NAB Perspectives: Harman’s Keith Watson on Big Moves in the Broadcast-Console Market

Keith Watson, marketing director, mixing professional division, at Harman, offers an upbeat assessment of not only the NAB Show but the entire broadcasting industry — and it isn’t even noon yet on the show’s opening day at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“In the last 12 months, we’re seen a nice resurgence in broadcast [sales],” he tells SVG. “Broadcast took a lot of pain early in the recession because of its big capital requirements” at a time when credit suddenly became tight three years ago. “But we’ve really seen the order book pick up in the last three months, and the indicators that we use — sales, trade-show traffic and sentiment, the media — are all pointing in the right direction.”

That sets the stage for Harman Console Division’s Studer brand to begin an assertive push into the U.S. market. Beginning in the second quarter, Watson tells SVG exclusively, Studer Vista and OnAir consoles will be installed aboard a truck that will travel to key broadcast markets in the U.S. to exhibit the console to potential broadcast buyers and to act as a traveling training and certification facility to begin to bring the U.S. A1 population — the majority of whom are freelancers — up to speed on the desks.

“It’s incumbent upon us to provide the training on the consoles to get the top sports and broadcast mixers familiar with the consoles,” says Watson, noting such features as the Vistonics TFT touchscreen interface that shows 10 channel strips, with rotary encoders and switches mounted directly onto the screen.

Studer will mount similar efforts in Europe, Latin America, and Asia later this year, part of a global marketing effort focused on the consoles and with a particular emphasis on sports-broadcast applications. Watson says that this is part of a larger strategic shift that took place in the past month, which saw new sales, marketing, and support hires brought on board at Studer. The brand will now also be sold factory-direct to buyers in the U.S. rather than through third-party distributors.

“We felt we needed to have a closer link to our customers, to bring them closer into the development process for Studer consoles,” Watson says. “It’s a lot going on in a very short time. It’s ambitious, but it’s also very exciting.”

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