Will Strauss considers the difficult decisions some equipment manufacturers have to make when trying to second guess the television market.

During research for an upcoming feature on ‘Routes to Market' I've encountered a bit of a paradox. And it refers to how involved broadcast technology and equipment makers should be as far as actual television content is concerned.

You might think that because the broadcaster and production company pay masters are the ones creating the shows that people that make the kit should not concern themselves with what content is being made. They should simply concentrate on what equipment/infrastructure the broadcaster or producer needs in order to make it.

However, there would appear to be two opposing sides to this. The verdict that I just delivered echoes an opinion that a sales manager at a renowned maker of post production equipment shared with me. He said content was ‘nothing to do with us.'

However, a consultant friend of mine has a totally different view. He thinks that the makers of equipment, the purveyors of workflows, the developers of technology should stick their oar in and get a better handle on what is being made and for whom.

He said:

  • “Speaking for the manufacturing sector, we have an issue for broadcast in that we're like the people who make dog food. We're making a product which is to be marketed and sold to one group of people but consumed by an entirely different group of people whose standards are different. We're trying to make technology for broadcasters who don't know what their business models are going to be in five years time. Technologists now do have to worry about what the content is and worry about what the technology is that they are creating and implement and maintain and future proof it.”

I cannot yet come to a conclusion about who is right and who is wrong. So I did what all good journalists do. No, I didn't piss off down the pub. I Googled it.

The result of my search (all 101,000 pages of it) offered up lots of talk of partnerships. I get plenty of suggestions of people ‘working together'. And I get heaps of ‘synergies.' But nothing about actually getting involved in - or understanding - the content consumption.

Suspicious mind

My suspicion - and I hope some of you will help me out here by adding your own comments below - is that the manufacturer or dealer or systems integrator will be able to offer a better service to a broadcaster or producer if he (and it invariably is a he) knows exactly what the content is that is going to be created and who the intended audience is.

If he knows both the broadcaster's AND the audience's demands, desires and expectations surely he will be able to tailor his products and systems accordingly? Which might mean occasionally advising the broadcaster about what the audience want. And that is pretty scary.

Otherwise the technologist is trying to second guess what the broadcaster wants to use the technology for and, invariably, third guess what the audience wants to see.

The best approach appears to be:

  • broadcasters need to be open and honest and talk about the whole process.

  • manufacturers and systems integrators have to do their homework.

If this happens, everyone wins.

But I could be wrong. Maybe, as my contact at the post production equipment maker said, it has nothing to do with them what happens on screen.

Got an opinion? Have your say below.

For more on this subject have a read of Broadcast's June 27 issue

NB/ If you have strong opinions on the relationship between broadcasters and manufacturers and would like to feature in my article, why not drop me a line at will.strauss@emap.com