Behind The Scenes In ITV Content Services – Content Out Team

19 August 2020

Josh Edwards talks us through a day in the life of the Content Out team…

My name is Josh Edwards, though for some time now my colleagues in the department have insisted upon calling me ‘OJ’ (Original or Old Josh) as I am the older of the two Joshes in Content Delivery, and I started here first.

I’ve been working at ITV in Content Delivery since April 2017. I started in the Ops team as a Coordinator, had a stint in our tech team and then moved back to operations as a Supervisor looking after the Content Out team, which is where I am currently.

There are six of us in the Content Out team and between us we are responsible for all content that leaves ITV. This is broadly divided into two areas: GD File Deliveries and Local Ingest. The former being delivery of all content licensed to hundreds of Broadcaster and Platform clients around the world, on behalf of ITV Studios Global Distribution (GD). So far in 2020 this has amounted to more than 15,000 programme media files – around 900 Terabytes of content. Local Ingest is the home of small-scale tape ingest and screener (low resolution viewing files) creation requests – serving ITV Clipsales, Viewer Services, ITV GD Sales and Marketing as well as requests from our many internal production labels.

Our coordinators who work on Local Ingest manage concurrent ingests across 6 separate encoders, so an ability to multi-task is key in this area. The array of clips and screener requests that come through Local Ingest are for content spanning from ITV’s inception to the present day, which means the team are regularly working with legacy tape formats like 1″, D2 & U-Matic, as well as more recent formats such as Digibeta, HDCAM/SR and high resolution broadcast file formats.

Content Out bookends the GD content sales process, creating the screeners used by prospective buyers to decide if they want to pick up a programme for broadcasting on their channel or platform, and also delivering the broadcast quality masters to the client’s at specification once a deal has been made and the content licensed.

Delivering between 450 and 700 high resolution video files per week and keeping track of them all as they pass through various processes to get them to the right specification and delivered to ITV’s clients requires 3 key ingredients:

  1. Industry Standard processing and transcoding tools: Telestream Vantage for automated transcode, Grass Valley’s Alchemist for standards conversion, Adobe Premiere & Media Encoder for manual edit, and a whole load of processing power to go with it all.
  2. Fast and secure delivery methods: Aspera P2P, Aspera on Cloud and Signiant Media Shuttle and Exchange.
  3. A robust status tracking process incorporating ITV’s bespoke ordering tool Craft.

When I first came to ITV Content Delivery, I recall there was an almost paralysing weight of pressure when I considered that our work would be seen by so many people. Although, that soon subsides as this becomes business as usual when you need to send out hundreds of hours of content a week. That said, there are plenty of moments that I can think of that do drive home the consequences of the work the Content Out team does. I remember being in a hotel room in New Zealand while on holiday and turning on the TV to find an episode of The Chase playing and thinking ‘wow’ – I probably sent that!. Another was watching a montage of career highlights from Oprah Winfrey as she was about to collect the Cecil B DeMille award at the 2018 Golden Globes, and noticing a clip from Before Women Had Wings that I’d sent to a partner in the US just 4 days beforehand. It is a privilege to have a hand in sharing the content so many productions have worked hard to create and to be able to bear some responsibility for our shows reaching many millions of eyes around the world.

Behind the Scenes with the Content Out Team