The use of the Vantage media processing and workflow automation platform developed by has proved to be a key tool in helping Europe’s biggest commercial broadcaster, , safely navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Producer for 65 years of many TV classics, such as Coronation Street and Love Island, ITV’s content is in demand worldwide. ITV’s Content Delivery Team plays a critical role as the broadcaster’s in-house content services provider. Any ITV content played on TV catch-up services worldwide will have been processed and manipulated by the team. In addition, they are custodians of the ITV Archive – a depositary of many decades of top-quality television programmes. The Content Delivery team works alongside the archive librarians to systematically digitize the assets for preservation and restoration purposes.
ITV operates six channels in the UK, most of which operate on a 24/7 basis. When the lockdown happened, ITV immediately stopped production across much of its content, creating significant holes in their broadcast schedules. In their place, ITV looked to re-broadcast existing material, and the same happened with its broadcaster customers worldwide. The result was a massive spike in demand for ITV content to meet increased demand from viewers, many of whom were furloughed at home and were consuming more video content.
ITV Content Delivery offers its media ingest and restoration services externally, so as well as for ITV, the team had to ensure that external customers received appropriately processed content on time.
At ITV Content Delivery’s headquarters in Leeds, England, the team was faced with a dilemma. Whilst demand for their services was at unprecedented levels, social distancing requirements meant that the team was required to work remotely, from their homes. “The massive question was whether we were able to operate effectively when working remotely,” explained James Macmillan, Business Development Manager, Content Delivery at ITV. “The great news was that working with Vantage alongside other third-party technologies, we were able to perform 90 – 95 per cent of the work routines remotely.”
ITV’s Vantage system is a 2 node Array, running on Telestream’s Lightspeed G6 Servers, with Vantage Transcode Pro Connect and Vantage Analysis software. Alongside, this ITV employed Alchemist standards conversion together with Signiant and IBM Aspera technologies. Using these systems in an integrated fashion, the ITV Content Delivery team was able to remotely process and deliver content to customers across the globe.
ITV has an incredibly robust and secure IT network, so remote working was straightforward from that respect. Through this, the team had remote access to all its edit suites and processing tools. The question was whether all the teams could access all their servers simultaneously when working remotely. “The answer was yes. Once we logged onto the VPN, it gave us access to our Isilon work in progress storage system,” explains Macmillan. “From there we could edit content in Adobe Premier Pro, capture content using Dalet and then transcode and distribute the content through Vantage together with Signiant and Aspera.”
“The big positive to come out of the pandemic was that ITV stayed on air, plus we managed to distribute record levels of ITV content to broadcasters worldwide. Some weeks we sent over 700 hours of content to individual customers in different geographical regions,” stated James Macmillan. “Having Vantage meant we could build sophisticated workflows remotely, which allowed us to manipulate the content while transcoding and then automatically delivering it to territories on the other side of the world.”