Playout Software vs Cloud-Based Playout

Broadcast was once pretty much the exclusive domain of professionals. Yet, as with everything, the status quo doesn’t stay the status quo for too long. Many tech advancements have contributed to a tidal wave of new TV and OTT channels.

This is powering a shift to playout software running on off-the-shelf computer hardware providing many solutions for channel management.

  • Playback live programs
  • Schedule programs and shows
  • Inserting commercials within scheduled segments
  • Keeps tabs on what is actively on-air
  • Produce as-run logs

These solutions and more help to perform the functions of a broadcast playout system used at TV stations.

 

What Is Cloud-Based Playout

Rather than running a playout software application on an on-premise PC, cloud-based playout takes the best of what software playout offers and supercharges it. 

  • A cloud-based playout takes advantage of the vast storage and processing available in the cloud
  • Helps to easily manage programs, playout television shows, and other video content on a schedule.
  • Users can create and manage playlists of programs, commercials, public service announcements, and other content stored on cloud servers. 
  • All can be done directly from a laptop computer connected via the internet to the cloud.

Moreover, there’s never a concern having to purchase the right hardware video encoder or infrastructure to playout content for different devices. 

Virtualized video encoders in the cloud can spin up and down to match viewer demand and encode content to meet the requirements of their different viewing devices.

TVU Networks has announced its own cloud-based playout solution. TVU Channel, a simple-to-use playout offering the sophistication and flexibility required by the biggest broadcast networks.

Building a playlist in TVU Channel requires no more computer expertise than that which is required to schedule events in a Microsoft Outlook calendar. 

  • Schedule Playbacks & Insert Advertisements – Programs playback precisely when scheduled; SCTE-35 triggers inserted into programs mark commercial breaks, and ads are inserted as scheduled. 
  • Interrupt Schedule With Breaking News – Unscheduled live segments, like breaking news, can interrupt the schedule, which then automatically resumes once the live segment is finished. 
  • Easily Setup Automations – Events in the playlist can automatically ripple forward in time to accommodate the break, or operators can manually make adjustments. TVU Channel even produces as-run lists of commercials that have aired.
 

Benefits of Cloud-Based Playout

Cloud-based playout addresses many of the limitations of playout software. Most of these issues are related to the fact playout software runs on an on-premise computer. 

Running on a computer—whether at a TV station or in a home office—means the individual or organization involved is responsible for computer maintenance, security, internet connectivity and uninterrupted power.

In the cloud, those concerns are addressed by the cloud service provider, which employs far more IT personnel than an individual or even a broadcast organization could hope to have on call. 

As more channels come online, it’s fast and simple to assign more cloud servers to playout. Running software on-premise will require more computers as the number of channels grow. Sadly, if a channel fails, the computer and all of the ancillary equipment purchased for playout will simply sit idle.

More broadly, leveraging the cloud for playout changes the expense from a huge CapEx endeavor to small OpEx subscription that’s pay-as-you-go. 

An abundance of articles are available online examining the pros and cons of CapEx and OpEx, including 

From a workflow perspective, collaborating with colleagues to build playlists, manage content, and handle other playout tasks is fast and easy. In a cloud-based playout, there are many playout automations that take place even for channel monetization. The same cannot be said for playout software solutions that make generally no provisions for collaboration. 

Furthermore, accessing the cloud to manage playout tasks can be done from anywhere there’s an internet connection, rather than only in a specific room with where playout computer is located.

 

The Cost Behind A Playout Software.

It’s hard to compete with free—or at least so it would seem at first glance. Some software playout solutions are offered at no charge, which many find appealing. However, that free isn’t too unlike a free game in the App Store. There are lots of add-ons needed to get the experience desired.

Live Broadcasting Hardware 

There’s the cost of the computer, which typically will be in the higher price range because of the capabilities required. In other words, it will need lots of RAM, an expensive video board, multiple monitors and other features that drive up the cost of the computer.

Personnel, Training, and Service 

Then there is the expense of hiring someone who is technically savvy enough to install, setup and maintain the computer to run the playout software. Faster, more reliable, and therefore more costly, internet connectivity will be needed. So will a UPS and even an emergency electrical generator and fuel to guarantee being on-air 24/7.

The Risk Technical Issues & Potential Crashes

The DIY approach to IT and running playout software doesn’t come with the technical support available with TVU Channel. Prolonged periods offline while the organization attempts to solve a tech support issue that takes a channel off air, may potentially cost thousands of dollars or more.

 

Save More With Your Playout Solution

Compare those costs with a cloud-based playout, which can be priced on a pay-as-you-go basis. Thus, organizations only pay for what they use. 

Because the playout system runs in the cloud, there is no need to worry about potential mishaps or expenses.

  • The expense of hardware maintenance
  • Possible security hacks
  • Backup power
  • Training and Personnel 
  • Risks of going offline
  • Limited storage

There can be dozens of other costs associated with running playout software on-premise that can be avoided or better managed in the cloud.

A solution like TVU Channel allows a broadcaster to inexpensively determine whether or not a new idea for a channel will work without investing in the technology needed to playout the channel. 

 

Playout Is Now For Everyone 

With so many benefits, cloud-based playout makes the most sense. In fact, find out why TVU Channel is the best cloud-based playout system of 2022 and why it won the Best of Show Award at Nab 2022.

Many pundits have called these times the New Golden Age of Television. It’s easy to see why. 

With dozens of over-the-top channels, new Diginet networks, special interest streaming channels and even tightly knit communities like churches that wish to reach more people with streaming content, the need has never been greater for an affordable, fully featured playout alternative to conventional broadcast hardware. 

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