Thomson Grass Valley Servers Win Out At NBC Stations Posts Olympics

NBC’s Olympic coverage laid the groundwork for a new workflow at the local station level as Thomson Grass Valley server technology is being used by the NBC Universal Local Media Group for sharing HD commercials, promos and electronic billboards among its owned-and-operated television stations.

The Local Media group’s migration to an HD commercial spot delivery platform involves multiple Thomson Grass Valley K2 HD Media Servers that are now installed at each of eight participating stations to support an FTP content delivery platform. HD commercials are centrally managed at the NBC HUB in Burbank and then sent to each local station’s K2 HD server. Going forward, all of these commercials will playout from the K2 servers in their respective local markets.

Dubbed the Local Media Content Server (LMCS) project, the new file-based commercial playout platform, leverages a dedicated Internet Protocol (IP)-based wide area network (WAN) connection among stations. Four new Thomson Grass Valley K2 HD Media Servers are now installed at each station to support this FTP-style platform. Each station can download a file at their convenience, at a previously scheduled time, or immediately, if necessary. The major benefit is that the files prepped for air-one time in Burbank upon arriving at their destination are ready for air immediately.

“We chose the Thomson Grass Valley K2 servers because of the versatility of the platform design that we needed to create for our stations and the ability of the K2 system to expand as our digital requirements continue to change,” said Jason Kornweiss, Vice President of TV Stations Broadcast Operations with NBC U’s Media Distribution Services division. “We were pleased that Thomson was able to meet our very aggressive timeline ahead of the Olympic Games.”

Eight of 10 Local Media stations – including the network’s flagship station, WNBC in New York, and five others in the nation’s largest markets – are currently using the K2 HD servers to schedule and air commercials and acquire network and locally-produced promos. The eight NBC O&O stations that are deploying new Thomson Grass Valley K2 HD servers as part of the new LMCS project include: WNBC, WRC, WCAU, WMAQ, KXAS, KNBC, KNSD, and KNTV.

The NBC Media Distribution Services group operates three “HUBs,” located in New York, Burbank, and Miramar, Florida, which serve the network’s O&O stations as well as its eight Telemundo stations. These HUBs, which have all used Thomson Grass Valley SD servers for several years, pass through all network-based promotional content and commercials, while releasing the local stations’ local programming and local commercial and promotional inserts to viewers.

As part of the new LMCS file-sharing platform, the Thomson Grass Valley K2 HD servers will be used as “edge servers” at each station under automation control for commercial and local promo release. Content will be recorded into the Burbank-based “staging server” and saved there for future file transfer to the NBC O&O local stations. Then, based on the automation rundown list, the file will be sent via FTP to the local stations over the NBC dedicated WAN. The K2 HD servers at the network’s three main HUBs generate an IP signal that feeds the LMCS system and makes this highly efficient file transfer possible.

At each station, a five-channel mirrored K2 HD server system is connected to 150 hours of shared storage and interfaced with the Burbank-based staging server. On a daily basis, they acquire, via ftp transfer from the staging server in Burbank, and playout the promotional material and commercials, and are currently planning to handle HD long-form syndication in the near future. In addition to airing the spots in HD on their digital channels, the stations locally down convert the HD streams to SD for release on the stations’ NTSC channel.

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