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TECHNOLOGIES Emphasising the television in streaming television by James Gilbert, CEO, Pixel Power T here have been all sorts of doom and gloom stories, over a decade or more, about how television is changing. Budgets are being slashed, workflows are becoming automated, and standard IT hardware is taking over from bespoke broadcast kit. But despite all this, television still looks good. If you watch television with a dispassionate eye, you have to say that technically much of it is terriﬁ c, and it is rare to see something disastrously bad. In other words, people still care about quality. With the huge rise in the number of channels, in fact we have got better at some things. With so many broadcasters in competition, branding is critical. Viewers have to know which channel they are watching, and they need to know – through an on-air marketing campaign of trailers and promos – why they should keep coming back. To add to the mix, and to add to the content, we now have streaming television, or over-the-top broadcasting. If you are a broadcaster, you are almost certainly having to learn what works in OTT, and how streaming requires a subtly different approach. I would suggest, though, that you are probably not saying that quality does not matter in OTT. And I am sure you understand that branding is every bit as critical to keep your audience coming back. Indeed, you will want to ensure that consumers associate your broadcast and online brands, so they are watching your output, whatever device they are on. 64 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 96 DECEMBER 2014 From the viewer’s point of view, linear television looks good. Quite reasonably, they expect the same quality – of content as well as technically – on OTT. Automation, but not as you know it There is widespread recognition that multi-channel broadcasting is made possible through automation. The technical challenges of OTT – like transcoding and repackaging – are also routinely tackled with automated workﬂ ows. What I want to suggest is that some of the creative challenges, certainly around branding, can also be resolved with automation, too. Pixel Power has been delivering automated branding production for more than 10 years, and there is no reason why it cannot be used for OTT services just as they are for linear channels. I want to make one other point about the new breed of technology, running as specialist software on standard hardware. We have to stop thinking of it as broadcast kit, with the expected development and integration times, not to mention a very long repayment cycle. IT-based systems should be fast to implement, with the assumption that they will be upgraded or redeﬁ ned as needed. That is not to say that you can do everything with commodity software and there is no longer a place for broadcast experts. There certainly is, because good broadcast software and integration is complex. Which is why there are still broadcast vendors in the market: we can make this happen.