Pebble to showcase its market-leading integrated solutions at ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium 2023

Epsom, Surrey, UK, 01 March 2023: Pebble, the leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, is delighted to confirm its presence at this year’s Digital Broadcasting Symposium hosted by Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU). This leading industry event is taking place at The Royale Chulan in Kuala Lumpur, between 7th-9th March 2023. Pebble will be at stand #42-43 with their channel partner in Malaysia, Tiara Vision.

As a proud member of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union, the company’s presence at the show will strengthen its relationships with local partners and discuss its long-term vision and strategy for the region.  

Pebble will be showcasing demos of its integrated solutions services including Pebble’s market-leading playout automation and integrated channel solutions, as well as its award-winning IP connection management tool, Pebble Control, and monitoring tool Pebble Remote.  

Built specifically to enable broadcasters to make the leap to an all-IP facility without the need to deploy a bespoke enterprise solution, Pebble Control is a self-contained, scalable and easy-to-configure IP connection management system. Its freemium version – Pebble Control Free – was launched last year and enables broadcasters and production facilities of any size to try out many of Pebble Control’s functionalities and upskill their teams whilst they contemplate their first steps into IP.

Pebble Remote, a tool for web-based monitoring and control of Pebble’s Automation solution in the cloud as well as on-premises, provides 24/7 secure remote access to mission-critical control of playlists, as well as consolidating control access across several playout sites. Designed to support systems that comprise multiple channels, Pebble Remote has helped many broadcasters easily navigate the challenges of working beyond the normal boundaries of a playout facility.

Samir Isbaih, VP of sales Middle East and APAC at Pebble commented: “We’re thrilled to participate in ABU DBS, a prominent event in the broadcasting industry calendar that caters to APAC audiences. Our partnership with Tiara Vision is significant to us and we look forward to meeting new clients as well as our esteemed customers in person and reconnecting with industry peers.”

Danial Ahmad, Project Director at Tiara Vision, said: “We are excited to once again participate in ABU, which is a significant event for us, and to share a booth with Pebble and other industry partners. We intend to make the most of this opportunity and eagerly anticipate welcoming everyone to our stand.”



The role of standards in the hybrid era

Full page article in February 2023 issue of BroadcastPro Middle East.

As far as meta trends go, the migration towards IP workflows has been one of the most fundamental changes the industry has seen for many decades. It has resulted in a variety of different challenges that affect all parts and all levels of media businesses, with compatibility and interconnection being a significant part of this. No workflow is an island, and the importance of interoperability has only skyrocketed as organisations look to move beyond black boxes and proprietary systems to the format-agnostic, and even COTS-based workflows that IP enables.

Workflows based on interoperable paradigms (the ability of an application or device to interact and exchange information with another application or device from another manufacturer) leverage the best features of all technologies in the chain. In an ideal world, this results in a seamless, flexible, and highly adaptable workflow. It also highlights the key metric of scalability that all media organisations seek to ensure that further growth can proceed unconstrained.

However, interoperability is unfortunately unevenly distributed throughout the broadcast chain. Broadcasters want to build solutions which are made up of the best-in-class components, but all too frequently the use of a proprietary protocol results in vendor lock-in as they are forced down the path of a one-size-fits-all solution. And in instances where different protocols are deployed even a small amount of drift from one component in the chain can lead to distinct problems in the workflow with sometimes disruptive workarounds being required to accommodate them.

It’s clear that standards are crucial when building any system that is based on interoperable functions between different manufacturers’ equipment, and two industry standards have been developed to advance the adoption of IP deployments: SMPTE 2110 – the set of SMPTE standards for the transport of digital media over an IP network – and the NMOS (Networked Media Open Specifications) suite of specifications, which also ensures easy device connection management on a network, something fraught with multiple perils that were never envisaged by the builders of SDI networks in the past.

Happily, both standards have gained traction through the industry fairly rapidly, and multiple vendors, including ourselves, are working to implement them in their product ranges to help simplify the establishment of IP workflows. We are all collectively ensuring that solutions are developed with the requirements of these protocols’ architecture in mind, and integrating their future roadmaps into the ones that plot our own developmental routes. It’s in all manufacturers’ best interests to recognise the momentum and importance of these standards, as they are helping to build out IP workflows much more quickly than would happen in any completely unstandardised industry. Solutions based on these protocols benefit from enhanced reliability and ease of use, whilst also enabling future expansion to accommodate increased scale and complexity.

They are very rarely being deployed, however, in completely IP-centric instances. We are in what can be termed a transition stage, a hybrid era, where interoperability also requires seamless interconnection with legacy systems. As some of these deployments can include some of the aforementioned interoperable ‘kludges’ that sit on top of proprietary systems, it is more important than ever for protocol compliance to be maintained. Keeping within the constraints of the protocols helps make certain that significant time and expense are not wasted when the implementation of a workflow design fails to live up to expectations.

One crucial area where the implementation of standards in the broadcast industry is proving beneficial, is with the increasing number of cloud deployments. The pivot to the cloud was already underway before the pandemic took hold and it has only accelerated since, with companies unwilling to specify costly on-prem IP infrastructure that might end up being isolated from its necessary workforce. The desire for remote operation where possible has also increased massively while the benefits of cloud workflows (scalability, opex cost basis, faster, iterations, et cetera) make their own cases.

The pandemic has also introduced a fault line in approaches to the way new installations are built. Wholly IP-based facilities were typically commissioned pre-pandemic when costs were less of a consideration. The economic downturn since, and caution around any future economic headwinds, have led to a more pragmatic approach which sees a mixture of IP and SDI equipment coexist as part of an overall staged IP implementation. This is liable to be the prevailing strategy at least until the current economic and resource crisis is over.

It is still important, however, to plan for an IP-native future. While current installations may be hybrid, they will not be that way forever, and ensuring that the transition from this current implementation to the future IP one is as seamless as possible is key. Again, this is where standards come into play, providing backwards and forwards compatibility, regardless of scale, scope, and future roadmaps. Growth is enabled throughout an organisation as a result, with flexibility to both evolve and adapt inherent in the architecture.

And if recent years have taught the industry anything, it is that that degree of agility and adaptation is extremely beneficial to the ongoing survival of every media business.

The article can be viewed on the electronic version of the magazine on Page 32 HERE.


Linear TV remains critical to broadcasters’ top lines

The phrase ‘game-changer’ is used perhaps a bit too often in our industry, but it’s undeniable that in recent years on-demand streaming services have upended the business entirely, ushering in a new era and new volumes of content, and putting traditional broadcasters under pressure like never before.

Where the main competition for eyeballs used to come from cinema, or latterly from gaming; now it’s from ‘within’. But whilst on-demand viewership may be accelerating around the world, linear remains critical to broadcasters’ top lines.

Take for example the 2022 World Cup; the tournament on linear cable and broadcast channels combined to deliver over 9.5 billion verified household TV ad impressions, representing a 28.9 per cent increase vs. the 2018 World Cup coverage. With this reach, linear TV still remains one of the best ways for advertisers to target genuinely large audiences.

It’s no real surprise then that when you look at the figures in detail, as Omdia did in their IBC 2022 exclusive report: The Advertising Revolution, you find that linear TV is predicted to remain critical to broadcaster top lines. Here, they outlined that advertising on traditional linear TV broadcasts will still account for over two-thirds of TV broadcaster advertising revenue in 2027. And while all media suffered during the pandemic and the consequent global ad pullback, in 2021 global ad spends on linear TV bounced back, with television advertising forecast to have grown 4 per cent globally in 2022. And yes, the spectacular pandemic viewing gains have receded, but they were only ever going to be a spike in the charts. The underlying trend is still a healthy one and the main family TV screen remains the most valuable way for audiences to consume TV content and therefore, the most efficient way for advertisers to reach them.

Whilst the grass is exceedingly green on the streaming side of the fence, especially with the launch of high-profile new AVoD options from the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus, advertisers and rights-holders are keeping linear TV firmly in mind when it comes to choosing appropriate avenues to increase revenues.

Click HERE to read the article in full.


Meet our Junior Technical Author/Trainee Customer Fulfilment Engineer

Anisa Khan 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 in your role  

With my Customer Fulfilment Engineer hat on, I begin the day accessing our customers’ sites via a VPN connection over the internet and working on their playout systems. My remit here is installing Pebble Automation – our playout automation software – and configuring components that will help our customers run their TV channel. It’s a really varied role where I work on very different types of content day to day – I could be working on a news channel one day then on a sports one the next! There are so many different things to be aware of and consider when it comes to running a TV channel, but mainly my role is around configuring devices, testing connections and making sure every device ‘speaks with each other’ correctly and that every part of the workflow runs smoothly together so that a customer’s channel stays on air.

As a Junior Technical Author I initially worked exclusively on our documentation for a year where I was involved in the rebranding of internal and external documentation (since Pebble had undergone a brand refresh in October 2020) and updating feature guides, operation manuals, and configuration guides. I still work on updating documentation and also update Confluence pages whenever there is a software update or a change in how something works technically. I spend a lot of time talking to developers or someone who has the knowledge around the relevant update and then I write it up. This means the update has been formally documented and can be easily found by my colleagues in the future.

How did you get started in the media industry? 

Word of mouth! I was advised that Pebble were looking for new entrants to help with their documentation updates. I graduated in 2020 during the pandemic, had already decided that I didn’t want to take up a career in Bio-Medical Sciences – which is what I had been studying. Nonetheless I still finished the degree, thinking that maybe I could go into a tech role instead. I had an interest in coding as I had seen a lot of promotion aimed at young women getting into coding whilst I was studying at university. When I found out that Pebble was a software company working in broadcast it piqued my interest. A Technical Writer role was available and it looked like I didn’t need a background in computer science or media. It was a great first role to get into because I had a lot of experience during my studies in writing lab reports and literature reviews, as well as having recently written my dissertation. So I jumped at the chance of this thinking I could potentially get into coding – but have instead started working on the engineering side and working at customer sites both remotely and in person, which has been so brilliant and interesting!

What training did you have before entering the industry? 

I have been learning on the job! Obviously the skills gained whilst studying has been really helpful with my Junior Technical Author role, but as a Trainee Customer Fulfilment Engineer I have thrown myself in learning as I go. I have had such an incredible amount of support from more experienced colleagues along the way which has been really helpful as I navigate my way into working on the engineering side.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry? 

Because I am learning about an industry that really fascinates me. Each and every day I learn something new about the technicalities of running a TV channel. I never thought I’d end up doing something like this. Growing up as a child of the noughties and particularly as a teen in the 2010’s, I have seen a very rapid changeover of how technology has advanced. For that reason I have always had a keen interest in technology but never really considered it as a career initially. It’s made me realise how tech jobs were poorly marketed whilst I was at school/college. It was only as I went to Uni that a tech role seemed like a feasible route, with initiatives like Women in STEM and Women in Tech being talked about more and more. Going from potentially wanting to be a coder to actually being a TV engineer, I really enjoy the fact that I see the behind the scenes view of the industry and I get really excited by this! When I first started learning about what it means to work in a broadcast engineering role I thought “Wow this is how to run a TV channel?! I am getting the inside scoop of how it all works!” I get to see servers, TX rooms as well as gaining hands on experience of working on with playout automation software. When I used to hear about people working in media I only thought about journalists or presenters – it never occurred to me about the mechanics of keeping a TV channel on air and how viewers get to see the likes of a news journalist or TV presenter on screen because that was never shared, or at least I was never exposed to this being a possible career choice.

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

Be curious. And the soft skills are so important – being interpersonal, a ‘people person’, work on Be assured that working in broadcast doesn’t have a rigid structure and path to get into it – you can make what you want of it. In some ways I think it’s a good thing not to have a set out path because anyone with a passion for it can define their own way. I have learned that there are many different kinds of roles in the industry and you don’t need a media degree –  obviously it would help and I still think it was beneficial for me to study a degree because I have been able to apply my learnings – just in a different way. The main advice I’d share is having a willingness to learn and work at it because the realm of broadcast is constantly evolving – you will never feel like you’re behind because everyone else is also adapting to the changing environment of broadcast technology. And for any young women looking to get into a technical role, please don’t be intimidated because I can honestly say that all of my male colleagues have been so helpful and supportive. Every single one of them has been willing to help me so that I have reached a point where I can stand on my own two feet and own my role as a Trainee Customer Fulfilment Engineer. And doing the ground work working as a Junior Technical Author has definitely helped me gain a better understanding of the technology used by our customers.


What’s in store for the media tech industry in 2023

Daniel Robinson, Head of R&D, was asked by TVBEurope to share his predictions for 2023:

“We expect to see the growth in the adoption of virtualised playout workflows and the transition to IP-based systems in the broadcast industry. Improving interoperability between devices and fostering collaboration across the industry will also be important in 2023. Adopting open standards such as SMPTE 2110 and NMOS for on-premises installations, as well as new standards for cloud and hybrid systems, will support the transport of media between premises and the cloud and improve compatibility within the broadcast chain. And so finding trusted technology partners to assist in the transition to these new workflows will be a priority for broadcasters.”

Read the predictions of industry peers HERE.