IBC 2016

IBC 2016: Gearhouse Broadcast eyes U.S. market with supertruck, completes London Stock Exchange project

Gearhouse Broadcast is building a 4K supertruck that will be available for use throughout the U.S. as the company looks to expand its presence. Based in Los Angeles, the new mobile unit has been commissioned to add to Gearhouse’s mobile business in the region, which has experienced continued growth in recent years. It is being designed specifically for the U.S. broadcast market, giving customers further benefits from Gearhouse’s experience in providing the technical equipment, facilities, and services to capture the world’s most watched content.

Being built by Gearhouse Broadcast’s UK-based systems-integration team and specialist coach builder A Smith Great Bentley (ASGB), the new 4K truck will be available for 4K and HD productions in early 2017. It will feature 16 Sony HDC-4300 4K/HD cameras with six additional inputs for RF cameras and can deal with another 10 remote inputs.

John Newton of Gearhouse Broadcast

John Newton of Gearhouse Broadcast

The truck has a main control room and an ancillary control room for second language or webcast subswitch. The monitor wall will consist of 24 Boland 4K monitors driven either as quad splits or single-input 4K monitors from the main router, giving total flexibility in HD or 4K. It will be the first truck in the U.S. with an entirely 4K monitor wall.

The video switcher will be a Grass Valley Karrera K-Frame S-series 4M/E switcher, and there are four 12-channel EVS XT3 ChannelMAX live-production servers. The router is an Imagine Communications Platinum IP3 28RU supported by a Lawo VSM control and monitoring platform. The audio mixer is a Calrec Artemis 56-fader, and communications is through the new RTS ADAM modular matrix intercom.

“This new 4K supertruck will be designed, built, integrated, and finished to the highest standards, specifically for the U.S. live-production market, of which we have an excellent understanding,” says Marc Genin, managing director, Gearhouse Broadcast USA. “The flexible layout means that it can be used for both sports and entertainment, and the integrated wireless capability is a real bonus.”

Gearhouse Broadcast COO Kevin Moorhouse says, “We have a blueprint for successfully delivering and operating a native 4K OB supertruck with our HD8 truck in Australia, [which] has been phenomenally successful in the 18 months since its launch. The time is now right to introduce a similar spec vehicle into the North American market, where demand for our industry-leading services is increasing at an impressive rate.”

Gravity Media Gets Financial Lift
In other Gearhouse news, Gravity Media Group (GMG), owner of worldwide broadcast-services specialists Gearhouse Broadcast and Hyperactive Broadcast, has secured a substantial investment to fund future global growth by selling a minority stake in its business to investment-management firm TowerBrook Capital Partners.

The deal follows an extensive global search by GMG and its advisor, Deloitte, to find a suitable partner to fund aggressive expansion of GMG’s global business, with a particular focus on the U.S. in the short term. Under the terms of the deal, GMG founder/CEO John Newton and his management team will remain in position and retain majority control of the Group. They will be supported by two additional non-executive directors, TowerBrook’s Gordon Holmes and former Madison Square Garden President/CEO Dave Checketts. The latter has extensive experience operating U.S. sports franchises and award-winning TV networks MSG Network, Fox Sports Network, and CSTV.

Formed in 2000 following a management buyout by Newton and his leadership team, GMG has grown rapidly into a truly global business. It provides the technical equipment, facilities, and services to capture the world’s most watched live content — from iconic sports events, such as Euro 2016 and Formula 1, to hugely popular live entertainment programs, such as The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!. Through its six subsidiary businesses, GMG employs around 220 people across its UK headquarters and offices in Australia, U.S., France, and UAE.

“The investment by TowerBrook Capital Partners will enable Gravity Media Group to grow and innovate to realize our ambition of becoming the global leader in supplying equipment, services, and consultancy for the live-broadcast sector,” says Newton. “It brings industry and operational experience, as well as capital, and has a strong track record for being a patient and added-value investor.

“As far as our customers and employees are concerned,” he continues, “nothing changes — other than we will be able to support more customers and events in more locations around the world. The management team remains the same, and we’ll still focus on staying true to our core values of quality, reliability, technical innovation, and outstanding service.”

TowerBrook brings impressive pedigree in adding value to its investments. It does this by optimizing the performance of a portfolio company through a combination of rigorous analysis and effective partnering with experienced, talented managers. With a fund value of $8 billion, it currently owns stakes in the NHL’s St. Louis Blues and InfoPro, the leading business-to-business information-services provider in France.

The search for an investment partner was managed by Deloitte’s lead advisory team in Sydney but also drew on the professional-services firm’s worldwide network. It was led by Technology and Media Partner Damien Tampling.

Commenting on the announcement, Tampling says, “GMG has done incredibly well to grow to its current size and global footprint with absolutely no external capital. As one of the more diversified players in the global outside-broadcast space, its tie-up with TowerBrook will put it in a great place to disrupt the market as the broadcast industry goes through some exciting changes. There was serious engagement from several trade and private-equity suitors. But the fit with TowerBrook most strongly aligned to the ambitions of the shareholders and management team to take the business to the next level.”

Deloitte also carried out the vendor due diligence and significant advisory work in London and Sydney. The sale was overseen in London by GMG’s principal legal advisor, Dentons.

And a last bit of news: Gearhouse Broadcast has completed the HD upgrade of the studio complex at the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The systems-integration project covered design, supply, installation, test, and commissioning of all the broadcast equipment and interconnections required to upgrade the studios to a fully HD production facility. It marks the first UK installation of a Ross Ultrix routing system, which has been combined with a Ross Carbonite production switcher. Completed on time and within budget, the upgrade process was carefully managed to minimize the impact on day-to-day operations at LSE.

Located in the heart of the City of London, the broadcast facilities house four studios, all available to hire. They are used primarily for reporting of live financial and business news for television and radio, production of video content, and media training.

Studio 1 can accommodate up to five people and comes with a wraparound video wall, LED color-changing set, and four Sony HD cameras, mounted on pedestals. Studio 2 is a chroma-key green studio with a remote-operated HD camera, suited for down-the-line interviews with broadcasters. Studio 3 offers a live view of London’s Paternoster Square, which can be captured through a remote-operated HD camera. Studio 4 is a flexible space suitable for prerecording content. The facility has direct incoming and outgoing fiber lines to BT Tower for enhanced connectivity.

Says David Phillips, business development director, systems integration, Gearhouse Broadcast, “The SI business is changing, so vendors need to be more flexible in their approach to projects, both operationally and commercially. The scale of our business meant we were able to provide temporary solutions to LSE during the installation process to keep them on-air. It also enabled us to be able to deal with any potential delays from third-party equipment suppliers by temporarily bringing in stock from our own inventory if necessary.”


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