Beehive System : The buzzword with TV news providers

When CNBC India, now rechristened CNBC TV 18, launched its Indian operations in the late 1990s, it needed to have adequate data support.In Keeping with its internationally acclaimed image of being a leading source of financial news, the company required to ensure the availability of not only accurate but real time data as well.

What did it do? It relied on Beehive Systems to provide it with a solution that would ensure accurate and real-time financial information. The solution was fin?wiz application from Beehive Systems Ltd., which is an automated financial graphics application package capable of generating a wide spectrum of financial graphics and analysis. By extracting data from the wire services, fin?wiz collates all the information sought as part of the query and displays it on request. Additionally, the application also ensures on-line updation, which means the data gets updated even while on air.

Beehive System?s Office

According to the Bombay Stock Exchange-listed Television Eighteen Ltd managing director and promoter Raghav Behl: "Beehive?s solution has given us the indisputable advantage in delivering accurate and the latest financial data. The automation of the graphics production and the ease of its usage has lent incredible gain to the channel?s contents."

It may be construed as being pompous by some, but there is truth in the fact. Beehive, co-founder and director,Tushar Kothari, who is based in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi, told "Our competitors are all foreign companies operating in India through distributors."

Beehive Systems Limited is a global software solutions and services company catering to the broadcast industry worldwide. Founded in 1989, Beehive Systems provides innovative solutions in the areas of digital video systems, digital newsroom solutions, automated data graphics, and custom software solutions for the broadcasters.

Because the Beehive products are 100 per cent software-based, hardware-independent news production tools that provide broadcasters with effective solutions to enhance their content-delivery capabilities as well as their bottomline at a fraction of the cost of those currently available in the marketplace, the products are catching the fancy of broadcasters, especially Indian most of who are in an expansion mode.

Pointing out that since most products of the company are software based and they help cut down costs, Kothari said increasingly the broadcasters and media companies are realising that technology has thrown up alternatives to the traditional way of doing business.

Take, for example, the company?s flagship product vid?link that is a comprehensive newsgathering solution for broadcasters. The PC based solution for video gathering enables collection of news clippings and video conferencing between remote sites and a central production center. The Windows NTT application uses IP multicasting technology to dispatch MPEG video streams across leased lines and satellite links. The MPEG encoder meets the most demanding requirements to provide a 24/7 hour operation. PAL / NTSC formats are supported at screen resolutions ranging from MPEG-1 SIF to MPEG-2 full D-1.

"This first-of-its-kind product was formulated because the conventional method of V-Sat (very small aperture terminals) networks was proving to be expensive for those who wanted a wider area of coverage through their own network," explains Beehive vice-president (business development) Ajay Pal Singh.

So, when the management of Eenadu TV was on an expansion spree with plans to launch several channels in various Indian languages, it went in for vid?link.

The company that has an impressive client list including the likes of NDTV, Star News, CNBC TV 18, Zee, ESPN, CTV of Taiwan and Doordarshan has also done extensive work on events and election graphics.

It has provided this solution to some leading broadcast channels including CTV, Doordarshan and Eenadu TV. Additionally, Beehive Systems has also proven capabilities in delivering Interactive Voice Response (IVR) based solutions to gather and provide real time information and have integrate IVR with its real-time on-air graphics solution.

Along with the content management of statistical data of matches and players, Beehive also provides teams for live sports events. The on-site team does data collection, provides analysis, and generates graphics for live events.

The solution includes scoring system interfaces for control of live graphics systems as well as interfaces for scoring databases. The application can be used for various sports - soccer, tennis, cricket etc.

It was Beehive that Star News turned to when it was looking for backup support for the revamped news channel. The completely overhauled Star News channel is equipped with a world-class technology to impeccably deliver its content. Beehive Systems? vid?linkMOBILE has empowered its correspondents with lightning fast newsgathering system. Star News has bought 14 software licenses of the product and the system has been successfully used for the coverage of the Iraq conflict.

Offering matchless video quality, vid?linkMOBILE is the latest technology, claims Singh, for cost-effective and rapid newsgathering. It allows journalists to transmit live video and audio content to broadcasters via a satellite phone or traditional Internet connection. Facilitated by an advanced video codec, vid?linkMOBILE is based on the latest video technology that combines mobility with faster transmission of high-quality broadcast video. It is unique in its ability to transmit high quality video over low bandwidth allowing for transmissions 70 per cent faster than other compression standards.

As Kothari points out, "The broad trend in content production, worldwide and in India too, is that traditional ways are getting replaced by desktop IT-based solutions. That?s where we fit in." If the investment on newsgathering and/or production is coming down to Rs 100 million from Rs 400 million, then why not such solutions?


Tushar Kothari

Kothari and Ganesh Rajamani started Beehive Systems in 1989 and the latter is the director of technology in the company.

In 2000, according to Kothari, Citibank, through its private equity group, picked up a 30 per cent equity stake in Beehive by investing over $ 1 million. This was done as Beehive was seen to be as a software house that is targeting broadcasters exclusively coming out with products to suit their needs, Singh points out, adding that the "effort now is to replicate the model and success story in the US."

Beehive has a state-of-the-art development center in India with a team strength of about 70 professionals and a presence in around 16 countries worldwide with sales offices in India and the Americas.

As the company established itself in India and spread its wings to some east Asian countries --- the testing ground for us go global, as Singh points out --- it started looking for partners and distributors abroad.


In the US, Beehive hitched up with SignaSys, Inc. that provides concept-to-completion systems integration and consultation services to the professional media industry. So with SignaSys as its reseller and systems integrator in the USA, Beehive started introducing its products there where the market size is estimated by Kothari to be worth approximately $ 2 billion.

Ganesh Rajamani

Commenting on the global business plan, Kothari says,"Having strengthened our product portfolio with the powerful new generation solutions, we are looking towards stepping up the business by expanding into different geographies. Our partnership with SignaSys is a step in that direction. Leveraging their market reach, and leadership in system integration, we are poised to lead the way in the fast changing television news terrain."

Already there are some enquiries for Beehive product in the US and if their next big bang product, digi?newz, clicks, Beehive would be really be on air, as they say. digi?newz is a tapeless end-to-end solution or the newsroom and is likely to be unveiled next month sans any hype. "We want to test market it with a client before we start talking about it," Singh said.

But for the immediate future, it?s the regional media houses that Beehive wants to tap because according to their estimates local channels would spring up to cater to the local needs of viewers and advertisers.

"The likes of Dainik Bhaskar group are potential media house to turn into broadcasters to run local channels and it is such groups that we?d be now targeting as also companies in South India," Kothari explains. But will that happen? Kothari and Singh are very bullish on the fact.

With the tech spend of Indian companies going to be close to Rs 500 crore (Rs 5000 million) this financial year ending March 2004, Kothari feels that not only their target turnover of Rs. 25 crore (Rs. 250 million) is possible, but also the expansion. "Now when you can start a channel for just Rs. 10 crore, any media house would be tempted to do so with technology helping them to bring down the investments," he adds.

What are the trends of the future? According to Kothari it would be video on mobile and interactivity where the revenue model is still being worked out globally as it?s a nascent industry and delivery of digital content that would define the way business is done in the future. "Already the likes of Hutch are doing things in this regard and it would only grow over the years," he explains.

It seems that the buzz about Beehive is only getting stronger.

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