Ascent Media Makes a Case for Out-Sourced Services
By Debra Kaufman
The economic hard times that have hit broadcasters hard have had an upside to the companies providing systems and services. As engineering staff has been heavily slashed, broadcasters are relying more frequently on out-sourced engineering, systems integration, and other services. Ascent Media is one of those companies, and industry veteran Tom Canavan, Ascent Media SVP, professional services, has a big-picture view of the current situation.
“Broadcast is undergoing the most dramatic change of its history,” he says. “Our job is to facilitate broadcasters, networks, cable companies, government entities and telcos in the delivery of their content.” That content owners now have to deliver to multiple platforms is, says Canavan, “old news.” “The news now is how do I do that, how do I survive and do it in the most cost-effective way? That’s what we see the challenges of our customers are, and it’s up to us to help them figure it out.”
Canavan talks about the trend of out-sourced or consolidated services. “A major network is looking at out-sourcing its O&O-station content delivery,” he says. “There are station groups already consolidating their news operation into one national news operation. There are station groups and networks consolidating their graphics into one location.” Ascent Media provides out-sourced content origination for numerous networks, including Discovery Channel in Asia and Europe. “We provide complete master-control operations, library services, digital-content-management services,” he says. “We’re able to leverage our scale to bring their costs down. We support their existing engineering teams to help them get their jobs done.”
The economy has also hit Ascent Media; cuts in capital budgets have had an impact on the company’s systems-integration business. But Canavan is bullish about the future. “The demand is going to build up, just as it has in any other recession,” he says. “Customers still need to launch new channels, services, and platforms. The world is too competitive for them to stand still.”