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DIRECTV - Winner of station automation

Submitted by
OmniBus Systems

Runner-up: ESPN Star Sports
Submitted by: Television Systems Limited (TSL)

DIRECTV began construction of its new HD playout area in May 2007 with a tight deadline: nine months to deploy up to 80 fully redundant new HD channels based on a flexible system architecture that could rapidly accommodate future services.

OmniBus iTX was chosen for its versatile features and performance, space efficiency and because, as an integrated system, it can be installed and commissioned in a comparatively short time. Integration needed with DIRECTV's proprietary business and engineering management systems required custom development from OmniBus. Web services and high-level interfaces were used to develop further solutions for specific requirements such as real-time connectivity for schedule updates, real-time alerts to provide feedback to the engineering monitoring system and interfaces to DIRECTV's conditional-access systems to automate the insertion of access information into playlists.

A major requirement was the flexible handling of Dolby surround sound. The solution was OmniBus' audio engine with native Dolby surround encoding and input/output remapping, which gives staff control over the integration of encoded material into the schedule. The iTX software runs on HP ProLiant servers with Isilon storage. Using these industry-standard hardware components helped the project stay on time and on budget. The installation of 80 channels was increased to 120 to coincide with the launch of a new satellite and provide capacity for future channels. iTX provides significant workflow benefits and serves DIRECTV in three key areas: pay-per-view HD channels; automated commercial insertion, whereby live signals are passed through iTX and commercials are automatically inserted at specific times using SCTE104 triggers (this is the first use of SCTE104 carried in the VANC and was developed specifically for this system architecture); and playout of highly crafted channels requiring a significant degree of flexibility.