Since its first U.S. telecast in 1986, video and e-commerce retailer QVC has added broadcast operations in the United States, Japan, Germany, the U.K., Italy and a joint venture with China. Its U.S. operation deploys three HD control rooms and more than 30 cameras to produce live programming 24 hours a day, 364 days a year.
Although QVC's production capabilities have always been strong, the options were limited when it came to master control.
The current configuration allowed the network’s signal to be viewed on multiple platforms, such as smartphones and tablets, as part of the QVC-Everywhere initiative. However, the content available on each device type was the same, as there was only one original stream.
The goal of the master control/NOC project was to expand playout capabilities to allow more content choices down the road, provide better monitoring of both outbound and return signals, and increase fault tolerance.
Joe Micucci, director of broadcast engineering at QVC, was tasked with bringing this to fruition by November of 2012.
“We needed to be online and fully functional well before the holiday season,” said Micucci. “This meant that all training and issue resolution had to be completed before Nov. 1. Because QVC broadcasts live around the clock, the transition needed to be completely seamless.”
The goal was to replace the single, redundant master control system with multiple identical channels, some of which were to be redundant. All channels had to be 3G-capable and able to carry unique, independent content, or be capable of following the main channel.
Channels were divided into two categories: on-air and online. On-air channels would be inherently redundant, while online channels would be single-ended. Both were able to back each other up if needed.
Additional control positions and monitoring were required, allowing for multiple operators, as well as an overall supervisory position and comprehensive hierarchical fault reporting. The master control system needed to operate as an island, separate from production, with its own router for source selection and monitoring.