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Harris snaps up Imagine; aims for MSO market

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:59pm
Brian Santo

Harris Broadcast has purchased Imagine Communications, picking up Imagine’s transcoding and video processing products, as well as a potential entry into the cable and IPTV video distributors, markets that will be largely new to Harris.

Harris Broadcast CEO Charlie Vogt said cable and IPTV represent a $300 million market opportunity for Harris.

Harris declined to say what it paid for Imagine, nor did it reveal the acquired company’s revenues, which Vogt characterized as satisfactory. The deal is likely to close by the beginning of January.

The Imagine Communications acquisition strengthens Harris Broadcast’s end-to-end solutions portfolio, particularly enhancing its OTT, mobile video and multi-screen TV Everywhere capabilities, while furthering interoperability of technology and systems from both the linear and non-linear TV viewing worlds, Harris said.

Vogt spoke highly of Imagine’s adaptive bit-rate (ABR) technology and its dense transcoder, called “Next”, which he said is concluding trials with several MSOs.

The Next Dense Transcoder can deliver any resolution up to 1080p60, the company said, and support up to 320 HD or 640 SD multiscreen profiles per server. It consumes less than 2 watts per stream and has 100 percent system redundancy. With the next: v1.1 SW upgrade, service providers can now deploy a single 2U server that not only transcodes, packages  and encrypts hundreds of multiscreen services, but also stores those programs for 7 days of Catch-Up TV and also acts as an origin server.

The transcode is essentially a software-based approach, though implemented in a custom chipset, and running in what Harris characterized as a virtualized blade server environment.

Harris has its own transcoder, called Selenio. It is a hardware-based implementation, which Harris has been selling largely to broadcast and programming customers.

Vogt noted that Harris Broadcast’s long-term vision for product development is focused on software and commercial-off-the-shelf hardware, and Imagine’s approach fits that model. He said Imagine’s chipset has price/power/performance advantages, and that Harris intends to incorporate Imagine technology in its own product line, with the resulting products to be called Selenio Next.

Neither Harris nor Imagine is currently deeply involved in cloud-based ABR video delivery, but Vogt said Harris is “definitely looking at that.”

Imagine solutions serve digital broadcast markets as well as emerging applications such as TV Everywhere, network DVR (nDVR), Internet/mobile video and IPTV. The longstanding broadcast paradigm of scheduled viewing (linear) at fixed locations has now expanded to on-demand, interactive, personalized and mobile video (non-linear). Imagine’s unique combination of next-generation video processing, Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) transcoding and statistical multiplexing technology provides the bandwidth efficiency and density needed to meet the demand for TV Everywhere services, Harris said.

“Harris Broadcast’s new leadership team, end-to-end technology and industry leading platforms ideally complement and significantly expand the possibilities for our cutting edge TV Everywhere capabilities,” said Richard Stanfield, Imagine Communications CEO. “By combining Imagine technology with Harris Broadcast’s intellectual property, which already powers most of the world’s top content producers, this acquisition will transform the marketplace by leveraging Harris Broadcast’s strength and transferring it through smart integration to the non-linear, OTT, TV Everywhere world. Moreover, through Harris Broadcast, our technology benefits immediately from a worldwide go-to-market infrastructure, sales force and supply chain that turbocharges the possibilities of a comprehensive offering.”

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