Scripps Networks, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based producer of television networks, selected Cisco Medianet architecture to enable the delivery of more streaming media content and video optimization across its high-traffic websites and cable provider partners, as well as its everyday video and voice applications for internal business use.
Medianet is an IP technology that enables interaction between video applications and the underlying network infrastructure to improve how networks are configured for video traffic, enhance video traffic monitoring and troubleshooting, and improve Quality of Service (QoS).
New industry demands require increased media volumes
Before 2011, Scripps Networks, which owns several cable networks -- Home and Garden Television, the Food Network, the Cooking Channel and the Travel Channel --relied on a tape-based system to produce and transport its content from its Nashville-based production studio to its two Knoxsville, Tenn.-based data centers.
"The process of producing programs on a tape-based workflow is very slow and linear," said Jason Norton, director of operations and telecommunications at Scripps. "The industry began requiring us to retain digital copies of our assets for repurposing those programs or segments for different formats and even international channels."
When the company migrated to a digital file-based system, its data network began to struggle. Norton and his team knew they would have to increase their WAN and local area network bandwidth to accommodate higher traffic volumes. The team began upgrading Scripps' network connections with Multiprotocol Label Switching Metro Ethernet circuits -- a task dubbed "Project Pipeline" -- Norton said.
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"The Food Network is produced in New York, the Travel Channel is produced in Maryland, and we also have London properties that exchange large amounts of video back and forth. We have been working to upgrade locations and pipes that really need more bandwidth and capacity," he said.
Bigger pipes weren't the only part of the network's infrastructure that had to be updated to meet the new volume of video traffic. Norton's team replaced its legacy Cisco 7200 and 3245 routers with 1000 Series Aggregation Services Routers , which support Cisco Medianet architecture.
The new generation of routers allowed the Scripps Network to go from 135 megabytes per second of processing power to 2.5 Gigabytes per second sec of routing capacity of traffic in the routing engine, processing 18 times the amount of information and media data at a time, Norton said.
"We have gone from transcoding three TV episodes a day to about nine to 12 episodes," he said.
In addition to preparing video for viewers across its multiple brands, Cisco Medianet gave Scripps network-aware video endpoints, making video conferencing and VoIP for internal business processes much smoother. The embedded QoS control from Medianet helps to manage files and prioritize traffic, giving Norton and his team more effective use of network resources, he said.
Cisco Medianet offers a future-proof, scalable network
The Nielsen ratings no longer measure a program's audience by its initial broadcast. Network TV shows are now being measured on the number of views a program receives within the first three days via on-demand video, Norton said.
Scripps Networks has contracted with several cable carriers -- including Comcast and Time Warner -- to provide additional content for the cable carriers' on-demand portals. "We have to provide more content to these providers, but its beneficial for [Scripps] because we now get counted for eyeballs on our shows within the first three days -- whether the viewer is watching from their TV, laptop or tablet," he said. "We also get the advertising revenue for the first three days."
Cisco Medianet has allowed Scripps Networks to rapidly increase the volume of video and high-bandwidth content being encoded and transported to the cable carriers for streaming and on-demand video, Norton said. "[Cisco Medianet] allows us to get our media products where they need to be -- and on time."
Video volumes will only grow as viewers have more delivery options -- like Web-based models -- and devices for watching streaming media on things other than just their TVs.
"Cisco Medianet will allow [Scripps] to stay on top of growing capacity demands in the future, and to continue to enable the use of media assets, wherever they are within the company," Norton said.