Gearhouse Broadcast’s Michael Harabin and Tim Lewis Reflect on First Anniversary of ProShow Acquisition

Combined company focuses on at-home production

Next week will mark the one-year anniversary of Gravity Media Group’s acquisition of ProShow Broadcast. Over the past year, ProShow has been integrated with Gearhouse Broadcast’s operations in the U.S., resulting in a fleet of 10 production units and a 32-person team based in Los Angeles and Charlotte, NC.

Both companies had already established themselves as leaders in the growing at-home–production industry, and Gearhouse USA will undertake more than 700 at-home events in the upcoming college sports season — 40% more than in the 2018-19 season.

Michael Harabin: “Our goal was for our customers to not notice any change to the services they receive from us, and that was achieved.”

SVG sat down with Gearhouse Broadcast USA President Michael Harabin and VP, Technology and Design, Tim Lewis, who founded ProShow Broadcast in 2012, to discuss how the first year under one roof has gone, what the impact has been on customers, how the at-home–production market continues to grow, and what the industry can expect from Gearhouse in year two.

Now that a year has passed since Gearhouse acquired ProShow, how has the integration of the two companies gone?
Our goal was for our customers to not notice any change to the services they receive from us, and that was achieved. That might sound modest, but ProShow operated at a very high standard for the provision of services in the field and administrative support that touches the customer, all of which was seamlessly maintained.

Tim Lewis: “ProShow’s customers are benefiting from the depth of equipment inventory now supporting our trucks, and there have been multiple upgrades to our existing fleet.”

TL: I’ve been asked that question frequently, and, if there is someone from client Remote Ops in the room, I defer to them for the answer. When the person who schedules you for hundreds of events a year says it’s been seamless, we know we’ve succeeded, and that’s exactly what we have heard across-the-board from our key clients. This is indicative of the strong support we received from the Gearhouse USA office and a testament to the dedication and work ethic of our legacy ProShow engineers, all of whom joined the new organization.

What are the primary benefits to ProShow’s customers as a result of this deal? To Gearhouse’s customers?
Gearhouse brought an array of benefits, especially in terms of engineering heft, hardware availability, and general scale. Gearhouse is a global company with offices in Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Qatar, and coast-to-coast here in the USA with offices in Charlotte and Los Angeles. ProShow’s clients now have direct access to a much more comprehensive set of resources worldwide and here in the USA, including our flagship 53-ft. 4K trailer Columbus, large-scale flypacks, and a growing rental inventory of specialty and high-demand items.

TL: ProShow’s customers are also benefiting from the depth of equipment inventory now supporting our trucks, and there have been multiple upgrades to our existing fleet that have added real value for our clients. Even more important, our pool of truck engineers instantly doubled, giving our customers access to more world-class engineering talent.

On the flipside, ProShow’s experience in handling very high volumes of events week after week has brought new logistics acumen and innovative workflows to the operations side of Gearhouse, which inevitably benefits its customers as well.

How is the explosion in at-home production changing live sports production? And how is Gearhouse positioned to serve this growing sector?
The growing popularity of at-home comes as no surprise to me personally as I’ve been deeply involved in its implementation from both the broadcaster and vendor side. Beyond reduced crew travel and significantly lower mobile-unit costs, there are so many more benefits that producers may not have even considered. But, as popular as it has become, it still remains a bit of a mystery to some, and that has potentially limited its adoption by broadcasters who truly need new solutions. I’d certainly encourage anyone who thinks this might be a fit for them to talk to those who have successfully deployed it, including ourselves. We are happy to share the knowledge we have gained in delivering over 1,850 at-home broadcasts to date.

TL: I can only add this: We will undertake over 700 at-home events in the coming college season alone, up 40% over this past season. With that kind of volume, not only have we mastered the medium, we’ve proven our scalability as well.

What can we expect from Gearhouse in the coming year, now that ProShow has been fully integrated into the overall company?
Part of our overall focus is on continued improvements in making the REMI workflow as efficient as possible and increasing the flexibility around this production model. I think we can expect some exciting developments. Gearhouse will be working on a new class of production vehicle, called Paradigm, which we think will be a game-changer for broadcasters and producers who are still looking for the right balance of production cost/quality. More on that later.

TL: A paradigm shift is defined as “a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” We are taking that definition as our directive as we design our next-generation mobile-production facility. The result will be a dexterous multimode truck that will give our clients unprecedented agility and value. The first of these will be rolling by the end of the year, and we look forward to sharing the details very soon (via SVG, of course!).

What are the major technology trends and/or requests you are seeing from your customers these days?
The developments around more-flexible and distributed production excite me very much. Also, I do think that supplemented AI productions for lower-tiered events are not that far off in the future. Basically, the requests we are now hearing line up with what we are best at: deliver modern technology and production values the client needs at a competitive price point.

TL: Our primary constituency are networks and producers who are under ever-increasing pressure to cut costs while trying to maintain the standards and ideals that deliver compelling content to their viewers. They got into the business to make great TV, not cheap TV, but now they are balancing the two. They are requesting anything we can deliver through technological innovation or otherwise that allows them to have the tools they need to create a product they can be proud of, at a cost that aligns with budget realities. Some find this trend disheartening, but we accept the new reality and are energized by the challenge and the opportunities that come with it.

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