SPORTSTALK: Jeremy Wensinger, Harris Broadcast Communications Division
Jeremy Wensinger, Harris Broadcast Communications Division president, is not only busy working on the final integration of Leitch into Harris but also keeping on top of HD sports. His company over the years has continually supported the HD transition, whether sponsoring HD coverage of John Glenn’s return into orbit aboard the space shuttle or, this year, underwriting CBS HDTV coverage of NCAA men’s basketball. Wensigner recently spoke with SVG’s Ken Kerschbaumer about his company’s challenges and the sports market.
I guess I have to start with the obvious question. I can t help but notice that Harris is the sponsor of CBS HDTV NCAA men s basketball broadcasts. You don t seem to be a consumer brand that typically does that sort of sponsorship. So what s in it for Harris?
It s really part of our effort to promote the HDTV experience and it s a relationship we ve held near and dear to our hearts for a while. It s a big
privilege to sponsor March Madness and it isn t meant to be consumer advocacy as much as showing general support for the HDTV initiative. I mean, I don t think I can watch a sporting event any more unless it s in HD.
Harris made big headlines last year when it acquired Leitch. How is the integration going?
We re at about day 90 of our 100 day integration and we ve done some of the blocking and tackling things like making everybody a Harris employee and getting the financial systems in order.
What you ll see at NAB and beyond is that we can now get down to creating opportunities and having a tighter coupling between the server and the automation business. We believe we ll be able to create additional value for our customers and that the Harris H-Class [traffic, billing, and automation system] will enhance the Leitch [server] product.
Will H-Class be able to work as well with non-Leitch equipment?
We ll still be dealing with open standards because no one is buying systems based on proprietary standards. But what was the Leitch line will be integrated into the Harris technology baseline so the CTOs will be able to work together to draw up reference diagrams for integrated solutions.
So what will happen to the Leitch name?
We will co-brand for a while but eventually we ll do away with the Leitch name.
How important is the sports market for Harris?
Live-based content like sports is absolutely important to us. We ve been working on everything from outfitting the trucks with HD gear to transmission for mobile video and back-office systems as well.
The future will see two basic formats: file-based content and live-based content. File-based content is all about the viewer getting the content they want on the schedule they want.
And then there are live-based events and the ability to push that content to the consumer on the right device. Both are important to us but we ve been focusing on things like moving sports content to mobile video. We ve been working with the various mobile video trials around the globe and its things like live broadcast of sports that will help our customers monetize those technologies. We re designing our products to manage content regardless of the delivery mechanism.
Where does your H-Class platform fit into that effort?
H-Class is about a foundation for moving content, rights, and assets across any medium. It s a way to monetize content and the type of integration we offer now is like the one Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint have compared to what Lotus 123 and WordPerfect used to have.
For example, today the metadata associated with the former three programs allows for the content to be transported from one to the next. And HClass follows those principles, with the billing mechanism becoming a byproduct of the content.