The Evolution Of Content Services

7 August 2020

ITV has been around for 65 years and is renowned for producing and broadcasting hugely popular content which has placed the brand at the heart of popular culture within the U.K. In a rapidly evolving technological environment this has seen ITV content move from film to tape, and tape ultimately to 4K files.

With a huge back catalogue of content going back decades, there has always been a demand internally from ITV to restore and remaster popular historical content for reuse. Although previously this was done through using the expertise of third-party suppliers, a few years ago ITV took the strategic decision to bring this function inhouse. Therefore, we could more closely control the latest formats required and save a lot of money by internally offering a much more cost effective service. Because we have been so impressed with the internal service that ITV Content Delivery provides, not only in cost savings but also in speed of turnaround and the level of customer service, we have decided to offer our services to an external client base.

We are passing on the economies of scale we have generated from being the trusted custodians of ITV’s huge archive to a new audience, whether it is ITV content you would like to remaster and repurpose, or your own content held on film or tape. We have also maintained our central hub for this service in Yorkshire, enabling us to maintain a lower cost base whilst creating a central content transfer, restoration and delivery hub in the North of England.

2015 – Installation of Dalet and Sony Flexicarts, allowing the bulk ingest of content from DigiBeta, Beta SP, HDCam and HDCam SR. This significantly changed the amount of content we could process on behalf of ITV via automated ingest workflows. Further value was added in 2017, when a wider range of codec profiles were added to the system allowing ITV Content Delivery to cater to a broader reach of customers. We had a very small operational team at the time, so the introduction of this was a real game changer for the department.

2016 – Once we integrated Aspera and Signiant as file delivery platforms, we suddenly had the ability to send ITV programming to customers anywhere in the world securely, quickly and at a low cost. We initially took out a very small package as we were unsure we’d be able to use it all. It was at this time we saw a spike in the amount of work ITV Content Delivery were processing on behalf of our Global Distribution team, and within 12 months we were sending a hundred times the amount we initially purchased.

2017 – The next nut to crack was being able to transcode the increased amount of work coming through from our Global Distribution partners. Up until now, almost all of the transcodes we performed were done manually, which was incredibly time consuming. The introduction of Vantage changed everything and came at perfect timing. We felt the benefit instantly, and were clearing work orders well ahead of deadlines, which gave us more capacity to take on more work, which is exactly what happened. In order to cope with the additional workload, even with our automated workflows, we had to recruit additional headcount, taking our team to 6 operational members.

2018 – Our working hours changed significantly when ITV Content Delivery took on the responsibility of capturing all of ITV’s live programming for the ITVHub (and other catch-up platforms). As well as another bump in team members, we also went from working office hours Monday to Friday to having team members in the office from 05:30 to 00:30, seven days a week (apart from Christmas Day – we’re not monsters!). This massively increased our capacity in terms of processing orders and delivering content, further allowing the department to smash targets and exceed delivery deadlines.

2019 – The launch of BritBox was a busy period for the department, but a great opportunity for ITV Content Delivery to work with a large number of content producers and distributors in the U.K. to re-version and process content on their behalf for the new platform. Whilst this was underway, we were told that any and all programming required for transmission in the U.K. would now be handled by ITV Content Delivery. This was a massive change for the team, and between BritBox and the transmission content and additional 15 operational members were added to the team

2020 – Although the department has been transferring and restoring film for a long period of time already, it really took off in 2020! We’ve fully transferred and restored 5 full length feature films (as well as a number of smaller titles) this year already, and conversations are underway as to what titles may be worked on in the coming months. This is a huge achievement, with the majority of the restoration work taking place remotely away from the office.

ITV Content Delivery has changed and grown an awful lot in a relatively short period of time. We’ve made wise decisions on what kit to integrate into our estate and what capabilities to introduce and embed into the team, always cautious not to run before we can walk or overwhelm the team. The future is certainly unknown and uncertain at the moment, but our ambitions are very clear. We have built a central hub for processing content in the north of England. We will continue providing an excellent service to ITV, and we want to meet and work with lots of new customers. All of our services are available to third parties and we honestly love meeting new people and building and maintaining relationships with our customers.

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