It’s been an eventful first year for me leading our TVOB business. Our team has driven changes in our portfolio, aligned our strategy to our key customers’ needs and continuously pushed to remain at the forefront of innovation, in this ever-changing and increasingly demanding industry. We’ve been at the centre of some of the most memorable TV moments this year; Prince Harry settling down, Tony Bellew’s attempt to make history and Jose Mourinho’s battle to break his ”third season curse”.
In terms of the wider industry, the recent news that NEP acquired SIS Live only cemented what we already knew – competition in our industry has never been fiercer. But we believe that the best productions deserve the best networks. Our track record of reliability, partnerships across the industry and highest bandwidth next-generation infrastructure in the UK gives our customers exactly that. We’ve also seen exciting new products being developed; innovation around UHD encoders has been a significant thread throughout 2018.
As the market-leading UHD supplier in the UK, we continue to push the boundaries of possibilities, seeking to expand our portfolio and giving our customers more options from a variety of locations. We’ve made a significant investment in UHD HEVC codecs, so our customers can do more – wherever they might be. Working with some of the most demanding and well known broadcasters globally gave us the opportunity to test and implement this solution with great success – putting our customers in control, once again.
We had some important milestones during the year:
2018 Wimbledon Championships
The Championships in SW19 is the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world – 26 million of us in the UK tune in to watch every year. We worked with the BBC to broadcast every game from Centre Court in UHD to its online platforms, including BBC iPlayer, using the new UHD HEVC solution.
It was a significant moment. We’ve shown again that we’re more-than able to deliver one of the largest events in the UK sports calendar, using a new technology and doing it with one of the biggest sports broadcasters in the country.
In a (Premier) League of our own
It’s been another successful year working with the world’s biggest football league. We’ve delivered 42,000 hours of HD footage, 4,000 hours of UHD footage and 300 terabytes of data, all without a single outage during the 2017/18 season – and we aim to top that during this campaign.
The demand for the Premier League is growing and requirements become more challenging – we’ve constantly got to push our team and our capabilities to make sure we deliver exactly what’s needed. We’ll continue to uplift our networks to record-breaking bandwidths to deliver the Premier League across the world.
Helping English teams fight for European glory
Winning additional Champions League work for all UK clubs was something I’ve been very keen on, not only because the Champions League is my absolute favourite sporting competition, but more importantly it puts us back where we belong – among the elite of sports broadcasting. The 2017 Champions League final (which we delivered globally) had record-breaking viewing numbers with the help of digital platforms and this is the type of pressure and expectations we enjoy the most.
This year, delivering European games has been more complex, however this gave us the chance to showcase our fleet; we’re delivering the Champions League and Europa League in UHD and HD via our very own fibre infrastructure and satellite to increase resiliency.
The bigger picture
We’re already looking towards next year and our pursuit of more “world firsts” alongside industry partners.
When I’m asked what I am most excited about after Big Ben rings at midnight on the 31 December and our trucks once again help to broadcast London’s spectacular New Year’s fireworks, my answer is simple: achieving something that hasn’t yet been achieved.
I believe we’ll be at the heart of remote production next year. It’s the hot topic that the industry keeps discussing. Our network, our reputation and our reliability puts us in a great position to take customers on a journey that will reshape their workflows.
There’s also the emergence of 5G. And BT is already helping to shape what we can deliver to customers – pioneering 5G tests across the UK. We’ve recently witnessed the first ever video contribution over 5G - which was a big step for us. We’ll continue working with our colleagues across the business to bring this to our customers, giving them another delivery method.
It’s been a busy and successful year. We remain at the heart of broadcasting with grand plans for the future. Watch this space.