Posts Tagged ‘multi-platform content distribution’

Two Investment Banks Offer Post-NAB Thoughts, Insight on Broadcast Industry

broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research, Broadcast technology vendor financials | Posted by Joe Zaller
May 18 2010

Two boutique investment banks, Silverwood Partners and Pharus Advisors have recently published notes to clients detailing their impressions of the NAB 2010 show.  Both companies gave me permission to re-publish them here.


Silverwood has been involved in a number of broadcast M&A deals including Blackmagic / DaVinci and Avid / Euphonix. Prior to the 2010 NAB show the company published a 40 page report about the broadcast industry for their investment banking clients, which is worth reading to get their full perspective on the broadcast market.  

Pharus has also been involved in a number of industry transactions including Neural Audio / DTS and Virgin Media / Two Way Media. The company published their post-NAB thoughts in their industry newsletter, which also includes a summary of recent M&A transactions in the digital media space, and a comparison of publicly traded companies.



Silverwood NAB Perspectives:

Revenue Flow versus Work Flow.  Broadcast and media customers are principally focused on sustaining advertising revenue from traditional outlets and driving incremental revenue over emerging outlets. The focus over recent years on cost containment through automation and technology efficiencies has been eclipsed by the need to adapt technology infrastructure to a changing business model.  The Newspaper industry provides an instructive lesson on the need to be responsive to external challenges to traditional business norms.  Technology vendors are faced with customers that have shifting purchasing priorities and that are scrutinizing expenditures on conventional broadcast infrastructure.


3D will not Reverse Industry Revenue Decline.  While 3D may drive some additional short term revenue, widespread adoption is still in question because certain content will never lend itself to the 3D medium.  Furthermore, with the exception of large screen environments showing purpose produced content (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland), the current 3D experience requires additional improvement.  There are no clear standards for end user devices (TVs and glasses) so mass end-consumer device adoption – if it is to occur – will take time.  Consider that the ongoing HD transition began with the first HDTV broadcast in 1998 and is still only 40% complete in the US market.  Lastly, production methods themselves must also adapt to the creation of 3D content – there is no consistency in the content acquisition process, much of which is based on trial and error and research.  3D requires a new approach in the creative production process as fast switching and cuts can prove to be nauseating to the viewer.  There are also concerns that poorly produced 3D will lead to negative customer perceptions in the near term which will slow adoption and the long term success of the medium.


Pricing is Collapsing.  Years of substantial profitability for media and broadcast customers masked poor cost discipline in the sourcing of technology.   Recent weakness in the advertising market and the broader economic disruption has caused customers to focus on capital budgets and look for more cost effective solutions.  Compounding this challenge, inexpensive general purpose IT infrastructure continues to replace purpose built hardware solutions, creating good enough solutions at attractive prices for many use cases.  This is putting pressure on margins for many traditional Broadcast technology vendors who organized their cost structures for the high price, ‘boom’ years and cannot adapt quickly enough to the changed industry circumstances.


Value Separation: Software, Hardware, Connectivity.  Historically, broadcast and post-production customers purchased purpose built solutions where the discrete software, hardware and connectivity components were blended within a hardware solution.  As the hardware portion becomes increasingly standardized, vendors will need to focus on defensible segments of the value chain, particularly within the software layer.  In many cases specialized hardware vendors are effectively software companies burdened with a legacy hardware orientation.  It is expected that vendors will need transformative change rather than evolutionary adaptation to address the fundamental changes in the media technology industry. 


Growing Software Opportunity.  It is expected that software companies will continue to be a growing presence in the media technology industry.  Differentiation from IT solutions for incumbent vendors resides in the software layer.  Well-positioned companies have software solutions that extend and leverage basic IT functionality, which will continue to improve in speed and capability.  From a product perspective, technology vendors should examine their product portfolios to identify and extract the unique software functionality that is truly differentiating their offerings.  In addition, the increasing use of standardized IT platform technology is creating a growing market for software vendors that can use the standardization to scale efficiently. 


Commercial Opportunity: Customer Diversification.  Well-positioned companies are diversifying and selling to a broader customer base, particularly customers outside the traditional broadcast market.   Targeting other industry verticals is not feasible with a customized hardware solution and an industry focused direct sales model.  In contrast, software solutions that extend standardized hardware and that are deployed through VARs and channel partners can be more easily adapted to large, adjacent industry verticals (Medical, Military, Enterprise).


Business Model Disruption.   For NAB exhibitors there remains fundamental weakness in the traditional broadcast technology industry.  The reduction in industry revenues will highlight one of the principal difficulties for many NAB exhibitors: sales and marketing expense is too high for revenue levels.  With pricing pressure, many vendors will need to change to a distribution model or become part of a larger solution that can support the fixed sales expense.   Well-positioned, well-capitalized vendors will have a unique opportunity to acquire established, respected brands with large user bases over the coming year.


Service Opportunity – Revenue Flow.  Broadcasters and media companies are faced with a proliferation of technologies and monetization possibilities, and an accelerating rate of technology change.  Historically, broadcasting challenges were solved by buying incremental technologies to plug into an existing well-understood technology infrastructure.  Current business challenges require business model innovation coupled with technology platform innovation to drive revenues across a growing range of end-point devices and outlets.  Given the lack of clarity on the optimal revenue model and the rapid pace of technology change, broadcasters and media customers are reluctant to invest in standalone technology purchases.  This is creating an attractive service opportunity driven by the ability to provide incremental revenue growth with a low barrier to entry, a receptive customer and an attractive ROI.








We recently attended the NAB 2010 conference in Las Vegas. We came out of the conference feeling the media and broadcast technology market is experiencing a healthy recovery from 2009. The recurring comment echoed by many industry players was that the deals in the customer pipeline that were stalled in 2009 are now morphing into real opportunities. The RFP activity is showing decent improvement, however, the sales‐cycle continues to be long and spending not completely flowing.

Even though the network spending in North America, which was driven by conversion to HDTV over last few years, is slowing, other factors like changes in customer preferences, and pressure to generate new sources of revenues and reduce costs are expected to continue to drive technology capital expenditure for networks. These new developments are adding new dynamism to the sector, which can be witnessed by the plethora of vendors and solutions.

Here are some of prominent themes that we witnessed at the NAB show this year.

  • Emergence of 3D television broadcasting: As expected, this was the major theme at NAB similar to what was the case at CES earlier this year. TV manufacturers continue to be enthusiastic about this trend. CES expects 4.3 million 3D TV sets to be sold in 2010, with about 25% of total TVs sold in 2013 to be 3D‐enabled. Even though some major players (like DIRECTV, Discovery, IMAX, and etc.) have made announcements over last few months about launching 3D content, a lot of the content producers and broadcasters are still not sure about how quickly this market opportunity will grow in the near term. As a result, they tend to be reticent to make investment in this area at this point.


  • Development of multi‐platform content distribution (broadcast, web and mobile) capability: The spending on TV advertising is gradually declining. According to Yankee Group, the TV ad market declined 21.2%, from $52 billion to $41 billion, between 2008 and 2009. During this same period spending on Internet advertising grew as a result of consumers spending more time online and less time watching TV. With more and more eyeballs consuming video content on Web and mobile devices, broadcasters are investing in technologies which enable delivery of content over multitude of platforms.


  • Adoption of file‐based workflows: One of the important areas of investment for broadcasters remains implementation of file‐based workflow infrastructure. This is viewed as important by broadcasters to augment flexibility in day‐to‐day operations, facilitate reduction in operational costs, and enable efficient multi‐platform content distribution.


Emergence of Over‐the‐Top (OTT) Video and convergence of TV and Internet: The other recurring trend at the show was the focus on growing convergence between broadcast TV and Web video. Internet users are increasingly interested in streaming full length video directly onto their TVs and as a result variety of models are appearing to provide consumers with this capability. According to report by Tender Research from October 2009, about 7% of households will forgo Pay TV subscriptions by 2012 in favor of OTT services and free over‐the‐air television. OTT market is moving very fast with proliferation of enabling devices like Roku, Xbox, and a range of new HDTV models and growth of online video sites such as Hulu, Netflix,

Where is Money Being Spent in the Broadcast Industry? — A Review of Major Projects Being Planned

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast technology market research | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 25 2010

This is the second in a series of articles about 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.

In the current environment, everyone in the broadcast business wants to know what parts of the industry are doing well, where money is being spent, and what is driving this spending.  While there is no absolute answer to these questions, the findings from the 2010 BBS go a long way towards answering them.

Much of the technology purchasing in the broadcast industry is driven by major projects ranging from international events such as elections and sporting championships, to the long-term, planned capital upgrades of broadcast infrastructure and facilities.  Thus an understanding of which major projects are being implemented by broadcaster professionals around the world provides insight the capital expenditure plans of the industry.

Major Projects Planned for this Year

As part of our 2010 broadcast industry market study, more than 3,000 broadcast processionals – including radio and TV broadcasters, cable/satellite/IPTV operators, playout centers, post production facilities, and cable programmers — were asked to provide information about the projects they are currently implementing or are planning to implement in the next 12 months.  

Respondents were presented with a list of major projects and asked to indicate up to five choices that they are currently implementing or have planned / budgeted to implement in the next year.  The chart below shows the percentage of respondents who indicated they are planning to implement each project.  Respondents were also asked to provide budget details for each project.  This budget information along with a granular breakdown of planned projects is available in the 2010 BBS Global Market Report from Devoncroft Partners.

Which technology projects are you currently implementing or planning to implement in the next 12 months?



By a wide margin, more respondents selected “upgrading infrastructure for HD/ 3Gbps operations” than any other type of project.  It’s interesting to note that last year, in our 2009 broadcast industry market study, that the transition to HDTV operations was ranked by respondents as the technology trend most important technology to their business – and by a similarly wide margin.  In the time since the 2009 BBS was published, broadcast professionals have apparently translated top-ranked trend this into action through real-world projects that are either currently being implemented or planned for the current year. (For reference, you can read about the 2009 industry trends here).

In addition to upgrading infrastructure for HD/3Gbps operations, respondents also indicated that they plan to upgrade their transmission and distribution capabilities – presumably to support their transition to HDTV and to prepare for analog switch-off.

As shown in a previous post about the broadcast industry’s most important technology trends for 2010, the transition to HDTV operations was one of the top-ranked technology trends this year as well.  Indeed there is a strong correlation between how respondents ranked which trends are most important to their business, and the major projects they are planning or implementing. 

The major projects ranking 3rd and 4th in terms of how many respondents plan to implement them were “installing or enhancing a workflow / asset management system”,  and “archive-related projects.”  The high percentage of broadcast professionals planning to implement these projects highlights the fact that the industry is striving for ways to become more efficient and to monetize content in more ways.  It’s also good news for asset management, storage and library management vendors.   

The top four-ranked projects are closely aligned with 2010’s most important trends in the broadcast industry (link), which show that the priorities for the industry are to continue the transition to HDTV operations, while at the same time find ways of being more efficient (through automated and file-based / tapeless workflows), and generating new revenue streams (through multi-platform content distribution).

These results also show that the industry will continue to push ahead with new content creation and delivery projects.  Ranking 5th and 6th on the list of planned projects are “build new studios / OB vans,” and “launch new channels.”  Undoubtedly the vast majority of new studios and OB vans will be HD capable; as will many of the new channels.  It’s also clear from these findings that many of the new channels will undoubtedly have a strong automation component (the #7 project on this list), regardless of whether they are HD or SD.

The rest of project list which was selected by at least 10% of respondents includes offers an interesting picture of project activity across the world, with everything from upgrading audio and newsrooms, to multi-platform content distribution.

It’s worth pointing out here that in the 2010 ranking of the broadcast industry’s most important trends, that multi-platform content distribution was ranked #1 in terms of being “most important” to respondents businesses in the future.  Time will tell whether this will translate into the #1 planned project as was the case with the transition to HDTV operations after it was rank as the most important trend last year.

Finally, let’s examine the four planned projects that appear at the bottom of this list: “install or revamp business management system,” “consolidate operations in regional hubs,” “work with management consultants on business /technology transformation,” and “outsource operations e.g. playout.”

These are all very large projects that will most likely be done by only the largest broadcast professionals.  Keep in mind that the planned project chart in this article shows the responses of all global participants in the 2010 BBS broadcast industry study, regardless of organization type, size or location. Thus it measures the number of planned projects, but does not measure their size, value or relative commercial importance.  The 2010 BBS Global Market Report from Devoncroft Partners provides granular analysis of planned projects, broken down by organization type, size and location.




Published by Devoncroft Partners, the annual Big Broadcast Survey (BBS) is the largest and most comprehensive studies of broadcast industry trends, technology budgets and projects, and technology vendor brands.  The BBS provides insight into market trends and the perceptions of leading broadcast industry vendor brands by a wide variety of broadcast professionals across the world.  It also delivers vendor brand ranking “league tables” in a variety of product categories; all of which can be segmented by geography and customer type.  More than 5,600 people in 120+ countries participated in the 2010 BBS project. Information about the 2010 BBS can be found at

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