In the second part of our news roundup, covering July to December, IBC365 looks at how the industry came out of Covid lockdowns, some of the key diversity initiatives and the first ever IBC Showcase
James Rushton was named acting CEO at sports OTT service DAZN. Former chief revenue officer Rushton replaced Simon Denyer, who joined DAZN-parent Access Industries.
He wasn’t the only senior appointment, as former Comcast SVP Matt McConnell was named as the new chief executive at Mediakind.
Black Dragon Capital closed its acquisition of Grass Valley, bringing an end to the company’s stint as a Belden Subsidiary. The transaction, announced earlier this year, sees Grass valley come under the control of former Avid CEO Louis Hernandez (pictured above, left, with Grass Valley CEO Tim Shoulders), who has outlined aims to accelerate the business into a cloud-based technology leader.
- Read more 2020 in review: January to June
Banijay also closed its £1.7 billion takeover of Endemol Shine, making the French firm one of the largest content producers and distributors in the world.
Haivision also made an acquisition, snapping up peer-to-peer and WebRTC-enabled real-time video delivery platform Teltoo.
Sports broadcasters, including the likes of BT Sport, Sky Sports and the BBC, formed a new sustainability initiative under Bafta’s Albert programme. The group said it aims group to explore and act upon the impact sports broadcasting has on the environment.
The focus on diversity initiatives in the wake of the George Floyd protests continued, with ITV announcing a new diversity acceleration plan aimed at improving diversity within 12 months. Meanwhile, ViacomCBS Networks introduced a “no diversity, no commission” content policy applicable to production suppliers working for all ViacomCBS Networks UK brands, including Channel 5, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount Network.
But despite the core initiatives, RTS Diversity Chair Angela Ferreira warned that Covid-19 could damage efforts to make the TV industry more inclusive. Speaking exclusively to the new IBC365 Podcast (which also launched in July) Ferraira said cuts to budgets in the wake of the pandemic could have negative consequences for diversity plans.
IBC revealed its alternative to the live show in Amsterdam, taking wraps off IBC Showcase. The Showcase, which was announced to run in September, would be a virtual event offering three core components: an Exhibitor Showcase, a Sponsored Programme of presentations and discussions and comprehensive coverage of product launches via the online IBC Daily News site.
In technology news, Sky revealed an all new overhaul of its Sky Q platform, including new HDR content, a new UI, and a boost to voice discovery tools. Netflix also launched a new cloud-based platform designed to help out VFX suppliers, artists and creators collaborating on visual effects for its titles.
The year of the OTT continued as NBCUniversal launched its new streaming service Peacock in the US, with over 20,000 hours of live content made available on the platform at launch.
President Donald Trump began to threaten Chinese-owned social streaming platform TikTok, saying the US would ban the platform unless it was bought by an American company. This led to a flurry of talks, with Microsoft and Oracle both linked to a takeover.
More figures revealing the impact of the coronavirus lockdown were revealed, with a report from UK regulator Ofcom finding that Brits spent an average of six hours a day watching audio-visual content in April – up by more than 90 minutes on the previous year. The boost was seen across linear and OTT platforms. The report came as studios welcomed back live audiences for productions for the first time since the lockdown.
Covid had some negative consequences, notably causing Comcast to rethink its plans to launch a global news service aiming to compete with CNN and the BBC World. Comcast had announced plans for NBC Sky World News in January and had even hired several journalists, but it dropped its plans due to the impact of Covid.
But in more positive industry news, reports emerged suggesting that Fox News Media planned to launch a new global OTT platform offering content from its Fox News and Fox Business channels to international audiences.
In further OTT news, Google announced plans to build a new one-stop aggregation tool for streaming services. Called “Kaleidoscope,” the feature would allow users to watch streaming video from different services in one place.
The industry lost a titan as it was revealed ViacomCBS founder Sumner Redstone had died aged 97. Redstone was responsible for launching Viacom, while bringing together Paramount and CBS during his time in charge of the company.
The industry continued to push for better working conditions for freelancers who have been hit hard by the pandemic. All the public service broadcasters including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV, as well as Sky and UKTV, committed to taking part in the quarterly discussions as part of a coalition for change. Arts and entertainment union Bectu and producers’ trade association Pact will also be at the meetings which have been pulled together by Adeel Amini from the TV Mindset, an organisation which aims to support the mental health of TV freelancers.
The Edinburgh TV Festival went virtual, with historian and broadcaster David Olusoga delivering a powerful MacTaggart lecture. Speaking from Bristol City Hall, Olusoga warned the TV industry to share power with a marginalised Black, Asian, and minority ethnic community or risk losing the entire next generation of viewers, and face obscurity.
September was the month of the IBC Showcase – a one-stop-shop for innovation and a place where industry ideas were unveiled and discussed.
With Showcase came a number of industry launches – check out IBC365’s roundup here. Beyond this, IBC hosted several key session looking at different areas of the industry. FIFA told broadcasters to “treat pirates like competitors” in one keynote on piracy.
Some of the world’s biggest movie studios called for tighter interoperability standards across the industry, acknowledging that Covid had accelerated cloud adoption quicker than new standards could be introduced.
In a world first, IBC’s Accelerator programme, along with ten world-leading broadcasters, took part in a 5G remote production proof of concept linking locations in Amsterdam and the UK with 5G powered cameras.
Overall, the week-long Showcase attracted over 20,000 visitors with IBC announcing plans to extend the virtual event into October and beyond.
Beyond IBC2020, the BBC revealed CTO Matthew Postgate had resigned from his role with the broadcaster. His resignation came as Tim Davie took up the reins as the new director general of the BBC, replacing Tony Hall. In his first interview, Davie said the BBC would not win by trying to compete with global OTT providers such as Netflix on their terms.
Sony agreed a deal to buy virtualised production specialist Nevion with the aim of enhancing its end-to-end IP and Cloud-based production solutions for broadcasting and other applications.
Technicolor, which had been facing financial challenges throughout 2020, finally completed its debt restructuring, closing its Chapter 15 proceedings in the US.
London Film Festival took place in October, with the usual in-person event moving to a virtual format, including a number of virtual and augmented reality elements.
BT Sport took wraps off its new Match Day Experience, aimed at improving interactivity for users of the BT Sport app. IBC365 spoke to BT Sport and its vendor partners about how the British firm is innovating in this area.
ITV revealed plans for a major restructure of its operations to focus on streaming, with the aim of making the British broadcaster “future proof”. ITV announced plans to create a new Media and Entertainment division – which will sit alongside ITV Studios. This division would be split into Broadcast and On-Demand arms.
Speaking of restructures, Disney announced a major overhaul of its organisation to focus its creative efforts on direct-to-consumer. Bob Chapek, who became Disney’s CEO in the year, named Kareem Daniel, who had been president of consumer products, games and publishing at Disney, as head of the company’s new media and entertainment distribution group.
OTT service Quibi – which was launched earlier in the year to much fanfare – pulled the plug, despite receiving more than $1.75 billion in investments. The likes of ITV and BBC Studios joined Disney, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Viacom, Sony Pictures Entertainment, MGM and Lionsgate in the venture, with the company’s major execs blaming “timing” as a major challenge.
During 2020, cinema chains lurched from crisis to crisis, with lockdowns forcing chains to close. This led to studios releasing content on their own platforms, or bumping major film releases to later dates, with WarnerMedia announcing plans to push back its entire slate in October.
Discovery was revealed as the lead investor in news channel GB News, which will count former BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil as its chairman.
The new 24-hour channel is described as a right-leaning channel which will aim to take on the likes of BBC, ITN and Sky News.
France Télévisions CEO Delphine Ernotte Cunci has been elected as the new president of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). She will takeover from outgoing president Tony Hall on 1st January and will serve a two-year period.
The EBU, IRT and BBC R&D team joined forces to launch the EAR Production Suite, a set of open-source software tools for producing next-generation audio (NGA) content using open standards.
The US election took centre stage for a number of broadcasters, with Donald Trump facing off against Democrat Joe Biden in the race for the White House. Several US broadcasters showed off new technology for the Presidential race, but the unique challenges of Covid-19 also meant several news outlets implemented social distancing as part of their coverage.
Paul Segre was named as the new CEO of Synamedia, replacing Yves Padrines who left the company. Segre joined from Genesys where he spent 18 years, latterly as CEO and then Chairman.
Sports broadcaster DAZN launched its first linear channels in Germany as part of a major partnership with Vodafone. The agreement also demonstrated a potentially lucrative new reseller model for DAZN, which had faced a difficult year due to the cancellation of live sport.
Spain’s RTVE unveiled plans to launch a new OTT service in 2021. The company’s content director Fernando Lopez Puig told Spanish newspaper ABC, that the broadcaster is working on RTVE Play, which he described as a “new and different platform.
Eleven Sports bought streaming platform MyCujoo as part of a push into new OTT verticals and markets.
60 companies came together to form a new Entertainment Globalization Association (EGA). The official announcement defined ‘globalisation’ as dubbing, subtitling, and audio description services which allow content to be consumed in languages other than the original version. The EGA is made up of ten founding companies: Audiomaster Candiani, Deluxe, Hiventy, Iyuno Media Group, Keywords Studios, Plint, SDI Media, Visual Data Media Services, VSI, ZOO Digital. The additional 50 companies represent “high calibre service providers from all around the world
VFX house Framestore almost doubled in size with the acquisition of US-based creative services group Company 3 and Method. C3M which includes VFX shops Method Studios, Encore and EFILM, has 3,500 ‘artists, experts, engineers and innovators’ on its books, now added to Framestore’s 2,500 employees.
Mediapro launched legal proceedings against Canal Plus, accusing the French broadcaster of “abuse of its dominant position” in the on-going fight over rights to French football as well as “abusive and unfair practises”.
LiveU and Grass Valley announced a new partnership on a pre-integrated Cloud-based solution for remote live productions. According to the two companies the new solution enables customers to simplify their processes and automate live and non-live news and sports productions in an “efficient, agile and customisable workflow”.
Discovery revealed its new streaming service will launch globally on 4 January 2021 in 25 new markets. Having already launched in the UK and Ireland, Discovery Plus will debut in several key areas including the Nordics, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
WarnerMedia’s big OTT venture HBO Max also revealed new launch details for Europe. The service, which launched in the US in 2020, will come to Europe in the second half of 2021, with the company aiming to launch HBO Max in 190 countries – though no timeframe was given for the latter number.
The EBU unveiled its new board, with BBC’s Fran Unsworth, Rai president Marcello Foa, and Thomas Bellut, director general, ZDF all joining the executive board. The Board is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the EBU’s strategy and policies, and now features three women for the first time.
YouTube announced HDR support for live streamers, utilising HLS output with HEVC hardware encoders. By “bringing HDR to live streams, we’re unlocking the most spectacular image quality for live content yet,” YouTube said.
And a study from the Sir Lenny Henry Institute revealed serious problems with diversity in niche roles within the industry, such as audio post production.
- Read more 2020 in review: January to June (part one)