Ascent Focusing on New Digital Strategy

Oct 20, 2003  •  Post A Comment

With the recent promotion of Ken Williams to president and CEO of Ascent Media Group, the post-production and network services company is now focused on having its disparate businesses work together efficiently and, more important, digitally.
Ascent Media Group, wholly owned by Liberty Media, breaks down into three areas-creative services, media management and network services.
In the creative services area, it has some 25 post-production companies around the world providing broadcast design, sound, color correction and visual effects services. Its media management division handles digital media, digital imaging, duplication, formatting and film mastering, among other services. Its network services area offers satellite uplinking, field production, distribution and VOD systems management.
Over the past few years, Ascent Media has bought up many post-production companies, including R!OT, Company 3, Encore Hollywood, Level 3 and others. Mr. Williams said the company will slow down its acquisition of post-production houses and now will focus on partnering with other players instead.
“There are areas where we might look to partner with other large technology players and creating virtual networks for data transport as it begins to replace traditional ways of distributing content,” Mr. Williams said.
Ascent Media will look to grow new businesses, such as creating special networks or video-on-demand efforts, not just for entertainment companies but also for consumer products companies such as Procter & Gamble, which has been a client.
Mr. Williams says while there are plenty of companies that make creative efforts digitally available, few are able to go to a pure data-computer environment.
“For us, we have a number of initiatives, all of which are under a common file-server environment,” he said. “We are laying in the pieces of a global strategy for true end-to-end solutions.”
For instance, many broadcast production companies are slowly moving from videotape to a tapeless environment. In a computer environment, digitized media-TV shows, films and TV commercials, even whole film and TV libraries-can be easily transferred to other facilities for various post-production services, and finally to the uplinking facility for distribution.
“You can get the advantage of being able to send it and archive it, so you can be more flexible,” said Jim Conlon, senior VP of business and product development for Ascent Media Network Services. “You can get content on the air more quickly. You can move it around the world without customs concerns.”
Benefits of Streamlining
Benefits of digitizing post-production work could include, for example, a TV commercial client in Atlanta seeing in real -time the editing work an editor is doing in Los Angeles on a spot.
Much of this effort to streamline the production process comes from a push for quicker turnaround times of theatrical releases, TV shows and TV commercials. For instance, a media company may be looking for a quicker-to-market DVD launch. All this has increased the importance of streamlining internal post-production work for studio and post-production firms.
“With the need to get shelf space, and the implications if you are late to market either from an intellectual perspective or a piracy perspective, the opportunity in terms of transforming your relationship with strategic vendors is less about saving a point or two on cost and more about speed to market, reliability and consistent quality on a global basis,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s the opportunity to fully exploit your content from a revenue perspective.”
Mr. Williams has been with Ascent Media for about a year, having joined at the time the company’s predecessor, Liberty Livewire, was renamed with its current name. He was formerly chief operating officer of the company.
Before joining Ascent Media Group Mr. Williams was president of Technicolor Digital Cinema. He previously held a senior executive position at Stan Lee Media and spent 18 years in studio operations at Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment.