Encompass Digital Media Asia recently achieved a new broadcast milestone by originating and transmitting 100 channels from its Singapore facility. With a client base that includes AETN All Asia Networks, AMC, BBC Worldwide, BBC, CNBC, Discovery Communications, FOX, LiTV, MTV Networks, Scripps Networks, Sony Asia, Tata Communications and Tigergate, to name a few, Encompass Asia commands more than 30% share in the market.

In Singapore, the company has the largest digital media facility in the region from where content is played out to the rest of Asia, reaching as far as South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and India. In an interview with TV ASIA Plus, Deepakjit Singh, Managing Director, Asia, Encompass Digital Media, discusses this achievement, its significance, the challenges in getting to this milestone, and some of the investments that the company has been doing to further strengthen its presence in Asia.

 

Deepakjit Singh, Managing Director, Asia, Encompass Digital Media

 

Q: 100 channels: what is the significance of hitting this mark?

A: One hundred (channels) means a lot in the industry, because as far as we know, there’s no other third party playout centre in Asia who’s doing something like 100 channels. The competition is way behind, so playing out 100 channels is a big achievement. Even for our partners, our vendors, everybody else who has been supporting us all the way. That’s the reason it’s an important thing for us.

So when we reached 100, we thought we should stabilize everything else. It has been an overall growth, not just the channels and playouts and playing all the stuff here. It’s been coming into new technology and coming into new media, getting into the IP domains, multi-screen and multi viewers. That’s where we stand; we have increased our base.

 

Q: As you launch your 100th channel here in Singapore, what are some of the issues that come with the growing reservoir of content?

A: In my experience, there are three phases of growth. The first phase is when you are small and you can grow. Percentage-wise, you’re growing fast but you don’t need a structure to grow to a particular part. Then the second phase of the growth comes when you need a structure, when you need a lot of infrastructural support to grow beyond it.

About a year and a half ago, I said we are growing, but we are reaching a point where we need a lot of infrastructural support on toward, like fibre. Fibre connectivity into the facilities is so critical that we actually have multiple diversities coming into the facility. For us, power and fibre are the two main things for our lives. If either one of those two breaks, we panic. It’s a real crisis for us.

For the power side, Singapore is good. We can get power from two different power suppliers into our facility. So it’s totally redundant. Similarly for fibre, we have the SingTel fibre, the Telstra fibre; if we take the dark fibre, we’ve got gigabytes of fibre coming into the facility. I don’t think there’s any other place with that sort of bandwidth going in. We transmit between fibre and satellite around 52.5 million minutes of television every year. Once you start to begin to see those numbers, that’s when it starts to make one realize how much important it is to the connectivity. We have also gone to the next phase now.

From linear television we now go on to what is called the multi-screens. In my opinion, the industry will have to, at some stage, accept it. For a consumer, it doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it on the hand phone, or an iPad or a mini iPad or on the big screen or on the television screen or in a studio screen. It is just the size of the screen. A person would want that when he’s sitting in a meeting, he should be able to watch the same thing on his iPhone or other smartphone that has a 4-inch screen. When he gets into his car or when he gets into the MRT (local subway), he should be able to do it on a 7-inch screen. When he gets home, he should be able to do it on a 24-inch screen. If he’s in his study or in his lounge with his family, he should be able to do it on a 56-inch or 60-inch screen. You want the same experience from a 4-inch to a 72-inch screen.

We are getting into a point that we want to seamlessly get into one screen on to another. I don’t really want to say, “Oh I have watched until this point; now I go on to my television screen and watch it in a different thing.” I think that we are still doing it only because we have not reached that level of technology. Our next task is reaching that sort of consumer satisfaction. How can we give our business, channels, everybody else or my customers, a technology so that they can provide to a consumer?

 

Q: What do you think are the key issues that are limiting the growth towards that future?

A: I am of a firm opinion that one is always limited by one’s own ambitions. As a consumer, we have not started to demand for it. When we demand it, the industry will have to give it. It is always that way.

So as a consumer, when we start to create enough momentum towards an experience that we want, technology will be merely an instrument. It doesn’t really take long for the technology to develop. As soon as there are volumes, every technology in the world will provide it.

 

Q: Can you share how Encompass’ infrastructure is strengthening its capacity?

A: We have nearly doubled our fibre capacity since the beginning of 2012. We have dark fibre coming into our facility now, and we have multiple fibre routes from SingTel, StarHub and Telstra into our route. The problem that we have, and this is absolute realistic problem, is growth – which I always think is a good problem.