Tapeless Project

Summary

We worked as part of the team that delivered a world-first solution for a household name in the UK broadcast industry. Our solution integrated several isolated systems along with human activities to produce a seamless, automated, business-critical process that changed the way TV content was delivered to air.
By selecting best-in-class Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products on which to build our solution, we were able to produce a successful outcome that allowed for a significant increase in productivity without any comparable increase in personnel costs. The project’s success justified further investment in both digital content delivery and geographic expansion in subsequent years.

Project Objective

At the start of this project, the client would receive tape content at the front gate. These tapes would be wheeled around campus on large trolleys to be edited, checked for quality and made ready for broadcast.

The client wanted to:
● automate its laborious manual process and
● free-up space consumed by the vast amount of tape content
The aim was to speed up this process and save space by:
● Switching to digital content
● Automating its transcode process
● Automating its quality-check process
● Automating file movement
● Integrating isolated systems
● Integrating people activities
… into a single, seamless business process that delivered content to air in an efficient and reliable manner.

 

Benefits and Risks

The anticipated benefit was increased efficiency. With an automated system, the client would be able to produce more content with less effort, creating a significant increase in productivity. The risk was that this was a world-first for the broadcast industry. No broadcast company had successfully delivered a project of this magnitude before. This risk was magnified by the fact that the process would drive a business-critical process — namely delivering content to air.

Project Scope and Approach

The scope of our project extended to:

● Integrating with the broadcast scheduling system
● Integrating with the media (content) management system
● Facilitating automated transcode of media into a broadcast-ready format *
● Facilitating automated editing of media *
● Facilitating automated quality assurance for broadcast content *
● Automating file transfer to broadcast systems
● Integrating ‘people activities’ into the overall workflow

* This involved integration with isolated external systems previously managed manually by human operators

Our team chose to use Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products as the starting point from which to deliver the solution. This allowed for faster development at a lower overall cost and, in our opinion, would significantly increase the chances of success.

Outcome

It is worth noting that, while competitors tried and failed to deliver a similar solution, our team delivered a successful project that exceeded the client’s expectations. Within 18 months of going live, the business had increased its output by orders of magnitude without any comparable increase to staff costs within the
relevant operational areas. Six years on, this business-critical system is still in production and currently delivers 95% of all acquired content and almost all commercials for satellite broadcast.

The client has since embarked on several additional projects to deliver the same content over the internet to a variety of devices including:
● Roku
● X-Box
● PlayStation
● Mobile devices
The company has also expanded its use of the system to include content delivery to several countries in Europe.

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