MediaHub Australia - jointly owned by the ABC and WIN Television Network - provides digital TV playout services. So instead of investing in their own infrastructure, broadcasters can provide MediaHub with a bunch of files (program segments, promos, station logos, bugs, ads and so on), live feeds, and a daily schedule setting out when each is to be added to the stream.
Then "we stitch it together and what you end up with is digital (linear) television," CEO Alan Sweeney (pictured below) told iTWire.
The service is also used by TVN, SBS (subscription TV), NITV, Imparja and Australia Plus. In all, more than 170 channels are delivered via MediaHub.
MediaHub currently has 1PB of storage, and has used the MapR Hadoop distribution as the platform for creating its archiving system.
Head of technology Simon Scott explained that MapR was selected as it offers enterprise-class software that can be deployed on commodity hardware, and because the company provides good functionality and support.
MapR was the only vendor that offered everything MediaHub needed without requiring the use of proprietary hardware, Sweeney said.
The process of moving content from the archive to nearline storage or to the playout server is fully automated and driven by the broadcasters' schedules. "Because of the volume, you need to minimise human interaction," he said.
The company expects to have around 5PB of storage in 18 months time. It may eventually reach 10PB, but the time-limited nature of most rights means the archive will hit a steady state where new material is balanced by deletions as rights expire.
But the architecture is scalable, so the system can accommodate even more storage if customers require it.
Storing the content in Hadoop provides opportunities to offer analytics services, such as recommendation engines and better search functionality, said Scott.
And Sweeney pointed out that the move to streaming and video on demand reduces the need for traditional sample-based audience measurement as analytics can reveal how many times a particular piece of content has been seen.
"The highest percentage of all viewing is still through normal [broadcast] TV," he said, but mobile viewing is growing exponentially.
Sweeney sees room for MediaHub to grow in several directions.
We see developing opportunities for other mainstream broadcasters to utilise MediaHub’s services, said Sweeney.
There are also overseas opportunities. "we're not necessarily constrained by Australia," he said. The cost of moving large volumes of data internationally is falling, so it is possible to service regional markets from Australia.
And the convergence of broadcast centres and data centres means "we see all sorts of opportunities for other industries" such as banking, said Sweeney. "Well-managed automation and file management/archive, spread across a multi-client base, is beneficial to everyone."