MURFREESBORO, TENN.—Government access channel Murfreesboro CityTV has a mission to educate Murfreesboro residents about local government matters; present informational and cultural programming; and encourage citizen participation in the city’s programs and services. Our operations have come a long way since we started the channel in 1993, when our station automation consisted of controlling multiple Betacam decks. Today, our channel is available on cable, the city’s website, YouTube and OTT devices.
Two years ago, we set out to upgrade our production and playout capabilities to high definition. While we aren’t able to broadcast in HD on our cable outlets yet, we wanted to take advantage of HD quality for our streaming offerings. Our previous automation and playout system vendor was no longer in business, so we needed to switch to a new solution.
ONE-STOP SINGLE VENDOR SOLUTION
We were already using Tightrope Media Systems’ Carousel software to drive our video bulletin board, which led us to consider Cablecast as our next automation platform. After evaluating multiple vendors’ products, we decided that Cablecast was the best fit for us. It offered a complete one-stop, single-vendor solution for all of our needs, and was also more cost-effective than other options we considered.
We purchased a Cablecast Flex 4 play-out server with the Cablecast Broadcast Automation software. Cablecast Live and Cablecast VOD systems create our live streams and on-demand clips, which are delivered to viewers through the cloud-based Cablecast Reflect streaming service.
The multi-codec flexibility of Cablecast is a big workflow advantage over our previous system. The old platform could only handle MPEG-2 files, so we needed to transcode everything else before we could ingest it. Now we load MPEG-2, H.264 and ProRes 422 files directly onto our server, with no conversion required.
Our Avid Media Composer workflow is similarly improved. Before, when a program edit was complete, we had to transcode the output and move it manually over the network to the old playout system. Now, it goes into Avid Interplay and is automatically copied onto the Cablecast server, with no manual effort.
The tight integration between Cablecast and Carousel was a big plus for us. We already liked Carousel, but there was no integration with our old system. Now, by combining Carousel with Cablecast, we can do “Coming up Next” announcements on our channel and automatically publish our programming schedule to both our website and our bulletin board. It’s so much easier and takes a lot less time and resources, as we don’t have to create our schedule twice in two unrelated products.
Before we got Cablecast, we needed multiple products to do everything we wanted—one for automation and play-out, one for VOD publishing, another for our Roku channel, a downstream character generator for live bugs and crawls, and so on. Cablecast has allowed us to bring it all together in an integrated solution that saves us time and money, and as its capabilities expand with each new software update, we’re able to eliminate additional legacy systems.
We recently started using the new Cablecast Screenweave apps, which let us easily bring our content to Apple TV and Roku devices. Our traditional cable delivery still appeals to our older audience, but we want to connect with millennials who are using OTT and cutting the cord. We already offered our live stream on Roku, but Screenweave lets us do both live and VOD, as well as expanding onto Apple TV. The fully-automated Screen-weave workflow is very efficient, pulling content directly from our Cablecast Flex server with no transcoding needed.
I’m really glad that we chose Cablecast as our automation solution. It’s very easy for our staff to use, and it has provided huge time and cost savings. Tightrope is constantly adding features that PEG channels are looking for, and always looking at innovative ways of enabling us to provide new services to our viewers.
Alan Bozeman is Communications Director at the City of Murfreesboro, TN, and has worked with the city’s government access channel for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Cablecast, visit www.cablecast.tv or call 866-866-4118.