Many U.S. TV stations have still not migrated to HD

Only 38 percent of U.S. television stations have made their internal production and master control systems fully HD-compatible. This and other failures to adopt digital technology is resulting in about $250 million in untapped annual cost savings to broadcasters, a new report finds.

While HD control rooms are one of the earliest investments considered by stations, only 45 percent of stations have one or more HD control rooms, found the new report — “U.S. TV Stations Infrastructure: The HD Transition Has Just Begun”— released by Positive Flux, a firm that specializes in transforming media companies to address new opportunities.

The report found that station groups have barely begun to realize the cost savings from shared production synergies, representing a huge untapped economic benefit. Although all stations pass their network’s HD feed, many have merely inserted an HD bypass switcher to air network content and therefore still need cost-effective solutions to upgrade their master control facilities.

While almost 90 percent of stations have adopted nonlinear editing, the report said most have yet to take the next step of developing unified workflows.

Station engineers, the report found, lack visibility into where their signals go after leaving their facilities. As stations embrace new economic models and issues including retransmission consent, interactivity and addressable advertisements, knowledge of these downstream paths will become critical for new business development.

The continued movement toward evolving stations’ operations and technical architectures represents large opportunities for the stations, as well as for vendors and service providers, to find ways to make these changes and enable cost structure improvements at the same time, the report found.

From media production to newsroom operations, traffic function to master control, the report identifies technologies and innovations that represent cost savings opportunities for stations or business opportunities for vendors. It also finds that while many station executives see HDTV conversion as a competitive necessity, they have not recognized the inherent opportunities for process improvement and cost-savings the changeover can bring.

A complete executive summary of the report is available. The full report is available for $1200.