IBC 2010: Omneon and Harmonic Mark Pending Union With Separate Product Debuts

The ink hasn’t fully dried on Harmonic’s acquisition of Omneon, but that didn’t stop the two companies, soon to be one under the Harmonic banner, from getting together at IBC to celebrate their impending union and lay out a blueprint from the future. Harmonic President/CEO Patrick Harshman says the two companies together will be able to better keep up with an “astounding” pace of change in the way consumers are consuming and distributors are distributing video content.

“There are threats, but it is also an exciting opportunity,” he says. “Together with Omneon, we will have a portfolio that can simplify asset management and optimize video quality, not just for live broadcasts but also for on-demand workflows and multiscreen services.”

Omneon CEO Suresh Vasudevan says that, until the completion of the deal, it will be business as usual, with the server manufacturer building on market momentum that has seen revenues for jump from $31 million in 2004 to $105 million in 2009. Despite that successful five-year revenue growth, he says, Omneon executives were concerned with future growth since the industry seems poised to transform into one where consumers can watch video on any device anywhere. That concern led to discussions and, ultimately, a deal with Harmonic, a company squarely focused on the distribution and transcoding market.

“Together,” Vasudevan says, “we can ingest, store, transcode, and deliver content.”

While waiting for those opportunities to develop, each company hit the IBC floor with new-product announcements. One is a new version of Omneon’s ProXchange that has support for Apple ProRes 422.

“That is important, as many of our customers are working with Apple Final Cut Pro,” says Geoff Stedman, SVP of marketing and business development at Omneon. “Now content can be easily converted to the format.”

Other enhancements capitalize on developments from third-party companies. For example, new integration with closed-captioning technologies from Starfish and Softel allow closed captions to be converted to metadata.

“The caption information is now indexed so that users can search for video via closed-caption phrase,” says Stedman.

And XenData allows content to move from tapes to the Omneon Media Application Server while ensuring that users of the MAS can easily find and manage the content, even if it is in a tape library.

David Price, VP of business development and marketing communications for Harmonic, says his company’s stand features functionality enhancements that add value to existing products. For example, the Electra 8000 broadcast encoders introduced 18 months ago now handle more than 10,000 channels around the world.

“By increasing the density of the system, operation expenses are reduced,” he says, “and our customers say that just lowering the electricity bill has been enough to pay for the products.”

Price also says that the ProStream 1000 with ACE is the first high-density HD/SD broadcast transcoder to complete Microsoft Mediaroom compliance testing and it now supports HD and SD, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AVC (h.264) video and audio transcoding of up to 20 HD or 80 SD channels in a compact, power-efficient 1RU chassis. Mediaroom is Microsoft’s set-top–box middleware system that has found believers among telco video providers like AT&T for on-demand and other services.