In today’s broadcast media market conditions, where U.S. alone has statistics ticking up north of 30 billion dollars a year in television station revenue, every frame is rather expensive, or profitable, depending on your perspective. This results in an increased demand for bespoke IT solutions, to manage broadcasting in a way that does not suffer from the mounting pressure coming from need for precision and reduction of potential costs generated by lack thereof. Which translates into development of professional software solutions specifically targeting TV stations, tailoring to their multiple needs. These most often include names such as: Broadcast management, Programme Planning, Scheduling, Self Promotion, Content, Asset and Facility management or Advertising Sales and Traffic. Subsequently also their extension into the new generation of solutions, known as all-in-one solutions, such as MISTV® MIRA.
Such systems usually deal with running of day-to-day operations within television station departments, responsible for Planning, Self promotion, On-air, Acquisition, Archive and Advertisement sales. These can also be treated as independent siloed departments with individual solutions or rely on the more integrated station management. Majority of television stations utilize these systems to provide uninterrupted content broadcasting and optimize advertising sales revenue.
Station or Broadcast Management Systems are a piece of software that has an out-of-the-box capability to run television stations daily workflow. However, most of these systems do require customizations and fine tuning to suit a station perfectly. Furthermore, interfaces with other parts of the TV station workflow are necessary, such as: Playout Automation, Postlog, Accounting, Research, MAM, Ratings, etc.
In a nutshell, the systems help TV stations and other companies operating a service that delivers visual and audio content to an audience, through means like TV channels, Video on demand (VOD), Over the Top (OTT), streaming platforms or radio manage their daily operations necessary to ensure smooth broadcasting and maintain all related evidences accurate and up to date. The pillars of this software consist of content, traffic, and advertising management. Other extensions include financial integrations, reporting, analytics and in more advanced cases also optimizers. For the purposes of serving a variety of stations and platforms, these systems have to be very versatile and adjustable, meaning that very often they are scalable to accommodate a range of applications, from small to large operations. In essence, these systems allow companies to reduce costs, avoid penalties and enhance workflow efficiency to optimize revenue.
Since these solutions usually involve replacing and improving large parts of the department’s workflow, they must be intuitive, have user friendly graphical interface (GUI), offer clear inventory and planning overview. Additional elements such as APIs, work with metadata and plugins are further extensions, which allow integration with financial and broadcasting systems. Customization of individual modules, which require higher level of flexibility, include Daily planning, Long-term planning, Automation / Optimization, Analytics, Forecasting and exception / rule implementation for specific markets. Development environments will inadvertently vary between systems, offering functionality, scalability and flexibility at different levels. In all cases however, the system has to ensure fast data retrieval, smooth integration for content access (e.g.: from a media server), logically comprehensive workflow, efficiency in broadcast planning, clear display of rights management and informative financial breakdowns.
Because everything in broadcast is essentially centered around the visual and audio content, the starting point of a workflow can be defined here. This is not always the case, as some systems allow stations to manage their own database entries and prepare for future content acquisition in advance. But for simplicity’s sake, we will assume content ingest to be the beginning of a standard workflow. Said ingest can be in the form of an acquired title, in-house production, news reports, live events, third party acquisition, etc. This content can be received in numerous ways, such as video tapes and discs, data streams or files, etc. Once transcoded (moved onto the local media server) to the desired format, including the content metadata, a record in the database is created, which then becomes the starting point for the myriad of operations that a user can carry out in a station management system. Metadata can also be amended, created and deleted as required by the system operators, facilitating yet further granularity and possibility of precise work with ingested content. Station Management systems are very powerful tools with virtually limitless possibilities, especially potent in the case of large amounts (tens of thousands of records) of content management.
Majority of modern-day TV channels are expanding their content libraries to work in one way or another, with traditional linear broadcast, VOD, trailers, jingles, self-promotion, teasers and music. This facilitates a need for a system that can retain, organize, and perhaps more importantly, access all the necessary data fast. Which in return allows for efficient use of system provided functionalities, such as detailed inventory, contract and license management, advanced filtering, previewing content, manage user rights, work with third party integrations, manage content for multiple channels and time periods, manage content for multi-platform distribution, request customized development, export playlists for broadcasting and compare as-run logs.
This allows users from Planning departments to utilize Daily and Long-term planning to its full potential, by having at their fingertips all the essential information to make decisions about optimal placing of movies or series runs, conditions and licenses associated with those, booking of commercial breaks and promotional material for target audience and feeding this information to the Sales and Financial departments.
After content planning, and many times simultaneously to it, comes the sale of air-time for advertisement purposes, which is essential for making your enterprise profitable. Similar to content libraries, Advertising sales relies on an Inventory of contracts, their associated clips and metadata (restrictions by age-appropriate content, desired demographic, GRPs, etc.), to provide a good overview of ordered advertisements. These need to be booked and scheduled conflict-free, associated clips delivered and organized, and then slotted into the Daily Visual Plan (along with Jingles, Self Promotions, Secondary events, etc.) by the use of Scheduling functions. Advertisement campaign fulfillments can be planned long term as well, providing forecasting possibilities in terms of revenue generation and Ratings acquired from engagement measurement companies.
The standard workflow then consists of entering new advertising contract entries into the inventory, associating the necessary properties with said contract (and its content) and acquiring the clips that will be scheduled into commercial breaks. Then the sales inventory entries can be used to book individual clips into breaks that fulfill the contractual criteria and desired demographic, based on its place in the broadcast. In this way, the TV station has access to all the necessary information for booking advertisements effectively in terms of cost and has an overview of the entire set of available options, including the information about what can and cannot be booked into a particular slot. Of course, the more information a contract has attached to it, the more efficient this process can be.
Some station management software even offers automatic optimizers for this workflow, speeding it up significantly, as it will book advertisements and self promotion material, based on a set of desired parameters. This can reduce the workload immensely, as it parses through the available contracts, including their restrictions and attached clips, to create a schedule aimed at optimizing revenue within the selected timeframe. Such tools require longer development and setup but are well worth the initial investment in the long run. The key thing to understand is that a well-maintained inventory, along with detailed entries and an optimized automatic booking tool, can save your enterprise a large sum of time, manpower and money, while generating a more streamlined workflow, frame level precision schedules and maximum possible revenue based on available channel time and advertisements.
Now that we have gone through what the above-mentioned systems can and should do, let us have a look at the solutions that MISTV offers to cover this particular market niche. When purchasing implementation and license for our software, you receive access to all of the below listed modules and their specialized workflow tools (when buying the complete Programming and Sales solution). We also offer customization of the Out-of-the-box software, to suit our client needs, especially in rather specific market scenarios. The implementation costs also cover database export and data conversion to work with our system, so you can rest assured that no necessary information will be lost.