Meet our Technical Lead, Edmund Lewry

Edmund featured in TVBEurope’s “Meet The” Series where they talk to a range of people working within the media and entertainment industry about their average working day in their roles. The piece can be found online here.

Talk us through an average day of your role?

I work at Pebble as one of the Technical Leads for R&D working specifically on Oceans which is our cloud-first broadcast technology platform. Here we are working to deliver our playout automation solutions via Oceans either on-premises or in the cloud or across both to offer a hybrid approach.

I start the day early and first work out what I want to achieve that day and build a to-do list. Much of my role is overseeing the code written by our team of software developers. I also perform some coding/development work myself, looking at what tickets have come in as well as prioritising what features we need to build on our playout automation software, working quite closely with product owner, Tom Cage, Head of Automation to ensure that what we deliver with our Pebble Automation software translates as it should on the Oceans platform.

How did you get started in the media industry?

I started at Pebble fresh out of university having graduated with a degree in computer science just over 9 years ago. Working in this industry was entirely serendipitous. It was one of the few jobs I had applied for that met my salary expectations and on top of that the work described really interested me. It’s quite an appealing niche I have found myself in! It’s the kind of work you don’t see the equivalent of in the market because you’re working on complex real time software development of interesting solutions that are uniquely pertinent to Pebble and the way we deliver them.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I haven’t had any specific media based training. My degree in Computer Science has definitely been useful for this role, but to truly understand the industry I’ve had to immerse myself in it. I have attended in-house training courses to understand the context in which our solutions are delivered and how they serve broadcasters who are our main customer base. I have also attended IBC which was incredibly useful to gain further context and learn more about the media and TV industry from a broader perspective.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

First off it’s the people. It’s the one thing that has made me stay at Pebble. And of course, the work we do has kept me interested and motivates me. Right now the industry is going through an interesting transitional period. We’re in this weird part of history right now, because the industry is moving away from traditional infrastructure working on-premises to IP and cloud-based technologies, where new standards have been released from the likes of SMPTE and AMWA, together with new approaches to broadcast workflows and playout automation. What we do at Pebble is quite complicated – and it needs to be to cater for complex workflows in a way that makes it easier for our customers. It’s great making it all work together and knowing we make a difference where it counts.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

As a software developer it’s so important to spend time to understand and enjoy the media side of the role. In some cases, individuals can fall in the trap of defining themselves as ‘software developers who happen to work in media industry.’ If you want to work in this industry, you can speed up your own self-development if you truly understand the disparate pieces of the industry. Knowing what the industry actually does and having that perspective means you avoid major pitfalls. For example, code can be written that fits the brief but is not fit for purpose – a product owner is likely to point out that it will fall down at a specific point, because you haven’t considered how it gets used in the wider context. So treat the broadcast industry with the same level of importance and curiosity as the software industry and I think you’ll really enjoy the work.


Your cloud collaborators

Finding solutions for customers is more than just selling them the best technology

The transition to IP-based technologies is a task that is impossible to do – or do well – without collaboration. Should we throw out all our SDI gear and start from scratch? Should we use cloud only for deep storage, or fold it into every part of our workflow? These are decisions which have to be made with a great deal of care.

For any technology provider helping companies to make these decisions, the power of collaboration with the customer should not be under-estimated. In fact, it’s essential. At Pebble, we’re known for automation, playout and content management technologies, but alongside the tech is a wealth of experience that helps our customers build their futures.

Being a good collaborator means knowing how to communicate what’s right for the customer when they may have another route in mind. We are a trusted partner because customers know we will tell them the honest truths they need to hear. Some need to invest in an infrastructure that will have to work at top efficiency for at least five years. But as they move forward, they will need to juggle capex and opex expenditures and navigate IP integrations, as services and opportunities emerge. Giving each customer bespoke consultations – not only about what they need now, but what changes they should prepare for in the years to come – can save a lot of grief later on.

The use of cloud environments can complement an on-prem system with improvements in resilience, scalability, longevity and the flexibility to mix and match upfront capital spend with opex costs. This becomes particularly valuable when you have a need to launch temporary or seasonal channels, such as sporting events or you are providing a service to other customers and you want to align the platform costs to revenue being generated.

Cloud technology is becoming more and more integrated into workflows, with some ready to trailblaze into a bright, all-cloud future, while others – understandably – approach the cloud with great caution. As always, the truth is nuanced and case-specific. We listen carefully to customer requirements, and are expertly supporting them to adopt a hybrid approach – ultimately meeting their business goals.

There are so many permutations of how to adopt cloud – content processing, playout, disaster recovery – and any one of these might be a real gain for a company’s bottom line. But we understand that issues of control and security, plus a host of other unknowns, may concern organisations with a traditional broadcast infrastructure. To support diverse scenarios, Pebble provides solutions – designed, installed and adapted to each deployment type, with expert insight on how to move forward. We want customers to have the flexibility of cloud, with the confidence of on-prem.

Read the article in full HERE.


How reports of the death of linear TV are greatly exaggerated

Full page article from our CEO, Peter Mayhead, featured in The IABM’s Q3 Journal

Not so long ago, it was thought that linear TV was increasingly a relic of a bygone era. Viewing patterns were changing across demographics worldwide as more and more people switched towards streaming services. However, increasingly it is looking like the reports of its demise have been premature. There are a huge number of individual surveys that give an equally huge number of differing results, but the meta-trends of it all suggest a couple of things. First, the pandemic boosted streaming figures dramatically, even artificially, and second that the coming recession is making consumers rethink their choices when it comes to streaming services.

The result is that linear TV is not dead. In fact, if anything, it is having a bit of a renaissance.

The recently published Ofcom Media Nations 2022 report created massive headlines with its report that younger adults watch 7x less broadcast TV than those aged 65+ and that viewing across all broadcast content — that is linear channels, recordings, and on-demand — had fallen by 9% compared to 2020 and 4% compared to 2019. “The long-term trend of decline in overall viewing of broadcasters’ content, seen over the past decade, has resumed,” it stated.

There is undoubtedly a demographic fissure between different cohorts, though what is unknown is whether the ‘new’ consumption behavior of the younger generation (defined here as 16-34) evolves as they in turn grow older. Lifestyle changes caused primarily by starting families and establishing their own households tend to suggest that viewing time tends to coalesce around the large living room television once more as people age, and linear TV and its offshoots are very much a part of that experience, but there are unknowns. We lived with the model of linear TV for 60 years; Netflix has been streaming video for only 15.

The UK market is arguably the most technologically sophisticated television market in the world and is nothing if not volatile. The Ofcom report was generated from surveys that concluded in December 2021, whereas newer research from consumer research platform Attest, estimates that the number of people watching terrestrial TV is trending up by 2.6% to reach 78.6%. Not only that, but people are watching live TV for longer, with a 1.4% increase in 4-hour-plus viewing sessions.

So what is going on here and why are we so confident that linear TV is very much a part of the future? A look at Netflix is a good place to start.

Read the article on pages 116 and 117 in full HERE.