HD and Digital Transition Still in Infancy at Most U.S. TV Stations

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On Eve of NAB 2011, Groundbreaking Report Surveys Execs at More Than 350 U.S. Broadcast Outlets & Finds Huge Untapped Potential; More than $250MM in Annual Unrealized Cost Savings in Digital and HDTV Conversion

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To make the most of the latest opportunities, engineers and their suppliers first need to fully optimize the fundamentals of station operations.

Despite the enormous perceived penetration of digital television and HDTV, a lot of work remains to fully convert U.S. TV stations to these technologies. The continued movement toward evolving stations’ operations and technical architectures represents large opportunities for the stations, as well as for vendors and service providers, to find ways to make these changes and enable cost structure improvements at the same time. These are some of the conclusions of a new study, U.S. TV Stations Infrastructure: The HD Transition Has Just Begun, released by Positive Flux, Inc., a firm that specializes in transforming media companies to address new opportunities.

The study surveyed senior engineering management at 362 U.S. broadcast stations of all sizes including station groups, O&Os and independent stations. The results provide the most comprehensive and up-to-date view of the state of systems architecture and operational methods employed at network-affiliated stations.

“As the broadcast industry gathers for its annual NAB show, it is important to bear in mind that the fundamental priorities driving stations’ plans and decisions are quite different from the headlines,” says Larry Thaler, president of Positive Flux. “To make the most of the latest opportunities, engineers and their suppliers first need to fully optimize the fundamentals of station operations. Digital signal paths and true support for HD are necessary platforms. Optimized, file-based workflows, cost reduction and new business enablers then emerge as drivers for change.”

From media production to newsroom operations, traffic function to master control, the report identifies technologies and innovations that represent cost savings opportunities for stations or business opportunities for vendors. It also finds that while many station executives see HDTV conversion as a competitive necessity, they have not recognized the inherent opportunities for process improvement and cost-savings the changeover can bring.

Among its findings the report identifies:

  •     Nearly US$250 million in untapped annual cost savings to U.S. broadcasters
  •     Stations are only beginning to embrace HD production. Only 38% of surveyed stations have made their internal production and master control systems fully HD
  •     While HD control rooms are one of the earliest investments considered by stations, only 45% have one or more HD control rooms.
  •     Stations groups have barely begun to realize the cost savings from shared production synergies, representing a huge untapped economic benefit.
  •     While almost 90% of stations have adopted non-linear editing, most have yet to take the next step of developing unified workflows.
  •     Although all stations pass their network’s HD feed, many have merely inserted an HD bypass switcher to air network content and therefore still need cost-effective solutions to upgrade their Master Control facilities.
  •     Station engineers lack visibility into where their signals go after leaving their facilities. As stations embrace new economic models and new technology including retransmission consent, interactivity, and addressable advertisements, knowledge of these downstream paths will become critical for new business development.

A complete executive summary of the report is available at http://positiveflux.com/stations.

The full report is available for US$1,200 at http://positiveflux.com/store#Stations%20Full.

About Positive Flux
Positive Flux specializes in helping media firms plan and execute the critical operational transformations they need to compete and evolve, yet lack the internal resources or experience to implement. Every day, Positive Flux helps businesses develop and deliver strategic changes, from critical operational improvements through business integration, as well as new media roll outs and building new facilities from the ground up.

Positive Flux is backed by 30 years of technology, business operations and process experience. Founder Larry Thaler is a well-known broadcast industry figure who served as Vice President of Distribution Technology and Vice President of Production Technology at NBC Universal. During his years with NBC Universal, Larry led key efforts at the junction of traditional broadcasting and new media that stand as models for an entire industry undergoing constant transformation.

Positive Flux has the expertise to ensure their clients reach the ROI and project success they desire. More can be learned at http://www.PositiveFlux.com

All trademarks and registered trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

PR Contact for Positive Flux:

Evan Sirof
MarComm-On-Call, Inc.
Tel: +1 (845) 255 1909

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MarComm-On-Call, Inc.
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