The Channel-In-A-Box Approach to Broadcast Playout

Thursday, March 5, 2015

PlayBox Technology pioneered the Channel-in-a-Box approach to broadcast branding, scheduling and playout right from the company's inception. Key drivers in the broadcast playout business continue to be the demand for ease of installation, operational reliability and efficient post-sales support. The inherent compactness of the Channel-in-a-Box approach is also appreciated, not just because it saves space in the apparatus room but because it simplifies expansion when our customers want to scale up to extra channels. A significant additional factor during the past year the increased interest in cloud-based technology. Broadcasters are taking OTT increasingly seriously as a transmission medium in its own right rather than merely an auxiliary to terrestrial or satellite-based delivery. We have decades of experience in IP-based remote playout control so cloud-based playout direct to home is well within our scope. 

The proportion of essentially IT-based equipment in modern tier 1 broadcast facilities has increased massively in recent years and is now the preferred option for all system refits. What we are seeing now is demand for new facilities that were never available or even required back in the days of panel-per-product hardware. One example is our SocialMediaBox which allows programme production and presentation creators to incorporate comments from multiple social networking feeds quickly and efficiently into a single ready-for-broadcast stream. Content can be selected and moderated from a variety of different social media outlets, integrating sources such as Facebook and Twitter on a single feed for transmission. This is extremely useful for live television shows which produce auxiliary-screen pages for viewer feedback. The custom feed can be output as an RSS feed and used in other systems, or sent to TitleBox for on-air presentation. Direct 'push' control to the TitleBox character generator allows better live interaction.

We work with systems integrators all around the world to ensure customers get the support they need from what is essentially a region supplier able to work in the regional language and to be on call if required for on-site support. Partnering with respected and experienced SIs is, and will remain, a central element of our core business strategy.

Online product support is an integral part of our operation. Not only this but having so many clients with different requirements has enabled us to have a standard product with many features that other clients find desirable for their channels, so the process keeps us ahead of the game.

There are more people are working in the broadcast and digital media business today than in its entire history. Our technology has helped to make the entire process easier so the proportion of creative staff is much higher than it used to be. We have experienced success on a large scale, exemplified by our delivery of over 15,000 broadcast playout and branding systems since we were established 15 years ago. That success derives not just from adopting generic IT platforms by keeping careful control both of software and hardware. We deliver products that work 24/7 and which interface easily with third-party devices. Being software centric has helped to keep our prices low. Investing in added training and support services has also been greatly appreciated by our customers.

Our main launch platform for new announcements is the April NAB Convention.  We are currently delivering on the promises made during 2014 including CaptureBox PRO. A successor to the existing CaptureBox ingest server, CaptureBox PRO allows multiple channels of HD or SD content to be captured from SDI digital feeds, analogue sources and MPEG transport streams. Four video sources can be monitored on a single screen and controlled via a new streamlined user interface. Audio levels can be monitored as loudness/true-peak displays and adjusted when required. Content ingested to CaptureBox Pro is available for playback within a few seconds of capture commencing. The CaptureBox PRO feature set also includes capture-list import from third-party traffic systems, support for CEA-608/708 closed-captioning and automated VTR control via RS-422 with batch-capture listing. Additional features include a GPU-accelerated encoding engine, plus expanded metadata handling and creation during the ingest process. For 2015 we are looking to add cloud based playout.

Published at Broadcast Film and Video Magazine, Feb. 2015