Posts Tagged ‘NAB 2014 Trends’

Broadcast Vendor M&A: Rovi Sells DivX and MainConcept to Parallax Capital and StepStone Group for $75 Million

Broadcast Vendor M&A, SEC Filings | Posted by Joe Zaller
Apr 01 2014

Rovi has sold its DivX and MainConcept businesses to Parallax Capital Partners and StepStone Group in a cash and stock deal valued at up to $75m

Under the terms of the deal, Rovi will receive an initial payment of $52.5m, and may receive up to three earnout payments over the next three years that could add another $22.5m to the transaction price. Any earnout payments will be based on the achievement of upon certain milestones agreed by the parties in the transaction.

Rovi had previously its intention to sell the DivX and MainConcept before the end of the second quarter of 2014 as part of a strategic effort to focus on growth opportunities related to its core entertainment discovery technologies and services.

“The sale of DivX was the last of a number of significant steps we’ve taken over the past year to realign the organization for sustainable, long-term growth and I’m pleased we met our commitment to complete this transaction, and did so ahead of schedule,” said Thomas Carson, President and CEO, Rovi Corporation.

The sale price represents a significant drop in value for DivX, which was acquired by Sonic Solutions in June 2010 for $323m.  Less than six months later, Rovi acquired Sonic Solutions for $720m.  At that time, Rovi said the combination of Rovi and Sonic “will be able to power the next generation of digital entertainment offerings with content discovery, delivery, and enhanced interactivity capabilities that support advertising and drive consumer engagement.”

The transaction is expected to close by April 1, 2014.

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Related Content:

DivX Purchase Agreement

Press Release: Rovi Announces Sale of DivX and MainConcept Businesses

Press Release: Parallax Capital Partners and StepStone Group to Acquire DivX

Rovi to buy Sonic for $720 million

Sonic Solutions to buy DivX in $323M bid to become digital media leader

Sonic Solutions Integrates Newly Acquired MainConcept, Forms New Pro Technology Division

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Broadcast Vendor M&A: Masstech to Acquire PlayBox Product Line and Technology

broadcast technology market research | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 31 2014

Media Asset Management (MAM) specialist Masstech said today that it will acquire certain assets from PlayBox, a provider of channel-in-a-box (CiaB) technology. Terms were not disclosed.

Masstech says it intends to combine its existing MAM portfolio with CiaB solutions from PlayBox. “Adding PlayBox enables us to extend the Masstech platform to create the first fully integrated broadcast environment that includes playout and graphics within the asset management system,” said Masstech CEO Joe French.

Masstech says the combined solution “will be the first in which assets will be managed by an open platform across the entire broadcast chain, including ingest, production, and transmission, and embracing legacy infrastructure across all popular editing, automation and playout systems.”

Interestingly, Masstech is not actually buying PlayBox itself, but rather the company’s products and technology.

PlayBox Technology will continue to own and operate its existing system integration, support center and worldwide distribution through its eight offices in Europe, Asia and the United States, and their associated reseller networks.

Thus it appears the deal is part technology transfer, and part reseller agreement.

Indeed, both companies referred to the deal as a partnership.

Masstech CEO Joe French said “Our partnership with PlayBox will significantly expand the worldwide distribution of Masstech’s products and solutions through the PlayBox network.” Similarly, PlayBox founder and CEO Vassil Lefterov said “we have been looking for a strategic partner for a long time.  Our partnership with Masstech will allow us to take the next step in our company’s evolution.”

The deal is expected to close in May 2014.

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Related Content:

Press Release: Masstech Announces Intent to Acquire PlayBox Products and Technology

PlayBox Says it Had Strong Growth in 2011

PlayBox Says Sales Were Up 60 Percent in Q1 2011, Up 250 Percent Since 2008

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Broadcast Vendor M&A: Kudelski Buys Rival Conditional Access Vendor Conax for $226 Million

Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A, Quarterly Results | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 27 2014

Swiss-based Kudelski said it will pay $226m to acquire rival conditional access provider, Conax AS, from Telenor Broadcast Holding AS.

This deal values Conax at approximately 2.2X revenue and 5.6X EBITDA.

In 2013 Conax had revenue of $103.7m, and EBITDA of $40.2m. In 2012 Conax had revenue of $96.1m and net income of $22.8m.

Kudelski, through its subsidiary Nagra, is one of the industry’s leading conditional access providers.  The company also owns pay TV middleware provider OpenTV, which it acquired from Liberty Media.

Buying Conax gives Kudelski another 380 customers in 85 countries, who between them serve approximately 140 million pay-tv consumers through a product portfolio encompassing both traditional broadcast products and complete solutions for multi-screen TV distribution.

André Kudelski, CEO of the eponymous company, says the addition of Conax will enable Kudelski to “further expand our customer portfolio in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.”

The deal will also help bolster Kudeslski’s pay TV revenue, which has been in decline.

In 2013 Kudelski reported pay TV-related revenue of $695m, down 4.4% versus 2012, including a year-on-year decline of 7.7% in Europe. In its 2013 annual report, Kudelski said that it expects weak fundamentals in Europe to continue to affect volumes in its core digital TV market.   Thus the addition of Conax makes sense for Kudelski.

The deal also makes sense for Telenor, which says that despite “a strong track record of international growth and high profitability, achieving global scale and enhancing market share will be key determinants of future success” in the highly competitive conditional access business.  Therefore Telenor has decided “the best way forward for Conax is with a new owner.”

Telenor says selling Conax “marks an important step for Telenor Broadcast in pursuing its stated strategy of focusing on its core activities within the Telenor Group.” One of Telenor’s core businesses, Canal Digital, will remain a Conax/Kudelski customer after the transaction.

The transaction is expected to close within 10 days.

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Related Content:

Press Release: Kudelski Group to Acquire Conax

Press Release: Telenor Broadcast divests Conax to Kudelski Group for NOK 1.5 billion

Press Release: Kudelski Group 2013 Annual Results

Kudelski 2013 Annual Report

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Speakers Announced for Third Annual NAB Show Event — Shifting Media Economics: Impact on Strategy, Finance, and Technology

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research, Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A, market research | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 26 2014

If you are interested how the dramatic changes impacting the broadcast industry may shape its future, you won’t want to miss the third annual NAB Show event co-produced by Devoncroft, Silverwood Partners and the organizers of the NAB Show.

Now part of the NAB 2014 Broadcast Management Conference, this half-day session is called “Shifting Media Economics: Impact on Strategy, Finance, and Technology.” It will be held in room N235 of the Las Vegas Convention Center on Sunday April 6th from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

It will be held in room N235 of the Las Vegas Convention Center on Sunday April 6th from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

As always, this event features an intensive, information-packed series of presentations and panels that discuss the strategic trends and industry-specific factors influencing the value of media technology companies.

We’ve worked hard to put together an outstanding line-up of speakers and presenters, including top technology buyers, leading technology vendor CEOs, and private equity investors who will speak to the opportunities and challenges involved with financing the next phase of technology change in the industry.

The agenda offers 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.

This session is intended for senior executives from technology vendors, end-users, and investment firms in the media technology sector.

Please click here for more information and/or to register.

 

Here’s the current agenda:

 

Shifting Media Economics: Impact on Strategy, Finance, and Technology

Sunday April 6, 2014

1:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Room N235 Las Vegas Convention Center

Part of the 2014 NAB Broadcast Management Conference

 

 

1:45 pm – 1:50 pm

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

Joe Zaller – President, Devoncroft Partners

 

 

1:50 pm – 2:15 pm

Strategic Industry Analysis: Valuations, M&A, and Equity Financing

Jonathan Hodson-Walker and Joshua Stinehour of Silverwood Partners will present an analysis of strategic industry trends and the specific factors that affect company valuations, including an updated perspective on transaction activity and valuations, vendor strategic considerations, and the current M&A environment along with near-term expectations.

 

Presenters:

  • Jonathan Hodson-Walker: Managing Partner, Silverwood Partners
  • Joshua Stinehour: Managing Director, Silverwood Partners

 

 

2:15 pm – 2:40 pm

The Broadcast & Media Technology Industry in 2014

Top broadcast analyst Joe Zaller will present a summary of key data derived from a variety of broadcast market intelligence projects including the newly published 2014 Big Broadcast Survey (BBS), the industry’s definitive demand-side market report. Discussion topics will include strategic drivers of broadcast technology spending, key customer investment areas, new technology deployment trends, and the most significant industry trends impacting end-user purchasing decisions.

 

Presenters:

  • Joe Zaller: President, Devoncroft Partners

 

 

2:40 pm – 3:15 pm

Business Strategy Perspective From Industry Executives

This panel of recognized executives at leading vendors will offer views on the critical drivers of company valuation in the industry, the best practices the panelist’s have learned on how to evaluate M&A opportunities, and the preferred approach for integrating M&A into overall growth strategies. The panelists will also consider the question of how broader technology trends are impacting the vendor community in the industry.

Moderator:

  • Joe Zaller – President, Devoncroft Partners

 

Panelists

  • Sam Blackman: CEO and Co-founder, Elemental Technologies
  • Louis Hernandez. Jr.: President and Chief Executive Officer, Avid
  • Joop Janssen: CEO, EVS
  • Michelle Munson: President, CEO and co-founder, Aspera, an IBM company

 

 

3:35 pm – 3:50 pm

IABM Research Overview

Peter White, Chief Executive of the IABM (the trade group that represents suppliers of broadcast technology worldwide), will present an overview of the latest end-user research from the IABM along with selected excerpts from the recently completed IABM DC Global Market Valuation Report, the industry’s definitive supply-side market report.

Presenter

  • Peter White: Chief Executive Officer, IABM

 

 

3:50 pm – 4:20 pm

The Broadcast Buyer Perspective on Business Models, Trends, and Technology Advancement

A panel of technology decision makers at leading broadcasters will offer informed perspectives on the most significant industry trends affecting technology budgets and the technology purchase decision. The audience will benefit from an emphasis on the business implications of technology decisions to broadcasters.

 

Moderator:

Joe Zaller – President, Devoncroft Partners

 

Panelists

  • Phil Braden: SVP Technology and Applications, PCCW Global
  • Del Parks: SVP Operations & Engineering, Sinclair Broadcast Group
  • Todd Daly: EVP Operations & Systems Engineering, Fox Broadcasting
  • Andy Tennant: Technology Director, Studios, ITV

 

 

4:20 pm – 4:45 pm

Keynote: Business Model Changes Technology Changes

ABC/Disney EVP and CTO Vince Roberts will highlight the major business model challenges facing the industry and the implications to technology development. Mr. Roberts will focus on the actual commercial factors driving technology deployments today, and what can reasonably be expected in the near future. Referencing initiatives at Disney relating to topics such as IP-based infrastructure and the Cloud, the audience will gain an improved understanding of how changes in media consumption and fundamental technology transitions, ultimately affect technology vendors.

Presenter:

Vince Roberts: CTO and EVP Global Operations, Disney/ABC Television Group

 

 

4:45 pm – 5:15 pm

Investor Perspectives on Industry

This panel of leading investment professionals in the media and entertainment sector will offer the audience the institutional investor’s perspective on the industry. The discussion will include the panelist’s intelligence-gathering plans for the NAB Show, views on the trends that are driving investment dollars in the sector, and a review of the characteristics influencing the evaluation of an investment opportunity.

Moderator:

Jonathan Hodson-Walker: Managing Partner, Silverwood Partners

 

Panelists

  • Marshall Haines: Managing Director, Symphony Technology Group
  • Jeff Parks, Founding Partner, Riverwood Partners
  • Rohan Rai: Director, Wasserstein & Company

 

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Related Content:

2014 NAB Show Session Details – Shifting Media Economics: Impact on Strategy, Finance, and Technology

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

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014 All Rights Reserved.

 

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Broadcast Vendor M&A: Barco Buys X2O Media for C$21 Million as Part of Plan to Diversify Beyond Display and Projection

Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 19 2014

Digital signage provider X2O Media has been acquired by Barco for C$21m. The deal values Montreal-based X2O at a healthy 4X its 2013 revenue.

Barco says “X2O Media will be integrated in the Barco organization as a business venture, allowing it to continue the development of its platform technology, while leveraging its business growth from Barco’s worldwide sales and service presence.”

X2O Media was founded by serial entrepreneur David Wilkins who sold his previous company, VertigoXmedia, to Miranda Technologies for C$11 million in 2006.  The deal with Miranda excluded the digital signage business of VertigoX, which Wilkins re-launched as X2O Media.  Since that time, the company grew from 10 to 40 employees, and saw its revenue increase to C$5m by the end of 2013.

X2O was backed by Propulsion Ventures, which was also a backer of VertigoXMedia.

According to Barco CEO Eric Van Zele, part of the strategic rationale for X2O is to diversify Barco’s offering beyond display and projection technology.  Barco also says the X2O portfolio will allow it to better meet customer expectations regarding workflow and content management, while differentiating itself further from competition.

The deal also creates new market opportunities for X2O. According to Wilkins, X2O’s current market “is limited to North America, but benefiting from Barco’s global network we will be able to grow our activities worldwide.”

This is not Barco’s first foray into the digital signage arena, but the 4X revenue Barco is paying for X2O, is significantly more than its last deal.  In 2010, Barco acquired Belgium–based digital signage specialist dZine for what it said at that time was “less than 1 time annual sales of dZine excluding an earn-out provision over the next two and a half years.”  According to public records, dZine had revenue of €7.96m in 2010 ($10.5m based on 2010 for-x rate to Euro).  dZine posted revenue of €8.53m and €6.9m in 2011 and 2012, respectively, so it’s unclear whether the earn-out provision was ever triggered.

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Related Content:

Press Release: Barco acquires Montreal-based X2O Media, expanding its technology platform with advanced connectivity capabilities

Press Release (2012): X2O Media Raises Additional Equity Financing From Propulsion Ventures

Press Release (2010): Barco acquires digital signage specialist dZine

Press Release (2006): Miranda Technologies to Acquire VertigoXmedia

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Broadcast Vendor M&A: Vislink Buys Pebble Beach for $24.7 Million

Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A, Quarterly Results | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 19 2014

Vislink announced that it has acquired playout automation specialist Pebble Beach Systems for $24.7m (£14.9m). Pebble Beach will operate as a stand-alone unit within Vislink, and will continue to be run by its management, including founder Peter Hajittofi.

Under the terms of the deal, Vislink will pay £12.9m in cash, and £2m in newly issued Vislink shares.  Pebble Beach management must hold the new shares for at least two years. Vislink says the “transaction will be immediately earnings enhancing.”

For the fiscal year ended June 20, 2013, Pebble Beach had revenue of £5.64m, EBITDA of £1.3m, and profit before tax of £1.3m.  Thus the deal values the company at approximately 2.5x revenue, and 11.4x EBITDA. After backing out the £5.9m in cash Pebble Beach had in the bank, the net price paid by Vislink was £9m, valuing the deal at approximately 1.6x revenue and  7x EBITDA.

The fact that Vislink has made an acquisition is not surprising.

The company, which had revenue of £28m for the first half of 2013, has told the market for the past several years that it intends to grow its revenue to £80m, with 10% return on sales, by the end of 2014.  

Vislink, which recently moved its listing to the UK AIM market, has long-telegraphed telegraphed its intention to buy companies to achieve its stated goals for revenue growth and profitability.

In its most recent half-yearly results, company management said “we remain on track to grow the business to achieve turnover of £80m and £8m adjusted operating profit by the end of FY2014, and we intend to support this by a number of bolt on acquisitions in addition to achieving organic growth.”

However, it is interesting to note that Vislink decided to buy a  company in a different part of the broadcast value chain to help it achieve its stated intentions.

Vislink, which owns the Advent, Gigawave, Link, MRC, and PMR brands, is best known for its RF, microwave, and satellite communication products that are used by broadcasters in live production environments such as news and sports.

Pebble Beach products are used in broadcast playout applications, which does not have the same emphasis on live events.

Having said that, Vislink says that the Pebble Beach team will “assist Vislink in expanding its software capability as a Group,” so the acquisition could be the first of several deals that mark the beginning of a new business focus at Vislink.

Vislink explained the rationale for the deal saying Pebble Beach’s technology is complementary to its own, and that “the acquisition of Pebble Beach will move Vislink into the provision of software solutions for playout with advanced software technology,” and that “Vislink will now be able to offer broadcasters a complete ‘scene to screen’ solution.”  Vislink also highlighted the fact that Pebble Beach “will gain from access to significantly increased sales channels through the global network of over 900 broadcasters that Vislink works with as well as its international network of offices.”

“The acquisition fits perfectly into our long term strategy of acquiring software and services capability that we hope to drive recurring revenues for the group,” said Vislink chairman John Hawkins.

UK-based Pebble Beach has 60 employees, and regional offices in Dubai, Singapore, and the USA.

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Related Content:

Press Release: Vislink Acquires Pebble Beach

Broadcast Vendor M&A: Vislink Buys Amplifier Technology for up to $6.2 Million

Vislink Revenue Declines 7 Percent in Q3 2012, Reaffirms Plan to Double Revenue By End of 2014

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Harris Broadcast Splits into Two Standalone Companies, Drops Harris Name, Brings Back Gates

Broadcast Vendor M&A | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 17 2014

Harris Broadcast CEO Charlie Vogt told a crowd of broadcast industry customers, press, and analysts that company has split itself into two separate businesses, Imagine Communications and GatesAir.

Vogt, who made the announcement at the company’s first Media Day, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, will be CEO of both companies.

Under the new corporate structure, the Harris Broadcast portfolio of radio and TV broadcast transmission products are now part of GatesAir, and the rest of the company’s product line-up are part of Imagine Communications.  The split is effective immediately, and the companies will have separate booths at the upcoming NAB 2014 tradeshow.

The part of the business that is now Imagine Communications will be headquartered in Vogt’s hometown of Dallas, and will have offices in Denver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv and Beijing.

GatesAir will be headquartered in will be headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and will operate manufacturing, supply chain and customer fulfillment in Quincy, Illinois.

Although the announcement marks the end of the Harris name of the broadcast industry after more than half a century, it also marks the re-entrance of the Gates name.  Founded in 1922, Gates Radio was acquired by Harris Corporation in 1957, and became the Harris transmission division.  With the use of the Gates name for its new company, the Harris Broadcast transmission business has come full-circle. The grandson of Gates Radio founder Parker Gates was on hand at the event and said the family was pleased by the news.

Following the announcement of the new structure, Vogt and Imagine Communications CTO Steve Reynolds outlined a bold vision for the company’s future.

On the GatesAir side, Chief Product Officer Rich Redmond described how the company is meeting the growing demand for wireless delivery of audio, video, and multimedia content.

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Related Content:

Press Release: Harris Broadcast Becomes Imagine Communications and GatesAir

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009-2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Broadcast Vendor M&A: Quantel Acquires Snell

broadcast industry technology trends, Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 12 2014

Quantel has announced that it will acquire fellow UK-based broadcast technology vendor Snell.

The combined company will have revenue of more than $170 million and office in 16 locations around the globe, making it one of the larger vendors in the broadcast industry.

The enlarged company will be called Quantel and headquartered in Newbury UK, Quantel’s current HQ. According to an FAQ issued by the company, all existing products from Snell and Quantel will continue, and the Snell brand will remain.

Quantel CEO Ray Cross will lead the enlarged company.

Current Snell CEO Simon Derry will exit the business after acting helping to support the integration of the two companies for several months.

Paul Martin, Managing Director of the Snell TV Everywhere division and Rob Rowe, Managing Director of the Snell Live TV division will join the Quantel board, and Tim Banks, Snell Sales Director and Peter Fredericks, Snell Finance Director are also taking leading roles in the new combined organization.

 

UK-based Companies Have Little Product Overlap

Quantel and Snell are both based in the UK, and have a significant presence in many international markets.  Both companies are viewed as high-end players in the market, with good reputations for quality, reliability, and customer service.

Although the two companies have many common customers, they have virtually no overlapping product lines. Quantel focuses on post-production graphics and color grading systems, as well as enterprise-class networked editing systems, and media asset management.  Snell is known for production switchers, signal processing gear, playout automation, and channel-in-a-box products.

Both companies have UK-based R&D and manufacturing facilities, which will likely be rationalized over the course of time, resulting in significant cost savings for the combined entity. “We will be creating a new world-class facility at the company headquarters in Newbury to produce the complete Quantel and Snell product range and we look forward to the new ideas generated when the two R&D teams start to interact,” said Quantel CEO Ray Cross.

 

Common Parent Combines Broadcast Holdings

The combination of Quantel and Snell was long-rumored in the industry, since the two companies already had a common parent, Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), the investment arm of Lloyds Bank.

LDC has held a majority stake in both Quantel and Snell for a number of years, so a primary driver for the deal was likely the internal consolidation of LDC’s long-time holdings in the broadcast technology space, creating a larger, more efficient business, with greater operating leverage.

The complementary nature of the respective Quantel and Snell product portfolios should allow the enlarged company to continue serving the needs of customers, while realizing significant cost savings through the combination of R&D and manufacturing facilities, trade show booths, regional offices, etc.

This is similar to the approach outlined last month when Belden announced it will purchase Grass Valley for $220 million, and combined it with Miranda Technologies, which it already owns.  In 2012, Belden acquired Miranda for approximately $350 million.

Like Quantel and Snell, the combined Miranda and Grass Valley have limited product overlap and many common customers. Belden’s management has said it believes significant cost savings can be achieved by rationalizing duplicate functions within the combined company.

LDC acquired Quantel in July 2000, when it funded the company’s £51 million management buyout (MBO) from Carlton Communications.

In 2009, LDC created Snell when it funded the £72 million merger of Snell & Wilcox and Pro-Bel, in a deal supported by a £25 million package of senior debt and working capital facilities provided by The Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC. After the merger, the combined company was renamed Snell.

LDC acquired Pro-Bel in 2003 when it funded an £11.2 million MBO from Chyron.

Prior to its merger with Pro-Bel, Snell & Wilcox was owned by Advent Ventures who had funded its £22 million management buy-out in 2002.

Both Quantel and Snell are private companies, so their individual revenue figures are not disclosed publicly.

A report published immediately after the merger of Pro-Bel and Snell & Wilcox in 2009  said Snell had revenue £80m and employed 450 staff; and in 2011 Snell CEO Simon Derry said in an interview that the company’s revenue was “greater than $130 million.”

According to its website, Quantel “employs around 300 people, and operates sales and support subsidiaries in the USA, Canada, Latin America, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and throughout mainland Europe.”

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Related Content:

Press Release: Quantel acquires Snell to create new force in media technology

Quantel – Snell FAQ

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

Belden’s Acquisition of Miranda to Close on or Before July 27, 2012

TVNewsCheck Article (9-29-2011): Tech One-on-One With Simon Derry — Snell Aims To Master the U.S. Market

Advent Venture and LDC close £72m broadcasting merger

Advent Venture Partners and LDC Complete Their Portfolios Merger – March 9, 2009

Video: Pro-Bel and Snell & Wilcox CEOs Discuss Merger (2009)

Press Release (11-6-2003): Chyron Sells Pro-Bel to LDC

Broadcast Magazine (2002): Snell Secures £22m from Advent

Press Release (2002) Advent Venture Partners invests GBP13m in Snell & Wilcox

Variety Article (7-14-2000): Carlton sells tech arm Quantel to LDC for £51 million 

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Broadcast Vendor M&A: Ross Video Expands News Tech Line-Up with Acquisition of ADS

Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 10 2014

Ross Video announced that it has acquired Automated Data Systems (ADS), a provider of newsroom computer systems (NCRS) and broadcast prompters based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Terms were not disclosed.

Ross Video is buying ADS for its EZNews product line, a newsroom editorial system used by small call-letter TV stations, educational institutions, and government agencies.

As such the EZNews platform is a potentially a nice bolt-on acquisition for Ross Video, which surprised the industry with the introduction of an NCRS product called Inception at IBC 2013.

As with its previous acquisitions, Ross Video appears to be leaving the existing team in place, and enhancing the product development capability of the acquired company. Bill Sacia, former President of EZNews, has already changed his profile on LinkedIn, and now describes his job as ‘”leading the transition for EZNews clients to the new evolving, feature – function merging, more powerful Ross Inception Newsroom System.”

David Ross, CEO and majority shareholder of the eponymous broadcast technology vendor, told me that the company plans to incorporate the EZNews team into the company’s Inception NCRS development team.  “EZNews is the biggest of the small players in the NCRS market,” said Ross.  “We like the people and we really liked the ideas they’ve developed for smaller stations, and we plan to add these to our Inception product line.”

More importantly for Ross Video, EZNews has approximately 200 customer installations that can eventually be converted to the Ross Inception platform.  “200 customers is significant,” said Ross.  “It took Ross Video a long time to get that many customers for OverDrive” [the RossVideo production automation system].

Although Ross says the company put in place a full data migration plan for porting all EZNews technology and features over to its Inception platform, he does not seem to be in a hurry to do so. “We will continue to support EZNews customers and things will remain business as usual for them.”

One reason for this is that the primary customers for the EZNews system are colleges and universities who typically have smaller budgets than the TV station market where Inception is aimed.  Because EZNews has educational discounts built directly into its pricing, it tends to sell for significantly less than a typical broadcast NCRS system.

However, because these users are training the next generation of broadcast journalists, Ross sees them “as a very important long term customer base for Ross Video.” Therefore, Ross says he also has a plan to make it easy and cost-effective for EZNews customers who want to switch to the Inception platform.

“For the next year, all existing EZNews customers can upgrade, at cost, to (the more fully-featured) Inception platform. They’ll end up getting everything in EZNews and everything in Inception.  It’s really a great deal,” added Ross.

Ross will also continue to provide support for another ADS product, a popular, low cost windows based teleprompting software system called EZPrompt, which has more than 6,000 customers.

Including ADS, Ross Video has acquired eight companies in the past four years:

Most recently, Ross bought mobile video provider MCP, and announced its intention to create a national sports production company through the introduction of what it calls “openTruck” to Break Open Sports Production Market.

 

Previous Ross Video M&A deals include:

 

  • Montalto: Routing switcher research and development team

 

  • Cambotics: robotic camera heads and pedestals (2012)

 

  • Fx-Motion: “Furio” robotic camera systems (2012)

 

  • Norpak: data insertion and Nielsen products (2011)

 

  • Codan Broadcast: NK Series routing switchers (2010)

 

  • Media Refinery: XPression broadcast graphics (2010)

 

The ADS purchase is a classic Ross Video move.  The company has strategically used M&A to expand its product portfolio and increase its solution footprint in the broadcast market.

The strategy appears to be working.

Although Ross Video is a private company, the CEO occasionally uses social media to provide some metrics about its performance.  In November 2013 Ross said his company’s sales have increased for 22 straight years after achieving 8% revenue growth in fiscal 2013 versus the previous year.

In previous postings, Ross said the company’s year-over-year revenue growth in 2011 and 2012 was 47% and 17%, respectively.

According to my conversation with David Ross, the strategy also seems to be working for the acquired companies. “We’ve bought a lot of really cool companies, integrated them into Ross Video, and within a few years we’ve managed to increase their revenue by 5-10x.”

Given this track record, and the company’s family ownership, Ross can afford to be choosey when it comes to acquisitions.   And these days there seems to be a lot more to choose from.  Ross says he averages 1-2 inbound calls per week from executives who want to sell him their companies.

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It remains to be seen how well Ross Video fares in the NCRS business with Inception and EZNews.

For many years, the NCRS market seemed like a two-horse race between ENPS from the Associated Press and iNews from Avid.  Although neither AP nor Avid break-out revenue from their news products, the two companies are widely believed to have the lion’s share of category revenue between them.

However, it seems this market has been heating up as of late.  The IBC 2013 launch of Inception by Ross Video was one of several interesting developments in this area.

Other NCRS contenders include France-based Dalet Digital Media Systems. In the fourth quarter of 2013 Dalet’s revenue from TV newsroom systems was $17.9m (€12.9m), up 48.3% versus the previous year, and represented 35.1% of the company’s total revenue in the quarter.

Other vendors including Bitcentral and Masstech have also made inroads into the news technology market.

Nevertheless, David Ross remains very confident about his company’s prospects, saying the ADS acquisition “is a great step for Ross Video.  We look forward to the opportunity to grow even more into the newsroom market.”

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Related Content:

Press release: Ross Video Acquires Automated Data Systems (ADS)

Why Ross Video Bought MCP – Will Introduce “openTruck” to Break Open Sports Production Market

Broadcast Vendor M&A: Ross Video Buys Mobile Production Firm, Intends to Create National Sports Production 

Broadcast Vendor M&A: Ross Video Bolsters Routing Line with Sixth Acquisition in Past Four Years

Dalet Revenue Grows 7 Percent in 2013 on Strong Sales of Newsroom Solutions

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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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