Launching new services like streaming video or subscription VOD services isn’t simply a matter of rethinking old business models. Television companies are also discovering that they must embrace new technologies in their basic operations. One striking example of that transformation can be found at Discovery, where Brinton Miller has been playing a major role in deploying new cloud- and software-based technologies to reinvent the company’s operations.
“As the industry starts to pivot to a point where digital has to be a major part of everyone’s strategy, you have to be able to very quickly react to new platforms and deliver to those content,” Miller said. That has meant moving away from the old proprietary “big iron” infrastructures to newer approaches based on cloud and software technologies that can be quickly expanded, contracted or revamped as needed.
“There is still plenty of money to be made on television, but everyone understands that there are headwinds on the industry,” he said. “We have to start doing things differently so we can react to the new world order and not fall behind.”
Miller majored in sociology at Lehigh University, graduating in 2000, but he began honing his tech chops by working in recording studios and eventually an integration company that built studios. After college, he went to work for CEI, a broadcast systems integrator. “I quickly got 20 years of experience in broadcast systems in six or seven years,” he recalled. “You build more facilities in a short period of time than most people build in their whole career.”
During the evenings, Miller also earned a masters in information systems management at George Washington University’s School of Business before joining Discovery in 2006. He moved up through the ranks at the cable programmer, leading teams that built nine production facilities in five countries, upgrading their systems for HD broadcasts and establishing an IT broadcast team.
Miller’s wide-ranging experience, earned in his days as a systems integrator, eventually convinced Discovery chief technology officer John Honeycutt to give him a major role in company’s tech transformation as it pivoted to cloud- and software-based infrastructures.
“Brinton is a unique mix of an executive that’s really hard to find,” said Honeycutt, himself a 2009 B&C Technology Leadership Award winner. “He’s as comfortable talking about technology as he is about business. When I watch him approach an opportunity, I know that I am going to get a well-thought-out, strategic plan. From there he just gets it done.”
Those major projects have included the recent deployment of a new system for producers to send all their content to the cloud; work on cloud-based playout systems for its networks; and technologies that will more efficiently format and deliver content to Discovery’s many networks and digital platforms.
In this tech transformation, Miller also echoes sentiments from several Tech Leadership Award winners about the importance of creating the right culture in their technology teams.
“A lot of our success is based on the fact that we have great teams that are open to change and have embraced change,” he said.