IBC 2010: Miranda Acquires OmniBus Systems

Miranda’s portfolio of playout and monitoring systems got considerably thicker this week. The company completed acquisition of OmniBus Systems, a provider of IT-based media-management and -delivery solutions. OmniBus is best-known for iTX, a television-production and -transmission product that streamlines ingest, media management, workflow organization, automation, and master control, among other elements.

During a press conference at IBC 2010, Miranda CTO Michel Proulx discussed how the iTX product was developed and where his company aims to take it in the future. “Our clients face a growing challenge,” he said. “Broadcasters can see playout going to a model where they’ll be playing 40 channels out of the same footprint, and they’re trying to get economies of scale. They’re aiming for an operating cost of $60,000 per channel, but that figure requires some new equipment and operational rules. You cannot sustain this operation with the kind of playout models that exist today.”

OmniBus, Proulx explained, understood this dilemma several years ago and pioneered a solution that would ride the operational expense curve downward. That solution was iTX, which enables broadcasters to put a multivendor, capital- and space-intensive system into a 1RU-per-channel box that can scale across multiple applications. DirecTV and Turner Sports are using the system for multichannel applications, for NFL Sunday Ticket and NBA League Pass, respectively.

“These are very low-revenue channels that have to run by themselves, yet they are live events, and there are a lot of them,” Proulx pointed out. “OmniBus created a solution where all of the commercials are cued up, so the operator just has to press go, and the rest takes care of itself. When the game comes back from commercial, the operator presses stop, and everything else is automated.”

For Turner Sports’ Techwood Facility in Atlanta, home to the NBA League Pass, OmniBus built a small room alongside the main control room to handle up to 15 simultaneous basketball games on 15 separate channels.

“When you go in there, you see this very compact room that looks like an IT workspace, and right next door is a big, traditional sports-production room,” said OmniBus CEO Mike Holden. “We can turn around and produce more games in the smaller room than in the larger room, which was built at 20 times the cost.”

When working properly, iTX shrinks 10RU worth of equipment into just 1RU, creating all types of new efficiencies.

“But this level of operational efficiency requires extreme measures,” Proulx added. “By simplifying the system, we’re going to lower the cost without impacting the quality. The best way to simplify is to integrate.”

Miranda will integrate iTX into two important parts of its offerings: graphics and monitoring. A new frontier for operational-expense reduction is in promotion and scheduling, which have not yet been automated and present significant opportunities for Miranda. The most important part of the new partnership, however, is the synergy between the two product families.

“Together, we become a vendor supporting both traditional and IT-based solutions,” Proulx said. “We support both hardware-based and IT-based solutions, and, essentially, we will carry people across this threshold.”

Miranda acquired OmniBus for a total purchase price of $48.7 million (Canadian). The cash purchase will be financed equally between cash on hand and an existing credit facility. Going forward, Miranda will maintain its brand name, but OmniBus and iTX will remain as product brands.

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