MIAMI BEACH— In mid-October of last year, Sinclair Broadcast Group moved a critical operation to a fully virtualized public environment, enabling the company to realize a variety of cost and business advantages.
What did it do? It streamlined and customized the distribution of the broadcast media company’s children’s programming by centralizing playout operations in the public cloud.
Imagine that. That’s exactly what Imagine Communications is saying, as it is responsible for the arrangement.
The partnership centers on KidsClick, a three-hour block of age-appropriate children’s programming airing daily on a number of broadcast stations. With the centralization of the playout and ad trafficking operations of KidsClick in a virtualized environment using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment, Sinclair is now capable of delivering customizable programming and advertising, based on what each individual affiliate desires.
Imagine boasts that this approach “significantly increases efficiency, flexibility and speed to market,” when compared to a traditional on-premises approach.
“The scalability and customization capabilities that the public cloud approach offers is unlike anything we could do using a traditional, on-premises model,” said Sinclair Chief Technology Officer Del Parks. “Since we’re only delivering this programming for a few hours a day, the flexibility of originating in the public cloud is a far superior alternative to purchasing traditional equipment that would sit idle for many hours at a time. We also gain experience and confidence in this operating model that we can use for future cloud deployments.”
KidsClick operations are powered by Versio Platform, Imagine’s modular, software-only and cloud-native playout solution. In the KidsClick model, an instance of Versio, running a unique playlist and ad load, is assigned to each time zone. Moving forward, stations may customize programming and deploy targeted advertising to a specific broadcast area.
This inherently scalable approach enables different versions of content and new affiliates to be added to the KidsClick distribution system almost instantaneously, simply by spinning up a new instance of Versio. Required resources are automatically allocated in the cloud, and then released when those resources are no longer needed.
“In addition to near-limitless scalability and resource elasticity, Sinclair can take advantage of running an operating business model and Software as a Service (SaaS) pricing scheme, eliminating dependence on capital expenditures normally associated with traditional channel expansion or technology refreshes,” Imagine notes.
The deployment also uses Imagine’s SelenioFlex File, a file-based processing solution that is running in the public cloud. SelenioFlex File resources can be applied to any pre-produced KidsClick content requiring transcoding, format conversion, bit-rate adjustments, audio processing or any other modifications before being played out to affiliates.
Sinclair has centralized operations for KidsClick at its Las Vegas network operations center.
Sinclair operators keep tabs on feeds coming out of the public cloud using EPIC MV multiviewers from Imagine.
Imagine worked with LTN Global Communications in providing managed and secure path from the public cloud to the individual stations.
“This broadcast industry first is an important positive first step showcasing the power of Versio Platform running in a public cloud environment used to streamline operations, speed to market and tap into the flexibility and reliability of a virtualized environment for the distribution of broadcast content,” said Imagine CEO Tom Cotney. He also notes that the project took roughly six months from concept to deployment.
“SBG is demonstrating that even the largest broadcasters and media companies in the world have the potential to thoroughly improve the performance and efficiency of their operations by moving them to virtualized, geo-dispersed environments,” he said.
NATPE Miami coverage you seek? Go to the search bar above for a peek.