a retro future tv plugged into the wall, surrounded by clouds, there is a colorful landscape on the screen

Media and entertainment businesses are chasing a moving target. An evolving set of routes to reach consumers, along with their desire to watch “anytime, anywhere,” has propelled the demand for channels everywhere. While the need to efficiently make and monetize mainstream and channel variants has never been more pressing, media companies are equally challenged to manage financial and technical risk.

In this blog, we describe an efficient, new way to deploy and manage channel workflows — on-prem, in the cloud, or both — in order to support the desired channel breadth and reach, with redundancy and disaster recovery strategies that make operational and financial sense.

Determining the Right On-Prem and Cloud Mix

Many businesses operate linear channels and live linear delivery systems in multiple locations. Augmenting these locations with cloud resources to launch FAST, CTV, and variant channels and to bolster redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities brings business value ― but it also adds both logical and operational complexities.

Decisions about technical infrastructure and topology to support the delivery of channels must align with an organization’s operating cost requirements, as well as the location of the viewer and their content consumption preferences. Each media company must find its own optimum mix of on-prem and cloud technologies ― and use them to their best advantage. This includes both primary delivery and disaster recovery strategies.

While the industry is becoming more adept at assessing when to adopt each approach, managing a hybrid on-prem/cloud workflow environment presents an entirely new set of operational challenges. Here is where Aviator Orchestrator comes in.

What do experts at Sinclair, FOX Television Stations, and NBCUniversal Local think about Hybrid Cloud Strategies? Watch this TVNewsCheck webinar to find out.

Adaptability in Action: Achieving Optimal ROI and TCO

Aviator Orchestrator enables customers to deploy and manage channel workflows on-prem, in the cloud, or both, using a single, common user interface. It no longer matters whether channels are in two or more on-prem locations, two or more cloud regions, or a combination of on-prem and cloud systems.

In the development of Aviator Orchestrator, Imagine answered two key customer questions: “Where can I get the best ROI for the content I’m making right now?”, and “Where can I get the lowest TCO by moving what’s on the ground and what’s in the cloud as needed?

Imagine recognizes that the “best ROI right now” can change ― sometimes at short notice. Aviator Orchestrator lets media companies easily adapt to change and unforeseen situations. This can range from bolstering redundancy for the duration of a special event to migrating channel deployments from on-prem to the cloud, or from cloud to on-prem as needs change over time.

Aviator Orchestrator can help you ...

  • Reduce the time and effort required to deploy channels everywhere – OTT, CTV, FAST …
  • Simplify operations by managing on-prem and cloud channels via a single, common UI.
  • Rapidly extend reach, expand audience and create new revenue streams for linear assets.
  • Maximize your on-prem capital investment and leverage cloud flexibility to control TCO.
  • Choose the path and pace to the cloud that works for your business.

Hybrid Workflows Require Seamless Synchronization and Integration

Aviator Orchestrator combines capabilities for deploying, managing, and maintaining redundant channel configurations ― and that includes the critical requirement of keeping multiple distributed linear playout systems in sync.

Content is always in the right place at the right time. Playlists and list changes are kept in sync across redundant channels, whether in the cloud, on prem, or a continent away from one another. Aviator Orchestrator manages all these threads, along with support for up to five replicas of a channel to match the exact level of redundancy protection needed ― anywhere that a media company can deploy suitable resources.

To ensure maximum flexibility, Aviator Orchestrator is not limited to integration with Imagine solutions. It also supports third-party solutions such as Amagi’s CLOUDPORT playout and THUNDERSTORM DAI ― creating even more value for channel delivery to any endpoint. The result is a potent, fully integrated solution to manage the complexity of broadcast and FAST channel workflows, the migration to the cloud, and the changing viewing habits of consumers.

Unified Approach to Managing Sources and Live Streams

Media companies can also use Aviator Orchestrator to manage the resources and relationships between channels and live streams in a cohesive fashion. The platform works in conjunction with Imagine’s ground-to-cloud routing control solution, Magellan Connect, giving master control operators access to the same scope of source signals no matter where the channel is running.

On-prem sources such as SDI, SMPTE ST 2110 and MPEG-2 transport streams can be routed within a single facility, between multiple on-prem facilities, and from on-prem to the public cloud — all under an integrated routing control environment. Content destined for the cloud can be encoded for contribution using H.264 and/or JPEG XS and securely delivered; once in the cloud, sources can be routed to their target destinations, allowing a single source to be shared by many destinations simultaneously.

This approach ensures that all resources from live streams, media assets, channels, and the schedules that drive them are linked and managed as a whole, acting like one channel (distributed and redundant) in the operational environment.

The cover image for the Q3 2023 IABM Journal showing an elephant walking on a tightrope
Learn more about Imagine's hybrid approach to playout in the latest edition of the IABM Journal

Operational Agility Delivers Business Success

With Aviator Orchestrator managing the underlying technical complexity of today’s hybrid environments, media companies are able to keep the focus on what is needed to maintain smooth operation and on-air stability. Under normal operating conditions, users see resources and logical channels deployed and managed by Aviator Orchestrator. Operators can drill down to the underlying real channel(s) and manage at that level if needed for situational recovery.

The ability to adapt to changing business and operational needs is greatly simplified. And the ability to reach consumers as their viewing habits evolve has become easier than ever before.

Your Path, Your Pace

Today, the cloud can support any playout requirements and clearly offers strong benefits. But for many broadcasters, it simply isn’t practical to abandon on-premises equipment overnight when it still meets their needs.

Adopting a hybrid approach to playout allows media companies to leverage the benefits of both on-premises and cloud solutions, optimize their existing capital investments, and choose their own path and pace to the future of broadcasting.

One site, many sites. In the cloud, on-prem or hybrid.
Channels Everywhere — Aviator Orchestrator.

November 15, 2023 - By Andy Warman
Senior Vice President - Product
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portatif of Steve Reynolds


Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is President of Imagine Communications, a global leader in multiscreen video and ad management solutions that broadcasters, networks, video service providers and enterprises around the world rely on to support their mission-critical operations.

Steve brings 25 years of technology leadership in the video industry to Imagine Communications. He has served as the CTO at Imagine Communications and Harris Broadcast, Senior Vice President of Premises Technology at Comcast, Senior Vice President of Technology at OpenTV, and CTO at Intellocity USA.

Steve earned a MS in Computer Engineering from Widener University and BS in Computer Science from West Chester University. As the Chairman of the AIMS Alliance and a member of SMPTE and SCTE, he has participated in numerous standards-making bodies in the cable and digital video industries. Steve also holds over 40 patents relating to digital video, content security, interactive television and digital devices.