At IBC Imagine Communications Helps Broadcasters “Monetize The Wait”

Heading into the 2018 IBC Show, vendors are jockeying to help support a broadcast industry that has seen—at least in the U.S.—widespread consolidation and an ever-increasing content race that have reduced equipment budgets and merged disparate technology infrastructures. The show will be full of software-based technologies that leverage the cloud and various services (SaaS) for the ultimate in flexibility and scalability to help navigate this challenging time.

Imagine Communications is one company that has committed significant resources and changed its management teams in order to meet this new demand. For them, it’s not about selling individual products anymore, but becoming technical advisors in order to win sales. But it is not just grabbing at the lowest hanging fruit.

“We’ve worked hard at challenging ourselves to see what we can deliver to that customer who is not an early adopter,” said Tom Cotney, CEO at Imagine for the past nine months. “What we’ve discovered is that there are a lot of service offerings that we can bring to the table. We can help people while they are weighing the longer term, and perhaps extend the life of their current assets. We call it ‘monetizing the wait.’”

At the IBC Show, Imagine will spotlight a number of new software modules—many available as part-time-use micro services—that enable media companies to personalize the path and pace of their transition to next-generation architectures and business models. As part of its XG dynamic advertising delivery platform and Versio Playout server technology, the company wants to show attendees how value can be extracted from existing advertising inventory, when it makes sense to virtualize playout operations or transition content origination, and how to leverage distribution to a public cloud.

Tom Cotney, CEO at Imagine Communications.

Tom Cotney, CEO at Imagine Communications.

“Everyone is looking to optimize their revenue and that’s where we’ve been focusing our efforts on the ad technology side of our business,” Cotney said. “The big issue that our customers are dealing with is downstream pressure from the consolidation of their businesses. They are pursuing aggressive strategies where they are merging their technology operations while continuing to compete with content. We want to help them get there.”

Dr. Glodina Connan-Lostanlen—senior vice president and general manager Americas P&N Sales & Services, and Global Marketing at Imagine Communications—said that customers are more cost conscious due to shrinking equipment budgets brought on by management spending on exclusive content.

“Budgets on playout technology has been reduced to subsidize the spending on content that media companies need to do to stay relevant and compete,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s an interesting challenge for solution providers like us because we believe that our approach on services like the next-gen micro-services solutions we provide really helps with total cost of ownership. What we’re trying to do is help them on that front. And this challenge gives us great differentiating opportunities. We’re not trying to resell them the same playout project we sold them ten years ago. We understand that times have changed and have repositioned the company to be completely different.”

The key to success, Lostanlen said, is to embrace open standards and interoperable solutions on the way to an all-IP future. In the area of playout, the company will show new features and functionality for live production, including high-capacity 100GbE network links, a live sports control panel that provides enhanced automation break manipulation, and SMPTE ST 2110-capable processing for HD, UHD and IP.

Imagine Communications’ Lostanlen says that momentum for video-over-IP is growing as more people experience IP and what it can do for their operations.

Imagine Communications’ Lostanlen says that momentum for video-over-IP is growing as more people experience IP and what it can do for their operations.

This will include a demonstration at the company’s exhibit stand of its Selenio Network Processor and UHD-ready EPIC MV multiviewer working together to monitor the signals of multiple dedicated screens, with inputs and monitor outputs all in IP. To address the enormous bandwidth challenge associated with monitoring uncompressed UHD signals, SNP makes a “proxy” signal from every UHD signal that it touches in both directions. EPIC MV uses these proxy signals—which are full-color, full-frame-rate, and typically HD resolution—rather than the UHD original, resulting in a significant reduction in overall system cost.

“With SNP, people want a way to navigate from the baseband world to the IP world in a progressive manner by creating islands of IP,” Lostanlen said. “So you need edge processors that have to be speaking both languages. The momentum is really quite significant as more people experience IP and what it can do for their operations.”

Imagine Communications will also show its Versio Platform, a cloud-native, microservices-based playout ecosystem with new automation and workflow tools; Versio IOX, a high-availability, parity stack, multi-petabyte storage solution; and Nexio+ AMP, a high density media server with hybrid SDI/IP and H.265 capability.

On the ad delivery side, the company will highlight xG Scorecard, a business intelligence solution that provides at-a-glance, real-time insights and precise knowledge of how spots drive sales for advertisers. This is in addition to a full portfolio of integrated inventory management and optimization, data analytics and targeted delivery solutions designed to help media companies increase revenue and decrease costs across multichannel, multiplatform and multimarket operations.

Cotney said that by bringing together data that is normally siloed, xG Scorecard simplifies the process of discovering trends and spotting correlations vital to growing a media company’s business. But what’s most important to customers is giving them the ability to take risks in launching the new channels and mobile services they need to stay competitive.

“We have to give customers the ability to take risks when launching new channels and mobile services,” Cotney said. “Our SaaS and cloud offerings are ways to get there and experiment with things. That’s how our customers and we as a company will both be successful. Going forward, the winners (among vendors) will be those that allow people to flex in and out of a bit of risk taking. That’s what the market is demanding.”

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