With its plan to distribute commercials from about 20 dub-and-ship operators via satellite, integration at the receiving stations and networks was a key consideration for New York City-based Media DVX. For that reason, the broadcast servers it will provide to operators are Grass Valley Profile and Pinnacle Media Stream servers.
Because these two servers are the most widely used, it will take both to achieve sufficient penetration of the approximately 500 receive sites that ultimately will be involved, says Ron England, president of the media distribution arm of Media DVX.
There were other server manufacturers that Media DVX looked at-including Sony, Philips and SeaChange-but they had considerably less market penetration, he says.
"Not only is integration at the stations important, but it also is important to be able to move the file digitally, as opposed to having to play it out to videotape and then re-encode it into the server," says England.
So far, the servers are at 12 Media DVX customer sites that dub and ship commercials for agencies and post-production facilities. When the customer gets a master tape, it encodes it in MPEG-2 or Motion-JPEG, using either server before distribution by Media DVX via satellite to the receive site.
Receive sites using the Grass Valley or Pinnacle servers can then move the spot digitally as an MPEG-2 or Motion-JPEG file to their on-air equipment. Those not equipped with servers can play it to videotape as NTSC or CCIR 601 digital.
While providing the servers at no charge to the distribution facilities, Media DVX is also providing stations and broadcast and cable networks with a 1.2-meter Ku-band receive dish and a Compaq Proliant industrial-strength server, to which it transmits. The commercials are then moved-by Fibre Channel or Ethernet-to the on-air playback server.
Another bonus for broadcasters is that Media DVX also expects to distribute syndicated programming by satellite in the third quarter of this year. So far, it has equipped 30 receive sites and has a backlog of some 120 that are waiting, says England.
He expects to have agreements with all stations in the top 50 markets, which would total 375 to 400 receive sites. The satellite-delivery-service firm also has agreements with six station groups and expects to have a total of 15 to 20. The agreements include stations outside the top 50 markets-a total of some 500 receive sites in all.
England would not comment on the cost of the servers or the cost of providing all the equipment to clients and receive sites. However, he notes, "we have a special program with Grass Valley and Pinnacle."
Another consideration was interfacing with the automation systems of stations and networks. England reports that his company is working with such automation providers as Louth and Columbine JDS to develop a method for transferring the metadata on commercials to their automation systems. Currently, it is entered manually, but providers are expected to go into production early this summer with systems that will automate the process.