About a year ago, Jim Ocon, Gray Television’s VP of technology, sat in a room in Shanghai with TVU Networks CEO Paul Shen, drawing on a whiteboard of what a new real-time IP video distribution, switching and routing solution would look like.
In the next two months, Gray will be the first station group in the U.S. to launch TVU Grid, a cloud-based solution that will let the group share live content among multiple remote locations. Ocon says TVU Grid will be used to share live feeds among the more than 40 stations Gray owns across 30 markets.
“We have 120 TVU Packs deployed across our station group, if we wanted to switch to live feeds before this, we would need 120 receivers at each station,” says Ocon. “This re-does the architecture, so now you may have one or two receivers at a station and source multiple IP signals from those multiple TVU units.”
Shen says TVU Grid is the ideal point-to-point or point-to-multipoint live video distribution solution for network affiliates and station groups. He says the technology is the next step in the move to an IP-only broadcast TV station.
“We’re bringing down the walls in the TV station,” he says. “You don’t need cable or Ethernet — everything is IP and now I can manage them easily. With TVU Grid, you can manage content from anywhere and share content with anyone.”
TVU Grid consists of the TVU Grid Transceiver, TVU Grid Switch Panel, TVU Grid Server and TVU Grid Management Server. The rest of the TVU bonded cellular ecosystem — TVU Pack, TVU Pack Mini and TVU Anywhere — integrate with TVU Grid.
Shen says TVU is also working with all of the major switcher vendors to integrate with TVU Grid. Currently, engineers will have to switch between live feeds on-screen with the click of a mouse. There are an unlimited number of video streams that broadcast stations can switch to without the use of a converter, increasing the number of video feeds accessible to a broadcast station.
Ocon says any large-scale news event that requires a station to go live to multiple sister stations’ feeds, such as statewide election coverage or a state- or region-wide natural disaster, will be considerably easier with TVU Grid. The user-interface allows a broadcaster to go live with any feed in their cloud at the click of a mouse.
It will also make it easier for news networks like CNN to tap into a Gray live news feed. Gray, or any station group, would need to give that news network access to their Grid cloud. TVU Grid’s interface gives operators control over switching and routing of video streams from anywhere on the Grid cloud. “TVU Grid will provide us with another powerful tool to be the first to get important footage to viewers,” says Ocon.
In addition to Gray, Shen says TVU has five other major station groups in the U.S. and two international broadcast customers on-board. The company plans to demo TVU Grid at this year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas at booth SU7105 in the Las Vegas Convention Center.