IBC2008: Sony Rides Systems Biz in Europe

Sony Broadcast unveils large deal with British Sky Broadcasting.

Sony Broadcast came to IBC2008 touting the success of its European systems-integration business, headlined by a large contract with U.K. satellite operator British Sky Broadcasting.

Sony OB truck

Sony’s systems-integration business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa grew some 40% in the past 18 months, marketing director David Bush said. Sony Professional Services built 15 HD OB (outside broadcast) trucks this year, and it has orders for eight more for 2009.

Other recent large systems deals for Sony include relocating Sky Italia’s broadcast facilities; integrating Sony’s server-based advanced networked production solution, SONAPS and France’s Canal+ and Italy’s RAI; and creating a digital-signage solution for the French postal system, La Poste, which placed 5,000 Sony LCD monitors in 2,500 post offices.

At IBC2008, Sony announced that it will serve as the lead systems integrator for News Corp.-owned BSkyB as it creates a new HD-broadcasting facility in its West London headquarters, including strategic guidance and design integration. Due for completion in 2011, the new Sky building will deliver flexible, HD-capable multiplatform content-production facilities and multiplatform playout and distribution capabilities.

“It’s one of the largest infrastructure projects in the United Kingdom,” said BSkyB director of technology platforms Troy Smith, who appeared at Sony’s press event to discuss its role.

2007 was the first year when Sony sold more HD gear than standard-definition gear into Europe, and that trend continued in 2008, said Naomi Climer, vice president of Sony Europe. Climer added that sales of HD-production equipment continue to be strong, with new growth in Eastern Europe and Russia. To date, Sony has sold more than 43,000 units of the high-end HDCAM SR format globally, while HD-system-camera sales have reached 8,800, switcher sales hit 6,900 and Sony’s professional LCD monitors totaled 210,000 units.

Sony’s XDCAM HD format is also gaining momentum in Europe. The company shipped some 2,000 units of the high-end 4:2:2, 50-megabit-per-second XDCAM HD optical-disc-based gear into Europe. Meanwhile, sales of solid-state-based XDCAM EX passed 6,000 units in Europe since its introduction last year.