Vizrt Buys NewTek

In what may be a benefit to the whole digital content creation industry, graphics giant Vizrt has purchased IP infrastructure innovator NewTek.

What may be one of the biggest stories of the NAB Show 2019 broke even before the big event started. Vizrt has acquired NewTek.

The Norwegian titan of real time 3D graphics and Virtual Studio software has purchased the creators of the TriCaster video switcher that redefined the cost of multicam live production and the NDI (Network Device Interface) that kick-started the evolution toward IP infrastructure.

The history of each company’s individual achievements will be related throughout the many celebrations sure to herald this event. But The Broadcast Bridge was more interested in finding out the reasons behind this confluence of technological creativity, and leaders from both companies were good enough to grant us one-on-one interviews.

Daniel Nergard, president of Vizrt Americas, told us this evolution has actually been in the works for a long time.

Daniel Nergard, president, Vizrt Americas

Daniel Nergard, president, Vizrt Americas

“We have been partners with NewTek for several years, now,” Nergard began. “For example, last year we announced a joint project between their switching platform, TriCaster, and our automation system, Viz Mosart. So now it was time to join forces in bigger projects—to go all in as it were.”

Nergard acknowledged that the two companies work in different if complimentary spheres, with Vizrt producing end use products for high-end applications, and NewTek having concentrated on enabling technology that was heralded for breaking price barriers.

“Yes, we both have very strong brands with different business models,” he said. “Vizrt services the top tier broadcast market with direct sales organization while NewTek addresses a broader segment with a well established reseller channel. With this new arrangement we will have a global market covering both the highest end of broadcast and the wider reseller market. That is, in a nutshell, the whole idea behind this move.”

As the industry moves toward IP implementation, it is important to Nergard that this new working arrangement is ready to take full advantage of the advantages of technologies such as NDI and the advantages of SMPTE ST 2110.

“We see that this acquisition will be an important enabler for us to support these important standards while also, as a software company, remaining open to access by third party products,” he said. “I think our combined companies now have the opportunity to be a disruptive player in the industry and really lead the production community forward toward a software and IP-based environment.”

Nergard assured us that going forward both brands will keep their own identity and name, but the overall company will be called Vizrt.

This may be a good opportunity for The Broadcast Bridge to clarify for our fellow NAB 2019 attendees that the company’s name is pronounced “Viz-aR-Tee” or phonetically, (/ˈvɪzɑːrtiː/). It may help to remember it is short for “Visualization in Real Time” or “Visual Artist”.

“Vizrt purchasing our company is a hugely significant event,” Andrew Cross, president & CTO of NewTek told The Broadcast Bridge during our 1:1 interview, “because we all know this industry is moving toward IP-based video. But it is necessary to take a step back and ask ‘why’. It’s not because IP is inherently better than SDI. It’s because IP is the language that is spoken by computers. Once you’ve stepped into the IP world you’ve embraced the much larger economy of computation, of routers, switches, long cables and high speed Ethernet. Since our beginning with the Amiga, our heart has always been there and that is the same heritage Vizrt has come from.”

Andrew Cross, president, CTO of NewTek

Andrew Cross, president, CTO of NewTek

So for Cross, it was almost inevitable that the two companies should eventually come together.

“The fact that there is so little direct overlap between our two companies’ areas of expertise is what makes this arrangement so great,” Cross said. “We are two strong companies with a clear vision that helping people communicate more effectively is the path to the future.”

Cross told us this has been a long time coming.

“I’ve been a personal friend of the co-founder of Vizrt since long before the development of NDI,” he said. “In fact, that technology was originally called AirSend and more than 10 years ago we went to Vizrt to see if they could send graphics over it. It was the first connection of Vizrt software graphics over IP.”

But it’s the future where this vision will come to fruition.

”It’s all built around computers, software and connectivity,” Cross said, “and we are building the company that has the diversity that will be ready to handle it.”

Let us know what you think…

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