Grass Valley’s Tim Shoulders Says Business Is Back; Company Rebrands, Focuses on Live Production
Remote working, cloud-based applications are increasingly important
Grass Valley today officially took the wraps off a new look as well as a new focus under the banner “We Love Live.” The goal, according to Grass Valley CEO/President Tim Shoulders, is to keep the Grass Valley name and build the business on six key pillars: the GV Media Universe and its cloud-based Agile Media Processing Platform (AMPP) tools, technical excellence, trust, flexibility, insight, and drive.
“Live is important and part of our identity for more than 60 years,” he says. “Our innovations power premium live content for 90% of the world’s major media brands, and our industry experience and deep knowledge of how to deliver premium live content mean we are a trusted and valued partner. We make our customers’ jobs easier and enable them to focus on the content that is core to their business today.”
Grass Valley just wrapped up a commercially productive third quarter, and Shoulders believes the fourth quarter will be great as well: “We’re seeing a marked improvement in project activity, putting it more in line with pre-pandemic levels. And we closed two large enterprise deals this quarter with a combined long-term value of $30 million. We’re feeling pretty good about where the business is headed.”
Grass Valley R&D has focused on the shift to IP, UHD, and HDR and on remote working with more and more cloud-based applications, in particular its expanding AMPP lineup.
“Our AMPP solutions provide end-to-end production workflows with a set of cloud-based features and performance that is familiar to broadcast-equipment operators,” he says. “While we expand beyond traditional constraints associated with on-prem solutions the efficiency of the GV AMPP platform allows us to quickly develop applications in areas where we might not have been a large market-share player.”
The AMPP efforts are virtualizing a wide range of production functions that previously required hardware, and there is a special focus on re-creating a studio-control room in the cloud.
“We have a substantial amount of that functionality on AMPP today, and a few customers are using AMPP for that purpose [in the cloud],” says Shoulders. “One of the workflows that has been particularly exciting is a multiviewer product for AMPP that we call flow monitors. And we’ve had customers use these flow monitors to do everything from providing executives with a window into the production of major events to allow the producer to remotely operate some of the other functions.”
Grass Valley has seen customers embrace the cloud either as part of a way to transform their complete operations or to spin up just a portion of their facilities.
He. notes that “there’s a third approach as well that we haven’t explored yet, which is providing prepackaged AMPP solutions that are priced very simply as a pay-per-use or subscription through an e-commerce program.”
But, he adds, hardware is still a big part of the Grass Valley offering, such as those introduced in August: the LDX150 camera that records UHD at 3X standard frame rate with global shutter; the GV K-Frame XP production switcher with 192×96 I/Os in IP, SDI or both, and the LiveTouch 2000 replay server.
“LiveTouch 2000,” Shoulders explains, “is a new replay platform that will allow customers to save space and improve resource sharing with an ultra-high-density video server that offers up to 12 UHD or 24 3G or HD channels in a 3RU space.”
In the face of the global supply-chain crisis and its impact on Grass Valley, he notes, the company remains aggressive in procuring inventory to protect equipment stocks: “We see the business evolving and becoming less dependent on proprietary hardware as our cloud solutions grow, but we will continue to actively manage through the current supply- shortage situation to give our customers the best possible experience. Importantly, we’ve been actively building the GV media-universe cloud ecosystem so that we can serve customers in new ways using common cloud-service providers that eliminate a lot of the complexity from on-prem solutions.”
Shoulders also announced a $25 million, multiyear contract with consultant, systems architect, and media-technology provider Qvest. Under it, the two companies will combine their complementary strengths and market offerings to meet the demands of today’s dynamic media industry. The deal brings technological, operational, and financial benefits to Qvest for standardizing on Grass Valley’s advanced production solutions.
The agreement marks formation of a global and long-term strategic partnership building on the parties’ proven experience, strong customer relationships, and extensive market references as trusted advisers to the media and entertainment industry.
GV and Qvest have a similar view of how the market is migrating to digital solutions, whether IP or in the cloud, according to Shoulders.
“We’re intent on collaborating to make sure we can help our customers through these major transformations,” he says. “Their operations allow them to create a lot of economic benefits to adapt their businesses to an environment where every piece of content is going to a narrower and narrower audience.”
As demand for niche content grows and audiences become smaller, production costs need to come down. Shoulders says the beauty of the Grass Valley portfolio is that it is wide and also has volume-based economic incentives.
“We are positioning Grass Valley as a trailblazer,” he explains. “We set the agenda for the production and delivery of premium live content; we are leading, not following. We are capturing the imagination of media giants and other rightsholders, looking for agility, maximum efficiency, and the ability to develop new forms of premium live content.”