Crown Media Family Networks operates and distributes Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. Since its launch in 2001, Hallmark Channel has been one of the fastest growing major ad-supported cable networks, and today it reaches nearly 87 million U.S. homes. Crown Media ensures the quality of these 24-hour networks with the Volicon Observer TS (transport stream) digital video monitoring and logging system, which not only enables convenient remote review of live and aired content, but also facilitates rapid troubleshooting and simplifies key tasks, including loudness and closed-caption compliance, NAVE ratings assurance and traffic reconciliation. Crown Media also has installed an analog Observer system to give the company’s programming department competitive monitoring capabilities. In short, the broadcaster has leveraged its monitoring and logging systems with existing networks and workstations to support, simplify and speed critical tasks all across its operations.
Encompass Digital Media plays out the East Coast and West Coast Hallmark and Hallmark Movie channels. Satellite signals are downlinked locally and decrypted by a Cisco D9854 receiver, which outputs the channel as an MPoIP multicast, subsequently delivered to the Observer system via the company’s corporate LAN. The IP-based video monitoring model requires little equipment, as it depends primarily on existing infrastructure and software to run in a virtual environment.
The Observer system captures, stores and streams aired content and provides local and remote users instant access to live and recorded content — as many as nine channels — from an easy-to-use Web-based GUI. Staff from engineering, traffic, business affairs and other departments can locate and access video and then create clips demonstrating compliance with internal quality standards, federal regulations, and contracts with advertisers and distribution partners.
Observer users can go back as many as 10 days to examine and/or export content from the transport stream, or dial back as many as nine months if working with low bit-rate proxy content. DVR-like frame-accurate controls allow for easy content review. WideOrbit Orion traffic users access the system frequently to verify as-run logs. Users search and sort the as-run log via ID or commercial/ program name for quick and easy ad verification with a direct link to video content. Research and production planning teams use the system for simple, cost-effective synchronized review of Crown Media and competitor programming.
The Observer system provides engineers with real-time alerts for faulty video, audio and closed-captioning — with a direct link to content and a master fault log — that make it easy to see the immediate visual impact of issues, as well as ongoing trends. Users also can capture and play back the loudness metadata that confirms compliance with the CALM Act. Crown Media relies on the Observer to ensure proper transmission and delivery of NAVE codes to Nielsen monitoring equipment. Engineers also will use the Observer to locate PIDs for SCTE-35 triggers inserted into the transport stream, verify that they were sent correctly and determine if disruptive issues were caused by local events.