portrait of Kyle Luther

Imagine recently tapped well-known industry veteran Kyle Luther to lead our Americas sales team.

Kyle brings to the role more than 25 years of experience in media & entertainment and an impressive resume that includes sales leadership positions with a veritable who’s who of broadcast technology brands.

After giving him a couple of months to settle into his new role, we sat down with Kyle to get his thoughts on all things Imagine.

Congratulations on your new role with Imagine Communications. What attracted you to the company in the first place?

Imagine Communications is one of the more storied companies in the broadcast industry. It has a fascinating history, with 85 brands coming together through various mergers and acquisitions to create some of the most compelling technical solutions the industry has ever seen. These brands were instrumental in shaping the broadcast industry, with solutions that could be found in TV station racks across the world.

Imagine is standing on the shoulders of these giants of innovation. For me, it makes for a very compelling company with a tremendous intellectual property stack and limitless potential.

What is it about this point in time in the broadcast industry that makes Imagine’s products and solutions so compelling?

Technically speaking, I think we’re in the midst of the most disruptive time the broadcast industry has ever experienced ― even more so than the transitions from radio to television, black and white to color, and analog to digital. Right now, our customers on the content aggregation and distribution side of the business are facing unprecedented challenges as viewership for their content becomes increasingly fragmented. With Imagine’s unique portfolio and understanding of how to make and monetize content, we are the perfect technical partner to help them overcome these challenges.

The thought leaders on our team work closely with strategic partners to create technology that meets customers’ specific business model requirements. For example, our partnership with Amagi allows our customers to deploy FAST channels — one of the fastest growing segments in the industry — and create pop-up channels for sports that normally wouldn’t be covered or content targeted at a very specific viewer base. So, while Imagine’s innovative, open-standard technology compelling in itself, it is this ability to solve customer problems and help them navigate today’s turbulent waters that really stands out to me.

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Navigating the Waves of Change
Imagine is standing on the shoulders of these giants of innovation. For me, it makes for a very compelling company with a tremendous intellectual property stack and limitless potential.

What are the pain points that you’re hearing about from current and prospective customers?

As our customers increasingly move toward cloud production, total cost of ownership is a major concern, as there are numerous hidden costs on both the ingress and egress sides. With that in mind, many of them — around 75 percent, according to a Devoncroft study — are looking to take a hybrid approach that allows them to continue utilizing on-premises technology for certain aspects of playout.

Not only does a hybrid approach offer a more defined cost of ownership, but it allows our customers to move content in and out of the cloud to test future workflows. With our Aviator cloud production technology — and partnership with Amagi — we’re perfectly positioned to meet their current requirements and provide a path to the future of cloud production.

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What are the key industry trends that are especially important for Imagine?

With all the unprecedented ways to distribute and consume content, there’s going to be high demand for unique and specialized content that simply wasn’t viable in the past. This surge in content creation represents one side of the equation; the next challenge is how to monetize it. Here, cloud-based and hybrid on-premises cloud workflows present promising opportunities. These technologies are capable of delivering content to diverse audiences across multiple platforms, from connected TVs to traditional linear television.

Another trend that will shape the industry is an increase in dynamic partnerships among vendors. Traditionally, vendors have aimed to offer all-encompassing, end-to-end solutions, but recent insights, such as a study by European industry think tank DPP, suggest that this model may be becoming obsolete. What seems more viable now is specialization. Companies that excel in specific areas are increasingly open to collaborating with other specialized vendors. Imagine believes these dynamic partnerships are crucial for the industry’s progress and has made a significant investment in publishing APIs that media companies and partners will need to build seamlessly integrated, best-in-class systems.

What is your vision for Imagine in the coming months and years?

We will continue to develop solutions based on our holistic understanding of the playout market, connected and linear television, and hybrid on-premises cloud workflows. We’ll also continue to share our extensive real-world experience in SMPTE ST 2110 deployments with customers who have yet to take advantage of the benefits of IP infrastructure. While the vast majority of facilities have employed ST 2110 and IP switching, there are still markets across the globe that haven’t. We look forward to bringing our solutions to those markets and partnering with customers to help them migrate from SDI to IP at a pace that works for their business.

On the ad tech side of the business, we’ll increase the focus on our GamePlan platform, which allows advertisers to seek maximum value for their avails. It’s based on market-tested algorithms that yield significant premiums and allow customers to maximize the value of their linear TV ad space. This capability is especially important with the Paris Games and presidential election coming up in 2024; it helps guarantee that our customers are getting a return on the significant investment they make in covering these events.

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Embracing Evolutional Migration Strategies

Has any aspect of Imagine surprised you?

One of the more fascinating things I’ve discovered is the long tenure of our support team members, which is uncommon for tech vendors in this space. I was speaking with one of our customer support specialists the other day, who said that the average tenure on the team is 20 years. That number is unheard of in this business, and it demonstrates that we have a very knowledgeable and experienced team ready to help our customers in any way they need.

And I was even more surprised to learn that long tenure doesn’t just apply to our support team; it applies to marketing, the front and back offices, and research and development. That speaks volumes about the culture that’s been created at Imagine and why I think we continue to be one of the top vendors in this space.

What is the customer journey like at Imagine?

At Imagine, closing a deal is really the beginning of the customer journey. We have an exceptional professional services team that fully understands each customer’s requirements, the need for the operators and technical engineers responsible for deployment to be in tune with their implementation dates, and the significance of milestones, such as sporting events and elections.

Once we’ve deployed, our support team is there for our customers, whether they need something developed, changed, or if there’s an operational issue or system outage. We’re there to provide N+1 redundancy and respond quickly to resume operations.

What does Imagine's customer portfolio look like?​

Our customer portfolio reads like a who’s who of content providers, networks, station groups, and vertical markets. I find it exciting that we not only continue to serve these tremendous brands that have brought us content since the birth of television, but that we get to work with new customers that are starting sports networks or niche channels for a specific demographic.

We’re the technical consultant that gets to guide them through the process of making and monetizing content. It’s so gratifying to meet these customers a year or two later and see their business thriving, knowing that Imagine played a significant role.

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Transforming Visions into Media Success Stories

Kyle Luther  LinkedIn Icon

Vice President, Americas Sales at Imagine
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