Thomson Video Networks Sapphire Capture and Playout Solution Achieves North American Market Leadership in Compressed Domain

RENNES, France -- April 5, 2013 -- Thomson Video Networks today announced that its Sapphire MPEG server has achieved market leadership for channel-in-a-box solutions among North American broadcasters. To date, more than 500 Sapphire MPEG servers have been deployed in North America, primarily to U.S. broadcasters working in the compressed domain.

"This milestone confirms Thomson Video Networks' position as a worldwide leader in the video compression field," said Mark Renfroe, vice president of sales for the Americas at Thomson Video Networks. "More than a channel-in-a-box system, Sapphire is a true 'Swiss army knife' for broadcasters that need to perform local production and insertions on MPEG streams without going back to baseband video. The system's innovation is evident because it preserves the incoming picture quality and, for broadcasters that are moving towards this solution, it offers true reductions in the costs associated with playout."

Sapphire is a versatile MPEG-2 transport stream server that provides all the functions needed to ingest, process, brand, and play out digital SD and HD TV channels over ASI or IP networks. This includes advanced capture, playout, and regionalization capabilities, as well as frame-accurate operation with MPEG-2 and H.264 compressed content. Sapphire combines the functions of a video router, a baseband video server, a logo inserter, and a character generator. All functions operate seamlessly and frame-accurately in the compressed domain under the control of internal playlists or traditional automation systems.

This compressed domain approach makes Sapphire an ideal fit for downstream manipulation of "emission-ready" transport streams. In the U.S., stations affiliated with all major TV networks are using Sapphire to replace or split local ads under the control of their automation systems. PBS member stations in the Central and Mountain time zones use Sapphire to delay the distribution feed, saving significant satellite capacity in the process.

Secondary network affiliation channels (also known as digital subchannels) have become very successful in recent years, and Sapphire has been a key enabler for stations affiliated with MeTV, ThisTV, and Bounce TV. Using a mix of satellite-delivered in-band triggers (SCTE-35) and local scheduling, Sapphire inserts ads, programming, logos, and EAS messages. Initial CAPEX is much lower for this model than for a traditional baseband master control approach, with no compromise in functionality. ION Media has recently selected and deployed Sapphire for HD master control in the compressed domain at its stations. Sapphire receives local schedules from the traffic system and inserts ads, logos, and EAS messages in the main HD channel.

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About Thomson Video Networks

From the very onset of digital TV broadcasting, the Thomson name has been synonymous with supplying expertise, quality, and reliability to the world's leading broadcasters. Since delivering the world's first large-scale direct-to-home satellite system, Thomson Video Networks has been a global leader in compression systems for satellite, terrestrial, cable, IPTV, mobile TV, and Web streaming. The company helps its customers deliver superior quality video to anything from small handheld devices to large 3D HD screens, with the lowest bandwidth to ensure a profitable business model. A trusted supplier to more than 20 percent of the active channels deployed worldwide, with a global support presence and a reputation for delivering quality at every stage, Thomson Video Networks offers the experience and range of products to meet every need, from hybrid multi-format compression systems to contribution links for content exchange networks.

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Photo Caption: Sapphire MPEG Stream Server