NASHVILLE, TENN.—RFD-TV is the flagship network for Rural Media Group, the world’s leading provider of multimedia content dedicated to the rural and Western lifestyle. Launched in December 2000, RFDTV is a 24-hour television network featuring programming focused on agribusiness, equine and the rural lifestyle, along with traditional country music and entertainment.
When I joined RFD-TV in September 2014, I was tasked with transforming the entire look of the network. The instructions from President and Founder Patrick Gottsch were unambiguous: “I want to look and feel every bit as special as the majors out there who do this—Bloomberg, Fox News and CNBC.”
To achieve this goal, I needed to overhaul our entire graphics platform as our previous iteration wasn’t suited to rendering graphics in real time. We also wanted a vendor that could provide us with both video wall control and a graphics player.
Gary Kanofsky helped oversee a graphics system upgrade using Avid technology for RFD-TV. The decision came down to three things: functionality, price, and working with a designer who I have a lot of respect for creatively, and who’s very comfortable in the platform: Anton Maximovsky, president and CEO of Motion Path, a broadcast design and real-times graphics agency. It was very important that I could synergize the gear with creative resources that are comfortable inside that operating environment.
For these reasons we invested in Avid Studio Suite solutions with TDControl for video wall control, 4Designer for graphics creation, Maestro for graphics playout, and the HDVG4 graphics platform. Starting in October 2014, we worked with a very aggressive timeline of about six months to complete the whole project and launched to air with a new look in mid-March 2015.
The benefits of the new platform are numerous. Having real-time data has lifted our credibility as an information provider to a level that’s commensurate with the “big boys.” We’ve introduced capabilities that were never part of the mix here before: charting, a variety of tools to pull data from, equities data, and a very sophisticated, refined, on-air look.
By virtue of the automated aspects of the system, we’ve transferred the responsibility of creating many of the graphics from the graphics department to the journalists, distributing the work among producers, segment producers and writers. This has liberated our graphics department to focus on truly creative initiatives, instead of being bogged down massaging lots of data.
With TDControl, we can map, remap, and lay out our video walls with different graphics and do it dynamically through our rundown. We can control everything in the studio at the TD position. And it’s a much easier system to run and manage than our previous setup, which required someone to operate.
Audience feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and industry recognition was immediate. After six months on the air, “Market Day Report,” our daily news program devoted exclusively to the agriculture industry, won the Cablefax Award for Best News or Series Program against CNBC, Robin Meade’s show on Headline News, and programs from Al Jazeera America and Oxygen.
I can honestly say that there wasn’t a single person on the team we worked with who didn’t have a ready, willing, and able mindset. There was a creative initiative that’s not always the case with vendors. It was a very refreshing way to work.
Gary Kanofsky has worked in broadcasting for more than 35 years. He joined RFD-TV in September 2014, having previously worked at NBC Universal, CNBC, WCBS, Bloomberg Television and Al Jazeera America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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