Automation Facilities Excellence Awards Winner
The NBC hub-spoke project features three hubs, 13 spokes and service in seven of the top ten markets. The NBC Television Station Division has led the way into the future of TV broadcast operations by demonstrating that substantial savings in operational costs can be achieved using a centralized business model, while still maintaining the localized flavor and content necessary for the highest possible market ratings. The success of the hub-spoke project has led NBC to schedule expansion of the system, adding KNTV, San Jose and multiple Telemundo stations to the system.
NBC carefully studied the viability of centralcasting to streamline operations and reduce capital expenses. Operational savings resulted from maximizing staff efficiency and streamlining the material workflow. Capital expense savings occurred because only three new hub facilities had to be equipped with digital equipment instead of each of the spokes.
After researching available automation solutions, NBC chose Florical ShareCasting because it easily controls equipment spread out across multiple sites (the hub and each spoke) as one cohesive system, yet allows for easy local control for breaking news stories. Florical also provided superior reliability by deploying two separate fully independent systems, so if one system fails (due to multiple system failures), the other independent system is right there in step for immediate protection.
At the NBC hub sites in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, the Florical ShareCasting originates all programming and commercial breaks for the individual TV stations. Content is stored in two separate Thomson Grass Valley Media Area Network (MAN) storage arrays for redundancy protection. The individual program streams are transmitted to the spokes using E2V Technologies (formerly Marconi) ASX-1000 and ASX-200BX broadband switches for passthrough to the transmitter, as is done in traditional centralcasting.
Unlike traditional centralcasting, the Florical ShareCasting solution enables the NBC spoke stations to share control and sourcing with the central hub. At the spokes, late-arriving commercials and local promotions are stored on a local video server using the MediaFiler media preparation system and are inserted into the program stream using a local routing switcher under automation control from the hub.
The ShareCasting Multi-Time Zone software enables all schedules to run from the hub in their own local times while the control software executes time-based commands to video servers and switchers based on Universal Coordinated Time.
AirBoss Editor Workstations add or drop material from commercial breaks during newscasts or breaking news cut-ins from the studio control room or the newsroom at the local station. ShareCasting's Zero Timing software provides programming flexibility by seamlessly mixing material from the hub and spoke within the same break.
Richard Wescott, NBC TVSD
Dave Bondanza, WVIT-TV
Deborah Grevoy, WCMH-TV
Paul Russel, WTVJ-TV
Steve Angelovich, NBC
Steve Vitale, AF Associates
Jim Moneyhun, Florical Systems
Jeff Gierhart, Florical Systems
Florical ShareCasting system:
AirBoss on-air presentation
MediaFiler ingest to servers
MediaTimer program segmenting
MediaMaster asset management
ShowTimer satellite acquisition
Thomson Grass Valley Media Area
Network and routing switchers
E2V Technologies ASX broadband switches
TANDBERG Television multiplexing equipment