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Broadcast Television’s Digital Transformation with FOX Corporation West Coast CIO, Garrett Boss

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Have you ever tried to upload a video and been frustrated by the time it takes to land on the server? Now imagine you’re a broadcast crew, working the Super Bowl, with hundreds of cameras that all have to upload video simultaneously. Transferring millions of data points, and moving massive files with no latency puts your video upload woes to shame. It’s no easy task, yet it gets done relatively seamlessly every year. For that, you can send your thank you notes to Garrett Boss, CIO West Coast at FOX, where he is responsible for providing the infrastructure and technology to the broadcast crews that bring you your favorite sporting events and television shows.

“Our mandate is to reduce friction everywhere we can to enable creatives and production to spend all of their energy and time focused on those things. I want to remove every barrier, every hiccup, every challenge that they have that’s not related to their talent of putting inspiring content on the air for our viewers.”  

It’s no small feat, and the challenges are vast, especially when you consider that the media landscape is undergoing a renaissance. There is more need to push content to over-the-top platforms, and customer expectations are getting higher and higher every day. 

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Garrett gives up the goods on how his team rises to the occasion. And he provides a unique look at how FOX went through a massive digital transformation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, he discusses the shift from a hardware mentality to a software mindset, and how FOX is building scalable technologies with reliable partners. Enjoy this episode.

Main Takeaways

  • Build vs Buy: Software as a service, and digital platforms have allowed IT teams to rethink what products and services they should build themselves and which products they can buy from vendors. When you are going through this process, it’s important to have a clear understanding of where some of your previous technology was over-indexed and where you can streamline some things.
  • Digital Video Revolution: OTT platforms are providing broadcast partners with the ability to not only compile a better understanding of their viewers’ habits, but also the ability to push more targeted advertising to their audience. But the infrastructure required to compile the data, digest it, and then use that information means rethinking what your tech stack looks like.
  • Team Building: When you’re undergoing a digital transformation in a virtual environment, it’s not a great idea to have a hierarchical structure with technologies that are forced down the ladder. Instead, employing more of a linear decision making process allows everyone on the team to have a hand in the decision making process, and still allows for quick and thoughtful decisions under tight deadlines.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Article 

Have you ever tried to upload a video and been frustrated by the time it takes to land on the server? Now imagine you’re a broadcast crew, working the Super Bowl, with hundreds of cameras that all have to upload video simultaneously. Transferring millions of data points, and moving massive files with no latency puts your video upload woes to shame. It’s no easy task, yet it gets done relatively seamlessly every year. For that, you can send your thank you notes to Garrett Boss, CIO West Coast at FOX, where he is responsible for providing the infrastructure and technology to the broadcast crews that bring you your favorite sporting events and television shows.

“Our mandate is to reduce friction everywhere we can to enable creatives and production to spend all of their energy and time focused on those things. I want to remove every barrier, every hiccup, every challenge that they have that’s not related to their talent of putting inspiring content on the air for our viewers.”  

It’s no small feat, and the challenges are vast, especially when you consider that the media landscape is undergoing a renaissance. There is more need to push content to over-the-top platforms, and customer expectations are getting higher and higher every day. 

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Garrett gives up the goods on how his team rises to the occasion. And he provides a unique look at how FOX went through a massive digital transformation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, he discusses the shift from a hardware mentality to a software mindset, and how FOX is building scalable technologies with reliable partners.

Formed in 2019 as a result of the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox,  FOX Corporation oversees four divisions of the FOX brand: Sports, Entertainment, News, and Television. The two entities that Boss oversees are based on the West Coast, which includes all of FOX’s sports and entertainment properties.

“We’re a media and broadcast company that make the experience impeccable for our viewers,” Boss said, “In terms of the technology that’s involved, the file sizes have gotten enormous and the processing of this data, and making sure you have the bandwidth, satellite uplinks, all handled, and managed properly, I think one of the things that FOX focuses on compared to a lot of our competitors is, we’re all about the power of now, which is the power of live television, and it’s a whole different ball game.” 

Some of that technology includes providing new and unique viewing experiences for the consumers, which Boss said can be tricky considering the logistics and equipment required to put on a live event.

“Having drones flying around a stadium and putting on a live event and having that feed out over a broadcast network to all of our distributors various platforms with low latency and with great reliability [require a lot of infrastructure],” Boss said.

Over the years, the infrastructure to feed these technologies has changed dramatically. Servers are now built and managed over the air, and not in on-premises data centers, and Boss said that has forced his team to rethink their mentality when it comes to software.

“Within the media and broadcast space, it has evolved from a hardware type world into a software world,” he said. “What we did, as a company, when we launched two years ago after the Disney acquisition was we rethought all of our media and broadcast workflows and everything that we were doing … we switched from a hardware mentality to software mentality.”

Changing those thought processes and workflows has meant that FOX can now be more agile and scale its infrastructure at a quicker pace than it has in the past. This is critical, especially when considering how large the files are and how important image quality is to a broadcast.

But as FOX made its transition to the cloud, the company was forced to take a hard look at what parts of its technology stack they could build themselves and which aspects of those same technologies could be bought from a vendor. 

“Where do we need to focus our energy to be a differentiator in the marketplace?” Boss. “What we realized is, a lot of those legacy platforms that we moved over to the Disney side, we now had the opportunity to rethink and rebuild what we over-indexed on building ourselves,” Boss said. “Software as a service, platforms as a service, there’s a lot more innovation happening in our industry now compared to when you roll back the clock to 10 years ago.”

One of those areas of innovation is over-the-top distribution, which provides broadcast partners the access to more information about their viewers — their likes and dislikes, and viewing habits — than ever before. This is an area that Boss says his team is focusing on more recently.

“There’s a huge opportunity to collect all of that data and leverage that to put the right product in front of the right consumer at the right time,” he said. “That’s clearly where our business is going, moving from the linear world into the digital space because there’s just a much better opportunity to sell advertising within that realm. Data drives all of that. The more data you have, the more targeted your ad placements are in that process.” 

To hear more about how Boss and his team are leveraging OTT platforms and building a broadcasting infrastructure built for the future, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!


To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

Episode 289