Deborah D. McAdams /
12.03.2013 10:01AM
Harris Broadcast Acquires Transcoder Imagine Communications
Aims to support TV everywhere
ENGLEWOOD, COLO. — Harris Broadcast is targeting TV everywhere with the acquisition of Imagine Communications, a San Diego, Calif.-based company specializing in transcoding. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

“We needed adaptive bit-rate transcoding,” said Charlie Vogt, CEO of Harris Broadcast. “It was in our roadmap, but we saw this market evolving faster than we felt like we could introduce our own product. That’s what drove us to look at the space.”

Vogt said the acquisition gives Harris Broadcast a bolder entrée into the cable space. Imagine’s customers include Time Warner Cable, Cox and Suddenlink, among others.

“They take us deeper into cable, and into the telco market—AT&T, Verizon, Vodaphone. They do give us this new vertical, and they give us a product that our broadcast customers are buying from someone else,” he said.

The bigger picture is the path to multiplatform delivery, particularly with adaptive bit-rate technology, said Glen LeBrun, Harris senior marketing director.

“I think real key is that in the ABR space, with TV everywhere, it’s about providing linear experience across multiple platforms with bandwidth constraints. Because it’s in a non-linear realm, you’re dealing with asset management, digital rights, [etc.] You also have a different a structure. You don’t run same ads on all platforms, so they’re dynamically inserted.”

Imagine holds five transcoding patents with one pending. Its “solutions” portfolio includes various MPEG-4 encoding and transcoding applications. The product line includes broadcast and streaming systems. The ICE Broadcast System, for example, is said to handle multiformat transcoding for up to 16 HD channel and 32 SDs in a 1 RU footprint. The ICE Streaming System is said to transcode up to “1,500 output profiles from a single blade [server] platform.” The company’s Dense Transcoder is said to cover more than 200 HD profiles per RU “and will replace an entire headend with a single box.”

In addition to giving Harris more access to new markets, Imagine transcoding will be integrated into Harris products. First will be the Selenio compression, networking and processing gear, branded “Selenio Next.”

Vogt, a telecom IP veteran who took the helm of Harris Broadcast last July, has made no bones about taking the business into the software realm. The Imagine acquisition, he said, lays the foundation for “true software-defined integration of sales, scheduling, automation, playout and delivery across both linear and non-linear content distribution networks,” invoking a phenomenon not entirely welcome in a business of proprietary hardware.

“When we see technology trends, we see customers virtualizing networks in private and public data centers,” he said. “You’re truly building a software-defined network. What this industry is going to experience faster than they think is the adoption of IP as an underlying technology and a hardware-independent architecture.”

SDNs, he said, put customer control at the network level as opposed to confining it to a physical facility.
 
“We see this industry evolving to software-defined networks,” he said. “While we have hardware, we’re mostly a software-embedded company.”

“I think there will be more change from SDN [in television] than there was in the telecom industry,” he said. “I’ve met about 120 customers. There are not to many meetings where they’re not discussing the aggressive transformation of the business. I don’t think there are any companies as prepared as Harris.”

While Imagine’s transcoding is not yet offered as software-as-a-service, there are applications of it that may be, Vogt said.

“They have a next-generation ABR chip, that from a price and performance perspective, is above everyone else. You’ll see us move ABR to a more software-oriented platform, and to provide a next-generation DVR in the cloud,” for the likes of perhaps Comcast or AT&T.

Imagine has around 50 employees, with headquarters in Southern California, and R&D in Netanya, Israel, where it was founded in 2000. As of May, 2010, it had secured $34 million in funding from Carmel Ventures of Herzliya, Israel; Court Square Ventures of Charlottesville, Va.; and Columbia Capital of Alexandria, Va. 

Vogt said the integration of Imagine into Harris would commence immediately upon closing, which is expected to occur around Jan. 1, 2014.

“You’re talking to someone who’s bought and sold 17 companies,” he said. “I am not someone who leaves new companies on their own… There’s an aggressive plan to integrate the company.”

The San Diego offices likely will be moved to “one of our centers of excellence,” Vogt said. Further details will be released when the deal closes.
 
As for what’s on deck, Vogt stressed that Harris was still spending around $100 million on R&D.

“We’re pretty thoughtful about trying to grow organically. You’ll see us doing more technology acquisition than otherwise. We have scale and we have customers. The only place where we don’t have a footprint is telecom. Government is also an interesting space.”

Also see…

November 6, 2013
, “Redefining Harris Broadcast
Expect IP convergence and the cloud to be major themes for Harris Broadcast.

September 16, 2013,
Harris Broadcast Scales Down Selenio, Greens Up Transmitters
Harris Broadcast made its debut this year at IBC as a standalone vendor owned by equity investors. The show also marked the inaugural annual trade show appearance for Charlie Vogt, the former VoIP executive who took the reins of Harris Broadcast in July.

August 28, 2013, Harris CEO Brings in Ops and Sales Chiefs
Vogt taps investor and former colleague for executive rolls.

July 9, 2013,
Charlie Vogt Named CEO of Harris Broadcast
Vogt comes to Harris from Genband, a privately held company involved in voice-over-IP based in Frisco, Texas with global operations and 1,700 employees.

July 3, 2013, “
Harris Morris is Out at Harris Broadcast
Harris Morris, CEO of Harris Broadcast, is leaving the company as of today, a company source confirmed.

April 30, 2013, Harris Broadcast Repositions, Cuts Staff
Harris Broadcast is undergoing a post-acquisition realignment that includes staff cuts and operational changes.

March 4, 2013, “Remembering the Gates Radio Company
The Gores Group becomes just the third owner of one of the world’s major broadcast suppliers, and in the process it inherits that company’s 90-year history.

December 7, 2012, Harris Broadcast to Be Rebranded in Next Three Years
The Harris Broadcast division will retain the Harris name for another three years while it transitions to a new brand, division chief Harris Morris said this week.

December 6, 2012, Harris Sells Broadcast Division to Equity Investor for $225 Million
The transaction is subject to customary regulatory review and closing conditions and is expected to be completed in early calendar year 2013.

May 3, 2012, Harris’ Broadcast Divestiture—Some Corporate History
I thought it worth mentioning here, due to the critical role that Harris has served as a major, if not dominant, player in the U.S. TV transmitter and Mobile DTV areas.

May 1, 2012, “Harris Will Sells Its Broadcast Business
“The decision to divest Broadcast Communications resulted from a thorough review of our business portfolio, which determined that the business is no longer aligned with the company’s long-term strategy,” said Harris Corp. president and CEO William M. Brown.
 

 



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