VertigoXMedia delivers STATS

Sports broadcasters looking to get statistics on air even more quickly have a new option: VertigoXmedia s Xstation, an all-in-one system that replaces a standalone video-server, character generator and still-store.

And last week the company enhanced Xstation even further, signing a deal with STATS, Inc. the massive sports-related statistics company, that will let users automatically pull sports data from STATS, Inc. and publishes it to air.

In order to use the system a client must acquire a subscription to a STATS feed. Feeds are ingested into the Xstation VxDatamanager, (it runs on an integrated SQL database) which serves as the realtime link between the database and the on-air graphics. The Xstudio authoring package is then used to drag and drop datalinks from the VxDatamanager directly to scene elements to easily create a crawl or ticker. The ticker objects can than be selected and scheduled with Xbuilder as part of the daily schedule.

The new deal with STATS, Inc. arrives at an interesting time as broadcasters and cable operators look for new niche channels and sub-channels to grow new revenues.

We are entering a phase of significant content experimentation with broadcasters, says Darin Crosby, VertigoXmedia president, broadcast solutions. DTV has provided them the opportunity of more spectrum then required for a single channel; and many station-group CEOs are wondering how they generate more revenue from it with the minimum increase in costs.

Crosby believes regional sports channel can give broadcasters the added benefit of airing time-sensitive (live) but still locally relevant content. Not only will it let local sports fans watch events they otherwise wouldn t be able to see but it also gives advertisers a chance to reach actual eyeballs.

Many viewers currently Tivo the latest CSI episode and fast-forward through the commercials during playback, says Crosby. But far fewer do so with live events, and that may be a greater pull for local advertisers.

As a result, he says, a heavily automated, low-cost secondary channel that focuses on locally-relevant material can be very attractive to a whole new tier of potential advertisers. If the operational costs remain low enough this becomes a whole new source of income not reachable through the primary network-affiliated programming, he says.

That s one of the reasons he says the partnership with STATS is important. But it isn t the only one. Our partnership with STATS is not aimed solely at clients expecting to launch a sports-centric channel; but to any channel wishing to include timely sports information as part of a ticker or morning-show crawl, he says.

Xstation operates by being directly integrated into a TV station s traffic system. The traffic log is ingested into the Xstation playout controller and then assets corresponding to that log are ingested into Xstation.

Missing assets will be logged and a workorder created to track the status of work-in-progress content, says Crosby. A playlist is then created from the log that includes all primary events like clips and advertisements and all secondary events like logos, tickers, etc.

Crosby says it s also possible to use Xstation as a standalone system, something that is useful when a traffic system can t handle multi-channel operations or secondary event billing. In that case we provide our own schedule creation tool (Xbuilder) that creates the run-down, says Crosby. Some traffic systems can handle multi-channel, and some can t, so we expect a mix of both installations for the immediate future.

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