Miranda announced the acquisition on OmniBus Systems on the eve of IBC 2010, bringing together two companies whose strengths reside in the master control space. OmniBus CEO Mike Oldham spoke to Broadcast Engineering about the two companies and the automation market at large.
The global downturn has had an impact on investment by broadcaster in new technology systems, Oldham said. “The last two years has been difficult for U.S. station groups. Many have an aging infrastructure. They are waiting to see how IT solutions evolve,” he said. OmniBus feels well-positioned to take advantage of this shift to software-based systems with its iTX product.
Regarding outsourcing of playout services in the United States, Oldham said, “That is changing. We are seeing stations groups taking a hard look at outsourcing, and you should expect to see major station groups with 15 to 50 stations looking at centralized solutions … They may build their own facility or go with third-party providers.”
Oldham continued, “I do think there is a trend to centralize control over channels or stations, get to economies of scale with centralized ingest and content management — ingest once, QC once, store once. There was talk about this 10 years ago, but the cost savings just weren’t there; bandwidth was too expensive. Now the IT-based solutions are much more cost-effective, and there are more and less expensive options to move content out to the edge.”
Oldham described how the merging of the businesses was progressing since the IBC announcement. “We are now in transition to the integration with Miranda, although a lot of this was worked out before the acquisition so there haven’t been any surprises, other than positive surprises at the level of product integration that is possible. We showed a multiviewer and iTX integrated at IBC and HD World, but we will be show much more integrated product strategy at NAB (2011).”
OmniBus’ iTX includes graphics capability, and Miranda has a range of branding products including ImageStore and Vertigo. “We can now offer customers more options for graphics (in master control). We have plans to move more of Miranda graphics functionality inside iTX, and we can control Miranda or third-party devices downstream. So, it has given us a wider range of options to offer our customers,” Oldham said.
OmniBus has long been known for its Colossus automation system, used for sophisticated playout applications by premier networks. ITX offers a lower-cost product, so does that mean we will see Colossus phased out in the near future? Oldham stressed that OmniBus has no such plans within the next decade. “We have a large installed base of prestigious broadcasters, and we have a development staff that continues to work on Colossus every day. That being said, the market is shifting toward IT software-based products, so it is the customers that are making the decisions.”
Oldham also wanted to make clear that “iTX is not a channel-in-a-box but an enterprise software solution. You can share content across multiple channels and more efficiently allocate storage. Each channel is played out of an IT server, but the backend is far more robust, which is why we are getting the attention of large station groups looking to centralize.”
Moving on to the global economic conditions, and the state of the recovery, Oldham said, “Our business has returned fastest in the U.S. and Canada and second in Asia, with Europe lagging a bit, but now we are seeing a strong rebound in our business in Europe.”
OmniBus has been strong in the United States and Europe, but “the acquisition with Miranda opens new markets where Miranda was already well established, for example, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, so Omnibus can more efficiently address those markets. Miranda also helps us in Asia; they have a strong group there. They have also done more in the Middle East, so being part of that company helps us everywhere.”
What about progress on the merging of businesses? “We will integrate where it makes sense to merge the human resources and talent; if it doesn’t make sense, we won’t. Both companies were growing, so together we can support that growth,” Oldham said. “From an OmniBus perspective, the acquisition by Miranda is exceeding our expectations. Integration is moving along smoothly, so it a very exciting time for us.”