Spectra Vail Use Case: Broadcast Group

Broadcast group delivering the content their customers want and need
This profile is based on a US based broadcast group that is comprised of hundreds of television stations in nearly 90 markets. They are a leading local news provider in the country; owns multiple regional, and national networks; and have TV stations affiliated with all the major broadcast networks. The group’s content is delivered via multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms.
As a leading broadcast group, their primary business is to engage consumers on multiple platforms with relevant and compelling news, entertainment and sports content, and to provide advertisers and businesses efficient means to make valued connections with their mass audiences. This broadcast group recognizes the vital role broadcast television plays in branding and local content delivery, and therefore strive to constantly be at the forefront of leading-edge technology and structures to advance the industry.

Broadcast group has a mission to connect people with content everywhere
This broadcast group had a vision to build a platform that leveraged the public cloud services such as collaboration, content transformation, metadata enrichment, playout and better management across their enterprise through seamless hybrid workflow automation or triggered events. The goal was to create a common platform where any asset is available from anywhere, and can be accessed by anyone all with the idea of a future proof agile architecture that will easily support future business needs.

Recognizing the benefits of scale and reach, this broadcast group led the next wave of industry consolidation. As the company and its number of business entities grew and viewing patterns evolved, their vision for the mobility, portability and universal access of the content was threatened by the reality of the data being delivered in so many different ways, and from so many different locations, this caused a major hurdle in the implementation of a seamless workflow.

As the broadcast group’s workflow matured challenges were uncovered that highlighted that operational inefficiencies needed to be addressed. These challenges included data locality, and the fact that all local stations had their own local storage creating numerous storage silos that were difficult to access and share with other stations. Also, without an easy way to distribute content and take advantage of certain cloud services, the broadcast group found themselves using the public cloud for the some of their workflows, causing difficulties meeting desired SLA’s for data availability, and exceeding the budget allocated for content storage and distribution.

Broadcaster makes any content available anywhere – regardless of what station has the content every station has access to it.

The broadcast group realized that the desired outcome of the overall workflow never needed to be changed in their eyes, only The broadcast group realized that the desired outcome of the overall workflows never needed to be changed in their eyes, only how they went about achieving their desired goals needed to change. As a result of the challenges faced with their original solution, the broadcast group decided to evaluate the Spectra Vail solution in an attempt to create a hybrid cloud where they can leverage local storage and cloud services through seamless hybrid workflows.

In addition, data needed to be accessible to stations across the country independent of the data’s physical location. Another need was a secure, central repository, where all content can be kept and protected for long term preservation and disaster recovery purposes. With Spectra Vail, the broadcast group is able to achieve all these goals, all the while fitting into the existing budget allocated for data management and storage. Another goal of their new workflow was to provide the freedom of each station to choose the tools that are needed for each station, integrate into the public cloud for cloud services, and provide an API driven abstraction layer where a media asset management (MAM) and the orchestration platform can be integrated into storage management layer providing the maximum flexibility for their current and future workflow needs.

With Spectra Vail, the broadcast group was able to completely redefine their operational workflow and create a seamless solution that created a single storage namespace across all sites, that can be accessed by thousands of users, at hundreds of sites. The Vail solution is based on the standard S3 object storage interface, providing a future-proof architecture that can be utilized for years to come. Hybrid Workflow automation and event triggered functionalities was a major requirement with this broadcast group because of the need to utilize public cloud services for playout and direct to cloud integrations. Vail achieves this through its direct integration with multiple public clouds where locally stored data can automatically be sent to the public cloud, services performed (transcoding, speech recognition, etc.) on the content and then automatically replicated for playout across many channels.
The Vail solution was also a technical match for the broadcast group in how the solution was able to function and be implemented into their organization. One major requirement was around the idea of creating a full object where the media and metadata as a “sidecar” are paired together to create full object that has both the content and the metadata to help identify and search for this content at a later date. Once an object is created, automation takes over to decide what sites this object should be placed at based on the tags with staging, auto caching, network optimization and direct site-to-site transfers avoiding cloud egress fees. When transferring from site-to-site it is required that both direct S3 and built in bulk-data-mover support for multiple workflows be available to ensure data is available to everyone regardless of their physical location.

A Vail Solution in Action

A demonstration of how the new Vail solution functions can be observed through an example of the broadcast group’s daily workflow. Let’s assume that a major event takes place in the city of San Francisco. Live video content of the event is captured at the site of the event. Once collected, the content is sent to the local television station where the news team begins to report on the event. At that time, a decision is made as to whether this is national news or just local news. If the event is major enough where other news stations around the world would need to report on it, the content is then placed into a “national news” bucket.

Once content is put into the national news bucket, the other stations around the country are notified that content is available for use. All stations, regardless of physical location, now have access to the content in the world news bucket and can begin to use and report on the new content. When additional services need to be run on this content, data is uploaded to a public cloud with the necessary services to can be deployed and augmented content can be utilized everywhere and on any number of devices.

Once the content is collected and distributed out to the other stations, another copy is made and sent to a central repository location for long term retention and kept for disaster recovery purposes. With this workflow, the broadcast group are able to store and share data with all the news stations.

With Vail, this broadcast group was able to implement end-to-end data management solution built for global distribution and long-term retention:

  • Allow content sharing from any station to all other stations with automated watch buckets where breaking news content is placed and all stations can access
  • Removal of unnecessary tools such as archive managers and cloud connector software packages reducing the
    overall cost of the solution
  • Fully enabled cloud workflow where playout in the cloud is automated including, transcoding, replication, distribution, and other cloud services
  • Create complete objects with the digital asset coupled with advanced metadata enrichment gathered via cloud compute and artificial intelligence

Main control room at the broadcast facility

*Amazon Glacier is a registered trademark of Amazon Technologies, Inc.

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