Imagine Communications Works to Protect NESN’s On-Air Assets
Recognizing the importance of business continuity for television networks wishing to maximize viewership and revenue without the need to replicate their primary playout operations, Imagine Communications has worked with NESN to protect the media company’s valuable on-air assets by implementing a comprehensive, cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) solution.
NESN is New England’s largest television network and has been ranked by Forbes Magazine in the top 10 most valuable sports business brands in the world in recent years. Owned by the parent companies of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins, NESN broadcasts more than 250 live sports events each year. The network’s new business continuity solution ― featuring Imagine’s Versio integrated playout infrastructure optimized in the cloud with AWS ― will help NESN maximize viewership and safeguard ad revenue.
While NESN provides news and coverage across all sports, live coverage of the baseball and ice hockey games is what drives audiences and revenue to the network. Developing rigorous policies around security and business continuity to protect against any potential outage during these events is critical for both NESN and the sports leagues. As a longstanding Imagine customer for on-premises channel playout infrastructure, NESN participated in helping to develop DR strategies and solutions.
“While securing our on-air assets is obviously our top priority, maintaining dual air-chains would have been cost-prohibitive,” says Kenny Elcock, vice president of engineering for NESN. “So when Imagine showed us what they had been doing in the cloud, I knew we were on the right track. What they proposed was straightforward, needed no big changes in workflow or resources, and could be up and running very quickly. Imagine had the new DR system configured the way we wanted it on AWS ― and our operations team fully trained ― within just a few days.”
NESN was one of the first networks to adopt an integrated playout platform using Versio with Imagine’s ADC automation. The new implementation adds Versio playout functionality virtualized on AWS. This takes the live feeds from stadiums in parallel ― one back to the main playout center and one to the cloud. Using an automated process that mirrors on-prem content and operations in the cloud, Imagine ensures commercials and playlists are up-to-date and ready to air, so if there is a failure at any point, the output can be instantly switched to the cloud. The deployed solution will also automate the playlist processing. Control of the changeover, and of live playout, can be implemented from any location with an internet link.
“Broadcasters and content companies are rapidly realizing that business continuity is vital to retain audience recognition and maintain revenues,” says Glodina Lostanlen, chief sales and marketing officer at Imagine Communications. “They recognize the power of the cloud as an immediate, practical solution for disaster recovery today. Moreover, it gives networks a solid foundation toward the complete virtualization of their technology base, and it opens up the potential for new revenue streams, which depend upon highly reliable, highly timely delivery of live content.”
NESN’s cloud-based DR solution was implemented by Imagine in conjunction with the broadcaster’s engineers and operators and was in place in time for the start of the 2021/2022 season.