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New Movement in Multiplatform Integrations

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Traffic Systems Strengthen Ties to Automation

One of the biggest pushes by both automation and traffic and billing vendors over the last two years has involved new features and technologies to help streamline the delivery of content to multiple platforms for live linear TV, VOD, online and mobile.

While many of the early integrations between automation and traffic and billing systems have involved live logs, Eric Mathewson, founder and CEO of Wide- Orbit, notes that stations are now eyeing ways to tie together those systems so they can better handle nonlinear and digital content as well.

“Most of these entities manage those systems separately, but over time I think those systems will merge,†Mathewson says. “Over time, the promise is that the traffic manager will have a great degree of control and responsibility for more content, and there will be a labor reduction in the master control areas.â€

Streamlining the process of delivering multiplatform content is key because mobile and online efforts are not as yet producing significant revenue. “To save costs, everyone is searching for a way to tie it all together so you don’t have two separate systems for linear broadcasts and digital,†says Chuck Kocsis, systems engineering manager, product interoperability at Harris Broadcast.

“They all see the need to be present on these platforms, but the financial model is not so clear. So they are turning to automation vendors for ways to get on those platforms without increasing their operational costs,†says Scott Rose, director of product management at Miranda.

“At the same time,†Rose continues, “they are asking for ways to make it easier for traffic systems to communicate with automation systems so it doesn’t require a whole new team of people to deliver the content. So as customers put more emphasis on non-linear content, we are seeing a tighter integration with [Miranda’s automation system] iTX with traffic, and great ability to talk to iTX to publish the content.â€

Other integrations with automation systems are allowing more complex content, such as on-air social media feeds or schedules for promotional materials on multiple platforms, to be handled by the traffic operator.

In the past these more complex elements would have to have been managed by a master control operator. But with integrations that take advantage of the more advanced features of newer automation systems, traffic operators can take over those duties. “They have more control over delivering the correct promotional material to the right channel and what social media feeds they want to take to make the social media channel work,†Ross says.

Over time, mobile devices could also play a larger role in the new workflows created by the tighter integration between traffic and automation systems.

Mathewson notes that the mobile app WideOrbit announced at the 2013 National Association of Broadcasters show allows tablet users to enter sales orders and approve sales orders on WO Traffic. “It is still in beta at a half a dozen stations but will roll out pretty aggressively over the balance of the year,†based on the strong feedback WideOrbit has seen, Mathewson says.

Currently the app cannot be used to control live log applications because of the difficulties of reviewing the content on a small screen. “We typically recommend two 22-inch or larger screens for log manipulation because there is a lot to look at to make the right decision,†Mathewson says. “So we are not going to light up log manipulation in the short term on the app, but I do expect it to happen over time.â€