Broadcast Management Group Keeps TD Ameritrade Network On-Air With Quick Thinking, Remote Production
Virtual town halls fill in for Market Drive events to keep investors educated
With the world in an economic whirlwind due to the pandemic, investors are looking for more information than ever on the latest market trends. To meet that demand, the TD Ameritrade Network (TDAN) OTT channel and its production partner Broadcast Management Group (BMG) have continued to produce nine daily live shows Monday-Friday (9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. ET), largely using remote methods to keep the production crew safe and healthy. In addition, BMG has worked with TD Ameritrade to produce a series of live virtual town halls to help educate investors while its typical in-person Market Drive events are on hold.
“The TD Ameritrade team has been extremely happy with the fact that, during this unprecedented pandemic, their viewers never missed a beat from the TD Ameritrade Network,” says Broadcast Management Group CEO Todd Mason. “TD Ameritrade was able to provide live uninterrupted content to its viewers during one of the most volatile financial environments. They were also excited about the idea of the town halls we created and produced and how they were received by their clients.”
TDAN Never Misses a Beat, Thanks to Remote Production
BMG is a broadcast-production company based in five markets throughout the U.S. — NYC, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas — and is responsible for operating the OTT financial channel for the TD Ameritrade Network from its studios in Chicago and New York City.
When the pandemic hit, BMG had just a few days to make a dramatic change for the safety of its employees. Despite the challenges, the effort made it possible for TDAN’s live shows to stay on the air while moving to a largely remote creative, technical, and on-air work force without interruption.
To practice social distancing and maximize the safety of its employees, BMG engineered and arranged for all on-air talent and most crew members to work from their homes instead of in studios in New York City and Chicago. Of the 50-plus people on the crew, only six or seven individuals are coming in each day.
The BMG onsite crew at the studio each day — floating line producer, director/TD, A1, A2, production tech, and two engineers — handle any issues that arise with the remote team. The remote team comprises show line producers, editors, graphics artist, on-air graphics, playback operators, and director/TDs.
All talent and guests on TDAN shows are integrated into the production via Skype, LTN Global, VoIP lines via Encompass Digital Media, Zoom, or LiveU.
“Acquiring and deploying all of the equipment to the homes of our on-air talent and technical team, who are all over the country, [was the biggest challenge],” says Mason. “Some required us to have a tech come out to the location and set everything up; others were able to follow the instructions we sent with remote engineering support.”
Virtual Town Hall Comes Together on Ultra-Tight Timeline
Prior to the pandemic, TD Ameritrade regularly offered education events called Market Drives, with 500 to several thousand attendees at events around the country. The pandemic forced TDA to cancel four of these events earlier this year — just when investors are most in need of information and education regarding retirement accounts, education accounts, and general investment accounts.
The BMG creative team pitched the idea to TDA to produce a live virtual town hall. When TDA agreed to move forward with the idea, BMG was tasked with producing the first event in just six days. During this small window, BMG worked with the client to develop a four-hour live-show format, created all the show graphics, design a complete virtual set, and set up six remote locations.
BMG brought three on-camera talent in to its green-screen studio; all other talent are in the virtual environment. A full crew was on hand at the control room: executive in charge of production, head of programming, executive producer, line producer, director/TD, Ross Video Xpression graphics operator, virtual-set AD, playback, A-1, A-2, engineer.
To produce the virtual town hall, BMG deployed a Ross Carbonite Black production switcher, RTS/Unity intercom, Brainstorm virtual set hardware/software, Xpression graphics, Live U 2000 decoders, and Skype.
The show aired on the TD Ameritrade Network, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Fire, and YouTube with more than 1.8 million total views. BMG produced a second live four-hour town hall six weeks later, attracting 2.2 million viewers.
“For over 15 years,” says Mason, “Broadcast Management Group has been producing large and complex broadcast projects, often with fast-turnaround requirements. Having our own systems-integration division provides us the technology and engineering staff to quickly respond to the largest technical challenges. We have expanded our own REMI broadcast facilities, have designed three Remote At Home camera kits, and have a host of customizable virtual sets to serve broadcast networks, award shows, sporting events, and the general event industry, which all have a need for high-quality production services to go virtual.”