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Q&A with Jean-Philippe Gillet, INTELSAT

Intelsat senior VP of global services and GM of networks business Jean-Philippe Gillet speaks to David Davies about the role of satellites in the future of broadcasting.

IBC365 spoke with Intelsat senior VP of global services and GM of networks business Jean-Philippe Gillet about the role of satellites in the future of broadcasting.

What role will satellite continue to play in content distribution going forward?
Satellite will continue to play a role in content distribution moving forward because it can reliably and cost-efficiently bring broadcast-grade content to millions of people globally. Satellite makes it easier to scale new content distribution technologies and also keep pace with emerging trends to provide the high-quality experience that consumers have come to expect.

As media companies work to distribute high-quality content over multiple distribution platforms and make it easier for viewers to find their favorite show or channel, the resulting fragmentation has actually made their network infrastructure more costly and more technically complex to manage. And yet, viewers expect the same level of quality and reliability across these multiple platforms and more devices – all at prices that are affordable.

Managed satellite solutions can help media customers find simpler ways to more cost-effectively aggregate content and data, without sacrificing the viewer’s experience. Intelsat is uniquely positioned to lead in this area—we can blend broadband, cellular (3G/4G/5G) and satellite connectivity to create a virtual ‘network of networks’ with the necessary bandwidth to deliver broadcast-quality content.

What is your overall media strategy moving forward, and what are the opportunities for satellite in the media market?
Intelsat has a history of working very closely with our media customers, so that we stay close to them and work to solve their evolving and long-term distribution needs. I’d say that we’re continuing to leverage the strength of our video neighborhoods around the world supporting cable, broadcast, and DTH distribution as well as hybrid distribution options.

We’re also moving more and more into end-to-end managed solutions, helping to remove the complexity and pain points from an increasingly fragmented landscape and enabling our customers to focus and innovate on other aspects of their business. These managed media services include: colocation, uplink and downlink, as well as access to our Multi-Channel Per Carrier (MCPC) platforms.

It’s also worth noting that in addition to managing the physical transport of our customers’ content, we take care of the necessary encoding, conversion, and encryption services required to transmit content securely to viewers

A few of the future opportunities that satellite can capitalize on include the direct-to-home market in developing markets, hybrid networks and multi-channel distribution – to name just a few.

Your company just recently announced that ViacomCBS will continue its relationship with Intelsat to deliver content to Central and Eastern Europe and across the Asia Pacific region. Have you seen an increase in inquiries about content delivery especially at a time in which many people are still hunkered down due to COVID-19?
We are seeing a recommitment from longstanding partners, such as ViacomCBS – they realize that Intelsat can help them to maximize their viewership no matter the circumstances.

COVID was a bit of a double-edged sword for content distribution – on the one hand, you do have more people hunkered down watching and streaming content. However, on the other hand, there are a number of content providers that rely on occasional use (OU) events, such as sporting events and concerts, which have declined dramatically – so, it’s really been a bit of a mixed bag.

How has COVID-19 had an impact on your overall business?
The Coronavirus pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on people and businesses around the world, including many of the businesses we work with.

I’ve been incredibly proud of how our global workforce has responded – our entire team really didn’t miss a beat in making the transition to telework, and remained as committed as ever to keeping our customers and partners supported, informed and connected.

I’d also say that our business has demonstrated great resiliency in a challenging operating environment. Our networks business experienced some setbacks due to the impacts of COVID-19 in the cruise maritime and aeronautical mobility segments, however we’ve booked new business in merchant maritime and enterprise network applications. And we’re fortunate to have a diversified business – our government services business continues to demonstrate strong growth, for example.

What are a few content distribution or video streaming trends you see for the rest of 2020 and into 2021?
In 2020 we’re focused on the following trends:

  • · Localizing programming to maximize monetization for our customers
  • · Blending non-linear, OTT streaming and live-event content into rationalized platform streams that bridge the digital divide
  • · Ultra-low latency CMAF (and CMAF-LL) streaming formats
  • · Serving content to consumers from a localized edge

Prior to joining Intelsat, what do you (Jean Philippe) regard as the key two or three milestones of your career?
I started working in the Media division of Orange which then became GlobeCast. This was a very exciting time with international expansion and the setting up of international activities. I am really proud of being part of the team that launched the distribution of ethnic channels in the US called GlobeCast World TV – More than 20 years after its launch, it is still strong with 100+ channels and now part of the Intelsat fleet on Galaxy 19.

Of your time at Intelsat to date, what achievement are you most proud of?
Intelsat has always been the main providers of international content distribution. We have fantastic assets and customers. I am really proud to be able to leverage this for our customers like CBSViacom, NHK or BBC (to name a few). Establishing 1 West as a key neighborhood in Eastern Europe with a leading position in Romania / Hungary / Slovakia and other Eastern European markets is also a major achievement.

From a personal perspective, what is the new/emerging broadcast technology that you are most excited about?
It feels like the pace of innovation on the media space is accelerating. This is so challenging for our customers as they have to manage all the new technology and keeping with the revenue of the legacy services. I am really excited with the potential impact of 5G deployment for content distribution, this is a massive opportunity for us to provide new services for our customers. IBC Showcase

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