SL NEO Platform permit the automated insertion of regional ads into a signal from a central station

Regional Ad Insertion

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One of the common tasks of regional broadcasters is to replace some program, new and ad blocks received from the central station with local news and ad blocks.

SL NEO 3000 series servers permit the automation of the insertion of regional program blocks and ads into a signal received from a central broadcasting station. This process may be carried out with or without a signal time shift to the receiving end. 

Traditional scheme with a broadcast server, program router/mixer may be implemented for cases where there are at least 2 live signal sources (studios, VTR machines, satellite translations) to be used during program formation.

For cases when there are only 1 or 2 live signal sources, to fit in a minimum budget, the SL NEO server can be used in a "pass-through" mode. The input signals are connected to the server's inputs. The server overlays local broadcast graphic and outputs the composition to one of its outputs. When the server receives a manual signal, GPI command or detects a marker from the central station, it replaces the input signal with locally prepared content such as ad and promo blocks or live signal from a local studio (for 2-input server models). The overlaid graphics can be switched together with the main content.

Server inputs can also be used for batch captures from VTRs and other sources, time-delays and live insertions. Switching between input and local content is seamless and does not require any additional synchronization hardware.

Reliability, Simplicity, and Flexibility

An important benefit of this solution is its reliability, simplicity, and flexibility: it can be operated manually, when the user himself starts the playlist elements, turning on the graphics, or in complete automatic mode according to a schedule prepared several days ahead of time. The interface of the Air Manager application that manages the processing of recording, playback, and graphics formatting is organized in a simple, logical manner and does not require the user to have special computer knowledge.

AV/SDI Signals and Transport Streams

Bearing in mind the fact that companies work with varying standards and that they need various sever configurations, we have provided for a wide range of input and output signals and I/O interfaces depending on the server model, from YCbCr/CVBS and Analog Audio to HD/SD SDI + Audio Embedded. Also, operations may be carried out with MPEG-2/4 TS and IP Unicast/Multicast transport streams via RTP/RTSP and ASI. When working with transport streams, the operational technology remains the same as with traditional audio and video signals. Moreover, SL NEO servers can simultaneously create AV signals and transport streams.

Air Manager Client Software

All play-/rec lists, graphics formatting, scrolling text, and banners may be prepared on network client PCs using Air Manager in parallel to on-air broadcast.

Reserving

To facilitate round-the-clock, uninterrupted broadcasting, a pair of identical SL NEO servers in synchronous operation must be used. The second server operates in 100% hot backup mode; its play list is constantly synchronized with the playlist on the main server. The contents of the backup server’s archives are also synchronized. Thus, if the main server breaks down, it can simply be turned off and repaired at leisure. A 2X1 reserve router may be used to switch between servers.  

This approach is optimal for many regional TV companies and cable operators that are re-broadcasting shows from federal channels; the combination of many functions on one SL NEO server allows significant budget optimization when creating a regional broadcasting complex. 

Automatic Ad Insertion

Currently, SL NEO servers use the following technology, which allows them to automate regional ad insertion:
  • SCTE-104 technology;
  • Video fragments (for cases in which the control signals are not being sent from the center);
  • DTMF cue tones;
  • GPI commands in VBI signals (frame blackout pulse, teletext line, Softel protocol).
The principle of the operation of the video fragment analysis technology is the following: the SL NEO server broadcasting on a regional station constantly tracks the input signal from the central station and “compares” fragments of video with the contents of the input signal which have previously been recorded on disk. If they coincide, program switching automatically occurs, and a command is issued for playback of the local ad block. The end of the ad block is detected in a similar way (see illustration). 

One of the possible options for the organization of regional broadcasting:

Markers broadcasting GPI IN/OUT signals marking the beginning and end of every regional window are placed in free teletext lines of the VBI frame blackout pulse, which facilitates their free transfer by the traffic flow from the head station to the regional stations. On the receiving side of the satellite TS receiver/decoder, teletext signals are restored and transferred to the corresponding lines of the SDI output signal. The decoding of markers in SDI is done by the SL NEO software with the use of the Softel protocol; then, the corresponding start/stop playlist broadcast commands with advertising are broadcast by the program modules of the SL NEO server. 

The SL NEO server is capable of generating these markers itself as part of the VBI of its output signal, thereby facilitating sending GPI IN/OUT commands for regional stations.

Sample scheme for regional broadcasting with command transfers as part of SDI

Basic SL NEO server functions related to regional broadcasting:

  • Broadcast from 1 to N channels: broadcast of various types of materials (live, file, tape) according to schedule, Time Shift
  • Automatic arrangement of program/ad blocks in the input and delayed signals; acceptance of GPI in VBI management signals, in the 23rd line of the television signal, and in the traffic flow
  • Program switching, device management (switches, MCS, DSK, VTR, logo generators, etc.)
  • Graphic design for each channel (captions, scrolling text, logos, clock, 32-bit video, SMS/RSS, and many more)
  • Generation of Ultra HD/HD/SD program signals and types: SDI/YCRCB/CVBS, SDI Embedded/AES/Analog Audio
  • Traffic flow generation: SPTS/MPTS in ASI/IP, MPEG-2/Н.264
  • Automation of scheduled recording of various types of SD/HD signals: SDI/YCRCB/CVBS, SDI Embedded/AES/Analog Audio, SPTS/MPTS in ASI/IP, MPEG-2/Н.264
  • Integration with NLE, exchange of AVI/MOV/MPG/VOB/MXF/TGA/PSD files, etc., with support of the majority of popular coder/decoder units
  • Media data management in the broadcast zone, work with storyboard materials, proxy generation, cataloging, search
  • Layout and editing of playlists and recording lists; integration with media planning systems
  • Combined, collective user operations in the broadcast zone when viewing materials with limited access rights to system resources, management of broadcast and recording channels via a common simple, convenient user interface
  • Generation of reports on the main events (recording, playback, data management)