Navigating New WorkflowsTraffic and billing system upgrades are key to growth of initiatives to streamline operations 2/27/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
As TV stations look for new ways to
cut costs, traf! c and billing systems
are playing a more central role in efforts
to further streamline workflows.
Here, one key trend is upgrades that automate
more operations by more tightly integrating
traffic and billing systems with
automation, media asset management and
other facets of stations’ infrastructure.
“Stations are not just looking for smarter
systems, but smarter integrations with
other systems so there is better communications
and more streamlined workflows,”
says Bill Cleveland, senior business analyst
for the broadcast communications
division of Harris Corp.
Harris recently used the
Broadcast Exchange Format
(BXF) standard to much more
closely integrate the Harris ADC
automation system and their
OSi-Traffic solution at Cox’s Fox
affiliate KTVU in San Francisco.
In the coming months, other
Cox stations will be making
similar upgrades, which create
a live log to streamline work" ows between
traffic and master control.
“The biggest benefit [of the closer integration]
is that it eliminates all manual transactions
that are constantly occurring between
traffic and operations departments to the
point where you can make changes to the
playlist five minutes before air with a live
log,” says Chuck Kocsis, manager of product
interoperability at Harris’ broadcast communications
unit. But that integration is “just the first step” in creating more streamlined workflows, Kocsis adds.
“We are now looking at how this can help
us in terms of integrating other areas, such as
digital asset management,” he notes. “It could
also allow us to integrate multiple automation
systems into a centralized traf! cking operation
and seamlessly allow traffic to interact with individual
sites in a much more automated way.”
In the push for tighter integration between
various systems, vendors are also offering
new modules to control additional operations
or are developing new products that
can closely integrate into their core traffic
and billing solutions.
WideOrbit launched an automation solution
at the NAB show in 2011 and has since tested
it in about half a dozen operations, says Eric
Mathewson, founder and CEO of the company,
which has installed its core WO Traffic
product at 1,218 TV stations.
WideOrbit is also pushing forward with its
WO Central, an advertising market tool that
allows agencies and advertisers to access and
buy inventory from participating stations.
The system is currently deployed at several
stations in San Diego and Kansas City.
“We’re currently focusing on infomercials,
but we will be expanding that to shorter forms
and expect to be in 30 to 50 markets by the
end of the year,” Mathewson says.
Major changes are also taking place in the
workings of traffic systems in public media,
where many stations are looking to cut costs
by setting up centralized master controls, says
Crist Myers, president/CEO of Myers Information
“We are involved in integrating our
ProTrack solutions into a lot of interesting
projects for joint master controls that are starting
to emerge in the public media,” he says.
While Myers says these projects are a “great
way to save operational expenses,” having several
feeds come into the same master control also
creates additional complexity, which requires
better integration between master control and
traffic and billing solutions. “Stations have to rely
more heavily on the ability of software to keep
everything in sync,” Myers says.
Synchronizing linear TV feeds with
online and mobile efforts also remains
an important driver for new upgrades.
Myers notes that the National Hockey
League recently agreed to deploy his
company’s program management and
scheduling application. “One of the
key reasons was that the NHL wanted
a better system to synchronize their
Web efforts,” he says.
On the cable network side, the push
toward TV Everywhere deployments
is also making multiplatform features
more important. “Solutions that allow
channels to sell cross-platform
are key,” says John Larrabee, VP of the
Americas, Pilat Media.
To help with that, Pilat Media will
launch at NAB 2012 in April new automated
metadata workflow solutions
for its IBMS platform as well as new features
for rights management and the automation of
Broadway Systems has been doing crossplatform
billing for Fox News for several
years and already has extensive experience in
handling traffic, sales and billing for linear
TV, VOD, online and mobile, says Chris Noe,
the company’s managing director.
Having a complete end-to-end platform has
also helped Broadway streamline workflows
and attract clients. “In the past 24 months
Broadway has been selected by eight new
customers representing 12 cable networks,”
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