Internet fosters a better spot delivery system

USA Studios, a post-production and dubbing company based in New York City, has a long history of converting, dubbing and delivering audio and video content on tape to advertising agencies, post-production houses and broadcast facilities across the country. With the industry’s move to digital delivery, and the dubbing business’s continued decline, the company has endeavored to change with the times.

In the past it has worked with the well-known spot delivery services (e.g., DG Systems and Extreme Reach, etc.). However, the time required to deliver a file was still lagging behind what some consider today’s necessity of “I need it now,” according to Sean Tahzib, executive vice president of USA Studios.

Tahzib said he found it frustrating that he had a digital file, but, due to restrictions imposed by the spot delivery companies, his clients had to wait until the next day.

“Honestly, this became increasingly unacceptable to both my clients and me,” he said. “That’s when I realized that the Internet was our answer. It’s always available and can be made to be highly secure.”

This revelation (and a dissatisfaction with what they had been using) led him to a company called Yangaroo, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with offices in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York, which has developed its own software-based digital file delivery platform that leverages the Internet and the latest file transcoding and transfer technologies and provides unlimited access to more than 6500 broadcast outlets in the U.S. and Canada (including local TV stations, cable headends and other types of Cisco switching locations).

Yangaroo is a publicly traded company that has been in business since 1999. Its patented Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS) platform includes — for advertisers and broadcasters — an automated traffic management system called “Reporter” that merges personalized traffic instructions with a signed and date-stamped confirmation that traffic instructions have been received. Knowing when and where a spot was delivered is critical to station’s financial success.

As part of a multiyear partnership, USA Studios has agreed to provide physical office space to Yangaroo within USA Studios’ new postproduction facilities on West 35th Street in New York City. Post services include adding closed captions and titling to content before it goes on to the broadcast outlet. USA gets a 10GB/s pipe into its facility and the discounted use of Yanagroo’s extensive infrastructure.

At USA studios, files are prepared as MPEG-2 mezzanine files (50Mb/s). Those get sent into Yangaroo’s backend system (DMDS), which transcodes the files into the appropriate format for each broadcaster. (Yangaroo said it could distribute video clips in more than 150 different formats and layouts.) The files are QC’d before going on to the station, exactly as requested. To retrieve the file, the station has a variety of options. They can log into a customized Yangaroo website, they can set up a dedicated FTP site or utilize their own, where the files will be waiting for them at the time requested. Yangaroo also provides file transfer management software to ensure reliable delivery. The software can be loaded into stations’ gateway servers and handle advanced automation tasks or integrations with third-party systems.

USA Studios’ Tahzib said that the real advantage is cost (there’s virtually no equipment to buy) and speed. And because Yangaroo’s DMDS platform is cloud-based, scalability is fast and easy.

“We can now deliver many more spots, much faster and much cheaper,” he said, “because we’re using Yangaroo’s network as a conduit to TV stations and ad agencies. We’re now capable of distributing a huge amount of HD spots all over the country, literally in a matter of minutes. This partnership was critical to growing our business, keeping up with the times, in terms of technology, and really positioning ourselves as a serious player in spot distribution.”

Indeed, the Yangaroo service is beginning to take hold. Major broadcasters such as Viacom’s MTV Networks have requested that content owners provide their music video content through Yangaroo’s preferred DMDS service.

For stations, the advantage is that you don't need a special server, as some of the other spot delivery services require. That means no extra cost for servers and server maintenance as well as extra effort to ensure the clips have been received appropriately. The Yangaroo service works faster and more flexibly.

“Previously, we could only offer our clients overnight delivery,” Tahzib said. “Through the DMDS system, we have now implemented a six-hour delivery policy as a standard delivery service. We could not offer this before. It’s saving advertisers significant amounts of money, because SD and HD file delivery is the same. It wasn’t always this way.

And best of all, Tahzib said profit margins for USA Studios’ services have now gone up while its pricing to clients has gone down.