One example of how smaller, much lighter IP-newsgathering technologies are likely to transform 2016 election coverage can be found at Hubbard Broadcasting, which is currently testing LiveU’s LU200 unit to deliver IP video from cameras back over cellular networks.
Ed Smith, director of engineering at Hubbard Broadcasting, notes that when he first arrived at the company’s KSTP ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities in 2012, it was already leasing one of the LiveU units. “Everyone was interested in the technology because our traditional live trucks were expensive to operate and all of them needed upgrades and modification,” Smith recalls.
To find a less expensive, more flexible alternative that would let them produce more live video, Hubbard tested all the various IP-newsgathering systems then on the market and eventually settled on LiveU’s LU500. It bonds several cellular signals from different providers together to provide enough bandwidth to stream HD video but weighs only 2.2 pounds, about half the size and weight of the LU70 they had been leasing.
Hubbard purchased 10 units for six stations and they have been avidly adopted in the newsrooms, says Smith, who adds that the units have allowed them to cover events in ways that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. “We have one in a car for live traffic reporting and even took one up into a roller- coaster ride, which is something you can’t do with cabled systems,” he said.
For the upcoming election coverage, “they’ll help us share content,” using the LiveU Central product to manage IP video feeds from the field, he added. “We can share video from Minnesota or Albany, New York or New Mexico without having to FTP video. We can do standups for each other without the cost and complexity of rolling a truck.”
Looking forward, they are now testing the LU200, a pocket-sized unit that weights just over one pound, and they are exploring Ka-band and IP-based microwave feeds. “That is something we can add to an ENG truck so we have different ways to get a signal,” Smith said.