How do you cost-effectively support the delivery of live programming and on-demand simulcasts to more than 100 million U.S. households looking for the latest weather forecast? The basic answer is to prepare the content once and then automatically convert that content for different platforms using a fully networked signal-processing platform that minimizes human intervention in order to maintain an efficient and productive workflow or multiscreen content delivery.
Many people are talking about deploying such systems to meet the new consumer demands but they’ll also tell you that you can't do it by yourself. You need a tech vendor versed in IT-centric infrastructures and interfacing with the ever-increasing variety of video technology companies (including Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia and others) to implement reliable solutions for video delivery to any IP-connected viewing device.
The Weather Channel is using highly automated and totally integrated video processing systems from a company called Elemental Technologies, based in Portland, Oregon.
All of these live streams originate from The Weather Channel’s state-of-the-art operations center, in Atlanta, Georgia, where multiple Elemental Live encoders send prepared content to stream live content to The Weather Channel’s YouTube channel. When The Weather Channel streamed live coverage of Hurricane Sandy to YouTube last fall, Elemental systems facilitated delivery of some 12 million live video streams that were viewed during the course of Sandy on weather.com and YouTube, with a peak of 167,000 concurrent users.
To support portable devices, The Weather Channel uses Elemental Live systems to format and stream video more than 100 million cumulative app downloads on all tablets and smartphones, The Weather Channel reaches 38 million mobile consumers monthly through weather.com on web and mobile applications. The cable network also reaches 50 million web consumers on weather.com and desktop platforms.
Bryson Koehler, executive vice president and chief information officer for The Weather Channel, said that with the growth of digital viewers for its content on web and mobile screens, “assuring a high-quality, widely available viewing experience is vital.”
The company said its Elemental Live encoder combines the benefits of parallel hardware-based processing with task-specific software to perform simultaneous processing and encoding of multiple adaptive bit rate outputs. A web-based interface simplifies workflow, exposes real-time controls for event management and provides one-click access to content delivery networks. The company said a single Elemental Live system can perform the work of more than four CPU-only encoders, eliminating configuration complexity, optimizing multiscreen video delivery and reducing total cost of ownership.
Yes, but is it going to snow today? The Weather Channel now has the capability to tell those of us living in the northeast, within seconds, in whatever digital form we wish, to recommend gloves and a hat.