A Chat with the Brainiacs Behind Skype TX

In recent months, we’ve announced a new solution for broadcasters: Skype TX. Initially created to inspire and enable even more media moments, the hardware/software solution has since been used to develop new, never-been-done-before concepts for live, video-on-demand, and other digital content.

Last week, we caught up with two team members who’ve been involved from the get-go: Matt Jordan (Senior Technical Account Manager for Broadcast & Film) and Simon Lucas (Principle PM Manager). Alongside topics such as the overarching process, we touched on the public’s unforeseen reaction to the product, and perhaps most exciting—what’s in store for the future of Skype.

Skype TX in action

How did it all start?

Matt: Skype in Media is a team that’s been around since 2007. We’ve been helping broadcast media partners in television, radio, film—and increasingly online—use Skype, in whatever manner they see fit. They can use Skype on their PC, on an android, or Skype on an Xbox. Our goal is to make sure that whatever way they’re using Skype, we help them look and sound good doing so.

Simon: Skype TX was born out of this need to give broadcasters the best possible Skype experience. Previously, they have used Skype as a means to interact with their viewers and create content. But until Skype TX came along, there was no easy way to manage this and integrate Skype into the broadcast workflows.

Matt: This hardware/software solution is basically a PC that is rack mounted and runs Skype at its core. So it can still talk to any Skype user, on any device, anywhere around the globe, but the Skype TX solution is optimized to take that call into broadcast and media integration. What that means is, we’ve taken out chat notifications and pop-ups in Skype TX. So, when you’re on air, you only have the audio and the video, you don’t have some of the other normal features from Skype.

How has the public responded?

Matt: Just this year, we announced that we have three amazing, new hardware partners: NewTek, Quicklink and Riedel, and they’re all selling Skype TX to broadcast and media partners. When we went to market with this, we were very surprised that people other than broadcast and media folks were interested. We’ve had enterprises, Fortune 500 organizations, as well as churches, universities, and telemedicine companies all interested in using this broadcast version of Skype.

It really is optimized for audio and video so you can take a Skype call with anyone and make it look and sound as good as possible, for those integrations via broadcast media, education, healthcare, or whatever your purposes may be. I think we were all very surprised with the amount of other verticals that became interested in using Skype TX.

Simon: Yeah, I always knew there was demand for such software. However, the reality of just how popular it is has even taken me by surprise. Now, as part of Microsoft, we have the opportunity to broaden our customer base beyond broadcast and media, and are finding an equal amount of enthusiasm in other areas such as enterprise and education.

What’s next?

Matt: I think that Skype has proved to be revolutionary in the way that we are able to create not only new content, but new formats. Skype is really changing what can be done in the world of broadcast media. Now, we can allow user-generated content from any of the 300 million Skype users, anywhere in the world, when they want to call in to the BBC or CNN at newsbreaks, or as they may be interviewed for a talk show. Using Skype TX to open up the ubiquity of Skype users to the broadcast and media realm is pretty groundbreaking.

Simon: For now, we’re focusing on making Skype TX as feature-rich as possible and on expanding our footprint globally. Ideally, we want it in every studio, worldwide, to enable broadcasters to produce the next generation of unmissable TV moments with Skype.

Are you using Skype TX in new, innovative ways? We’d love to hear how!