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Signs of Collaboration

- April 21, 2015 - 3 Comments

The moment you step off your plane at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, you face a barrage of signs. That’s always been the case, but the old neon signs of the ‘50s and ‘60s are rapidly being replaced by giant LED displays announcing concerts, fine dining, magic acts and shopping malls. Everyone’s vying for your attention to tell you about the latest, greatest, biggest or best.

That approach continued last week in the massive Las Vegas Convention Center, a complex as large as 56 football fields.  At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, more than 1,700 companies (including Cisco) demonstrated their latest technology innovations. Every booth had someone imploring you to come see the latest digital camera, mobile production studio, lighting grid or satellite uplink.

Yet there was another strong message that came through to me during my visits to the show floor: partnership. As the traditional broadcast suppliers seek to move their products and services into the IP-enabled realm, you’re seeing more strategic alliances being formed to accomplish that end.

For example, over the past three years, Cisco’s Sports & Entertainment Solutions Group has been partnering with EVS, the digital video production leaders, to transform the way video is delivered to sports fans in stadiums and arenas around the world. The formula is quite simple: EVS captures massive amounts of game content on its video servers and Cisco has the wired and wireless networks in place to deliver the replays of touchdowns, goals and slam-dunks to every screen in the stadium.

Fans tell us in survey after survey that they want to see those game highlights on the big screen and on their smartphones … and they want to have access to different camera angles that aren’t seen by people watching the game at home. Cisco and EVS are delivering that to fans today.

In the EVS booth at NAB, we demonstrated the collaborative work between the two organizations. It really is a mutually beneficial relationship: Cisco is a relative newcomer to the connected stadium world and benefits from EVS’ 20-year track record as an innovator and pioneer in the industry. Conversely, EVS benefits from the global leadership that Cisco has built in networking and IP-based content delivery over its 30-year history in the IT world.

When I talked to EVS’ new CEO Muriel De Lathouwer she told me, “Starting our collaboration with Cisco three years ago was a really smart business decision. It unlocked many new perspectives for both organizations by enabling us to share and distribute live and recorded video content and data during events to much broader audiences. Working together, we’ve been creating new revenue opportunities for teams, leagues and stadiums around the world.”

You can read more about the Cisco-EVS collaborative solution for the sports world here.

Yet that isn’t the only place where Cisco partnering is visible. Just down the hall from EVS was Grass Valley.  In their booth was a joint demonstration with Cisco of broadcast’s new IP future for remote productions. New Grass Valley digital cameras in the Cisco booth were sending live video images through Cisco switches across a 10 GigE link to the Grass Valley’s live production booth. Over in the Cisco booth, show-goers were watching the action live from the Grass Valley booth.

Cisco’s Pradeep Kathail, chief software architect in the Cisco Software Group, said, “being able to demonstrate a remote IP workflow from the show floor validates that IP technology can be deployed for live production, and that interoperability between suppliers is growing significantly.” You can learn more about this remote production solution here.

In the Cisco booth, we were also showing a proof-of-concept IP router that can take the place of a traditional video switch. The product is so new that it doesn’t yet have a name or a part number. But, like the collaborative Grass Valley demonstration, it’s one more example of how the broadcast industry is moving away from protocols that use coaxial cables and old video-only standards and embracing the much larger existing infrastructure of the Internet.

EVS and Grass Valley are only two of the many companies in Cisco’s growing partner ecosystem in the broadcast world. Others with whom we are building strategic relationships include Adobe, Tektronix, Imagine Communications, Signiant, Interra Systems, Dataminer, Dolby Vision, AJA Video, T2 Computing and more.

The signs of these collaborative working relationships may not be massive, flashing video displays. But these subtle signs are sending very clear signals to the world of IP’s and Cisco’s and deep integration into the broadcast industry.

What do you think about where this is headed? Let me know in the comments section!

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3 Comments

  1. Great post Steve, thanks. I'm in the middle of helping put that broadcaster eco-system in place and there is nothing better than having the likes of GV, Imagine and EVS validate that Cisco is highly relevant in this space.

    • Awesome story, great collaboration and impactful GTM. Three years of alignment in action! Happy to be driving this partnership for Cisco. Many more to come! -Bryan

    Really detailed article, i liked it.