Vice President of BT M&B, Mark Wilson-Dunn spoke to Business Reporter magazine about the work BT Media & Broadcast does in today’s story-telling world. Read on to find out about us and discover some interesting facts you might not have known before.
TV has the power to inspire us. To tell us stories. To entertain. But it’s technology that makes this all possible, with the BT Tower in London providing the distribution power behind almost 100% of terrestrial digital TV networks across the UK, and is one of the most important TV hubs in the world.
Mark Wilson-Dunn says that “BT Media & Broadcast has been moving TV content around the world for over 60 years. We are responsible for moving anywhere between 10,000 – 16,000 hours of TV content a day and are one of the seven major switching centres for television around the world”.
Making it happen
BT M&B has formed strategic relationships with satellite companies around the world and has built a sophisticated broadcast fibre network using the latest broadcast and IT technology. Known for their history of ‘firsts’, in 2006 BT M&B launched the world’s first broadcast-quality digital network using Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS-IP), known as the BT Global Media Network.
Did you know?
– The BT Tower is a key international media gateway.
– ITV is run entirely from the BT Tower as well as the BBC World Service global distribution and Star Network
– The centre also carries about 100 Indian channels out of the country for distribution to Northern Europe, UK and America
– Sport’s business includes clients such as Sky, BBC, ITV and BT Sport.
Dealing with industry challenges
“The economics of the industry have changed” says Mark. “ If you look back over the past 10-15 years, most companies would get their money through advertising. About 10 years ago that started to change very quickly as advertisers were trying out Facebook, YouTube and so on. Advertisers started to dictate terms very quickly”.
TV production companies also struggle with the costs of making great content yet being less able to recover this expense through traditional means, such as advertising revenue. They’re also dealing with changes in consumer demand, with a trend growing towards online viewing. To address this, Mark says: “Our conversation with them is, ‘what do they want to do with their business going forward?’ How much of it will go online and on demand in the future? How much will stay in what we call linear TV?”.
“Hollywood is starting to produce content for small screens, commissioning soap operas which run in 10 minute segments rather than half-hour segments because that is more likely to be engaging on the screen. Sports is also very transferable to the small screen – you will see much more of that”.
BT M&B are adapting its services to meet these challenges. “We’re getting much more into online over-the-top video and we’re looking at our networks to make them more flexible and cost-effective, so clients can prepare for the next generation of TV services.”
Over the next few years, Mark expects to see software-defined networking becoming more popular as clients will have much more control of the network dynamics with no compromise to security.
It’s this technology that enables the stories to come to our screens. By making sure technology remains high quality, people can continue to be connected to what’s on those screens.
Mark concluded his interview, saying “I really believe that content is still king in whatever format that may be. The story has to be compelling, the screen experience engaging and immersive, the sound quality enhancing. Most of all, in the 21st century it has to be available when the consumer wants it, and the quality of the delivery must be excellent. That’s where we come in”.