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Watertown Saves Time and Frustration with Cablecast Automation

PUBLISHED: 
January 26, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, January 26, 2022 – Watertown Cable Access Corp (WCA-TV) has provided local cable access television to residents in the City of Watertown, Massachusetts since 2005. Based within Watertown High School, the station operates three PEG channels (public, education and government) with a goal of connecting people and strengthening their community. Frustrated with problematic updates and poor customer service from their previous automation and playout vendor, WCA-TV switched to the Cablecast Community Media platform from Tightrope Media Systems to improve its operations and meet its future needs.

“We were increasingly unhappy with our previous system,” said Andrea Santopietro, Assistant Director, WCA-TV. “The manufacturer released what they considered major updates to their software, but the upgrades were buggy and seemed more like cosmetic changes rather than what customers like us wanted or needed. Lots of updates that we had been promised were never delivered, and it was frustrating going back and forth with their customer support staff but not seeing any real changes or fixes. Our programming was suffering to an extent, as was the public’s ability to access our content. We were ready to move on to something new.”

WCA-TV’s Executive Director, Helen Chatel, had worked with earlier versions of Cablecast at her previous station in Connecticut. While the technical and workflow advantages of the newest Cablecast solutions were attractive, Tightrope’s dedication to the PEG market was also a key factor in the station’s decision to choose them as their next platform. “What really led me back to Cablecast was that Tightrope and their resellers deal with Access on a daily basis,” Chatel explained. “They understand our business, our urgency, and the need to do things right – especially as we are relied on more by our communities.”

WCA-TV purchased a complete Cablecast solution from Brockton-based technology supplier Ockers Company in May 2021. A Cablecast VIO 4 Plus server provides automation and playout for the three channels, while three Cablecast Live units and a Cablecast Pro VOD server power 24/7 live streaming and video on demand. Cablecast CG software running on the Cablecast VIO server drives unique bulletin boards for each channel. Cablecast apps bring live streams and VOD clips to viewers on over-the-top (OTT) and mobile platforms, with digital content delivered over the Cablecast Reflect cloud-based streaming service. Finally, the Cablecast RTMP service lets the station easily integrate Zoom® and hybrid meetings into their channels.

The workflow advantages of Cablecast’s scheduling interface proved immediately beneficial. “I really enjoy how the Cablecast scheduling interface is laid out, and how easy it is to drag and drop shows, replace content, and move things around,” said Santopietro. “It’s so simple and straightforward. It has been a huge time-saver for us, cutting my scheduling time roughly in half.”

Cablecast has also significantly improved the station’s VOD publishing and presentation. “Getting content onto VOD with our previous system had become nearly impossible,” recalled Santopietro. “The vendor had released a new version of their VOD server, but we had to manually upload our content to a separate website. It took too many steps and was too time consuming. With Cablecast, there’s no extra work to publish to VOD. The simplicity is awesome.”

Santopietro also notes that Cablecast makes it easier for viewers to find VOD content of interest. “With our previous system, our VOD clips for all three channels were on one page,” she said. “We could put them into a folder for each program, but the folders were simply listed alphabetically. Now with Cablecast we have a distinct VOD site for each channel, and visitors can search across all three. We can also easily group and reorder content to make it more discoverable."

Switching to Cablecast has already met WCA-TV’s objectives, but the team knows there’s even more to discover. “Cablecast has been awesome for us so far,” Santopietro summarized. “I’ve had such a great experience with it up to this point, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what it’s capable of. I’m looking forward to exploring it more and seeing all it can do for us.“

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