DG FastChannel Launches New HD Delivery System

DG FastChannel, the Dallas-based firm which provides stations with file-based delivery systems for receiving commercials, syndicated programming and news content, says it has begun deploying its long-awaited second-generation system for HD syndicated content and news.

DG FastChannel has enjoyed an entrenched position in the syndication distribution market since it acquired Pathfire in 2007 for $30 million, with a system that transmits shows via satellite as digital files to “catch” servers at some 1,400 stations. But it has been slow to implement a new platform for high-definition content, leaving most stations who are receiving HD syndication today to resort to a labor-intensive, manual workflow where they record linear satellite feeds onto hi-def tape decks or servers.

In fact, syndicated programming giants Warner Bros. and CBS, two of Pathfire’s biggest customers, announced in May that they were teaming with Ascent Media to create their own MPEG-4-based delivery system. The companies plan to supply stations with HD catch servers of their own design.

DG FastChannel’s new system, the HD Digital Media Gateway (DMG), appears to be aimed squarely at the HD delivery problem, and replaces an earlier HD system, DirectConnect, which saw little penetration. Built in partnership with Dell, the DMG can receive both SD and HD content and support both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 H.264 advanced compression, says DG FastChannel.

It has up to three terabytes of storage, faster processing with dual quad core CPUs; and a number of features aimed at improving station workflows including: embedded splice, rewrap, transcode and direct connect to play-to-air servers; prioritized content delivery; and continuous tracking, measurement and reporting.

DG FastChannel says that as part of the new HD platform, it will also be providing syndicators and news services with a full-service offering including content preparation, ingestion and store-and-forward delivery by integrating its regional operating facilities across the U.S., including its New York, Chicago and Los Angeles offices. Deployment of the HD DMG will continue over the next few quarters, with plans to complete the project in early 2010.

“DG FastChannel remains committed to being the leading solution for content management and delivery,” said DG FastChannel Chairman and CEO Scott Ginsburg in a statement. “Our HD DMG has distinct advantages for broadcast stations including industry-first integrated transcoding capabilities, significant increase in storage and processing, as well as the ability to handle both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 compression. There is no other solution in the marketplace that compares for syndicated and news content.”