Watch “Technology Decision-Making in an Evolving News & Media Landscape” from NAB Show New York.
- ABC News executive director of media & technology Fabian Westerwelle heads an NAB Show New York discussion on “Technology Decision-Making in an Evolving News & Media Landscape.”
- Westerwelle also discusses the launch of FAST channel ABC News Live.
- LTN’s CTO Brad Wall highlights the growing adoption of IP-based technologies with the evolving content opportunities for news outlets.
For broadcast networks like ABC the ongoing technology challenge requires technology, consumer product and editorial groups working together supported by deeply embedded IP and cloud vendors.
“We have to shift our thinking to designing that process from the top down, beginning with asking ‘who are our customers?’” outlined Fabian Westerwelle, Executive Director, Media & Technology, ABC News, at NAB Show New York in a session entitled “Technology Decision-Making in an Evolving News & Media Landscape.” Watch the full discussion in the video at the top of the page.
“You have to ask, how do they like to consume news? And how do we create that experience for them across all those different touchpoints?” the executive posited.
“So that means you have to establish what I like to think of as a trifecta. This is the concept where you have to really put the people that are dealing with the customer product right next to the folks that are doing production and editorial work, and the technology and the operations.
“Because if you don’t have all those three pieces together, working hand in hand, you’re not going to realize the proper experience. You then build your content strategy from there and make the right technology decisions.”
Westerwelle heads up the internal product team for ABC News. “We look at our workflows across the entire media ecosystem that we have to support and set the technology strategy around those pieces from a workflow perspective,” he explained. “We also have a large part of our group that’s running our streaming operations.
He also talked about the broadcaster’s entrée into FAST channels with its by now well-established brand ABC News Live, which launched in 2018.
FAST channels are a prime example of this technology strategy, he said. “A key piece is having that direct interaction and connection with content producers, bringing them along from the beginning of the whole process.
“But if we have that trifecta, then you can bring them along right from the beginning, have them help design it right, so that they are able to shift the way they produce content along the way. And that way, we can usually overcome some of the change management issues.”
Of ABC News Live, he said, “We’re really happy with it. It’s continuing to grow. I think FAST is an area where customers are really excited and interested and it serves a really interesting niche. It’s convenience at its finest, I think, especially in the news space. People are already used to watching the VOD on those devices and then the Smart TVs had all of that capability built in so putting a live channel in front of them there was a natural consumer touchpoint that we were able to take advantage of.”
Westerwelle also talked about the major transition over the past decade which was moving away from satellite for distribution and onto IP.
“Today, even on the distribution side, all of the news content that we distribute is all IP,” he said. “So the real focus for us is more about how to transition to a software based production environment, where we can truly realize the idea of utilize content for all these customer experiences. That requires transitioning a lot of legacy systems to more of a software layer.”
Helping ABC News achieve this are key tech partners like LTN, whose CTO, Brad Wall, was also part of the session.
“Now customers are coming to us and asking us for the ability to do things in orchestration and business intelligence at the software layer,” Wall said. “Because if they’re already in our network the conversation moves onto ‘now can you create multiple versions of this potential show or this live sporting event and deliver this specific version to this specific taker like a Roku? We’re hearing the same thing from media companies.”
Westerwelle added that the partnership with LTN had created a media pipeline and set of workflows that are much more connected.
“The challenge, I think we’re all in right now is figuring out how to make that happen in a way where we’re all talking the same language,” he said. “The cloud providers are helping us step into that. As one example, AWS has taken a lot of strides in the last few years to really meet the needs of the broadcast and the television and content creation community. And LTN do the same thing. The most critical piece for us is that vendors are working with us on that together.”