Cox Communications’ Connecticut Public Access Channel 15 (“PATV 15”) has upgraded and expanded its multi-site deployment of the Cablecast Community Media platform and Carousel Digital Signage software from Tightrope Media Systems to support its growing range of public access channels.
After upgrading the playout capabilities at two of its facilities to HD with Cablecast Flex servers last year, PATV 15 added three more Carousel-powered bulletin board systems at its Manchester location last month to deliver town-specific programming on a trio of new hyper-local access channels.
PATV 15 provides production studios, playback facilities and training that empower community TV producers to create their own shows. PATV 15 operates separate public access channels in its designated franchise areas of Manchester, Cheshire and Enfield, with the latter franchise also providing a government access channel for several of the region’s towns. With its most recent expansion, the Manchester facility now offers three ‘local access’ channels for individual towns alongside its main public access channel, which serves six municipalities in the area.
PATV 15 first started using Cablecast nearly a decade ago when starting the transition from tape- and DVD-based operations to server-based playout. With their long-standing incumbent playback vendor seemingly abandoning support for legacy devices that PATV 15 still needed, they looked for a replacement platform that would seamlessly bridge older sources with their file-based future.
“Tightrope’s willingness to embrace legacy sources in the Cablecast workflow was a key factor in our decision, and I really liked Cablecast’s background architecture for processing and encoding files,” said Chris Giard, video engineer at Connecticut Public Affairs, COX Northeast Region. “Cablecast does all the work behind the scenes, transforming files as necessary not only for cable playback but also VOD. Other systems we looked at required manual conversions or were limited in format support. Similarly, as we moved into the HD realm, Cablecast also automatically up-converts or down-converts between HD and SD as needed, giving us exceptional flexibility without us having to worry about all of the technical details.”
With the upgrade from standard-definition Cablecast systems in Enfield and Cheshire to Cablecast Flex servers last year, all three PATV 15 facilities are fully HD-capable. While its cable broadcasts are currently limited to SD, PATV 15 uses Cablecast Live and Cablecast Pro VOD systems to power live and on-demand video streaming in HD, and again found Cablecast’s flexibility ideal for their needs.
“Tightrope offers server-based streaming solutions as well as a subscription-based service option, while other vendors were moving exclusively to an annual-fee service model for streaming,” explained Giard. “As Cox is a communications company, we have very high-capacity data connectivity and the ability to host and serve the streams ourselves. We wanted a CAPEX equipment purchase, not an annual-fee business model, and we could do that with Cablecast.”
Giard also lauds the remote management possibilities enabled by Cablecast’s web-based user interface. “As an engineer, my favorite feature is that I have access to all three of my facilities just by picking up my phone,” he said. “The responsive design of Cablecast’s interface automatically adjusts to whatever device I’m viewing it on, and makes it easy for me to remotely make programming corrections or address changes in the schedule from wherever I am.”
Supplied by integrator HB Communications, the three new Carousel systems join the station’s existing Carousel deployments in creating stylish and informative bulletin boards for their communities.
“I’m a big fan of the Carousel GUI,” praised Giard. “While our production technicians have the talent to create great slides, Carousel provides a great selection of templates and lets users without graphic design backgrounds produce quality slides for any type of announcement.
“I also love Carousel’s dynamic content capabilities, which let us easily integrate RSS feeds, social media, local weather and more to provide our customers with hyper-local content,” he continued. “For example, we offer localized pages that show the latest sports scores from the high schools in each town. Every time I go into Carousel I find something new that I can use to create something amazing, and the integration between Cablecast and Carousel is seamless.”
Cablecast’s unified workflows, reliability and exceptional customer service all contribute to PATV 15’s satisfaction with the platform.
“The support that the Cablecast team offers and the stability of the solution are phenomenal. Out of all of the systems that offer server-based playback, bulletin board capabilities, VOD and live streaming, my opinion is that Cablecast is the best choice based on how seamlessly everything integrates together,” Giard concluded.