Broadcast Engineering Honors Pac-12 Nets’ Distribution Center at Comcast Media Center

Pac-12 Networks’ new Distribution Center at Comcast Media Center (CMC) has received top honor in the Network Automation category in the 12th-annual Broadcast Engineering Excellence Awards, marking the third consecutive year that CMC has received top honors for pioneering solutions for TV-network origination.

The award, which honors “the industry’s best examples of innovation, high-quality design, and construction,” will be presented by Broadcast Engineering magazine Monday at its booth (N5135). Pac-12 Networks’ Distribution Center at CMC are also showcased in the magazine’s special NAB edition.

As part of providing a broad range of technical distribution services for the Pac-12 Networks in collaboration with iN DEMAND Networks, CMC launched seven HD sports networks from a new environment at its Centennial, CO, facility. Known as the Pac-12 Distribution Center, this environment complements the Pac-12 Network Center in San Francisco. CMC also provides Pac-12 with occasional satellite and terrestrial fiber acquisition, feed record, media prep, content storage, compression/encryption, and uplink services.

A design team comprising members of CMC’s Broadcast Engineering, Operations and Software Solutions departments and Pac-12’s technology and programming units designed the Distribution Center in Denver to allow Pac-12 Networks’ San Francisco staff to produce and contribute file-based content, remotely schedule and segment feed records, and drive programmatic changes as necessary.

To support a flexible staffing model that could expand and contract in accordance with Pac-12’s live-programming schedules, the team designed the origination environment to include one command-and-control master-control station for managing scheduled playback of Pac-12 Conference programming and seven individual-network live-event “pods” for supporting one national and six regional sports channels. To assist the command-and-control staff with situational awareness, CMC augmented its Heads-Up Display technology specific to the Pac-12 operation.

The Pac-12 Distribution Center at CMC acquires content from multiple sources, including file-based content from the Network Center in San Francisco, and commercial advertising systems or scheduled feeds/live events delivered via dedicated fiber circuits between the Network Center, conference campuses, and the Distribution Center in Denver. This fiber connectivity also allows the Distribution Center to perform disaster recovery for the Pac-12 Networks in the event the Network Center becomes unable to perform its regular functions.

Among the design challenges unique to the Pac-12 Networks’ operation were the need for geographically diverse control over network automation, media-asset management, signal routers, and operations management. The design also incorporates solutions that allow Pac-12 to sell unique advertising on each of its seven sports networks while airing both common and unique events.

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