WB readies regional spots
New technology will let network run different commercials in same time slots
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/10/2002 7:00:00 PM
The WB network has begun testing a new system that will allow the network to send regionalized commercials to its 104 affiliates by the end of the year.
Currently being tested at Tribune stations in Los Angeles and Chicago, a Pinnacle VBase system at the network operations center (NOC) in Los Angeles will send content to ES-100 video servers at the stations.
"It will pre-feed regionalized commercials to the stations and then send a trigger so that the spot that plays in L.A. will be different from the one that plays in Atlanta," says Dan Highland, director of special projects at Tribune Broadcasting.
The WB Director of Operations and Engineering Larry Fisher says the system does not require a lot of satellite bandwidth. The network has been using a similar system to run local spots for smaller DMAs and send them via satellite to PCs.
"We thought that model would work well for network regionalized commercials," says Fisher.
Pinnacle, he adds, incorporated the NOC to ensure that each station gets the right regionalized commercials and has other remote capabilities.
The VBase system is software that will reside in Windows NT workstations near The WB's existing Louth automation system at the NOC. According to Dan McGee, Pinnacle Systems general manager, video server business unit, it will integrate with the station's traffic system to determine what content has been sold. It will also connect to the station's automation system to manage content on the edge servers, provide as-run log information, and monitor the network.
The system takes the RF feed from an Altier receiver (which gets content from The WB) and sends it off the LNB (low-noise-block) converter and into the Tandberg integrated receiver/decoder (IRD).
One of the ES-100's two inputs accepts the video signal decoded by the IRD; the other receives the same input that goes into the IRD. The first passes through the server unaltered or has regionalized content inserted. The second includes the regionalized content and control information, which it places on the server ahead of the scheduled run time. A modem connected from the server to the VBase system receives playout instructions.
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