New studio technology — network
XOrbit Design Team
John Ajamie, sr. VP, broadcast ops. and media logistics;
Jerry Nantz, chief eng.;
Stephen Stuart, dir., media center and closed captioning;
Tim Motley, dir., duplication services
Steven Blumenschein, pres.
Technology at work
XOrbit ProofPositive UltraCast closed- captioning server
Scripps Networks assures content delivery quality with ProofPositive
Scripps Networks recently faced a challenge that any major broadcast content provider can relate to. Scripps needed an effective, affordable solution to validate delivery of its content over the “last mile” into viewers’ homes without watermarking content.
The broadcaster enlisted the help of XOrbit to develop a live-to-air content delivery confirmation system. In its search for the solution, Scripps identified several key requirements. The system would have to monitor the actual output in viewers’ homes, capturing the complete transmission, including all audio and video, of every event on the on-air playlist. The system needed to provide instant e-mail notification to Scripps staff in the event of a preemption or technical glitch, with an A/V clip attached and complete information including the city, the state and the relevant cable or satellite system. Finally, the solution had to function without watermarking the content.
Provided as a subscription service by XOrbit, ProofPositive instantly validates the correct delivery of content from the cable network’s operations center directly to viewers and has been deployed in more than 250 viewer locations in Scripps’ major cable markets throughout the United States. The system works in conjunction with XOrbit’s UltraCast closed-captioning server, which provides playlist information to a ProofPositive device in the Scripps master broadcasting facility. ProofPositive records content over five separate channels as it is transmitted to the cable distribution system. At the same time, a similar device captures the signal as it is received and transmits the analysis back to the XOrbit NOC where it is compared to the master broadcast stream.
The process performs a frame-by-frame analysis based on data received in the viewer’s home, using less bandwidth than a dial-up modem, making it easy to install units just about anywhere and extending the reach of the system. Within 30 seconds after a downlinked signal drops below a defined error threshold, ProofPositive generates an e-mail to the Scripps operations staff, including demographic information and a link to the video clip that triggered the alert. The entire verification process is accomplished without any modifications to the video itself.
Audio and video clips are archived by ProofPositive for 60 days, with a full as-run log available for 12 months. Scripps can access the as-run log through a special Web site that shows the playlist by network as well as any errors for each event by location. Likewise, because the audio and video are archived for 60 days, cable MSOs have a foolproof method to confirm that the correct content aired as well.