As the community media hub serving the City of Midland, Michigan, Midland Community Television (MCTV Network) enables residents to create original content to inform, entertain, and educate. Operating four cable access TV channels on Charter Spectrum and AT&T U-verse, MCTV expanded its reach last year to include Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and mobile devices as well as enhancing its streaming offerings.
MCTV’s four channels contribute to a sense of community, providing hyper-local content, transparency in government, and a free speech forum to individuals and organizations. They include Midland Government TV, Midland Public Schools TV, Community Voices (public access), and Community Messages (bulletin board content, as well as live programming beyond what is offered on the other three channels).
While the four Cablecast SX LE HD servers that MCTV purchased in 2014 were still going strong and working reliably, the station knew it needed to expand its distribution platforms to maintain and grow its audience. “We just weren’t able to reach people who were dropping cable television,” said Matt Richardson, Manager of Midland Community Television. “As a non-commercial entity, we also didn’t want to be tied to a commercial service like YouTube.”
Working closely with Tightrope’s professional services team, MCTV launched custom-branded Cablecast apps for bringing all four of its channels to viewers on three OTT streaming platforms. The MCTV Network Community Voices app was released in early 2021 for Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire. MCTV’s channels are also available on iOS and Android mobile devices through the standard Cablecast Community Media mobile app.
“Cablecast made the process of going OTT incredibly easy, with Tightrope support helping us create our branded apps,” said Richardson. “Most importantly, our viewers like the OTT option. A lot of people have downloaded our apps, and love being able to watch our channels in HD since our cable channels are limited to SD.”
At the same time as launching the new OTT apps, MCTV also upgraded the streaming capabilities on its website. VOD content is now served from Cablecast VOD via the Cablecast Reflect service (it was previously hosted on YouTube), and the addition of Cablecast Live servers enabled live streaming of all channels for the first time.
MCTV is planning to upgrade to Cablecast VIO servers next year, and looks forward to reducing its equipment requirements by running the Cablecast CG bulletin board software on the same server as the station’s channel playout. The station is also switching its government meeting coverage from a dedicated municipal governance platform to Cablecast, and is excited about the rich capabilities the Cablecast platform offers for publishing civic meetings. “The ability to have VOD chapter markers and associate agendas as part of every government meeting recording is huge for us operationally, and for our viewers,” concluded Richardson.
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