Customer Spotlight: How Rural Media Group Powers Remote Production
As the parent company of RFD-TV, The Cowboy Channel, and Rural Radio Channel 147 on Sirius XM, the Rural Media Group creates a wealth of original programming dedicated to American agricultural and equine matters, rural lifestyles, along with traditional country music and entertainment. RFD-TV, its flagship television network, is available in 52 million homes and has its broadcast operations in Nashville, Tennessee, while its sister network, The Cowboy Channel available in 42 million homes), has its production studios in Fort Worth, Texas.
We spoke with Rural Media Group’s Chief Technology Officer, David Mitchell, to learn more about the group’s remote production projects and how the company is harnessing the internet to drive down costs and create more efficiencies, thanks to Haivision’s innovative video technology solutions.
What was the primary driver that led you to work with Haivision?
One of our networks, The Cowboy Channel, has recently built a brand new, multi-purpose, state-of-the-art production facility at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards in Texas. During the studio build, one of the key competencies we were looking for was the ability to control the Fort Worth cameras from Nashville, where RFD-TV’s broadcast operations are located.
As we investigated possible solutions, it was apparent that using traditional video fiber was going to be cost prohibitive, so instead, we started looking at transporting video over IP. We worked with our systems integrator who helped us settle on an IP solution. However, during a visit to NAB 2018, a courtesy call from a trusted advisor led us to a meeting at the Haivision booth, where were we able to see a live demonstration of Haivision technology. What really jumped out at me was the ability to have multiple, synchronized, frame-accurate, broadcast quality sources delivered over the public internet.
That proof of concept was enough to convince us to change IP-transport vendors and we subsequently worked with our systems integrator to deploy the Haivision technology solution in the summer of 2019. Our decision to switch from our original plan and go with Haivision resulted in considerable cost savings and enabled us to operate more efficiently and with very low latency compared to our original plan.
How has the solution impacted your production workflows?
We deployed the solution in July 2019 and have been using it ever since and it has proved to be extremely robust and very reliable for us, and the quality has been phenomenal using it over the public internet. We relied on Haivision Makito X video encoders and decoders for 9 days straight for live, remote production of one of our flagship rodeo events, Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. In fact, we’re now using Makitos for our video backhaul to our teleport in Atlanta from our Fort Worth production studio instead of costly fiber.
To say that we’re reliant on the Haivision solutions is an understatement; we’ve been very pleased with the quality of the products. Moving forward, the only time I foresee that using the Haivision solution in combination with public internet would not be an option for us, would be when it’s not cost-effective, for example when a venue charges an excessive amount for bandwidth, or when a broadband connection is unavailable to us at a remote location.
Do you have any plans to expand your use of this video technology?
Absolutely! Now that we’ve put the technology to the test, we have several opportunities where we’re able to leverage the powerful capabilities of the Makito X video encoder and decoder, especially when it comes to ultra low latency.
One project currently in the works is a new partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which involves sharing a studio space in Washington DC. With cameras located in this facility, the plan is to send streams to Nashville for editing, switching, and adding graphics, and to send both net return and teleprompter feeds for panel discussions and political roundtables back to AFBF.