Broadcast Media Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery For TV
The television industry is on heightened alert over cybersecurity as two leading station groups have experienced ransomware attacks over the past year or so. Business continuity and disaster recovery for broadcasters and media institutions have become more important than ever.
The Drive Towards Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
As in other industries, the Media & Entertainment industry –and television broadcasters as a sector in that space—are wholly dependent upon data to maintain daily operations and keep the cash register ringing.
A ransomware attack that prevents broadcasters from accessing television programs, commercials, promos, and other content and playing it out to the public is far more than simply a nuisance. It is a potentially catastrophic event.
Beyond the nefarious workings of hackers and the dire consequences of their malicious attacks are a whole list of natural disasters—ranging from hurricanes and earthquakes to highly localized events like flash flooding and tornadoes—that can take down studios and playout facilities, disrupting operations and the comforting presence of on-air personalities the public relies upon for vital lifesaving news and information.
Results of Recent Cyber Threats Against Media Companies
The recent cyberattacks and the threat of unpredictable natural disasters are putting a renewed focus on the management suite of media companies on how to maintain business operations and recover when these sorts of events strike.
Many have begun looking to public cloud playout, storage, and data management tools for a solution. Storing and backing up data in the data centers of public cloud vendors spending massive sums to keep the data of their customers safe can insulate the video content and playout schedules of media operations from threatening cyberattacks. Microsoft alone reports spending about $1 billion per year on cloud security.
A story by scxcentral.com last year pegs pledged tech giant spending on cyber security at $30 billion following a meeting with the Biden administration last summer. Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Google, and Amazon promised to make the investment over the coming years in cybersecurity, including steps to protect their public clouds. It’s no wonder then that the M&E Industry is looking to the cloud to meet its disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity needs.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity with TVU Channel Cloud Playout Solution
TVU Networks recently introduced TVU Channel, a cloud-based scheduling and playout alternative to the on-prem heavy iron and channel-in-a-box software-based systems over-the-air TV stations, cable networks, OTT services and other Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs) rely upon to create program schedules and playout shows, commercials and other content.
Designed in cooperation with a major U.S. television network, TVU Channel transforms the fundamental CAPEX-dependent business model of scheduling and playout into an OPEX-based alternative, replacing the multi-million dollar hardware and software investment necessary to present shows, commercials, promos and other content in a back-to-back fashion to viewers with a subscription model under $2,000 per month.
So affordable and capable is TVU Channel that many in the hottest growth segment in linear TV, the free ad-supported television (FAST) channels that stream to viewers on their smart TVs and other internet-connected devices, are foregoing the massive CAPEX spend in favor of the cost-effective, cloud-based scheduling and playout subscription.
Secure Alternatives For Linear TV Channels
For many of the more traditional linear TV channels with millions of dollars of automation systems, playout servers, master control switchers, and associated hardware or similar playout software and hardware tucked neatly into equipment racks, the prospect of replacement with a cloud-based alternative probably isn’t practical. Depreciation schedules, maintenance contracts, and other considerations factor into such a decision.
However, the same reasons of affordability and capable performance that are attracting FAST channel video entrepreneurs to TVU Channel to meet their scheduling and playout requirements, make it a valuable DR and business continuity solution for traditional linear TV channels and networks, whether or not they are prepared at the moment to replace their primary scheduling and playout technology and workflows with the cloud-based alternative.
Why TVU Channel is a Great Solution For Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Linear TV channels can run TVU Channel in sync with their primary scheduling and playout solutions and hot switch in the event of an outage from the primary to the cloud backup running in parallel without suffering program interruption and loss of revenue.
Keeping a signal on-air also heads off fulfilling any regulatory requirements to notify the government of going dark for broadcast licensees.
In the event of a long-term outage of primary playout, TVU Channel can maintain operations indefinitely, making it possible to continue scheduling playout and uploading programs, commercials, and other content remotely from any internet-connected laptop or desktop computer running a Chrome browser.
In the event of a natural disaster, TVU Channel running in the cloud separates broadcast operations with a virtual equivalent of scheduling and playout from the actual hardware and software located in the facility impacted by the event. In the case of a cyberattack, good IT practices and the billions being spent by public cloud providers enable continued scheduling and playout despite an outage of the primary due to a ransomware attack or other malicious software event.
5 Cloud Playout features enabling enhanced Security
In addition to insulating linear TV channels from these threats by enabling cloud playout, TVU Channel is attractive for DR and business continuity because it does all of the typical things on-prem scheduling and playout technology is expected to do.
TVU Channel schedules playout on a minute-by-minute basis, enabling users to drag and drop programs, commercials, PSAs, promos and other content into a back-to-back playout log to be executed on a 24/7 basis if desired. With TVU Channel, graphics overlays, logos, bugs and text can be placed onto video as needed.
Scheduled and unscheduled breaks into the playout log are easy to setup and execute, making fast work of inserting live newscasts or ad-hoc news breaks as required throughout the day.
TVU Channel also protects the cash register of linear channels looking to cloud playout for DR and business continuity with its support for SCTE markers to trigger ad insertion.
The cloud playout solution then can distribute content via a variety of avenues to the public, including streaming to social media and websites, content delivery networks and even directly to a transmitter site where the incoming IP stream of content can be encoded and transmitted over the air and distributed to cable headends.
1. An easy-to-use cloud playout system
A frequently overlooked aspect of DR and business continuity strategies is the ease with which solutions under consideration can be used. That’s understandable because the primary objective is to come back from a threat and continue operations.
However, if these strategies are built upon workflows that are unfamiliar or less than intuitive, how well can they actually fulfill their purpose? Especially during a stressful time when a flood, a hurricane or an earthquake not only is impacting operations but also the lives and loved ones of the personnel a media organization relies upon to maintain business continuity, ease of use is a vital component of success.
2. Workflow and Media Storage
TVU Channel employs a workflow paradigm that’s familiar to anyone who uses modern computing solutions. The cloud playout solution enables users to add pre-recorded programs or other media by creating custom folders where content is stored.
For instance, folders could be specified by the type of content—program, commercial, PSA, etc.—day of the week, time of day or any other logical structure that serves the needs of the media organization.
3. Building Playout Schedules
Once the content is uploaded to that organization’s instance of TVU Channel running in the cloud, one or more workers logged in via the internet to their channel can schedule programs, simply drag and drop content into desired spots on a calendar, populating the broadcast day moment-by-moment with all of the shows and commercials in the schedule.
Anyone who can use Google Calendar or any of the other familiar calendar apps and software can use TVU Channel to build playout schedules.
4. Channel Backup & Playout Redundancy
Before a disaster, existing scheduling tools in use on-prem can be used to feed a parallel version of the program schedule automatically to TVU Channel as well as trigger content uploads to support cloud playout.
When an event occurs that takes out the primary on-prem playout operation, TVU Channel can be triggered automatically to continue playout, ensuring uninterrupted service to viewers.
5. Affordable & Reliable
As broadcasters and other channel management services for linear TV place a sharper focus on disaster recovery and business continuity strategies to maintain operations in a period of increasing cyberattacks and the ever-present threat of natural disasters. Cloud playout scheduling solutions offer a reliable and affordable approach to ensuring viewers continue to receive the shows they expect to watch and that billable commercial obligations continue to be fulfilled.
While entirely capable of meeting primary linear television channel scheduling and playout demands, TVU FAST Channel also offers an affordable cloud playout and scheduling solution for media organizations looking to back up on-premise technology and workflows. Offered for a monthly low subscription fee, TVU Channel makes using the cloud for DR and business continuity operations a smart choice.
TVU Networks has designed TVU Channel with all of the capabilities media organizations need to replicate ongoing scheduling and playout workflows offsite and out of harm’s way so that when the inevitable event occurs—whether it’s a cyberattack that locks out a station, station group or network from its programs and other content or a natural disaster—there’s a reliable way to continue building broadcast schedules and playing out content from the cloud.