Q. What broad technology trends do you think will be front-and-centre at IBC2012?
To us, the most significant developments in the last year have been around the acceleration of technology to enable viable multiscreen/OTT services. We have seen advancements in the proliferation of connected devices, maturity of multiscreen ecosystems and video-delivery infrastructure in general, as well as the aggressive deployment of full-fledged services in many markets, and adoption of nPVR, nDVR, start over and catch up TV.
As multiscreen continues to heat up and we see more commercial deployments at scale, there will be a lot of focus on MPEG-DASH and its promise of simplifying multiscreen workflows and delivery through standardization. DASH provides a general interoperability framework aligned with the HbbTV 1.5 specification, which will be widely used by European broadcasters for interactive services on connected televisions. I expect there will also be much discussion around the industry’s next-generation video compression standard, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and some discussion of so-called Ultra-HD/4K services and devices.
Q. Any thoughts on how the current economic climate will affect the show?
In these economic conditions, broadcasters and service providers are facing a new reality. To be competitive in this market, they need to provide better programming for more channels, to more screens; they also need to be faster to market, while effectively monetizing new assets to maintain profitability. And they need to do all of this with less people, investment and margin for error. This new reality will certainly affect this year’s show as broadcasters look for the best return on their investments. To address this, Harmonic will highlight solutions that reduce complexity, increase flexibility and provide Intelligent Function Integration, while delivering excellent video quality.
Q. What’s new that you will show at IBC2012 and that broadcasters should look for there?
At IBC we will demonstrate the new ProMedia Xpress, our high-performance file-based transcoder that facilitates cost-effective, faster-than-real-time transcoding of content for multiscreen VOD delivery, enabling operators to efficiently launch new services without compromising the quality of their offering. ProMedia Xpress employs Harmonic’s new MicroGrid parallel-computing technology to dramatically improve transcoding performance.
ProMedia Xpress is a great example of a product that’s focused on improving the operational efficiency of H.264 multiscreen content creation as well as enhancing the video quality. We’ll also be showing advanced demonstrations of HEVC. By creating a product like ProMedia Xpress, we’re improving the video quality and compression efficiency of H.264 in order to streamline our customers’ multiscreen operational architectures today, while simultaneously investing in what we believe will be the video codec of the tomorrow, HEVC.
Q. How is your new product offering different from what’s available on the market?
In short, it is part of a broader integrated suite, and part of the entire solution that Harmonic can provide to broadcasters. ProMedia Xpress is the latest addition to our ProMedia Suite, which offers broadcasters and service providers the most comprehensive software solution designed to optimize multiscreen and production video workflows. ProMedia performs a broad range of processing and streaming functions—including capture, transcoding, packaging and origin server—to enable high-quality multiplatform video creation and delivery.
The ProMedia Suite provides superior-quality video content for multiscreen viewing, all from a single, highly scalable software platform that can easily grow to support a broadcaster’s evolving needs. Through its broad format support, ability to process high-volume transcoding tasks and standards-based design, ProMedia significantly reduces an operator’s capital and operating expenses.
Q. Last year I asked whether 3D was Hope, Hype or In Between. This year I want to know similar thoughts on “social media and broadcasters.”
Social media is a phenomenon that is certainly here to stay. Questions remain about its future role once the hype wears off, and which communities will last over time. There is definitely real value for broadcasters in using social media to connect with their audience, which, coupled with a solid multiscreen strategy, is going to be important for remaining competitive in this fast-changing media landscape. So I’d say “hope” but with significant questions still to play out.
Q. Where are you based, and how many employees do you have? Anything else we should know about your company?
We’re headquartered in San Jose, Calif. and have development centers globally and over 1100 employees worldwide. We’re the worldwide leader in video delivery infrastructure and the largest pure-play video company in the market.
The last year has been very exciting for us. In addition to hitting the two-million mark for shipped QAMs and powering premium services for more than 70 million cable subscribers, we reached a another major milestone in our Electra encoding product line with 10,000 Electra 8000 models shipped, powering 25,000 channels worldwide.
Q. How many years have you been going to the IBC show and what’s your fondest memory? What’s your favorite restaurant or pub?
Harmonic has been coming to IBC for more than 15 years, and it’s one of our favorite shows in one of my favorite cities. What really makes IBC special is that it brings together broadcast professionals from every corner of the globe. Over the years, this show has proved to be a very exciting show for Harmonic. We’ve been coming for more than a decade and every year it’s still very exciting—not the least bit because it means coming back to Old Bell, a good English-style pub with great beer, and a favorite of many IBC manufacturers. You always run into someone you know and many a deal have happened there late at night.