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SeaChange bolsters broadcast servers

After closing its best quarter yet in the broadcast server business, SeaChange International is heading to the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam next month with new capabilities for its flagship Broadcast MediaCluster product and a new low-cost server aimed at caching applications.

For IBC, SeaChange will show MediaCluster with new encoders that support 50 Mb/s, 4:2:2 MPEG-2 streams (the server had previously supported up to 50 Mb/s) and new 72 GB disk drives that dramatically increase storage capability.

With the 72 GB drives, SeaChange can offer fault-resistant program playout operation at competitive pricing with digital tape decks, says Pittas. Specifically, he claims that SeaChange can provide 28 hours of storage at an encoding rate of 24 Mb/s, with one input and two outputs, for less than the cost of a fully featured Digital Betacam deck [which run $47,000, according to a Sony spokesman].

That pricing is not on a stand-alone basis, however, but as part of a large MediaCluster system that could cost $500,000. Nonetheless, Pittas thinks that price factor will make the MediaCluster attractive to television stations or multichannel operations that use high-end tape decks to record and play syndicated other long-form programming.

On a smaller scale is the new Broadcast MediaServer 830/50, a stand-alone machine that doesn't have the MediaCluster's fault-resiliency but can deliver 24 hours of 8 Mb/s storage for less than $40,000. Pittas expects the 830/50 servers (supporting 30 and 50 Mb/s, respectively) to find their way into caching applications, where larger archive servers, such as a MediaCluster, feed smaller servers with material for playout.

Pittas says the BMS server line should also play a role in the delivery of commercial and other content via digital-satellite links. SeaChange is currently pursuing that market with its own ad-delivery business called MediaExpress, using a satellite uplink from Microspace Communications in Raleigh, N.C.