Endemol Shine’s tech bet on ‘Big Brother’ pays off

Journalist Kate Bulkley (left) talks with Peter Salmon on Thursday during IBC in Amsterdam. (Ben Munson/FierceVideo)

AMSTERDAM—Endemol Shine went all in on some new production technology for “Big Brother” in Italy, and the move appears to have paid off for the programmer.

Peter Salmon, chief creative officer for Endemol Shine Group, said that for Italy’s production (named “Grande Fratello”), the company decided to use a lot of new technology like facial and voice recognition, and the cloud for remote editing.

Salmon said that the producers began to use tech elements in new, interesting ways and that it saved Endemol Shine money in production costs. He said facial recognition and artificial intelligence was used to cut down on the number of camera operators that had to “do the boring stuff” during production.

In November last year, Endemol Shine announced a deal with Microsoft to use its cloud-based production workflow system built on Azure. The companies partnered on advanced workflow applications as well as consumer-facing apps, both of which the company said could be rolled out and integrated in additional markets.

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The workflow applications allowed for filming to be controlled and content to be edited remotely, allowing Endemol Shine to more quickly turn around programming. The company said its consumer apps with editing capabilities and access to information such as biometrics give viewers the opportunity to watch and to interrupt the show.

Endemol Shine Group is currently part of 21st Century Fox, but if Disney’s $71.3 billion deal for Fox’s assets is approved, it will become part of Disney. Salmon declined to comment on the pending transaction on Thursday when he spoke at the annual IBC Show and only said his company’s focus remains on continuing to produce content.

Endemol Shine produces (or co-produces) big Netflix programs in the U.S. like “Black Mirror” and “Peaky Blinders” along with U.S. broadcast programs like “Big Brother” on CBS and “MasterChef” on Fox.