BILLERICA, MASS.— Non-profit public, educational and government (PEG) access broadcaster Billerica Access Television (BATV) provides local residents with a compelling mix of community-created and station-produced programming. Like many PEG stations, we are concerned that viewers who “cut the cord” won’t see our content anymore. As such, offering our programming online is crucial.
When we replaced our station’s aging automation and playout system two years ago, tightly integrated streaming functionality was a big part of our purchase decision. We already offered online VOD through our previous system, but only in standard definition, and our VOD offerings were not mobile-friendly. We wanted to improve our online audience’s viewing experiences, delivering our content in HD through a better interface while also offering live streaming of all three of our channels for the first time.
We chose the Cablecast community media platform as the heart of our operations, deploying Cablecast Flex 4 and Flex Lite servers for our cable channels; Cablecast Live and Cablecast VOD solutions for creating our live streams and on-demand clips; and the cloud-based Cablecast Reflect service for reliably delivering our streams to web and mobile viewers.
Cablecast’s elegant online presentation and tightly-integrated publishing workflow were key factors in our decision. We looked at the public-facing VOD interfaces of all of the automation providers and liked Cablecast the best, and I can make our content available online without a lot of additional work. When I add a show to our schedule, I can also add it to our VOD library with one click, and indicate whether the show is permitted to be included in our live stream. The Cablecast platform automatically encodes the content and publishes it to our website, with nothing else I need to do.
Cablecast Reflect then delivers both our live streams and VOD clips to the public, minimizing the impact on our local network while ensuring reliability for our viewers. Reflect intelligently caches the content to the cloud the first time it is requested, taking the bandwidth burden off our own connection. The internet connectivity at our facility is not always reliable, so if we didn’t use a cloud-based service, I imagine the viewer experience would be dreadful at times. With Cablecast Reflect, we don’t have to worry about it. We know that we can serve as many viewers as want to see our streams even for our most popular programs, and no matter what, our content will stream out cleanly for them. While our previous system also delivered our VOD clips through the cloud, Cablecast Reflect has again proven superior. Our streams start up faster with no buffering before or during the stream, all while improving the visual quality of our content through HD delivery.
Now that we are reliably streaming live in HD, we have started encouraging people to watch our channels online. We’re currently only able to offer SD on our cable channels but our HD streams look beautiful, and we want viewers to see our content at its best.
As our audience’s viewing habits continue to evolve, we plan to add more Cablecast services to reach viewers the way they prefer. We’ll soon add Cablecast Screenweave, the cloud-based service and apps that let us effortlessly bring our live channels and VOD content to Apple TV and Roku devices.
Kayla Creamer is programming coordinator at BATV. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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