Red Bee Media and the Network Effect: Steve Russell on SRT

Red Bee Media is one of the largest providers of managed media services in the world. They provide live and file-based services including playout, media management, managed OTT, Master Control Room (MCR) and distribution services to the largest global media brands, including the likes of the BBC, CANAL+ and FOX.

Today, the company operates completely independently as a fully-owned subsidiary of Ericsson. According to Steve Russell, who heads up media management and OTT services, this arrangement provides the company with control over go-to-market, innovation and internal operational processes.

“Over the past three to four years, we’ve made a clear shift towards a cloud and hybrid cloud-based offering, establishing a set of standardized multi-tenant platforms upon which our services are delivered.”

Steve told me he envisions Red Bee tapping into the network effects first described by Robert Metcalfe in reference to computing devices and later by George Gilder in 1993 in reference to the internet and social networking in general. Metcalfe’s law states that the power of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected nodes, or users. In Steve’s view, every new customer, media source, connected venue, service layer or destination platform adds value to the network and can leverage that value from the network. And this principal applies to Red Bee’s live and file-based offerings. 

“As a major playout provider, we already have all these points of origin and points of distribution, and we’re managing a huge number of signals. So, with that capacity, in combination with a number of regional hubs, Red Bee Media is adding value in the middle of this connected chain by establishing creative services outside of the pure technical workflows. In other words, we do provide a robust set of technical and automated services, including transcoding, standards conversion, storage, etc., but we also provide added value in human services like content localization, live switching, and post-production.”

The company has offices and hubs in 11 countries, with regional hubs operating 24/7. In an ideal example case, Steve sees these services as being able to dramatically lower the cost of live production, a nascent service the company refers to as ultra-efficient remote production.

“In many cases, what we’re seeing is that there may be an event, perhaps it’s a music festival, a film festival, a sports competition, where you may have many different venues and activities happening simultaneously. The producers might have 10, 15, 20 HD feeds they need to pull out of those locations and be able to send those to a centralized facility for further production, processing and ultimately delivery via streaming OTT services into consumer end-user devices. So that’s where SRT really makes a ton of sense. We love SRT in that case, it’s just a better value proposition for how to implement those workflows.”

In the case of sporting events, Steve also noted how SRT was playing a critical first link in the chain that enables Red Bee Media to deliver time-sensitive feeds in a low latency workflow.

“SRT is just a key part of that workflow, and it’s allowed us to achieve latency on the order of only 3 to 4 seconds from camera to end-user device. That’s faster than most television broadcasts in fact, and it’s an impressive achievement.”

Don’t miss Red Bee Media at IBC 2019 – you’ll find them at Stand 14.D26. Not only will they showcase SRT but also they provide content enrichment services such as live automatic captioning, speech-to-text and audio descriptions, as well as a global content discovery and metadata offering.

Would you like to learn more about SRT while you’re at IBC? Join us at the SRT Open Source Technical panel on September 15th in Amsterdam. This free session is designed for current and future SRT developers and will outline the applications and workflows that SRT solves, the technical roadmap, and implementation stories.

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