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How can the Broadcast Media Industry have a positive impact on the Environment?

Joining us on episode 48 of The Tech That Connects Us was Darren Long Group Operations Transformation Design CT&I for Sky. Darren has been working for Sky for the past 32 years across News, Sports Entertainment and Production, as a director in a range of different capacities, such as Group Content Processing, Production and Services and Operations.

Darren joined Tegan Valeny and Henry Johnson where they discussed diversity, inspiring a healthy culture, the future of content creation and the importance of owning a dog.

One question Tegan and Henry put to Darren was ‘How can the broadcast media industry have a positive impact on the environment?’ Here’s what he had to say.

“At Sky, we’re now committed to becoming carbon neutral. Last weekend we did our first carbon-neutral football match in conjunction with Tottenham and the supporting staff and infrastructure. 

If we look at these opportunities, we’ve got an important role to play. We are a broadcaster, and all broadcasters need to ensure that we lead by example. That’s something that Sky has always wanted to do and we’re very lucky because we own the whole supply chain, everything from the customer buying the equipment through to making and distributing the programmes. This gives us a unique opportunity to own that whole customer journey from an environmentally friendly perspective. So we can ensure that from a carbon-neutral point of view we tick every single box along the journey. 

We took a really strong lead on this and Jeremy Darroch was instrumental in ensuring that everything we do going forward is “do we reduce our carbon footprint?”. From the packaging, we use to the way we recycle our equipment. Traditionally people would hold on to the equipment and never give it back, so of course, it went to landfills and various other things. Now, technically, you never own that equipment personally, it’s owned by Sky so that means once your contract finishes and you no longer want it then we take that back and recycle. 

 Everything we do going forward will be about actually how can we minimise the environmental impact. All the Sports we’re at, we ensure that the people who are working on the sports are doing so in a way that’s very economical and reducing the carbon footprint. From how they get to the venues, all the way through to the distribution platform minimising the power that we’re using. 

The key thing we can do is sending the message around why this is important and making sure that message is strong. So every single day we have a climate report which is on Sky News. It’s about educating people, not just preaching, but trying to give people an understanding of why we’re doing this. We believe in this wholeheartedly, and from an industry point of view if you look at all these productions now that whether they be for Sky or other companies they are trying to measure every single part of the impact of those productions. Traditionally you’d build sets and then destroy them, you’d use plastic cups and all those things. So whilst some of these things are very small, you know what? From small things grow large trees. 

 Sky is not just doing this as a tick box exercise, we really do believe in what we’re doing 100% and everything we do going forward around the way that we deliver our services and the way we recycle our services is going to be measured. That in itself is important, people should hold us accountable for our actions. It’s important that when products arrive that customers know that packaging isn’t just thrown in the bin but can be brought back to Sky, recycled and used again. 

 From an industry point of view, it’s time for us to lead the charge. There are lots of good broadcasters, filmmakers, and TV production crews who are doing this now. So we have a responsibility to keep doing this, keep improving and keep supporting companies and industries that bring innovation in this area as well.” 

Every Wednesday we sit down with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

What are the biggest challenges to the TV industry and video industry moving forward?

On episode 43 of The Tech That Connects Us John Clifton and Tim Meredith were joined by Nuno Sanches, General Manager for Telecom and Media at Kaltura.

When it comes to the TV and video industry there are a lot of challenges as we move forward, here’s what Nuno thinks are the biggest.

“In the media and professional TV industry, the biggest challenge we currently have is understanding the role of each of the agents and players. The structure of the industry itself is not settled. 

 It’s not clear if there’s market potential for a distributed content model, where we’ll have many providers providing content directly to many customers, or if we’re going to see the reaggregation of the intermediary where you then have half a dozen large aggregators that intermediate with a larger group of customers. 

 
This is the biggest risk but also the biggest opportunity, the winners and losers of each of these two configurations are dramatically different. Right now the question that will shape the industry is, can people be successful and meet the needs of the customer but reach them directly and profitably without having to be aggregated as it used to be. The question itself is still open, but we have a very interesting data point with Netflix in the fact that Netflix itself has stopped growing. Which has put all the projections about what the industry can be into an upheaval. 

 
We now have three or four players who could legitimately be at an equivalent scale in a couple of years that starts to make it clear that the winner takes all model doesn’t exist. But it still has not eliminated the fact that you could go back to essentially a US media company driven half by media and half by tech and have five giants who then consolidate everything like back in the days of paid TV. 

 
It’ll be fascinating to see whether this new world will emerge or if the old world of content aggregation will come back under a new banner of Video on Demand and non-linear content. 

 
For video, the biggest challenge will come from privacy. People do not understand the full impact of the videofied world we live in. This is why we’re only now starting to process the enormous implications of fake news and social media. We’re starting to grasp with personal exposure, if you’re putting up pictures of your kids or you out drinking then that’s something that could potentially come back to haunt you when it comes to a job interview. We’re only now understanding these implications. We’re starting to grapple with all this but the regulations around this have come afterwards. 

 
For example, does an employer have a right to record a meeting whilst you’re working from home? We’ve decided that this is now acceptable for everyone. So something could happen in the background and it’s ok for your employers to be recording it even though that’s in your home. We’ve made these decisions without fully understanding the implications.  

 
Over at Netflix, someone got fired due to some comments which were critical of the management team but on a channel they thought was private. If you’re adding video to these situations due to the depth of information you can get for a video the number of things that can go wrong goes through the roof. 

 
So a huge challenge for the video application world is how privacy will work, and we need to know the implications of these situations. One question we should be asking is how can machine learning and AI be used not for exposing your privacy but for protecting it? Can we use blockchain to make sure we control our own video feeds and keep the rights to them as if it was an NFT for example?  

 
If something happened that you didn’t want to be recorded then you’d have the ability to correct it in the master distributed file. These are important topics that may not come today because we’re all at home and privileged just to be talking to each other. But tomorrow they will come and they’re important discussions and the biggest challenge around video for the next decade.”

Every Wednesday we sit down with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

What’s in Store for Television Studios and Live Audiences?

On Episode 40 of The Tech That Connects Us John Clifton and William Trenchard were joined by Andrew Moultrie CEO at BBC Studioworks

A hugely passionate individual, Andrew has taken a different path to many in his journey to the top of the Content & Media industry but it’s no surprise to see him there. 

In this conversation, William asks Andrew about the future of studios and live audiences within studios. Here’s what he had to say. 

“The biggest itch I want to scratch about the future, in general, is sustainability. How can we create sustainable studios that are purpose-built?

Because historically you’d find an old space and then you’d hate it later. But now we have the ability to build locations or reconfigure them with a focus on the long term. So the way I’m looking into the future is the three P’s People, Planet and Profit. Profitability is not my driver. It’s one of the things which we need in order for us to employ people but it’s not the only thing. 

So for the future of studios, it’s going to be looking at the circular nature, and virtuous circle that is a studio. So where you get your renewable energies from, to the materials you build with to how you’re utilising water. We also need to be educating people within the facilities and giving them a sustainable mindset, because I do think in order to attract people to your organisations in the future you need to be aware of the planet. I think the youth of today, the alphas, the gen z and the Millenials all have the planet at the top of their agenda, whereas for the gen x’s and the baby boomers it’s been something we’ve kind of been aware of but it’s not been at our core. 

So the next evolution of production companies or broadcasters that want to use the facilities will be asking, ok what are your sustainability credentials, because the whole industry needs to get there on that basis? The biggest consumer of energies in the production cycle and light entertainment are the facilities so the onus is going to be on us. Historically we used to make money by burning energy and charging it back to the client, that can’t be the way of the future. 

From an audience perspective, it’s how you keep bringing audiences in and ensuring the audience is diverse and eclectic. So they’re representative of a modern Britain, not just based on the postcode you’re operating in and doing that in a way that’s safe and drives engagement. 

What we have found and it was really clear when we did virtual audiences was that you lose the chemistry of the show. Because social interaction is an energy, you’ve seen it in the football or at Wimbledon having a crowd there just changes things, compared to having a load of monitors where you don’t know where to look. Having that energy in the room really steps up the performance of individuals, it also steps up the interactivity and openness and also can affect the crews that are delivering as they feed off the audience too.  

So I think audiences will still be vitally important but it’s also how you integrate them more and more using technology as we go through different evolutions of the pandemic and as we bring live audiences back in. 

Technology will also help transform the interaction and the delivery of content. Technology is always changing, as the pipes get thicker there’ll be an increased ability to create different levels of engagement whether it’s participating live, or watching from home and interacting virtually. 

There’s so much, whether it be the potential to beam people into the studios virtually or use VR but that’s all to come and it’s exciting.”

Every Wednesday we sit down with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

What is the Future of Broadcasting?

On episode 38 of The Tech That Connects Us Podcast John Clifton interviewed Mohammed Akhlaq, Chief Technology Officer, ITN. 

In his storied career, Mohammed played a key role in launching news giant Al Jazeera‘s US studio and channel, so we had to ask such a passionate industry veteran what his thoughts were on the future of broadcasting, and Mohammed’s answer was very interesting. 

What are you most excited about for the future of the broadcasters themselves? 

I think it’s a difficult question to answer, because a lot of broadcasters have legacy infrastructure, workflows, and traditional ways of doing things. Content isn’t produced the same way it was produced 20 years ago, it’s started to change slightly, but that part didn’t change.  

What’s really changed is the distribution of content. Rather than using the UHF transmitters, etc, you now have, streaming platforms, OTT platforms, VOD platforms, content on mobile phones or tablets.  It’s now more accessible, and that’s the area that has really moved forward quite considerably, with more production being the next phase. And we’ll move very quickly into it, into a more agile and more dynamic, scalable workspace.  

And the third phase would be how content is produced. Although that is yet to come, it will come, and it will be a fundamental change to the way that we produce content and consume content. And this probably will be the biggest threat to any broadcaster, because it’s taken away the crown jewels of what they are known for, and what they do really well.  

In the media landscape as a whole, the remote production and distribution elements of it make it much easier as an entry point for new start-ups to come into the market without having baggage of legacy. And therefore, they can be far more reactive, far more agile, far more dynamic, far more forward thinking and can change very quickly based on audience feedback.  

An example of this is eSports. Who would think that eSports would be a spectator event? It’s those niche markets that we’ll see from new startups within the broadcast sector. These areas that tier one broadcasters are just not interested in, because of the demographic or because the audiences are geared towards a particular type of genre programming.  

That’s where the new markets are going to be and it’s going to create some great opportunities for new startups to take advantage of. Because it’s a niche market that the broadcasters are just not interested in, but these guys can actually leverage that growing market. How many times have you seen kids watching YouTube channels? watching someone play Fortnight? Surely it would be more fun you playing it, but actually there’s a market for streaming games. 

Every Wednesday we sit down with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Augmented Reality and Full 360 are the future of Content

On episode 37 of The Tech That Connects Us Podcast John Clifton interviewed Pedro Bandeira, Vice President Product and New Business, Europe, Deutsche Telekom

A dedicated individual on a professional quest to make the ultimate content experience, Pedro has been at the forefront of most modern time development in the Content & Media industry, so it was only natural to query him on the future of the industry and the consumption of content, something he had very a very clear prediction on: 

Which technologies do you think are going to have the biggest impact on the future of the industry? 

“If we look the medium to long run, 5-7 years. Something that’s not coming anytime soon, but which I am a firm believer in, is augmented reality. So, if you can use your full visual space to not only consume content, but also be able to see in real time additional information associated with that content. If you bring everything together in terms of the full VR & Full 360 experience, you’re going to have a lot of potential for creating something very immersive. 

But it’s not yet here, it still needs to mature, but it’s going to happen. Because the same the same statement that I made regarding the 1990s in the digitalization of video also applies to this.  And when it does happen it will be a great experience in terms of content experience.  

When we take that full 360 VR video alongside augmented information associated with content, it’s going to change the way we fundamentally connect with content, not just personally but as a group; it’s going to offer a whole new way of interacting with content.  

But, before that, we still have a lot to do. It’s really thinking about the 4k market and what’s coming after 4k, it’s still not 100% mass market, it still requires us to push this to our customers as mass market. And I think the most important thing that we need to push is this dream of ‘All content everywhere’. If we can deliver on this vision, in which I can at any time access any content free or paid, (if it is paid, of course I need to pay) but I have the ability to access it from any device at any time.  

If we’re able to deliver on that alongside the right discovery plane on top of it, that’s what users want. They want the ability to find quickly what they want and consume it at any time. And that’s the bridge that we still need to cross in the next five years until we get go to the next level of content interaction with full 360 VR and augmented content experiences.” 

Every Wednesday we sit down with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.    

The Future of Content is AI & Metadata

On Episode 31 of The Tech That Connects Us John Clifton and Will Trenchard sat down with the passionate Matt Westrup, VP Technology & Operation, A+E Networks UK and really delved deep into content, metadata, 5G and much more.  

A particular section of the conversion caught our attention as Matt expressed some interesting thoughts on the future and opportunities in the industry, especially when it comes to content and streaming, we caught that little soundbite and did a small write up, read more below: 

What do you think the future holds for the technology and consumer experience? 

I think AI and metadata will be the future. The idea of discoverability and personalization will become ever more a focus and will evolve very quickly, giving the chance for the consumption of content to feedback into the production of content, which is quite an interesting idea, and something people are going to have to find a balance around is creativity versus insights.  

5G is another future for consumer experience, this technology suddenly gives the consumer a whole different experience, especially with streaming and mobile use. These are the two technologies that will absolutely make a commercial difference. 

And where do you see the greatest opportunities in terms of the service? 

The ability to with confidence deliver content to a mass of people with the knowledge that they will absolutely love it and they’re appreciative that it ended up with them will be a big opportunity in the industry. But also, the different ways of partnering for distributions, the traditional lines of the ‘supply chain’ are being smashed, rebuilt and rerouted. And this change causes an initial lack of certainty on where your audience are on the supply chain, which is a big opportunity to innovate. 

And when it comes to the younger demographic, thoughts of short form video and gaming come to mind, do you think this has a role to play? 

Totally. And going back to metadata and AI, there are all sorts of businesses that are constantly producing new content, and that’s going to be having to be thought of very differently for those platforms, to be relevant, because we know the competition is there.  

But also, these extraordinary archives that many, many companies assessing how to we surface the data to be able to understand what value that could have? And what imagination can we apply to that to create something new out of it? So really there’s two kind of dynamics going on there. 

Every Wednesday we sit down with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.