Technology

ReelzChannel Makes HD Upgrade

Network will switch to all-HD distribution this fall 8/09/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Cable network ReelzChannel, which delivers
movie-focused programming to more than
50 million U.S. cable and satellite subscribers,
launched an HD simulcast service last week
and will shift to all-HD distribution this fall using
MPEG-4 compression gear from Cisco.

The Albuquerque, N.M.-based network,
owned by Hubbard Media Group, is relying
on Ascent Media Group to uplink its new HD
service to Intelsat’s Galaxy 17 satellite from
Ascent’s Earth station in Stamford, Conn., as
well as new Cisco integrated receiver/decoders
(IRDs) to receive it at 160 headend sites. The
Cisco ProVu IRDs can simultaneously output HD
and SD, allowing ReelzChannel to quickly migrate
to a single MPEG-4 HD feed, encoded at 8
Mbps, to support both services.

Ascent
has been running the master-control operation for ReelzChannel's existing
SD service on Galaxy 12 out of Burbank, Calif., but ReelzChannel recently built
its own master control in Albuquerque so it can do live programming.
ReelzChannel is now pumping its HD service from Albuquerque over fiber to
Stamford, and on Sept. 1 plans to cease originating SD programming from
Burbank, says Roger Eman, the company's senior VP of operations.

For
a month, the network will take the HD feed from Galaxy 17, downconvert it to
SD, and put it back up on Galaxy 12 to ensure no break in service for
affiliates. By Oct. 1, Eman expects that the transition to the new IRDs will be
complete, and ReelzChannel will turn off the SD feed.

ReelzChannel
is also rolling out new MPEG-4 cache servers from Vigor Systems, the same
company that manufactures the Pitch Blue box for HD syndicated delivery, to
affiliates to allow them to insert localized HD interstitials such as movie
promos. That system should be in place by November.

 

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