When the pandemic struck last year, the world initially locked itself in, accompanied by its share of uncertainties. For many channels, the situation quickly became complex, facing budget freeze regarding advertising investments, they had to quickly find a solution.
“A television broadcaster for more than 20 years, our company was renewing its offer with solutions tailored to all profiles and sizes of companies,” explains Frederic Lemaire, CEO of BCE. “Looking at the market struggles, we mobilized our engineers to quickly put in place a broadcast solution flexible enough to enable channels to adapt their service levels to their financial health, while maintaining the possibility of evolving towards more advanced services once their activity is relaunched.”
Entitled “Start and Play,” the project was born. It was essential to be able to keep what BCE’s strength is today: quality infrastructure, tailored service, increased security, and speed of execution. This offer has its place in BCE’s portfolio of broadcasting services, which is more than ever emerging as a stable, efficient, and resilient service provider.
Baptiste Fosséprez, Director of Development at BCE says: “The current crisis has led to an acceleration of the trends we have been seeing for several years. Using a cloud-based, remotely available and scalable delivery solution is fully in line with this evolution.”
While cloud playout already exists on the market, Start and Play finds its difference in BCE’s media services, fully supporting its customers in their evolution, whether through modern and scalable technical solutions or through strong business models.
“In fact, Start and Play pricing is very attractive for our customers. Operational costs remain under control thanks to a very simple price list. Moreover, the integration of Start and Play with OTT services can be done in a very pragmatic way depending on each customer needs.” adds Baptiste Fosséprez.
Sven Weisen, Director of Engineering and System Integration said: “To enable our customers to benefit from all our expertise combined with our state-of-the-art playout platforms, we have created a cloud-based platform as a service. By hosting our customers in our datacenters, they benefit from monitored systems and advanced support. In addition, they can have direct access to all our in-house services such as monitoring, online storage, or even digital media operations.”
The Start and Play playout solution focuses on six scalable functions: playout, audio, graphics insertion, playlist management, storage, and OTT.
“Recognizing that many local channels still broadcast in SD quality, we decided to offer the switch to HD. This will allow channels not only to benefit from a more accessible broadcasting offer, but also to improve their offer for their customers,” explains Laurent Seve, BCE’s Marketing Manager. “An additional way to revive their business by creating the event.”
Customers wishing to stay in SD will be able to continue to use this quality and will be able to automatically switch to HD at no additional cost. Regarding audio, channels can use up to four stereo tracks, enough to add the original versions, audio descriptions, etc. A real advantage for channels which are looking forward to getting new viewers with the broadcasting of their programs over the web and social networks.
With “Start and Play,” customers can integrate their channel layout directly into the system, they can even add more complex animations, RSS feeds or clocks if necessary.
“Thanks to the cloud interface, customers can manage their content and playlists from anywhere,” says Steven Dehaen, Director of Playout and Programs at BCE. “Following the successive containment situations, we reviewed our workflow to allow our teams to continue to manage the channels despite the restrictions.”
Outside the context of the pandemic, managing a remote channel provides significant flexibility, including the integration of last-minute topics during field reports, news, alerts or live broadcasts. The solution also integrates all “AS Run” logs with the accurate recording of schedules and programs. With 6TB of storage, customers have more than enough space to manage a high-definition channel, with the ability to increase this capacity, to respond to OTT projects.
“BCE is the only media provider to offer a 100% European cloud storage. Indeed, the Start and Play platforms and their respective storage are in our two data centers located in Luxembourg,” explains Jean-Alain Jachiet CIO of BCE. “This prevents our customers’ content from being found in third-party storage providers abroad and thus ensures the security of their data.”
Aware of the importance for channels to be present on all screens, BCE has integrated in “Start and Play” the broadcasting of channels on websites, on social networks or even the generation of video files in the best format for OTT platforms.
“By recording your live events and shows, it’s easy to program replays on linear TV and video-on-demand for non-linear platforms. In addition, these recordings can also be reused in other programs,” adds Steven Dehaen.
In addition to be a true gateway to OTT, BCE’s “Start and Play” innovative features allow key players in the media world to focus on their business and no longer worry about infrastructure and operational costs.
The event industry, a market heavily affected by the restrictions of COVID-19, had to reinvent itself, with live streaming, connected events, but also with the establishment of ephemeral or permanent channels.
For its 2020 edition, SATIS, a major event for audiovisual technologies, created the SATIS TV, the first event channel dedicated to the audiovisual market, an event produced and broadcast by BCE.
“For this first edition, SATIS TV was able to engage its traditional visitors, ensuring the annual continuity of the show. The online dimension of this event also opened SATIS to the international market, with the additional participation from more than 19 French-speaking countries.” says Laurent Seve.
Much more than a boost to channels, “Start and Play” democratizes the access to channel creation and playout, opens the doors of OTT and accelerates the development of media.
“Content is king. Start and Play clears complex infrastructure and associated costs. Now our customers can focus on creating and producing new programs while using a robust platform, combined with the expertise of our teams and the security of a large group. Let’s erase 2020 and build 2021 together.” concluded Frederic Lemaire.