IBC 2010: Harris Says TV Is Immortal but Change is the New Constant

Harris Corp. is so convinced that television is not dead that Harris Broadcast Communications President Harris Morris opened the company’s 2010 IBC press conference with a thrice-sung refrain: “Television is immortal,” he opined, three times in a row.

However, he cautioned, just because the old medium is here to stay does not mean that the old way of doing things will suffice forever.

“There is not a new platform that is going to let us rest on our laurels for a decade,” Morris explained. “We think change is the new constant and that change is going to continue to drive this industry. Innovation will create the new business models that we need to evolve and prosper.”

To that end, Harris is doing plenty of innovating at IBC 2010 in Amsterdam this week, exhibiting new products, expanding existing services, and innovating across broadcast product lines to address a market that is in constant change. One clear area of change is in server sizes and requirements. Higher data-rate codecs, additional camera feeds, more editing seats, and the overall volume of content have dramatically increased storage and bandwidth requirements on all types of productions.

To help address the changing market, Harris has launched NEXIO Farad. Part of the NEXIO video-server portfolio, NEXIO Farad online storage system delivers high levels of bandwidth and storage capacity to support demanding multiplatform media workflows.

“Our NEXIO servers have seen growth of more than 30% internationally,” said Richard Scott, SVP of global sales and services. “We are launching a number of enhancements for our NEXIO family, including Farad, a scalable storage system.”

Designed for customers who require more than 10,000 Mbps bandwidth and more than 58 TB of storage capacity, NEXIO Farad is designed for large-scale ingest, editing, and playout for production, sports, news, and live-event applications. A scalable architecture allows customers to manipulate bandwidth and capacity independently of each another, so that a customer can create the system design to fit specific needs.

Another critical area of change for Harris, which does business in 130 countries, is mobile DTV.

“Clearly, mobile is far more advanced in some other regions than in the U.S.,” said Morris. “In the U.S., what’s exciting with DTV is very cost-effective ways for individual local broadcasters to test the ATSC mobile standard. We’ve enabled that and been a heavy investor in it. There is a lot of promise in that, and a lot of lessons learned from around the world of what business models do work.”

A hot topic of constant change in the broadcast world is 3D production. At this point, Morris believes, Harris’s role is to enable cost-effective experimentation in the medium, because the bulk of broadcasters are still in the experimentation phase when it comes to 3D.

“The good news for us is that most of our gear is fairly optimized for 3D,” he said. “You can take today’s HD gear, test and trial 3D on it, and not be left with stranded cost or stranded gear. We’re trying to help with smart, cost-effective experimentation and then monitor what works. We also want to help capture the lessons learned. Production crews are still learning, but we’re trying to enable 3D as cost-effective experiments.”

The biggest arena for change is obviously the future, but Morris has an idea of what might be coming there as well.

“I think interactivity and device models are going to continue to evolve and we will see a much heavier presence of interactivity,” he said. “The challenge is that most of those examples are very high cost and subscale and very much in the experimental stages. We try to be enough at the edge to know what’s happening and then bring more cost-effective ways to realize that to our customer base.”

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