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Starz Entertainment

Submitted by
OmniBus Systems

Runner-up:
SWRV
Submitted by never.no

At the beginning of 2008, Starz Entertainment processed around 26,000 assets, rising to more than 80,000 in 2009, with a projection of 200,000 in 2010. Faced with this intensive expansion, Starz needed not only to upgrade its existing equipment infrastructure, but also to find a way of doing so that would create a sound platform for further growth.

As a longtime user of OmniBus Systems' Colossus, Starz had been an early adopter of the automation manufacturer's software-based iTX system. In 2009, the broadcaster decided to migrate its entire operation to the iTX platform. With iTX, Starz has been able to reduce its infrastructure from 44 racks to just 16, freeing up a considerable amount of space for growth without needing to extend the existing equipment room. The iTX platform, running on commodity IT servers and storage, also meets a key requirement of the design brief for the new infrastructure: By combining all the functions required for the sophisticated branded channels Starz broadcasts, iTX reduces the complexity of maintenance and potential for equipment failure, eliminating most of the recurring capital and maintenance costs.

To meet Starz's requirements for originating fully-crafted channels, the design team pressed OmniBus to accelerate development of some features already on the iTX roadmap. These features included extended graphic and effects capabilities to support Starz's style of branding, in-built Dolby digital surround-sound processing and Nielsen ratings code generation. OmniBus developers also extended iTX's closed-caption functionality to support both 608 and 708 formats. With iTX including the capability to meet all these requirements in software, Starz was able to further reduce its requirement for external equipment. Using the iTX developer kit and working with OmniBus, Starz's technical staff integrated iTX with the in-house developed asset management, content preparation and distribution systems to achieve a tight fit for efficient workflow.