CTV Television Network, owned and operated by Bell Media—a subsidiary of BCE Inc.—has been Canada’s top-rated television network in terms of total viewers and key demographics since 2002. The CTV powerhouse program lineup includes, amongst many specialty services, Business News Network (BNN) and CablePulse24 (CP24). BNN broadcasts business and financial news and analysis. While CP24, a 24-hour news service, focuses on local news from the Greater Toronto Area, and Southern Ontario.
In early 2011 CTV announced its move to HD. As part of the migration strategy, the network wanted to consolidate its BNN and CP24 graphics production systems into a single platform, eliminating redundant devices and streamlining the overall broadcast graphics workflow. In addition to providing enhanced graphics, the new platform would need to process 19 unique data streams, automating production tasks and simplifying the operation.
Many of our viewers are entrenched in the financial markets. Thanks to Avid, we can provide them visually appealing, real-time financial data streams—virtually placing them on the trading room floor.
GORD STEINHOFF, DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING, CTV Television Network
Prior to the new system implementation, BNN and CP24 utilized a combination of Chyron Duets, Capital Networks graphics devices, and dedicated DVEs for production. Each system had its own controls and harnessed data sources through custom programming, and dedicated plugins. The varied systems required manual synchronization and constant updating to create a cohesive workflow, presenting a major challenge for CTV engineering. CTV desired a single platform that would automatically aggregate disparate data sources into one unified workflow and reduce the time to air.
Implementing a powerful solution
In January 2011 CTV issued a formal RFP with the critical requirement that the winning vendor be able to render live data for an on-air display, and operate in a 24/7/365 environment without failure. More specifically, BNN—he financial property of the broadcaster—equired that the chosen platform be able to accommodate “live tick mode data,” thus ensuring that all data displayed be updated dynamically “while on air.” In some cases, this update may take place every 15 frames while on-screen. When comparing a 500-millisecond update to the average 20-second delay of other major networks, BNN viewers are getting financial data at the speed of a trader’s terminal. Of all the competitive bidders, only Orad, purchased by Avid in 2015, could deliver the results CTV mandated: Faster data, with significantly less hardware.
The Avid solution provided CTV with immediate and quantifiable advantages. With regards to hardware, CTV was able to significantly reduce the number of devices required to achieve their intended result. A single, high powered HDVG+ real time render engine not only reduces the initial upfront capital investment, but also significantly decreases recurring operational costs associated with maintenance contracts and power consumption.
The scene is running perfectly, and looks spectacular. Avid has sincerely exceeded all my expectations.
Richard Powrie, project engineer, CTV
The end result is that BNN can deliver stock-ticker data with unprecedented speed and accuracy, as well as real-time weather, multiple time zone clocks, business headlines, and Twitter feeds. This enhanced execution allows CTV to provide their audience with a value unmatched by their competitors. In terms of operation, CTV was able to optimize resource productivity by automating redundant and manual tasks, allowing resources to focus on the creative aspects of graphics. The cumulative metrics associated with migrating to the Avid solution delivers an ROI that not only satisfies financial analysis but also delivers performance benchmarks exceeding engineering expectations.
“Many of our viewers are entrenched in the financial markets, and having access to up-to-the-moment indices data is a must", said Gord Steinhoff, Director of Engineering at CTV. "Thanks to Avid, we can provide them visually appealing, real-time financial data streams from Wall Street and the Canadian Stock Exchange—virtually placing them on the trading room floor.”
A requirement for future expansion
The CTV RFP required the new graphics system to support three active video ingests simultaneously, while also having the ability to seamlessly switch between each ingest point in any order. It was also required to be manipulated manually or automated by internal DVE to situate any video source to fit any screen layout with the least frame delay possible. Avid’s industry-leading HDVG+ proved to be the only real-time renderer capable of meeting the advanced production requirements. The Avid HDVG+ platform is a native 64-bit system that offers significant processing and rendering power enhancements, all in a three-rack unit chassis. With HDVG+, CTV can introduce up to 12 live video feeds into the graphic scene in SD and up to 6 in HD, and play back a wide range of video clips in different formats and resolutions.
By deploying Avid’s 3DPlay graphics solution, CTV was able to exceed their expectations. Based on prior experiences, CTV discovered that Avid’s 3DPlay (now Maestro | TX) solution perfectly fit their needs for working with CTV custom program and scheduling programs.
Adding more value
Playout schedules across multiple networks now have enhanced real-time graphics, multiple and independent real-time data sources, and seamless switching between video sources that consolidate the jobs of more than a half dozen channels of discreet broadcast gear, all into one single highly flexible Linux-based play out channel. CTV is now able to deliver the most up-to-date financial data available to a consumer viewing audience while reducing the number of resources required to accomplish the task.
“Avid has wholly and entirely achieved all of the goals that we requested," said Richard Powrie, project engineer at CTV. "The scene is running perfectly, and looks spectacular. Avid has sincerely exceeded all my expectations.”