Tightrope Boosts Open Media Access

DENVER—The continued improvement of community TV programming, video quality and audience reach is a tenet we embrace at Denver Open Media. Much of our success centers on aggressive exploration and use of cutting-edge technologies that help us achieve these goals, while keeping our operational costs manageable. As part of the non-profit Open Media Foundation, Denver Open Media became the city’s cable access broadcaster in 2005, shortly after Denver Community Television folded because of discontinued funding.

Since then, we have successfully operated three public, educational and government (PEG) channels without operating funds from the city, relying on community support and memberships. These members help manage our PEG channel operations, with the power to submit and schedule content and the freedom to use our video equipment, among other benefits.

Inside the control room of Denver Open Media Given our unusual funding model, choosing technology suppliers that keep our equipment costs low while offering true growth platforms is important. For these reasons, we have gone with Tightrope Media Systems. We have used Tightrope’s Cablecast server and automation platform for content management, scheduling and playout since 2005, with various hardware upgrades and software updates along the way.

Cablecast Reflect—the latest upgrade to our Tightrope system—has enhanced our online media distribution via a highly efficient cloud-based streaming solution. With Reflect, we can better preserve and manage bandwidth while delivering higher-quality live and on-demand streams to online platforms.

Cablecast Reflect is an Internet video distribution service that optimizes bandwidth by automatically caching TV content in the cloud upon initial viewing. This allows for a virtually unlimited number of live and VOD Internet video streams across consumer devices like PCs, tablets and smartphones, all being delivered as H.264 HLS adaptive bitrate streams.

The benefits were immediately noticeable since transitioning to Reflect from our previous streaming platform. The older software application received outputs from our core Cablecast video servers, which were then encoded and streamed using a Mac Mini. However, that streaming service would often crash due to system overload and high bandwidth usage, requiring us to reboot the streaming applications and/or the associated Cablecast server, resulting in service interruptions for our streaming audience.

Cablecast Reflect eliminates this problem, offering a highly stable and reliable streaming service. With all cached content residing in the cloud, there is no impact on local bandwidth; an especially significant benefit since we stream our content in HD. Additionally, our signal has never looked better; Reflect has improved our online video quality and stream stability at once.

The connection between our central Cablecast server/automation system and Reflect is seamless. The typical workflow begins with member-submitted content, which is submitted through our website. That content is immediately ingested into the central Cablecast system.

Our Tightrope representative developed a special piece of software that replicates content to archive.org; the information comes back to our website and is embedded as video on the member’s show page. Members can then schedule their content by clicking on the link, with the Cablecast system communicating open available programming blocks. Once scheduled, the content airs on our local Comcast and Century Link PRISM TV channels and is delivered to Cablecast Reflect for HD streaming on our website.

By moving to the cloud, Tightrope has enabled us to provide uninterrupted 1080i HD streams to our online viewers with better quality and stability, without the costs and complexity of competing systems.

Ann Theis is the station director at Denver Open Media. She can be reached atann@openmediafoundation.org.

For more information, visitwww.trms.comor call Tightrope at 866-866-4118.