Quest Goes To the Cloud to Get on the Air Quickly

Cooper Media’s new digital multicast network Quest was able to get on the air quickly by putting its traffic and playout systems in the cloud rather than traditional satellite distribution.

Working with technology companies WideOrbit and Amagi, Quest reached distribution of 52% of the U.S. in less than two month after getting distribution agreements with stations owned by Tegna and Univision.

“Amagi and WideOrbit’s integrated cloud solutions have helped us launch successfully and scale our audience in record time,” said Cooper Media CEO Steve Schiffman. “By deploying these critical systems from the cloud, we have been able to open new media markets faster than any previous diginet.”

Quest is using Amagi’s Cloudport to move content assets, including graphics playlists and schedules to the cloud. Amagi delivers the network’s feed to Quest affiliates and monitors the feed 24 hours a day from a remote location.

Cooper Media launched the Justice Network in January 2015 using traditional technology.

“The Quest Network launched just 60 days after we completed our distribution agreement with Tegna. That’s about half the time it took to launch Justice Network in 2015, said Ned Simon, head of production and operations at Cooper Media.

Quest Network launched in January on Tegna affiliates in 29 markets. It is now on the air in more than 60 markets.

Putting Quest’s playout and traffic systems in the cloud creates massive cost savings, Simon said.

Justice Network delivers content to affiliates with a legacy playout system and satellite. By comparison, cloud-based playout dropped the cost of affiliate content delivery by about 50%, he said. “Cloudport eliminates the need for a third-party playout facility with dedicated personnel. Our existing team and Amagi’s services now take on those responsibilities.”

Moving to the cloud also makes the network’s stream more dependable, Simon said. About twice a year sunspots interrupt Justice Network’s satellite feed for up to 7 minutes at a time over the period of a week. Severe weather can also impede the feed for minutes at a time. “Putting playout in the cloud with Cloudport eliminates the reliance on a back up/redundant feed,” he said.

As a relatively new channel, Quest depends on direct response advertising, but it plans to move into general market advertising in the near future.

WideOrbit’s WO Network is capable of handling any linear, digital or programmatically-sold spots. Quest marks the first cloud implementation for WideOrbit’s WO Network, its solution for managing sales, traffic and billing for national networks.

“We have always focused on delivering products and services that help media companies maximize their revenue opportunities. One of the keys to that is offering a technology backbone that delivers the operational flexibility to scale quickly and capture new audiences,” said WideOrbit founder and CEO Eric Mathewson.

Despite the advantages, Cooper Media declined to say if its Justice Network would be shifting to the cloud. “All options are being considered,” the company said.

“Cloud based content delivery is the way to go, and Cooper Media will embrace Cloud based Traffic, Program and Delivery systems for all of its future networks,” Simon said. “Legacy satellite systems will always have a place, but they are cost prohibitive for new networks and come with too many disruptions. Hardware is being replaced by software.”

Quest features programming that is factual and packed with action. Series include Modern Marvels, Swamp Loggers, Auction Kings and The Lost Evidence.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.