At IBC today, Harris became the latest vendor to offer a channel-in-the-box solution for quickly and cheaply putting signals on the air. The vendor says Versio incorporates proven Harris technology and integrates seamlessly with other Harris gear and software. Harris’ Andy Warman says it’s only a matter of time before broadcasters accept channel-in-a-box technology, even for news-laden main channels.
Using intellectual property from several of its lines of proven broadcast equipment, Harris is today introducing at IBC the “channel-in-a-box” product it promised at NAB in April.
Versio combines video server, channel branding, graphics and automated workflow in a single-rack-unit device. It offers “plug and play” integration with Harris-brand production, traffic and billing, scheduling, asset management, content playout and master control products, but it also can be linked to gear of other vendors.
“We interface with more devices than anybody else,” says Andy Warman, product marketing manager for Harris Server and Solutions.
“Versio is significantly different from other channel-in-a-box products, because everything in the box is based on products we already have,” says Warman. “Other vendors have maybe one or two core competencies. We offer a far greater range and flexibility.”
The channel-in-a-box product category is red hot and expanding quickly.
Besides Harris, products in the space include the Snell Group’s ICE, Grass Valley’s K2 Edge, Harmonic’s ChannelPort, Florical’s Aucitas, Pixel Power’s ChannelMaster, Miranda’s iTX, Pebble Beach’s Dolphin and Playbox’s TV Automation system.
Warman sees plenty of broadcast applications for the product. “Harris has structured Versio to focus on four major delivery operations,” he says. “This includes small or niche channel delivery, adding channels to an existing play-to-air system utilizing standard broadcast hardware and workflows, building ground up multi-channel delivery systems, and providing viable high quality disaster recovery solutions.”
“We’ve created different operating modes to suit the individual’s workflow,” he says. And, he adds, Versio offers better video quality and graphics than any similar device on the market.
Starting at around $30,000, Warman says Versio is “competitive” with other channel-in-a-box” systems.
Broadcasters say the channel-in-the-box technology is not yet capable of handling main broadcast channels, especially if it includes live news production.
Warman says he is aware of the criticism. “A lot of the sensitivity in this area has been because people either haven’t gotten all the features or functionality they wanted, or the stability of the device hasn’t been where it has needed to be.”
“We have thousands of video channels already deployed that are driving revenue streams everyday. I can’t say categorically this product will be used on main channels, but I can envision some people doing it. People will build their confidence over time.”