by Russell Wise Issue 90 - June 2014
Within the broadcast industry, ongoing financial pressures have driven continued consolidation of operations, centralization of staff, and efforts to increase efficiency through smarter use of current and forward-looking media-focused technologies. At the same time, the rise of multiplatform content distribution has introduced an even greater incentive and opportunity for broadcasters to offer their high-quality media assets quickly and cost-effectively not only on their broadcast channels, but across multiple platforms.
Even in the face of these demands, content remains king. Thus, one key challenge for broadcasters today is that of establishing an efficient and intelligent solution for monitoring, maintaining, and even improving the quality of the content they create and deliver.
Evolving Monitoring Models
The monitoring operations of broadcast stations have traditionally relied on the viewing of aired content at key points across the conventional distribution chain. When it was necessary to implement remote monitoring, facilities often resorted either to recording the remote transmission to tape or to deploying the equivalent of a modified TiVo system to capture aired audio and video. This model allowed engineers to gain access to all aired content, and to look back in time and review the content broadcast on a particular channel over a specific period.
By taking a look at this recorded content, engineers at the central site could not only assess video quality, but also determine if programming was in compliance at any given time. The actual process of locating questionable content, however, was tedious and time-consuming at best, often taking hours or days. Consequently, it also could be hours or days before the broadcast engineer could identify and isolate any problems in aired advertising or program content.
While the drawbacks of this approach were significant, they were more appealing practically and financially than the prospect of situating technical staff at remote sites to perform monitoring. Considering the limitations of this approach, though, the introduction of digital video monitoring and logging systems was a welcome advance. Such solutions took advantage of improvements in broadcast and network infrastructure, along with the rapid increase in the use of IP networks for communications, to provide broadcasters and other media companies to establish much more efficient and cost-effective remote monitoring models and to gain real-time visibility into the end-to-end transmission path.
Advancing Technology, Increasing Efficiency and Utility
Now broadcasters are taking advantage of extended logging capabilities, transport stream interfaces, signal quality monitoring tools, and streaming functions to make even greater progress in achieving monitoring efficiency. The new Observer Media Intelligence Platform¢ from Volicon facilitates this advance, allowing users to capitalize on opportunities not only to create and deliver high-quality content, but also to raise viewer ratings and generate new ad revenue.
The Observer Media Intelligence Platform captures and stores content from any source and enables users at the desktop to edit and clip that content in real time, from anywhere, at any time. Building on this functionality through a series of purpose-built applications, the Volicon platform supports a range of use cases including compliance, quality assurance, competitive analysis, , and repurposing for multiple platforms and social media outlets. Singly or in combination, applications engineered for the Volicon platform give users the functionality they require to meet their monitoring objectives.
When equipped with the Review application, the Volicon platform serves as a fast and intuitive solution for reviewing on-air content, validating ad placement, and performing competitive analysis. Capable of ingesting media continuously, according to a schedule, or in real time, the Observer Media Intelligence Platform can generate both a low-resolution proxy and a True HD (1080i 25/30, 720p 50/60) recording of content to enable local and remote users to collaborate evaluating valuable aired footage, whether to improve program content or prepare recorded content for further distribution.
The Review application allows users working anywhere to access and review live and historical broadcast content. When accessing this material on a local network, users can work with high-resolution versions, and when working remotely, they can access lower-resolution proxy versions. Compatible with virtually any connected mobile device, the platform makes these proxies available along with metadata such as ratings data to users anywhere, anytime. Staff thus can review and analyze their broadcasts, and those of competitors, with complete flexibility.
The Monitor application builds on Volicons renowned technology to allow users to monitor video quality, respond to fault reports, and use a full recording of the on-air broadcast for instant review of errors and their impact. An integrated multiviewer feature enables users to drive their standard displays as multiviewers and instantly grab and evaluable a suspect stream via their desktop interfaces.
At the same time, Volicons Comply application gives users the ability to record, clip, and export their broadcasts to meet regulatory and licensing requirements, ranging from decency to closed captioning to loudness, with a clear visual affidavit of compliance.
As broadcasters take on the many challenges associated with successful delivery and monetization of their content, applications within the Observer Media Intelligence Platform provide them with the tools needed to address critical monitoring and analysis tasks quickly and with efficiency.