Harris Targets New-Era Revenues

Mobile TV, digital signage take center stage
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LAS VEGAS
In tough times, broadcasters need more tools than ever to rev up new, creative sources of income.

Harris, once thought of as just a transmission company, is coming to this year's NAB Show with tools to smooth and unify the operation as well as to expand into new areas like mobile DTV, the Web and digital signage.

For the last few years, Harris has talked up its ONE concept of products for much of a broadcaster's operation. "The words that we're really working with this year are 'advanced video workflows,'" said Brian Cabeceiras, vice president for Strategic Marketing and Technology at Harris Broadcast.

Company President Tim Thorsteinsen noted that bridging the gap between the traditional broadcast and IT worlds with tight software controls isn't just convenient—it saves money. "Facing unprecedented economic challenges, broadcasters will head to NAB2009 seeking concrete business solutions to help them compete for viewer attention and shrinking advertising dollars in an industry moving toward total media convergence," he said.

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That's been the concept behind Harris ONE, allowing broadcasters to receive different types of content, manage it, automate it and tie it into advertising systems. Now, the focus may be on harnessing those tools to explore the new revenue opportunities.

Broadcasters are looking at not only putting up mobile channels, but also to use DTV signals to deliver data to digital signs and displays in the so-called out-of-home ad market. "Mobile isn't just about getting video to a cellphone," said Cabeceiras. "There's a lot of other applications that we'll see unfold at NAB."

Harris' history of tying together the products is key to the value offered customers, turning electronics into intelligent, money-making tools.

"What's missing from the out-of-home ad market is a method to monetize the asset," said Cabeceiras, describing the state of digital signage. There hasn't been sophisticated way to distribute data, sell an ad and verify and invoice it, he said.

The message is that digital signage and the potentially massive out-of-home ad market isn't just for retail chains and transportation hubs—broadcasters too need to compete for that revenue. For that, the Harris InfoCaster product family merges broadcast-quality graphics with flexible media management and play-out solutions, giving broadcasters an end-to-end solution to distribute video and data services to displays in virtually any location.

Harris Digital Signage solutions also support multiplatform delivery services, including the ability for broadcasters to equip advertisements with mobile response capability.

In the mobile DTV realm, Harris will demonstrate a deliverable end-to-end set of solutions using its MPH transmission standard, including NetVX video networking systems, multiplexers and the software-definable Apex M2X exciter on through to new efficient Maxiva transmitters.

With the basic delivery chain for mobile DTV now in place, broadcasters will need to nail down the business model. For that, Harris is offering a "business-in-a-rack" approach with branding, ad sales, servers and more so customers can put up the mobile channels quickly.

Also at NAB, Harris will demonstrate Dynacast, which provides a two-screen interactive application for viewers and lets broadcasters sync Web content with programming.

The Harris master control demonstration will feature a Harris Nexio AMP providing broadcast video feeds to the IconMaster master control switcher (v3.0 is HD/SD ready and in control over Ethernet), Centrio multi-image processor, Platinum routing switcher and ADC automation platform. The five systems work seamlessly together, greatly simplifying workflow in multichannel situations and for automated and manual control.

For those who can't make the show, Harris' online "Virtual NAB" will provide broadcasters with a near-real-time NAB experience, with live video feeds from the show floor, online demonstrations and selected excerpts from Harris presenters.