UK TV broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 are moving some of their channels to cloud-based processing as part of a multi-million-pound contract with BT.
ITV and Channel 4, united in joint Venture Digital 3&4, will move the processing of regionalized TV content across all Freeview channels to BT’s ‘Vena’, a new smart broadcast network. The exact value of the contract was not shared.
Vena, according to BT, will deliver digital coding and multiplexing to bring all content streams into one before regional distribution. In the case of Digital 3&4, this involved combining content from six playout centers and then spreading it across the country. This is, allegedly, the first time that cloud processing of digital terrestrial TV channels has been done at this scale.
“This launch marks a major development for the TV industry as a whole,” said Faisal Mahomed, director of BT Media and Broadcast & Portfolio Businesses. “It will offer more possibilities for broadcasters to connect and interact with their audiences. We have seen remarkable innovation and collaboration across BT, D3&4, and our partner Ateme to get to this point. The service, built on Vena, is only the start of what’s possible on BT’s smart broadcast network – as we continue to drive digitization, and to innovate solutions to support TV delivery in the UK and across the globe.”
Digital 3&4 is describing its migrations to Vena as a 'landmark move away from legacy hardware to a smart broadcast network.’ The move is anticipated to make the companies’ infrastructure cheaper, more efficient, and more flexible.
Managing director at Digital 3&4 Greg Bensberg said: “Our partnership with BT has enabled us to take a giant leap forward in delivering Freeview TV for 18 million regular viewers across the UK.
“This was a challenging project that required meticulous planning and execution, and we’re proud to have worked with a company that shares our passion for innovation and excellence. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with BT and driving the future of broadcasting in the UK.”
BT has had a challenging end of 2022/start of 2023. The company was forced to merge its global and enterprise units in a cost-cutting measure hoped to save ~£100 million ($120m) by the end of FY25. The company was targeting an overall cost cut of £3 billion ($3.66bn) by the end of 2025.
This was followed by a public statement made by Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges in February 2023, stating that his decision to buy a stake in BT was his ‘biggest mistake.’ Deutsche Telekom invested £5.6 billion ($6.74bn) into BT in 2015. Their stake has since lost £4bn ($4.8bn) of its value.