Local HD Is Finally on the Way

While most television programming transmission is standard definition, more and more consumers want to watch their ball games (and movies, and other favorite shows) in high definition. To satisfy demand, broadcasters around the country need to quickly shift to the new format or risk losing viewers. Unfortunately, it’s been tough for them to move over […]

Last Updated: May 13, 2009 @ 4:38 PM

While most television programming transmission is standard definition, more and more consumers want to watch their ball games (and movies, and other favorite shows) in high definition.

To satisfy demand, broadcasters around the country need to quickly shift to the new format or risk losing viewers.

Unfortunately, it’s been tough for them to move over to the new format because current technologies require two streams for HD and SD transmission, which is expensive and inefficient. For years, they have looked for a better way to receive both streams — and particularly in a challenged market, syndicators need a cost-effective way to get their content to the largest number of stations.

Necessity feeds creativity and change, and this is what brought Ascent, Warner Bros. and CBS together to build a Next Generation platform to make the distribution process more efficient. Through the new, jointly developed service, the three businesses can now provide improved hi-def to their collective affiliates and clients.

The new platform will help broadcasters and syndicators reduce costs by using bandwidth efficient technology and supplying servers to stations at no additional costs. It will handle both HD and SD programming with improved compression techniques and more storage. The new architecture is also open and user friendly; it can cross-convert and requires no additional software.

In other words it’s a cheaper, better, easier solution.

Ultimately, it’s will give consumers in markets big and small more opportunities to watch their favorite shows in HD. It’s particularly exciting because this is the first time, that I’m aware of at least, that two studios and a service provider have come together to undertake an initiative of this kind.

Ascent Media and GDMX, Warner Bros.’ digital content distribution arm have worked together (since 2004) to deliver syndicated services to a number of clients. Having CBS in the fold gives us the capital investment and technology upgrades necessary to deploy a truly superior solution.

Both Warner Bros. and CBS are leaders in syndicated HD programming and have been instrumental in designing the platform with the stations in mind. CBS brings its experience and a solid client base to the venture.

Most of the syndicated programming provided by CBS Television Distribution will be delivered via the new platform. Warner Bros. and Ascent will continue to service their combined clients through the new platform. Ascent, Warner and CBS have each guaranteed the service footprint at launch will consist of a minimum of 800 stations, including the top 100 domestic markets — with the ability to scale as needed. 

The commitment of three major industry players to the development, deployment and support of the system is what is really going to help to drive market acceptance

We designed the system for long form content (syndicated shows), but looking ahead, I think this will scale to incorporate additional innovation and workflow improvements over the next several years.

I’m really excited about the potential enable rapid innovation and address the content management challenges today and in the future.