Television is a hyper-competitive industry, with an ever-increasing number of channels fighting it out to attract viewers across a variety of multimedia platforms. Not only that, on-demand viewing via PC, tablet and mobile means that increasingly TV is also becoming a globally competitive industry.
As a result, television companies must ensure that they have the technology in place to cater for viewer demands. That’s something that UKTV, which broadcasts 11 satellite television channels, including Dave, Watch and Gold, has attempted with a wholesale rebuild of its infrastructure.
The project was led by Ben Hine, director of operations, technology and innovation at UKTV, who described his position as covering “a pretty wide remit, including desktop technology, digital delivery and operations”.
Revamping UKTV’s IT infrastructure, Hine told Computing, was driven by the need to support the channel’s audience growth.
“We’re growing strongly, with a nine per cent growth in the market this year. We’re increasing year-on-year in a market that’s kind-of going backwards,” he says. As a result, he adds, the previous infrastructure set-up was struggling to meet UKTV’s demands.
“Video-on-demand and broadcasting in general are just moving so quickly that our old supplier wasn’t able to give us a solution enabling us to keep pace,” Hine says, describing it as “more of a business hindrance at times” because “it was solid, but it didn’t change quickly. They didn’t understand what we wanted to do so didn’t add any value as a result. So we were beginning to get a bit trapped by it.”
The upgrade was therefore used as an opportunity to re-assess how UKTV staff approached their work, with Hine determined to make mobile technology central to the organisation.
“We wanted to ensure we had a flexible working environment and when we were looking at this we wanted to make everybody mobile. Because certainly for productivity in your organisation, it comes from all different places and your environment needs to be a major enabler of that,” he says.
“Every single person has now got a laptop, every single application is available inside or outside the building over wireless or wired connections. We’d been moving that way a little bit, but we just took everything and made it available in that way,” he adds.
The result, Hine tells Computing, is that all of the equipment used to monitor, edit and record video feeds – in addition to all of the regular office applications – have been replaced by software solutions, something he describes as “a first” for the television industry.
“You can now work like you’re in the office anywhere. You can watch the DVDs, you can take phone calls, you can watch and record TV, people can share clips with you, all frictionlessly,” he says.
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