Horizon: A Single Window Catalyst to Digital Television and FM Radio Broadcasting

CIOReview Team

The Media and Entertainment industry is shape shifting to personalized technologies due to on-demand viewer experience, individuated content distribution, binge-watching, small television shows, independent cinema and innovative television formats. Broadcasters are moving towards more localized and vernacular content, ad-free models to targeted ads and a world connected to smart TVs. Amidst this paradigm shift, traditional broadcasters are re-thinking their business models. The Broadcasters’ vital source of revenue hitherto i.e. the AD Revenue, is now dispersed across numerous channels and platforms thereby considerably diluting the traditional yet crucial revenue streams. Therefore, traditional broadcasters no longer intend to solely rely on the revenues emanating through the TV advertising route. This requires exploring and adapting to new differentiators and revenue opportunities.  Since satellite transponder / bandwidth cost remains a node for intensive expenditure, satellite bandwidth efficiency holds a key part of profitability in news gathering, events coverage and content distribution. Currently, providing a solution which can be monetized is one of the major impediments faced in the industry. Gurgaon, Haryana headquartered Horizon Group (Horizon Broadcast LLP- popularly known over the years as HORIZON/ HBE) has been working closely with OEMs’ and Global leaders in the Broadcast Networks space in evolving and offering solutions to unlock the full revenue opportunity for content distributed over any network.

At present, Horizon is working towards OTT / Multi screen solution across a range of platforms without restricting to On Premise / cloud based and dedicated / shared approaches. “Our philosophy has always been to offer a solution that is in line with customer’s expectations and requirements rather than focusing on selling the products we represent,” asserts Kuldeep Kaul, CEO, Horizon Group. Kuldeep further explains how this is best achieved by having a consortium of technology leaders across the globe as partners complimenting each others’ product portfolios on the technology front rather than contest against each other. In fact, this venture helps in building holistic, future proof, scalable and robust solutions to the customers as a one stop solution. Conquests are ensued through consultations with Horizon’s global partners in leveraging the partners’ technological expertise and global experiences. These experiences are clubbed with Horizon’s years of dedicated and committed services to put forth a plethora of offerings and knowledge-sharing with customers, both within India and neighbouring countries- Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and parts of Africa.

In particular, with Cable TV Networks undergoing Digitization as part of the Government mandate, Horizon has been consciously playing a significant role in bringing together optimized solutions across the Tier-I, II, III and MSO’s across DAS-I, II, III and IV areas. As the operators today face the most competitive landscape, it is very critical to have services that address the TV growth areas of sustainable and seamless transition from Standard Definition to High Definition, to HEVC and eventually to 4K UHDTV in the near future. This also accounts for the unprecedented amount of available content. Solutions offered through Horizon address the requirements across the spectrum of IPTV, cable, satellite and broadcast operators on a single platform. The single platform triggers faster service deployments, reduced cost of ownership and multiple applications for all codecs, resolutions and profiles, enabling deeper customer engagements and responsiveness to market demands.

OTT and VoD

Leveraging on new age transcoders and packaging, a complete end-to-end OTT Video platform service can be put in place for content operators handling both Live and On-Demand content for online publications. Horizon delivers a complete end-to-end solution for both Live and On-Demand content for online publications through the in-house OTT Platform offering that allows content operators to extend their existing and new audiences. The company’s VOD solutions enable operators to turn a subscriber's recorded content into premium on-demand asset that can be made available to mobile and PC screens for later viewing, on the go.

Various OTT platform features that are available for the content operator duly include- VOD ingest, Transcoding and Packaging, Video publishing, Basic Ad Insertion, VOD and Pre and post-roll only, DRM, Video CMS, Authentication, Reporting, Platform services, Geo blocking and Catch-up (Restart, Replay TV, Time shifting).The platform also gives away advanced add-ons like Advertising management, reporting, user analytics and SMS etc. On the flipside, the Video managed platform manages publication of both Live and VOD content onto Content Delivery Networks, while interfacing directly with consumer experience via the integrated front-end. Potentially, the OTT Platform can also be offered as a comprehensive managed service where the infrastructure is owned and managed by Horizon.

“The differentiating feature of our proposition is that we can proficiently offer the complete Eco System through multiple options, tailor-made to best suit the customer’s expectations in both the short term as well as in the long term course”, claims Kuldeep.

Implementation Expertise of Two Decades

While talking about the Horizon group, Kuldeep narrated about Horizon being a family and a group of close knit dependable individuals, dedicated to the cause and commitment to excel in all endeavors. At the same time, every employee in Horizon strives hard to give the best to customers, in terms of technology, implementation, support services and class, within reach of the best of the company’s abilities. “We stand committed to giving our best to our customers, as we believe our growth and prosperity lies in our customer’s growth and well-being”, Kuldeep further explains. Horizon has been in the forefront in the Audio and Video Broadcast domains for a considerable period of 2 decades, building caliber based on the confidence and trust reposed by the customers on the organization. The company has set up more than 55 percent of the FM Radio stations in India and overseas, out of which, on total turnkey basis, several implementations like Transmitter and Studio-Transmitter, links to the leading Media houses.

Through persistent efforts and dedication over the years, Horizon Broadcast has been able to dispense compression efficient, reliable, scalable and robust solutions across more than 70 percent of satellite broadcasters in India and the neighbouring countries alike. Furthermore, the company takes pride in sharing its contribution in establishing the OEM’s with significant presence in the top 5 of the 7 DTH platforms within India besides setting up those in Bangladesh and Nepal, as well. Horizon represents more than a dozen Broadcasting Global leaders with proven track records and technology leadership in catering the customers with technology products, customized solutions and OEM trained and certified resources for the products’ entire life cycle.

Horizon’s offerings for Content creators and Broadcasters include Studio set-up and solutions for transporting content from events and DSNGs and teleports for up-linking. Extending the services, the company builds complete digital head end solution for cable TV systems of every size from satellite down link set up, video processing – encoding and transcoding, multiplexing and content encryption to the end IP QAM / RF Output. Beyond cable TV, Horizon also avails solutions in IPTV and hybrid OTT services ranging from the digital headend, transcoding, packaging and profiling, back office systems and DRM.As a part of the company’s ongoing endeavours, there is a constant addition of new technologies, OEM’s and services in this space to trigger bringing the best in class for customers besides offering the flexibility to increase the spread and reach of the product portfolio.

Infrastructures for Support and Experience

Horizon dons a state of the art customer support center manned by OEM certified and accredited dedicated engineers to cater to complete Pre sales and Post sales support requirements. The company offers an entire range of support services right from consultancy, designing, implementation, configuration and commissioning, training, facility management / AMC services in the entire Broadcast space. “We conceptualize, design, install, configure, commission, train and support / maintain the products and technologies implemented by us on a 24X7 basis”, asserts Kuldeep. To be precautious in worst case scenarios, Horizon stocks considerable amount of inventory in the form of spares to ensure trouble free working of the equipments supplied and adherence to the committed SLA’s.

Horizon is in the process of setting up an In-Country repair and maintenance infrastructure in Gurgaon, to be able to offer faster turnaround times, reliable support services and cost effective repair and maintenance services to the Customers. Horizon’s blueprint for future comprises setting up an Experience Center to emblazon the off the edge technology products, platforms and services from their OEM’s across the Globe. This is aimed at enabling customers who have been patronizing the company for more than 2 decades, with an immersive environment to visit, feel and experience the convergence of various technology platforms.

“We sell solutions in synchronization with customer’s expectations and requirements, and not merely the products”, quotes Kuldeep. From customers in government segments including the prime media house- Doordarshan, to clients from the SAARC region, Horizon has and will abide to setting records and earn widespread recognition in broadcast arena by pursuing a strategy to work with strong global partners.

OTT replacing Traditional TV - Shifts in consumer behaviour, changes in rights and content agreements, technology advances and cost reductions, measurement of viewing on multiple platforms, demographic and generational changes, government regulations, and so much more are all playing into the rapid evolution and acceptance of OTT in the market.

Providing these technologies which can be monetized in a minimum time is one of the major challenges faced in the industry right now and Horizon is currently working closely with the OEM’s and the Global leaders in the Broadcast Networks space in evolving and offering solutions to unlock the full revenue opportunity for content distributed over
any network.