Today’s broadcasters face two challenges: the pressure to distribute round-the-clock programming, often with a global reach, and the necessity of being able to handle contribution content coming from potentially any corner of the planet.
For most, creating the vast satellite and terrestrial infrastructure that would allow them to accommodate those requisites would prove to be cost prohibitive, as well as a logistical nightmare. Fortunately, many broadcasters are finding that outsourcing many of these critical transmission needs is becoming an increasingly plausible option.
In this 24/7 world, where contribution programming can come from any location, broadcasters need an arsenal of tools at their disposal. From mobile uplinks, to the appropriate satellite footprint coverage, to terrestrial fiber paths (not to mention the need for security and redundancy), the mechanics of capturing and distributing video content, which often includes multiple video and audio platforms, are increasingly complex.
Some of us remember the days when black and white television was the only choice and when viewers had only four or five channels from which to choose between 5 a.m. and midnight. Today, with viewers facing so many choices in terms of access (ie, traditional broadcasting channels, cable television, direct-to-home, direct-to-desktop, high definition, etc), and the wide array of available programming, broadcasters’ fight for the majority of wide audience share is fiercer than ever.
For instance, BT’s provision of transmission services to Europe and Australia for the last US Open exemplifies the kind of detail and nuances that are often required in supporting both the contribution and distribution of a major international sporting event. From the Arthur Ashe Stadium, in Flushing Meadows, NY, we transmitted to multiple destinations in Europe using BT’s Ku-band “special events mux,” uplinking five simultaneous channels to the brand-new NSS-7 satellite. The same flyaway also transmitted a Single Channel Per Carrier signal to NSS-7 for unilateral contribution programming needs, stand-up shots, and other various ad hoc requirements. BT’s C-band flyaway uplinked 18MHz of capacity to AMC4 as a domestic backhaul path to BT’s Media Center in Los Angeles, which was turned around to Network 9’s full-time service, also provided by BT on IS 701 at 180 (for distribution in Australia). Lastly, a 270-Mb local fiber loop from the venue to BT’s New York switch at 60 Hudson Street was used as a fiber backup for the satellite feed to Australia.
On both sides of the content contribution-distribution equation, outsourcing the function to service providers who specialize in state-of-the-art solutions is key. By tapping the resources of providers who are offering a wide array of the latest video and Internet technologies, such as video streaming, digital terrestrial television, high-speed Internet access via satellite, and digital business TV, broadcasters can achieve the best mix of high-quality, cost-effective services.
Through outsourcing, broadcasters can achieve the following benefits:
* Access to the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art hardware and software available.
Service providers such as BT Broadcast Services are committed to building and maintaining hardware, software, and solutions with a view toward broadcasters’ future needs. For instance, BT runs a 622-Mbps, multiformat video network from London to New York to Los Angeles, which offers the resiliency, security, and flexibility to accommodate the transmission of uncompressed video (270Mbps), multimedia applications on a dedicated ATM circuit (155Mbps), and point-to-point occasional use and permanent contribution services on a DVB ASI service (155Mbps). This multiformat video network allows users to access the bandwidth they need, as they need it. The company also offers mobile and satellite services, and maintains alliances with prominent global partners for a comprehensive array of cutting-edge solutions.
* Elimination of the fixed costs needed to create a comprehensive satellite and fiber infrastructure.
Through outsourcing, broadcasters only use the services and products they need when required. This enables them to convert fixed network costs to variable, “on-demand” expenses.
* Elimination of the need for multiple origination facilities.
Service providers can offer broadcasters one playout center with a global reach. Using a provider that has global network solutions, broadcasters have the ability to expand their networks and achieve their business requirements.
* Ability to work with providers that have global content contribution and distribution expertise in all formats.
Certain service providers are adept in the transport of various media formats, no matter where the geographic points of origin or distribution are located. By utilizing this full range of contribution and distribution services, broadcasters can maintain their competitive edge.
* Creation of a customized solution.
Every company within the broadcast community is unique, requiring its own methodology, technical, and business requirements for the contribution and distribution of its programming. Experienced service providers understand this and adopt an approach to designing solutions that will service, support, and satisfy the broadcaster’s business needs.
Explore The Options
While there is no one way to handle the challenges of content contribution and distribution management, broadcasters should maintain an open mind when exploring the various options and opportunities available to them. Outsourcing critical transmission requirements might be one of those options.
William McNamara is general manager of BT North America Broadcast Services.