The relative success of NAB is down to people. The individuals we meet, the relationships we make and renew with customers and the desire to work together to develop a technology solution to any given challenge.
At Media Links we have been supplying our leading-edge technology for the world’s most watched global sports events for many years. Our technologies help transmit remote live sports events around the world, providing the link between the various venues and stadia where the action takes place and the transportation of content back to the studio over existing IP networks for transmission in real-time. With an installed customer base of over 1000 sports venues, serving customers on six continents, we provide the backbone technology for many major broadcasters to take advantage of the associated revenue opportunities transmitting live content can offer.
Although we have come across similar challenges before, each project we undertake is completely new and tailored to an individual organization’s requirements. Therefore, we need to understand the precise objectives of our customers: are they needing to make money or save money? (or preferably both!). We need to know the goals of management, as well as the technical teams, and only armed with this information can we begin to work backwards to devise a suitable technological solution.
Gaining a deeper insight is less about a list of technical specifications on a spreadsheet and more about developing a strong and honest relationship where both sides can be open about business drivers and challenges and where they see the future heading. It’s easy to sell ‘equipment’ but to provide a lasting solution which satisfies a customer’s current needs and can also be adaptable and scalable enough to cope with those of the future, requires interaction, conversation and full understanding.
I’ve been told I talk a lot! However, at Media Links we also listen and listening and gaining information in this way is crucial and is the very first step to providing a suitable solution for the broadcaster or indeed “any” customer. To open a dialogue, the first questions we ask any visitor to our booth at NAB will be: tell me about your company? What led you to visit our booth? What are your business drivers? What are you trying to achieve? (All of course in friendly way, not with a clipboard of pre-planned questions!).
We also try not to make any assumptions. We find out how the visitor – who has given up their valuable time to come to the booth – fits in? What is their role in the entire process? This provides information on the organization’s decision-making process. Will others in the decision-making team have different objectives for the project? Considering the business challenge from a top-level view and from various other perspectives can help make initial judgements on the scope of the challenge.
At the end of the day, people like to do business with people they like. We always try to be approachable, so as well as ensuring a frank exchange of relevant information, the conversation is kept light-hearted so both parties feel good and enjoy the process! Then it’s time to talk about the potential of the kit – because the business challenges are understood, similar examples of projects can be discussed, and relevant products demonstrated.
At NAB this year we will be showing our MD8000 IP transport units which are being used to help transport content over IP for the Winter Games in PyeongChang and of course some major international football matches held in Russia this summer (like our work for charity, we can’t always talk in detail about our biggest projects!).
However, suffice to say, these are huge sporting events where our MD8000 multi-service provision platforms typically might receive and process around 30 camera signals from each sports match, including all audio, video and data plus 4K / UHD signals.
This kind of workflow allows streams to be produced in a local OB vehicle, before the multi-lateral signals are transported over existing telcos networks to a main broadcast studio. The signals are received back at the studio by more MD8000 devices before transmission across the globe, achieving 100% hitless availability of the live content.
However, most broadcasters are not transmitting content for projects of this size and so by understanding their precise needs we can discuss other potential workflows. These may include requirements for our MDP 3020, an IP media gateway edge device we call the ‘go-anywhere’ IP Gateway Encoder and Decoder, first demonstrated at IBC last year.
The MDP 3020 has been designed for the broadcast and professional AV media markets where economical IP media conversion is necessary. One key benefit of this product is that it’s compact and portable. It is so small, it fits into a standard briefcase and can be carried in an overhead locker as hand luggage! This means connectivity can be achieved economically over long distances without the associated shipping costs of heavier equipment. Potentially, more live events can be covered, attracting new audiences. Broadcasters have already indicated to us they could anticipate offsetting the entire cost of the investment in the new equipment against the shipping costs of the kit they have been using.
We are certainly very excited about introducing our technology to new customers at NAB. However, finding out how we can support them to achieve their objectives is paramount. This is only achieved through strong relationships built over time. So why not take the first step and come and visit our booth SU5021 at NAB for a chat about your organization’s objectives – in our business, people matter.