TAG Is Easing Broadcasters Burden During A Time of Transition

TAG Video Systems helping its customers streamline the processes involved in migrating to an all-IP infrastructure by loosening its perpetual licensing agreements to allow multiple uses for its software-based multiviewer, monitoring and probing technology. That’s the key to its new Zero Friction initiative, which address both CapEx vs. OpEx cost in a way that frees clients to operationally and financially deliver the best possible content to consumers while spreading use of the software across applications and locations, thus maximizing asset utilization.

Since its founding in 2008, TAG VS has developed its software-only platform to leverage IP standards and COTS hardware to build out broadcast facilities as cost-effectively as possible.

“For years the industry has expressed concerns about getting the most out of available technology,” said Kevin Joyce, TAG’s Zero Friction Officer. “In many cases this means important technology assets are sitting idle for 70 percent of the time. The broadcast industry just can’t sustain that kind of inefficiency.”

He said that TAG’s customers are no longer restricted in how they use its multi-functional applications, where they use them across their ecosystem, or when they use them. Broadcasters can now use a multi-viewer for live production in a facility in London and as soon as they are done, apply the license to probe for errors in an OTT facility in New York. That’s the benefit of a SMPTE 2022-6 ecosystem, supported by TAG technology in both uncompressed and compressed formats.

“This is about understanding that customers are looking for a solution that allows a smooth workflow and fits their particular business model,” said Abe Zerbib, CEO of TAG. “As vendors, we have been restrictive in our solutions and licensing models. At TAG that strategy is history. Virtual production is essential, and agility is the key to success going forward.”

To this end, the company is now allowing customers to use their TAG perpetual licenses in a myriad of ways not specified in their original agreements. New customer won’t have such limiting contracts, Zerbib said. This freedom will help smooth over potential challenges in how and when on-premise equipment can be used. This also includes leveraging cloud services from companies like Amazon (AWS Cloud) and Microsoft (Azure) and various CDNs around the world.

Zerbib added that its Zero Friction product strategy also relies on third-party partnerships to provide complete solutions to its customers. When they go into new IP facilities, 90 percent of the time spent with customers is on setting up their IP networks and has nothing to do with TAG. It’s CDN, networks, encoders, etc., so close collaboration and a knowledge of other technologies is critical to an overall system design.

TAG’s Zerbib (left) and Joyce.

TAG’s Zerbib (left) and Joyce.

“Our model is based on partners,” said Zerbib. “About 70 percent of our business has come through partners, so they have a big role in our success. It’s also important to give our customers the best solutions available at the time.”

Supporting all major industry standards such as SMPTE 2110, 2022- 6/7, JPEG 2000, MPEG TS, DASH, HLS and CMAF, TAG’s Zero Friction solution can be applied to all four major broadcast applications: live production, playout, delivery and OTT.

“As a software only company we are able to deploy our technology and have customers up and running in minutes,” said Joyce. “Support is handled remotely, and all software upgrades are delivered remotely on a continuous basis. This is what clients have always wanted and we are now taking this to the next level with Zero Friction.”

The Company’s flagship MCM-9000 is an all software IP-based UHD multiviewer and monitoring platform that supports compressed, uncompressed and OTT - including HLS and MPEG-DASH. It is also optimized to address the SMPTE ST-2110 and ST-2022-6/7 standards in HD and UHD, all on the same platform.

The MCM-9000 runs on COTS (server) hardware and is supplied on a dongle equipped with a Linux kernel. The system boots directly from the provided flash drive, which requires no installation, no hard drive, or any type of operating system on the server. The system also can be configured in a virtual machine (VM) environment with a VM image provided instead of a dongle.

TAG technology can now support up to 48 1080i ST 2110 sources with 2022-7 on a single server, allowing facilities to handle more uncompressed content streams on one COTS server. Inputs can be freely mixed and matched with other uncompressed and compressed formats, including UHD. Support is also now available for the Mellanox Technologies 200 Gb/s ConnectX-6 EN adapter IC, which includes two ports of Ethernet connectivity, sub-800 nanosecond latency, and 215 million messages per second. This can enable greater channel capacities and increased opportunities for the use of 2022-7. Common Media Application Format support is now available as well, which helps with streaming over the HLS and MPEG-DASH protocols.

At the cancelled NAB Show, TAG Video Systems was planning to show a new Mosaic audio output for audio monitoring setup; as well as support for additional encryption technologies, an updated layout editor, SCTE-35 monitoring features and configurable management proxy.

TAG's Joyce said that after working on a wide variety of IP facilities, they have come to recognize that technology, operations, and asset utilization are the three pillars upon which every successful implementation is based. He called them the “key to the business of IP.”

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