Enhancing Reliability and Performance

Enhancing Reliability and Performance

Broadcasters are willing to invest in technology that will seemingly reduce the cost of playout systems and decipher complexities while increasing accuracy in critical operations.

Media and broadcast industry is undergoing several fundamental shifts which include changing consumer behavior, technology advancements. Increased demands on service flexibility decreased ad revenue for traditional broadcast channels, but increased ad revenue opportunities for OTT and social media services.

The demand for accurate and high-quality content is high due to an increasing number of channels, rising language variation, and fragmentation of content. Video operators are finding new ways to launch new channels, manage these channels, and deliver programs with fewer resources. With high competition among vendors and a low-profit margin, channel-in-a-box (CiaB) enables broadcasters to use the existing IT-based platform for playout automation, reducing the capital expense. The broadcasters are not required to incur additional costs to purchase individual devices to prepare the playout chain. This increases operational efficiency and reduces the cost of a broadcasting system by integrating playout and master controls into a single IT-based platform.

Global playout automation market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16 percent by 2020, according to Technavio. The market growth is driven by its latest advancement in the technology providing benefits to the producers and engineers with powerful and compact outboard by combining the sonic quality and features. This is becoming more competitive which are the major boundaries in the growth of the market. But integration is in use now a days and it is easy to decide the future of CiaB.

Advanced playout solutions are flexible enough to accommodate any style of operation. Solutions from which media organizations benefit immediately and that also provide a clear migration path to the future of IP and pure software systems are now focused on the industry.

Content providers have come to the realization that traditional production and distribution processes with disconnected systems, teams, and workflows cannot support this expected level of output and activity. It is now critical to remove long-standing silos by developing tight integrations across the ecosystem, and introduce automation to eliminate manual tasks and free up resources for high-value activities, remove barriers to collaboration, shorten production cycles, improve visibility, increase productivity and ROI, and reduce costs.

An appropriate playout solution enables broadcasters to formulate a strong business model, whether it is adopted by large enterprises seeking to expand their reach or by a very small outfit looking forward to launch a niche channel.

Playout Priorities

Broadcasters are eager to compete for audience and ad dollars by quickly deploying new services and channels with specialized content from a solution that solves todays and tomorrow’s challenges.

The many and varied requirements of broadcasters have created demand for flexible solutions from the providers of playout systems. There are significant differences in playout requirements depending on the level of broadcaster and, as a bit of a generalization, the territory that they operate in. There have always been tremendous differences in the playout environment. The US markets have a particular way of operating and that might be different to someone in Asia-Pacific. Also a service provider, who wants to consolidate and become more of a cookie-cutter operation to keep overheads low, operates quite differently from a national broadcaster, so playout has always been incredibly diverse.

More conservative markets are still using the classic automation software control, running on top of discrete devices for video servers and graphics that are driven to a large extent by local expertise and familiarity with that kind of technology.

The move to IP is gaining traction as broadcasters’ wariness of adopting IP and commoditized IT slowly dissipates. As it is mainly the larger users who have the ability to embrace IP, SDI will remain part of the mix for some time. IP is more about supplementing SDI than replacing it unless industry has the luxury of designing an entire new broadcast facility from scratch. IP is very efficient in controlling remote devices and for point-to-point file distribution.

Broadcasting will continue to straddle both technology levels. Some are in growth phases and still looking at getting services to air. Integrated playout solution accelerates channel deployment more quickly than traditional installations with a flexible, software-based architecture that enables broadcasters to pay for only what they need and affordably add features as the business evolves.

The approach to multivendor support, integrating with the best-of-breed in key areas such as graphics, is not likely to radically change in the foreseeable future, but there are implications of running completely in software with virtualization. At the moment, industry is more limited in the number of vendors that are supporting the IP and virtualizing technologies – although this will change fairly quickly.

Whilst dominating the conversation in other areas, UHD/4K is not a dominant issue in a world where the majority of playout is SD. There is a lot of SD and there are people trying to work out how to complete their HD transition. According to Ian Young, Product Manager, SAM an unexpected driver for higher quality video is VOD which is not dependent on dedicated terrestrial or satellite transmission channels. VOD delivery helps get over the hurdle of live linear 4K delivery. What is not proven yet is will 4K be the consumer’s preference over HD/HDR.

But it is virtualization and operating in the cloud – whether private or public – that is drawing the most conversations. Virtual playout frees broadcasters from the need to possess, operate, and maintain their own hardware. The savings in space and staff overheads can be substantial, especially for a channel located in the center of a major city.

Streamlining Operations

Automation today comes in many forms to improve processes throughout the video lifecycle and bring OTT content to the market in the most efficient ways possible.

At its most fundamental level, automation streamlines operations by replacing manual, repetitive, and mundane tasks with automated, business logic-driven actions. Automation can accomplish all of this across video workflows so companies can save time, lower costs, and reduce human error. Intelligent workflows can incorporate automated business logic and user-defined rules to determine how an asset is treated when it is ingested. Media logistics can automatically detect and validate files during this process and then orchestrate their transformation and packaging.

Automation through media logistics helps break and integrate production silos, centralize more activities, and improve communication and productivity among groups. Errors are reduced, costly bottlenecks are avoided, and multiple teams will be relieved to no longer find themselves inexplicably working on the same tasks. Team members can shift to higher-value activities such as developing new content, leaving machines to handle the rest.

Companies can take advantage of these resource savings to complete more projects, scale their existing video investments, and adapt far more quickly to the inevitable changes to come in production processes and partner requirements. As content producers and broadcasters move toward IP-based workflows, the benefits of automation are enhanced, as companies can scale even more easily, reduce their footprint, and remain flexible with cloud-based services.

Indian Scenario

India constitutes a large number of national as well as international broadcasters, strategically shifting focus to reduce the playout cost without hampering the quality of output. Advancements in playout techniques have shifted the focus of broadcasters from conventional ways of playout to latest solutions that are cost-effective and do not involve huge manpower, infrastructure, and complex integration of different devices. This has further helped broadcasters in error handling, improving quality of results, simplifying processes, and eliminating redundancy.

Increased need for improved channel presentation, ease of operations, reduced cost of ownership, and fierce entry of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the broadcasting industry are factors driving the growth of the playout automation and CiaB market in India.

GrassValley’s ignite integrated and automated production solutions are one of the industry’s first and most complete link between the control room and the newsroom – one that provides an unmatched return on investment with single-operator capabilities.

In May 2017 Times Network, a news network in India selected GV Stratus with K2 Summit 3G Transmission Clients connected to a K2 SAN Storage System for video production and content management in entertainment and movie channel applications, as well as the iTX integrated playout platform, iControl customized end-to-end facility monitoring, Kaleido-X multiviewers, Kaleido-MX multiviewers, and Densité 3 Frames to serve as the monitoring and master control system for ingest, live, and file-based content across the facility. Together, these solutions from Grass Valley, a Belden Brand, will enable Times Network to have a more efficient and agile production environment.

Imagine Communication’s easy-to-deploy integrated playout solution accelerates channel deployment more quickly than traditional installations with a flexible, software-based architecture that enables broadcasters to pay for only what they need and affordably add features as the business evolves. IOX storage platform is an evolution of our existing shared storage offering. Our playout storage offering is designed for high-performance and advanced production environments, and designed to enable media companies to shape and configure storage resources to meet the exacting needs of each operation in the workflow.

The company has recently delivered a compact, cloud-native disaster recovery (DR) solution tone of the leading global content company ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL). The business continuity solution utilizes the built-in redundancy capabilities of virtualized and geo-dispersed environments to provide ZEEL with improved protection of its playout operations for considerably less than the cost to build and maintain duplicate facilities. ZEEL has rolled out a state-of-the-art cloud-based business continuity solution in its DR facility in Mumbai using Imagine Communications’ Versio™ playout solution and the company’s D-Series™ automation solution. The backup site supports 15 ZEE channels running on Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) servers across a virtual platform that mirrors the main site. Any changes made to the main system are immediately reflected on the DR system.

Harmonic video servers, shared storage, and automation solutions provide professional media organizations with open platforms optimized for the production, transformation, and distribution of digital media.

At Convergence India 2017, Harmonic highlighted Spectrum™ XE, the company’s advanced playout system. Designed for production and playout applications in today’s complex media environments and featuring superior function integration, the IT-based Spectrum XE combines a full CiaB system with a premium-quality software encoder, making it ideal for HD/SD broadcast and multiscreen channel origination and manipulation. It is the perfect solution for cost-effectively regionalizing downstream programs with ad replacement and branding. Additionally, Spectrum XE offers a complete array of CiaB features to control and deliver new channels, including flexible multichannel playout, built-in automation, and smart asset management.

Aveco automation is an open solution that controls any third-party device. The Redwoods complement this offering nicely. The company can now provide complex systems where premium channels use the discreet devices, other main channels run on Redwood Blue, and the niche/Internet/on-off channels use Redwood White. All of them are covered by a single Aveco automation, unified GUI, unified workflows, and unified training.

Enco is the premier global provider of playout and automation solutions. DADtv configuration is an integrated audio solution providing full multichannel record and playback capabilities with a generous selection of random access hot key based and sequential, playlist-driven user interface choices. Other playout solutions include MOM (media operations manager), a complete automated playout system that brings automatic ingest, media asset management, graphics, and playout automation together into one platform.

PlayBox Technology Broadcast Automation System consists of an Ingest Server, Automated Playout Server, Graphics Insertion Server, TX Database Server with TX Management Software, Networked File Storage Server, and Networking Peripherals.

Recently HNN 24×7 has added PlayBox Technology’s AirBox Neo playout system to its production suite. The core playout infrastructure also includes two ProductionAirBox servers and features DataBox Neo, ListBox Neo, and SafeBox Neo. ProductionAirBox Neo is a media manipulation and delivery system. It allows for a range of file formats and resolutions to be imported into a playlist, with up to 16 digital audio channels to accommodate multichannel multilanguage programs. With AirBox Neo, HNN 24×7 is now able to add UHD capabilities to the PlayBox Technology content playout system.

ChyronHego’s Live Assist playout automation engine offers an ultraintuitive user interface and open API for smooth integration with existing newsroom system.

Way Forward

Broadcasters from around the world are seeking affordable playout solutions that they can integrate easily into their existing workflows. They are willing to invest in technology that will seemingly reduce the cost of playout systems and decipher complexities while enhancing reliability and performance in critical operations.

While technology transitions such as the move toward IP-enabled, virtualized, and cloud-based operations present new opportunities for content playout, each transition comes with its own challenges, rate of adoption, and revenue-expansion prospects.

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