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Andrew Jordan keeping NBC Universal moving with the times

Mark Chillingworth | April 29, 2013
Andrew Jordan is a communicator. He describes everything succinctly and his use of metaphor makes difficult subjects easy to grasp. It's important that Jordan, senior vice president of international technology and operations at NBC Universal, has strong communications skills, as this international broadcaster is undergoing a massive switch in usage patterns. Jordan's job title more than hints at his employer's American heritage, but this Englishman is responsible for all the company's technology operations outside of the US.

"Cloud is interesting. We have increasing demands for flexible models in post-production or distribution, so there is a gap in the market to play out from a Dropbox-type of technology, but with compression that is currently not suitable," says Jordan.

"Could the elastic computing idea be key to transcoding of HD files to SD? There is a lot of talk about creating a secure elastic transcoding model.

"In the workflow, the question is how we get material back from a field reporter in Syria in a more secure and central cloud environment? So cloud will permeate into a lot of different places."

Games makers

Jordan arrived at NBC Universal just prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games, of which NBC was a broadcaster.

"The Olympics was fascinating. A lot of the work was done prior to my arrival," he says. It wasn't only the 16 days of sport that fascinated Jordan, but also the commercial pressures such big events place on broadcasting and its technology.

"An advertising slot in the Superbowl sells for upwards of $20 million. The accuracy required in delivering and playing out that slot is getting harder, and if there are any crackles in the sound, for example, the advertiser won't pay. We have redundant play-out facilities that we invite the advertiser to come and check and play the ad out and we guarantee that facility will be used for their advertisement."

It was these very challenges that attracted Jordan to the role.

"The media is undergoing an extraordinary amount of change in consumption, in devices and in the commercial models. To be part of that journey and to assess where the opportunities might be and put together active strategies for revenue streams and growth into new places, it is really rare you get that opportunity,"he says.

"The media as a sector is incredibly interesting as it's what people do when they are not working. For me it's the first role I've taken where the end product is not pure B2B.

"I'm launching NBC Labs," he says of his first major innovation since joining. "The labs will look at technology innovations that may have a big impact for us. This will create a platform to introduce new ideas, to do trialling of how our products look, but also to look at other technologies and industries.

"When I arrived I was surprised by the lack of knowledge of the consumer view and of the journey users go through to find our content. There was a lack of awareness of how it looks on a mobile or on Freeview, particularly in operational areas," Jordan explains.

"From a back office standpoint we are in a three-year virtualisation programme, so all our offices are virtualised. NBC Universal has three data centres: some broadcasters have more than 40.


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