Belden announced that it has completed the acquisition of the previously announced offer to purchase Grass Valley. When the deal was announced in February 2014, Benden CFO Henk Derksen told equity analysts that the $220m deal would be funded with existing cash.

Grass Valley had approximately $290 million in revenue according to Belden’ press release, so the deal values Grass Valley at 0.75 revenue.

It is believed that the enlarged company will be branded Grass Valley.

According to Belden, the value of the combination of the two companies is clear for both customers and shareholders is clear. The company says that by aligning both resources and strategies, the business will have a broader offering, while realizing the benefits of scale.

Belden also says the combined company “will be able to deliver the ability to simplify the purchasing and management of highly complex infrastructures.”

Belden says acquisition of Grass Valley will be immediately accretive to adjusted earnings per share with an estimated impact of approximately $0.20 in 2014 and $0.50 in 2015.

Much of the increased profitability of the new company is likely to come through synergy savings.

One of the hallmarks and core competencies of the Belden team is the efficient integration of acquired companies into the Belden family, and the associated inculcation with the “Belden Business System, including LEAN enterprise techniques and the Market Delivery System.”

There are many examples of Belden buying underperforming companies and subsequently using its internal processes to achieve strong financial performance and operating return.

Indeed, the company says “there is a significant opportunity in the application of the Belden Business System” in the case of Grass Valley

Derksen told analysts at the time of the announcement that Belden plans “to invest approximately $25 million during the first 12 months of integration largely through restructuring efforts to capture the value of the combined company. The strategic actions will include cost actualization, manufacturing footprint and leveraging a combined sales and marketing function and the implementation of lean principles.”

At same time Belden CEO John Stroup said “the result of the integration is unlikely to include meaningful reductions in R&D investment. However, I think there’s going to be an opportunity for Miranda to throttle back on some investments where Grass Valley’s stronger and for Grass Valley to throttle back on opportunities where Miranda’s stronger. Manufacturing is a clear opportunity. Today, Grass Valley outsources a lot of their manufacturing. We think there’s an opportunity for us to leverage our existing fixed cost structure, absorb that manufacturing. So that’s a clear opportunity to create value in the combined business and there’s clearly an opportunity to leverage our global sales force. Both of us at 200 and 300 million respectively, have created a global sales force calling on the same customers and we see a clear opportunity to improve our efficiency there. So the assumptions that we have in place include manufacturing cost synergies as well as the opportunity to leverage the combined sales organization, both in terms of cost and revenue.”

 

The following slides show the strategic rationale for the Miranda – Grass Valley merger, as explained by Belden in February 2014.

 

Belden Buys Grass - 1

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Belden Buys Grass - 2.

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Belden Buys Grass - 3

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Belden Buys Grass - 4

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Belden Buys Grass - 5

 

 

Given that it is believed that the combined company will be branded as Grass Valley, the deal marks a new beginning rather than the end of the road for the formidable broadcast brand.

Prior to officially becoming part of Belden, what is now Grass Valley has been through a number of strategic changes in the last 10-15 years.

This started in December 2000 when Thomson purchased Philips Professional, which at that time had revenue of approximately 250m Euros, and employed 1,050 people. Philips products, which included cameras, film imaging, signal processing, media networking & control, and systems integration services, became part of Thomson Multimedia.

After the Philips acquisition, the combined company, which was renamed Thomson Multimedia, had combined revenue of approximately 366m Euros.

In 2001, Thomson bought Grass Valley in 2001 for $172m.  At that time, Grass Valley had revenues of about $200m.

Technicolor then went on a buying spree, acquiring multiple companies that were ultimately folded into the Grass Valley brand.

Thomson added to its Grass Valley holdings with the 2005 acquisition Canopus for more than $100m.

By the late 2000s Thomson – which had by this time changed its name to Technicolor – put Grass Valley on the block, initially with what has been described as a very high price tag.

After several rumored bids, and more than a year on the block Technicolor sold what is now Grass Valley to Francisco Partners, a San Francisco – based private equity firm.

Technicolor retained other parts of the business, including transmitters and head-end equipment, and later sold-off these assets in two separate transactions.

Technicolor sold the Grass Valley transmission business to PARTER Capital Group.

The Grass Valley head-end business was sold to FCDE in March 2011.

Grass Valley is one of the industry’s great companies and I am sure that the people there are happy to finally have resolved their fate.  Let’s hope they can now focus on making great products – and of course money for their new owners.

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Related Content:

Press Release: Belden Announces Successful Completion of Grass Valley Acquisition

Broadcast Vendor M&A: Belden Buys Grass Valley for $220 Million

Press Release: Technicolor to sell its Broadcast Services activity to Ericsson

Belden Q3 2012 Revenue Declines 6 Percent, Miranda “Off to a Slow Start”

Broadcast Vendor M&A: Miranda Buys Softel

Belden Closes Deal to Acquire Miranda

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Belden Buys Miranda for $350 Million in All-Cash Deal

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Technicolor Closes Deal to Dispose of Grass Valley Transmission Business

Technicolor Receives Binding Offer for Video Head-End Business

Technicolor decides not to sell digital signage provider PRN

Technicolor completes sale of Grass Valley to Francisco Partners

 

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Top Broadcasters Debate Spectrum, 4K, IP Infrastructure, and ATSC 3.0 at 2014 HPA Tech Retreat

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research | Posted by Joe Zaller
Feb 27 2014

A version of this article appeared originally in TVNewsCheck

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As the saying goes: “the customer is King”, and last week the place to pay homage to some of the biggest buyers of broadcast technology was the annual Broadcaster Panel at the 2014 HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, CA.

Always a highlight of the HPA conference, this unique event is a one-hour Q&A-based discussion featuring the top technology executives from major broadcast networks and TV station groups.

Deftly moderated by Ericsson SVP of Technology Matthew Goldman, this year’s panel featured Anthony Caruso, Director of New Broadcast Technology at the  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Bob Seidel, VP Advanced Technology at CBS;  Dave Seigler, VP Technical Operations at Cox Broadcasting, Richard Friedel, EVP and GM at FOX NE&O, Eric Wolf, VP Technology Strategy at PBS; and Mark Aitken, VP Advanced Technology at Sinclar Broadcast Group.

Despite the short one-hour timeframe, panelists debated, and sometimes disagreed about, a wide range of hot-button issues including spectrum re-packing, channel sharing, 4K/UHD acquisition & delivery, AFD, unbundling of subscription TV packages, software defined networks, IP broadcasting, and ATSC 3.0.

Siedel and Aitken at HPA 2014

Bob Siedel, CBS VP of Advanced Technology looks on as Sinclair’s Mark Aitken discusses ATSC 3.0 and the future of broadcasting

 

Spectrum Issues

Starting with the topic of spectrum repacking, sharing and multicasting, broadcasters were in general agreement that although there may be some stations that want to cash out in the auctions, it does not make sense to permanently give up spectrum that might be used later for a variety of services delivering everything from mobile to 4k/UHD.

PBS’s Wolf raised the point that although today’s encoders make channel sharing a viable option, advances in technology cannot solve the thorny contractual issues of how a for-profit station can share spectrum with a non-profit PBS station, or whether it makes commercial sense to do so at all.  “Channel sharing is a reasonable option for people to look at, but at the end of the day management has to look at this and say we can take a one-time infusion of cash from the auction and give up forever some portion of our spectrum which is our bread and butter, and forgo a lot of future options.”

Siegler agreed, saying that Cox sees surrendering spectrum as limiting the future, and that the company has “no interest” in turning over any of its spectrum.

Sinclair’s Aitken went further “No matter what happens, if the next generation of broadcasting is planned using legacy ATSC 1.0 and MPEG-2 standards, everyone will be ‘half of a broadcaster’ because what you can do within the limitations of ATSC 1.0 is only half of what broadcasters are capable of doing.” Aitken added that “any consideration of channel sharing would have to go hand-in-hand with the notion of advancing broadcasting to the next generation broadcast platform,” which he described as being all IP-based and capable of supporting both mobile and fixed services, which Sinclair believes will very important to the livelihood of broadcasters in the future.

According to Siedel, the issue comes down to quality for CBS, so channel sharing is out of the question.  The network always strives to deliver maximum quality, so until very recently CBS has used its entire 19.3 Mbit/s for HD.  Recent advances in compression have enabled CBS to lower the bitrate slightly, freeing up approximately 1.5Mbit/s for a sub-channel.

 

The Future of 4K/UHD

The industry’s top techs were also in broad agreement on 4K/UHD – delivering it over the air is not a priority.

“We’ve done a lot of testing of 4K in our labs, and you know what, it produces the best HD pictures we’ve ever seen,” said Fox NE&O’s EVP and GM Richard Friedel. “We think there is some there is some viability for 4K sets for consumers, but that’s not to suggest that we will be broadcasting 4K any time soon.”

Aitken put it more bluntly: “4K is not going to happen for broadcasting until ESPN says so.”  Said differently, unless content owners demand it or incremental revenues are available to broadcasters, 4K/UHD is not going to become a mainstream priority.

Siedel says CBS is a fan of 4K — for acquisition. He described how CBS/CW program delivery specifications include separate elements for acquisition and delivery. “On the acquisition side, our philosophy has always been that we want to maintain the highest possible quality levels so that we ensure the residual asset value of that content.” Accordingly, for the past two years the CBS/CW specifications have allowed for acquisition in 4K/UHD, although this is not mandatory today. “Having an edited 4K master on the shelf is going to add to the asset value in the future, no matter how it’s distributed.”

On the sports side, CBS and others have been using 4K for acquisition (CBS used six 4K cameras at the 2013 Super Bowl), and using this content to extract HD content, as well as for super slow-mo replays. 4K/UHD will continue to be used in this way for sports productions.

Ironically it was Dave Siegler from Cox Broadcasting (whose parent company is a cable MSO) who expressed disappointed in the downgraded signal that cable companies deliver to the home with compression, and asked rhetorically whether 4K delivered to the home look like HD should be.

 

Integer Frame Rates

The panel disagreed on several important topics. On the subject of integer frame rates, Siedel said that the industry will likely be stuck with 59.94 for many years to come due to the millions of hours of 59.94 content on the shelf and the complexity of converting back and forth from 59.94 to 60 in the plant.

Aitken disagreed, saying video content creation is exploding, and that the amount of content created in the next 10-15 years will equal all the content ever created.  Therefore it makes sense to Sinclair to move forward with all new content generated at integer frame rates, while maintaining compatibility with legacy non-integer material.

Friedel agreed with Aitken saying that Fox has been advocating that new formats (e.g. 120 fps) would be integer-based, and convert to non-integer rates for legacy compatibility.

 

Cable Unbundling

Another area of disagreement had to do with the unbundling of cable programming.

Friedel said that Fox “firmly believes that the cost of TV will go up for people if it’s unbundled. If you think about the way a show is put together an marketed, there is no possible way that popular television programming will be able to be produced and sent to consumers can be sent to consumers at the same rate they are paying today. Prices would go way, way up.”

Aitken countered saying “unbundling is inevitable and will happen naturally due to an environment of hybrid convergence of content of content across multiple platforms. If broadcasters had a decent platform, we’d be delivering a Sinclair bundle to the home. Unbundling will happen as a natural occurrence of the proliferation of platforms that can bring content into the home.”

 

IP Broadcast Infrastructures and Software Defined Networking

Moving on to what is sure to be one of the biggest technology trends over the next 5+ years, the panelists were asked how long they think it will take for broadcasters to truly move to full IP infrastructure software defined networking (SDN).

Wolf said although it will take a few more years, PBS is currently building a new disaster recovery center that’s based completely on virtualized IT systems, along with “little bits” of traditional broadcast gear.  Although this new facility is not yet based on SDN or cloud enabled, it’s the first step on the path.  DR is a great test facility so it’s a positive step along the way, “but as we look at our next big playout system, the big question on the table is whether we can go all IP for all the routing in the plant and the suspicion is that we can.”

Friedel agreed, saying that IP is “well along the way” towards becoming real. We do have IP-based routers in our plant today, and IP technology is just going to proliferate.  If you walk into any of our equipment rooms at the moment, there is almost no classic broadcast vendor anymore. Instead you’ll see rows of Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Cisco. We’re really in an all-IP world now. We’ve got huge virtualization farms already and this is coming. In five years no one will build a plant of our size that’s not based on IP concepts.”

Friedel added: “this is a pretty fun time to see where the future will go,” and encouraged the audience to learn more about the SMPTE 2022 standard, and become involved with the Joint EBU-SMPTE-VSF Task Force on Networked Media (JT-NM) which is helping to define the future of the all-IP broadcast facility. You can download December 2013 whitepaper here.

Other issues included a discussion of electronic interference, which is affecting both C-band contribution feeds and wireless microphones.  Friedel said “white space interference is a huge issue for broadcasters,” and then quipped that viewers of the 2014 Super Bowl may have noticed that either the hands of the on-air talent had gotten smaller or the microphones had gotten larger.  He explained that in order to eliminate the risk of wireless interference in the crowded Met Life Stadium, Fox had switched to new wireless microphones from Sennheiser that operate in 1.6 GHz band. Although these microphones worked perfectly, they require more power and larger batteries, making them 40% larger than traditional wireless microphones.

 

ATSC 3.0 and the Future of Broadcasting

But the most controversial topic had to do with the future of broadcasting, and the various options for the ATSC 3.0 standard.

Aitken kicked off the debate by expressing concern that “that virtually all activity and focus of the ATSC has been on high data rate delivery to a fixed receiver environment” (in other words, delivering a single channel to a single UHD display in the home).

While Aitken sees this as part of the future of broadcasting, “Sinclair has fought for 15 years to bring mobile capability to broadcasting.”

“Fifteen years ago, people looked at us cross-eyed and said ‘mobile: who’s going to do that?’” said Aitken. “Look around today and the question is: where is broadcast to mobile? There has been an avoidance [at ATSC] of moving forward any proposals that of that would take bits away from fixed service for mobile services. There may be a need to run a parallel path outside of ATSC with industry adopters bringing forward a de-facto next generation technology that then gets adopted by the broadcast community.”

According to Aitken the new broadcast standard must meet all the needs of all broadcasters, rather than perpetuating an old-world view that all broadcasting is about is television, which is what politicians in Washington DC think of when they hear the word ‘broadcasting.’

“Every broadcaster would say they want [their content] to be on every device, said Aitken.” It’s just a question of how to get there. Broadcasters should be in a position to be their own gatekeeper in getting their content and licensed content delivered to the consumer. It’s really a matter of setting off a warning bell that we’re not going to sit still and wait for another mistake to happen.”

Aitken’s comments received push-back from CBS’s Siedel who said that the ATSC 3.0 effort has solicited bids from all over the world, and there are now at least 13 proposals being considered, many of which include mobile services, including LTE broadcast, DVB-T2, and even 8K from Japan.  Siedel said the process was still at the early stage, and we still have a long way to go.

Fox’s Friedel added the final comment of the session, saying that if broadcasters are not involved in the ATSC 3.0 process, they should get involved as soon as possible.  “The key for the ATSC is a standard that is flexible and extensible, and allows the business to grow and change with the future. I can’t predict the future better than anyone else, but there is going to be a transition from big screens today to portable devices. That much is clear.”

As always the HPA broadcaster panel did not disappoint the audience. There are very few opportunities to hear from the industry’s top buyers and get their unvarnished opinions on the future of the industry.

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The annual HPA Tech Retreat is produced by the Hollywood Post Alliance.  You can find out more information about the 2014 Tech Retreat here.

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Related Content:

2014 HPA Tech Retreat Information

EBU/SMPTE/VSF Joint Task Force on Networked Media (JT-NM) Gap Analysis Report, December 2013

VSF, EBU, and SMPTE Create Joint Task Force to Define Future of Networked Media for Professional Applications

TVNewsCheck Article: Top Techs Have No Desire To Lose Spectrum

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Save the Date: Third Annual Media Technology Strategy Conference at the NAB 2014 Show

broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research, Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A | Posted by Joe Zaller
Jan 20 2014

SAVE THE DATE

SHIFTING MEDIA ECONOMICS:

IMPACT ON STRATEGY, FINANCE
and TECHNOLOGY

 Sunday, April 6, 2014     1:30pm

Las Vegas Convention Center, Room N235

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NAB 2014 Strategy-Session-Logos

 

In conjunction with the NAB Show, Silverwood Partners and Devoncroft Partners are presenting the third annual strategy event focused on the most relevant industry trends and industry-specific factors affecting business decisions in the media technology industry.

This intensive, information-packed series of presentations and panels will offer attendees the informed opinions of technology purchasers, industry executives, market research organizations, and financial professionals. The event will serve as a thought-provoking kick-off to the 2014 NAB show.

Highlights will include panel discussions featuring: leading vendor CEOs; senior executives from leading broadcasters; and private equity investors who will speak to the opportunities and challenges involved with financing the next phase of technology change in the industry.

In addition, the audience will benefit from preliminary excerpts from the Devoncroft Big Broadcast Survey, the industry’s definitive demand-side market report, and the IABM DC Global Market Valuation Report, the industry’s definitive supply-side market report.

More than 400 executives attended this event in 2013. We hope to see you there in April 2014.

This year’s event is included in the Broadcast Management Conference (BMC) track. Registration for the BMC track is required for attendance.

For more information and registration details, please visit the event homepage, which will be updated with speakers as they are confirmed.

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Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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