I Want My Level 3 TV!

This post is by Mark Taylor, VP of Media and IP Services at Level 3. It was originally published on Beyond Bandwidth.

“Not a lot of people know that,” as Michael Caine might say. Not a lot of people know how the television channels they tune in to are put together or how the content gets to their house.

A channel is created in a broadcast facility run and operated by a broadcaster (Fox, NBC, BBC, etc.). They assemble files of pre-recorded programming along with ads. Into that they also insert live feeds from sports events, news locations or live production studios. All of those programming elements are stitched together to become the TV channel. That linear feed, as it is called, is then sent to various broadcast platforms for distribution to your home. The connection from the broadcaster’s facility to the broadcast platform will use satellite in many cases, although it is slowly being replaced by fiber, particularly where the connection points are in different countries.

Now that we know the basics of how TV broadcast works, what are broadcasters, particularly those coming together for NAB next week, looking for to help them make their lives easier? In a word: Simplicity.

The demand for multiplatform availability presents unique challenges for a broadcaster trying to get their content into the hands of their viewership – anytime, anywhere. This demand has, in turn, produced an “Online First” approach for a growing number of content providers, as Dan Myers, our Director of Product Development, discusses in the video clip below. As someone who grew up with the original MTV, this is so cool!

What many people don’t know is that we play a role in nearly every step of the process, whether you’re focusing on traditional, Internet, or mobile TV. Hence the slightly tongue-in-cheek title of this blog post.

  1. We carry pictures from live sporting locations and breaking news locations all over the world across our fiber network to the broadcaster’s facility.
  2. We operate a highly-secure cloud storage system where broadcasters can house and share the pre-recorded program elements. Those can be full programs, ads or short promotional material.
  3. We carry the full linear feeds from many broadcast facilities to their affiliates and pay TV platforms all over the world.
  4. We even replace the broadcast facility and create the linear feed ourselves. This is referred to as program origination.
  5. And, as part of this new “Internet First” approach, we are able to take that entire linear feed and make it available on the Internet. We help make sure it is secure, high quality and available on any device.

If you put all this together, we can provide everything that broadcasters need– end to end. Level 3 TV? Maybe! 🙂

If you are interested in finding out more about what we can do for traditional television or Internet television, meet with us at NAB.

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