IABM members speak – PBTEU clients’ growing needs such as training and 24-hour support, accommodating pricing models and educational versions.
This article originally appeared in the IABM Journal, issue 105 which is available to view online here
Vladimir Stanic, GM, PBT EU
What is PBT EU’s fundamental business strategy?
PBT EU is a global systems integrator and solutions- provider for the broadcast industry offering first-rate solutions to local partners and customers. Armed with long-term industry experience, combined with service excellence, PBT is supplier of choice to multiple television stations, media organisations, production companies, post-production studios and teleports such as STN, Kinopolska, Telia Eesti, Doli Media Studio, IT Pros and HD Media to name but a few.
The team established EXEcutor as its own-brand symbol of quality providing end-to-end solutions that are easy to install, operate and support. The range consists of EXEcutor Broadcast Servers, EXEcutor Virtual Control Panel, EXEcutor Sync Master and EXEcutor Media Integrator.
Profuz Digital is PBT’s technology counterpart focusing on developing software, operating in the Americas. PBT is also a proud technology partner of PlayBox Technology, and other world-renowned premium manufacturers including Blackmagic Design, ISID, SGO, CSE, S4M, and Chaos Group.
We adopt a customer-driven, personalised approach; we aim to support customers today with tomorrow’s challenges in mind. This is vital in our outlook, as trying to embrace something new at the last minute is not the way to operate effectively.
We adopt a customer-driven, personalised approach; we aim to support customers today with tomorrow’s challenges in mind...trying to embrace something new at the last minute is not the way to operate effectively - IABM Interview with PBTEU Click To Tweet
With customers at the forefront, PBT accommodates demand for time-sensitive projects and turnaround expectancy. Our modest-sized organisation serves as an advantage, enabling us to be highly responsive to customer needs, even on a global scale. By responding swiftly, listening well, providing consistency, high- quality solutions, flexibility, and agility, we have earned the respect and trust of customers. We deliver comprehensive solutions designed to adapt to our clients’ growing needs such as training and 24-hour support, accommodating pricing models and educational versions.
What geographical markets does PBT EU presently operate in? Any plans for further expansion?
PBT shaped its business in the CEE region (Central and Eastern Europe) and has an established customer base across Europe and MENA regions, enjoying the benefits of being part of the EU which provides security to those outside of the stable trading zone. New projections for 2018/2019 will be on EMEA and expansion to APAC in the future.
Tell us about PBT EU’s principal product and service offerings – what problems are you solving for your customers?
We are passionate and motivated to solve customer challenges. We take a long-term view, carefully nurturing customers’ business needs by advising on formats, and new methods of bringing greater efficiency and increased speed. We ensure our solutions adapt to the customer’s current workflows, to deliver successful services to their clients. The solutions we provide ultimately help increase their revenue.
Our main services and solutions are extensive, covering areas such as business and technical consultancy, multilingual pre-sales support, project design, system integration and commissioning, system maintenance, training, SLA, Channel-in-a-Box solutions with full functionality for ingest, playout automation, interactive graphics, subtitling, playlist preparation/scheduling, local video storage and in some cases, remote management, and monitoring.
Another exciting solution PBT provides is SubtitleNEXT – a timed-text subtitling and caption software application. With government legislation requiring broadcasters to deliver subtitling and closed captioning services to linear TV, OTT, and online channels, the pressure’s on for broadcasters to migrate to time-efficient, cost- effective timed-text technologies. With so many subtitling platforms around, it’s crucial to find solutions that have real impact and meet specific needs within budget.
Another exciting solution PBT provides is SubtitleNEXT - a timed-text subtitling and caption software application... the pressure’s on for broadcasters to migrate to time-efficient, cost- effective timed-text technologies - IABM Interview… Click To Tweet
SubtitleNEXT fits the bill perfectly for all levels of expertise and efficiently prepares and delivers various timed-text services such as subtitles, captions, annotations and descriptions that can be used in television programmes, films, opera and rock concerts, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, universities and even karaoke.
SubtitleNEXT displays a customisable UI to adapt to individual working environments whether on the desktop or in the Cloud. Users can rest assured that assets access, collaboration and protection are under control and therefore, problems with NDAs and contract rules are no longer an issue. Layouts and formatting are agnostic from delivery, formats, and standards.
SubtitleNEXT displays a customisable UI to adapt to individual working environments whether on the desktop or in the Cloud. Users can rest assured that assets access, collaboration and protection are under control - IABM Interview with… Click To Tweet
PBT EU is unique and versatile in its approach and seems to develop and offer individual products of its own, complete systems solutions and even systems integration – the whole package. What is the thinking behind this approach – and what is the mix in importance of these three areas in your business – and how do you combine them all into a seamless offering?
We decided to combine our product, solutions, and systems integration (SI) offering, as they are interconnected. Our products are available to end-users as standalone, including to other SI’s, without overlapping with PBT’s SI business. Furthermore, having our own SI business helps us to continuously improve product development at the same time. Most of the SI projects require additional upgrades, therefore, having it in-house is more efficient and gives us a competitive edge.
What are your thoughts concerning IP workflows?
2017 was one of broadcasting’s most challenging years with linear TV declining as traditional broadcasting is making a significant shift to IP-based content delivery. Radio channel distribution over satellite, the upsurge in mobile data, IP connectivity and internet requirements have all caused ripple effects. With OTT becoming the norm, the industry witnessed prime price-drops. These trends bring opportunities for PBT; interoperability, future-proofing and adaptability are essential, specifically where IP solutions currently fall short of delivering and solving current issues such as exacting requirements of broadcasters.
What formats do your systems and solutions support?
We’re here to make life easier for customers and readily support widespread industry formats. We understand the importance of being ‘future-ready’ and its implications for the industry and therefore we create our own agnostic universal formats that are designed to unify systems that can be transcoded across systems and networks with ease. We’re all geared-up for emerging technologies, formats, and resolutions such as HD, 4K, 8K, VR/AR and AI.
Broadcasters and media companies are increasingly moving not only their playout but also their production workflows to the cloud – working towards the dematerialized facility. What role will PBT EU technology play in this?
PBT’s EXEcutor Channel-in-a-Box systems are revolutionary: they provide simplified, cost-effective solutions, with fast deployment time and lower total cost of ownership through reduced CAPEX and OPEX expenditure. The many advantages of PBT’s CiaB include built-in automation, interactive graphics features, on-air CG capability, unlimited layering, dynamic data sources, slide sequencers, advanced scripting engine, API functions, and a wide range of input and output standards.
PBT’s EXEcutor Channel-in-a-Box systems are revolutionary: they provide simplified, cost-effective solutions, with fast deployment time and lower total cost of ownership through reduced CAPEX and OPEX expenditure - IABM Interview with PBTEU Click To Tweet
Sales Director Alexander Stoyanov expands, “Whatever is deemed beneficial in a traditional setting is also what clients seek to use in the Cloud at a virtual level. It’s not always possible to meet every requirement. Managing expectations is important, remaining flexible and responsive to all ideas based on what set resources can yield. Common playout processes include many transformations, format transcoding, repacking, rendering, including procedures requiring high-level usage of computing power 24/7 year-round.
The chances that a playout request can reach a resource peak and stay there for quite some time, are really high. In a perfect world, if limitless resources are available, I rest my case. In reality, this situation often means prioritisation of power. Cloud/virtual storage or post-production company structures could survive accidental glitches in system stability. In playout terms though, this could cause damage and downtime. The cloud/virtual dilemma answer is not definitive, we address it on a case-by-case basis.”
Your launch of the EXEcutor range of broadcast servers in 2016 seems to buck the move-to- the-cloud trend in the industry. How successful has it been in sales terms (i.e. meeting actual present broadcast needs) – are we getting ahead of ourselves with all this talk of ‘everything cloud’?
EXEcutor Broadcast Servers meet customer demand for more performance from less equipment. We also wanted a single point of contact for technical resolutions, and the ability to be faster to market with new and improved services appeals to technical decision makers. Meanwhile, reduced power consumption, more attractive initial purchase prices, and lower total lifecycle costs satisfy financial overheads. COO Ivanka Vassileva: “We’ve seen that Cloud services are not cheaper when we talk about the same level of functionality as that offered by traditional playout. This is especially relevant when the service is required for a time-period exceeding three months.”
At IBC last year, there were around 1800 companies exhibiting – that’s an awful lot of competition in a relatively small market. What is PBT EU’s ‘special sauce’? Why do your customers choose you from the plethora of competitors?
PBT stands out as a well-respected SI, delivering quality customised service solutions such as playout, OTT, encryption, multicast, and localisation, providing channels with a host of options. We are a professional team that understands and identifies the needs of customers by getting involved in their journey, making their priorities our own too.
As an example of this ‘special sauce’, what made award-winning teleport STN choose PBT EU’s EXEcutors above other manufacturers?
Customers are quickly realising PBT’s EXEcutor range can do considerably more than just cater for individual channels – it can also operate larger systems for multichannel customers. STN is a testament to the success of its recently adopted EXEcutor Broadcast Servers in fitting into its technical infrastructure. Already familiar with PBT as a well-established company in the region, the STN team felt comfortable with them carrying out the installation. The ease and flexibility of the solution enabled STN to easily cater for their customers’ constant expansion demands.
EXEcutor Broadcast Servers offer STN flexibility, allowing them to deliver custom-tailored solutions to their customers. The solutions range from simple non-redundant SD to highly complex playout including full control web interface with an easily configurable ‘hybrid cloud’, that makes the system easily accessible, reliable, and secure.
What’s next for PBT EU? – both in terms of products and business.
SubtitleNEXT! Engaging younger generations. People viewing video footage without sound, via mobiles, tablets, laptops, or other screens outnumber traditional viewers, creating demand for timed-text. The software’s not just limited to subtitling but can be used in various other settings – it has vast capabilities especially when combined with business process management system LAPIS to create a hybrid platform. With toolsets that provide real-time capability, we are also exploring VR/Game Development – there’s huge demand with YouTube, Facebook, and other live transmission.
In addition, as the satellite, broadcast and M&E industries continue to reshape, customisation further drives demand for tailored development. Being a flexible global provider has allowed us to re-focus in other regions with partners and strong alliances.
You’ve recently become IABM members. What drove this decision, and what do you think will be the most valuable member benefits for PBT EU?
PBT’s steady growth, key investments, and action-packed development projects indicated time was ripe to be part of a professional community where we can thrive and contribute. We’re delighted to be associated with IABM. Member lounges, exhibition discounts and insights gained from an environment that celebrates excellence is invaluable to help promote our reputation as a serious player in SI, bringing added value to customers and partners.