Sara Mason

Enhancing a 24-Hour Broadcast Schedule with Supplemental Content
By Sara Mason

There are many challenges and obstacles facing those running a broadcast channel, not the least of which is coming up with 24 hours of content to broadcast each day. Filling the 24-hour schedule can be difficult for small, and even larger, broadcast stations and can also be extremely taxing on staff and resources. Recognizing this can be a struggle, LEIGHTRONIX has worked to provide features to alleviate some of this burden for broadcasters. In this blog I will explain some of the supplemental content features LEIGHTRONIX offers, and how they can be used in conjunction with one another to add valuable content to a station’s channel line-up.

Informational Slides

Some of the most commonly used supplemental content features are the NEXUS® server’s slide editor and Advanced Slide Editor, which is unique to our UltraNEXUS™ and UltraNEXUS-SDI™ video servers. These slide editors include a library packed full of preloaded icons, templates, backgrounds, and overlays and allow users to build an archive of community specific slides to add to the schedule. The Advanced Slide Editor also has support for multiple, independent layers and image adjustment options comparable to a professional graphics editor. Both editors enable you to quickly and easily promote upcoming events or share important information with viewers. To learn more about how the Advanced Slide Editor works, check out our three part video series.

Both the advanced and the basic slide editors come with the very powerful and convenient department based contribution feature. With this feature, the administrator does not have to keep track of or maintain the slides of the various departments; instead the administrator can just approve the other departments’ slides for play out after they’ve been created. In a government access setting, the fire department, the library, and the police department can all create slides specific to their department’s upcoming events, reports, or news, and the administrator simply approves them. Departments can also add start and end dates and times to the slides so that the administrator doesn’t even have to keep track of when slides become outdated. For example, if the fire department is having a fundraiser, they can schedule the slide to start whenever they would like and schedule an end date that corresponds with the end of the fundraiser. The slide would then be automatically removed from slide shows when the fundraiser is completed, without any additional work from any of the staff. Departments could also specify the time of day or day of the week they would like the slide to air. A department could designate slides to only air on Mondays and Wednesdays or only before 3:00 p.m. and the slide would only broadcast at the specified days and times, again with no additional work from the staff.

External Content

For stations that need more content to fill 24-hours, there are external services available that provide free educational content that broadcasters can subscribe to and offer on their channels. Among the free-to-air channels available in North America are NASA TV, the Pentagon Channel, PBS stations, and more. It’s important to note that while LEIGHTRONIX is compatible with external digital video sources, additional research and equipment may be required to utilize content from these sources.

For stations that still don’t feel like filling an entire broadcast schedule is possible, a multi-community contribution setup may be ideal. By utilizing PEGvault-SD remote recorders at each additional community, multiple communities can contribute content to a central NEXUS series video server for broadcast on a single channel. The same can be done utilizing LABvault-HD™ remote recorders with the E-HD2™ high definition video server. With multi-community contribution, numerous communities share the burden of content generation, decreasing the responsibility of any one community.  For more information on multi-community contribution see Sara Mason’s July 2013 blog post on this subject.

Virtual Channel

NEXUS series video servers and the E-HD2 allow users to create a Virtual Channel playlist for each output. The Virtual Channels allow users to easily create and display a default looping playlist of multiple video/audio sources between programs, including the slides (NEXUS series only) and external sources discussed above as well as digital video (MPEG) clips and the TOTAL INFO® dynamic video content service for NEXUS series servers, that will be discussed later in this post.

The Virtual Channel makes it appear as if a station has meticulously filled every second of their broadcast schedule, even if they have really only filled a few hours. For example, if a station has a gap in the schedule from noon to 1:00 p.m., the LEIGHTRONIX video server can be set up to automatically display a Virtual Channel playlist. When the next program starts at 1:00 p.m., the LEIGHTRONIX video server will revert back to the schedule. The next time there is a gap in the schedule, the Virtual Channel will pick up where it left off instead of starting from the beginning, ensuring that the entire playlist cycles through before any content is repeated. Alternatively, the Virtual Channel can be set up to run 24/7, cycling through the content of a specified playlist. For communities looping the same content, they can place it all in the Virtual Channel at one time and air that, as opposed to scheduling the same content over and over within the broadcast schedule.

Coming soon with the release of WinLGX 7 scheduling software, users will be able to schedule a Virtual Channel playlist as an event as well. Currently the Virtual Channel playlist can be played in place of a schedule or in any scheduling gaps, but with the addition of the ability to schedule it, users will be able to plan exactly when the playlist begins and ends within their schedule.

TOTAL INFO

Another way to add fresh content to a channel without adding to the station’s workload is to utilize the TOTAL INFO service for NEXUS series video servers. TOTAL INFO can be used to display full screen dynamic video content between or in place of scheduled broadcasts or cable programming on any NEXUS series video server. TOTAL INFO offers content, freshly updated from the TOTAL INFO servers every six to eight minutes, in six popular categories: news, weather, sports, traffic, business and financial highlights, and dailies. The weather category displays local weather and the service’s traffic reports come from the nearest metro area, while the other four categories are national. The TOTAL INFO content is automatically formatted and layered on thematic video/audio backgrounds provided with the feature. Users can pick to display one or any combination of the categories to display between their original programming, which will automatically loop if necessary.

LEIGHTRONIX understands that filling an entire broadcast schedule can be a tall order for some communities or stations, so we have built in numerous features to alleviate some of the content generation responsibilities. With the Advanced Slide Editor, TOTAL INFO, compatibility with external digital video sources, multi-community contribution capabilities, and the Virtual Channel playlist, LEIGHTRONIX can minimize the demand of a community’s time, resources, and staff, while allowing users to offer their viewers a professional and polished broadcast channel 24/7/365. With a LEIGHTRONIX video server, users can keep their station’s content fresh and original, without adding outrageous costs to their budget or content requirements to their staff’s plate.

Sara, a vital member of the LEIGHTRONIX sales team for over 13 years, manages the inside sales team and works on key accounts. She has also provided the invaluable service of regular webinars, teaching both customers and dealers how to best utilize LEIGHTRONIX products and services.

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