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Masstech’s CatchBlue Speeds Hearst’s Operations

Joe Addalia
ORLANDO, FLA. — I’m always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of our operations, not only from the perspective of an individual station, but also as to how we work collectively as station group.

The launch of the industry’s new Pitch Blue program distribution service this year occurred while we were beginning to upgrade and expand the systems we use to process and manage file-based content delivered to our stations.

For several years we’ve used MassMedia Box (MMB) Masstech Group to automate the detection, processing, and delivery of file-based content. It’s the foundation for our file-based content delivery, and we decided to upgrade our MMBs to Masstech’s new CatchBlue product, as we wanted to benefit from the latest product developments.

Its configurable and flexible workflows, the embedded high performance transcoding and the import and formatting of distributor supplied metadata were all of great value to us.

The CatchBlue workflow allows us to highly automate ingestion of file-based content, and this is critically important, as it is necessary to implement a unified process for all file-based content ingestion. CatchBlue is essentially the “aggregator” of all of the content and eliminates the labor-intensive, repetitive, manual processes associated with content being delivered from multiple sources.

We have deployed CatchBlue at the local station and at our Content Distribution Center (CDC) operation in Orlando. The CDC performs content ingest and metadata preparation for material that’s used by many or all of our stations. We then distribute the content and metadata to stations where it’s received and processed by CatchBlue. This allows us to benefit from the economies of scale in a “process-once, distribute-to-many” workflow.

We also knew that transcoding was key to any potential efficiency gains, and this consideration was amplified by the HD H.264 payload delivered by PitchBlue. In transcoding, it only makes sense if it’s done faster than real-time.


We were very impressed when CatchBlue clocked in with transcode times (for high definition H.264 to Long GOP MPEG-2) approaching 1/3 real time. This is achieved with an off-the-shelf dual quad core IBM or Dell server. Equally important is the fact that we weren’t forced to choose between the quality and speed of the transcoding. We’re getting the best of both worlds—quality and fast transcoding.

This transcoding performance and the highly adaptable workflows really made our CatchBlue implementation successful. And because it includes the entire Masstech transcoding portfolio, CatchBlue enables us to address a wide range of content submitted by local advertisers. This extends and completes the aggregation of the many disparate sources and content types that we deal with every day.

The positive impact of CatchBlue on our operations is significant and we know that we have only scratched its surface.

Joe Addalia is Director of Technology Projects at Hearst Television. He may be contacted at

For additional information, contact Masstech at 905-707-2982 or visit