West goes live with OverDrive

Dutch regional broadcaster West offers 24 hour TV and radio content to around 1.5 million people living in the province around The Hague, to the west of the Netherlands. With 80 employees, the broadcaster prides itself on delivering fast-moving content to the local communities it serves. Wiljan Pongers, Head of Technology and IT at West, joined the station one year ago and immediately felt there was a need for more live content.

“West had historically created live magazine-style news, sports and traffic content but had gradually moved to edited shows because of the cost-efficiencies offered. However, we have a strong community focus and we want to be close to our viewers. To me, that means getting on air fast with video content and being able to update viewers over the course of a day. That means live.”

As a regional broadcaster, West is always trying to make its budgets go further. “Flexibility is a big issue for us here”, says Pongers. “We use the same studio for news, sports and traffic content and the biggest challenge for us has been simplifying workflows and keeping an eye on cost but still keeping the flexibility we need. Technology, especially automation, has helped us enormously”. Having previously worked at RTV NH and AT5 in the Netherlands, Pongers was already familiar with the Ross Video range of products and instinctively knew that automated production control would be the answer for West.

“When revamping our content I felt that we needed a greater number of live bulletins during the day, but live is generally more expensive and that’s an issue for a regional channel like West. However, OverDrive, Ross Video’s APC (automated production control) platform – completely removes that traditional trade-off. It allows us to simplify workflows and automate them, giving us highly consistent, repeatable and cost-effective results. It’s quite impressive to think that we could run a live news show with one single person in the gallery and one person in front of the camera if we really needed.”

When choosing OverDrive and the XPression graphics suite, Pongers turned to local integration experts Sealander. “I’ve worked with Sealander on a number of occasions over the years and I know Tony Wood and the team there very well – they’re extremely safe hands and have helped us through every stage of the evaluation and integration process.”

The OverDrive solution from Ross has traditionally been partnered with Ross production switchers but a new version launched in 2014 opened the platform up to multiple switcher brands. Interesting to note, then, that West ultimately purchased a Carbonite switcher from Ross. “Carbonite is the world’s most popular midsize production switcher”, comments Ivo Guilini, Ross Director of Sales for Northern Europe.

West is now producing two live scheduled news bulletins per day with live updates over the course of the day as required. “I’m really pleased,” notes Pongers. “We are finally able to run live shows every day but in a highly controllable and structured manner.”

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