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  • Writer's pictureExpert Media Partners

Live Audiences Are Back

At EMP we like to address real problems faced by broadcasters, and we like to find unique solutions. Over the years we have been at the forefront of many new innovations, from automatic scheduling tools driven by sales data on shopping channels, to red-button interactivity, and wholly-automated self-promotional television channels.

Our first remote play-out server (loaded and managed in Chalfont and Slough) was launched at Prime TV in New Zealand in 2003 - now people think loading and scheduling video files on a server the other side of the world is normal - back then we were cutting edge innovators.

So that brings us to today's problem: how to create a live atmosphere in a studio where audiences can't be present due to Covid-19, and where different guests and presenters are remote from each other?

The answers lie in three places:

  1. Low latency video - to avoid the delays between question and answer, particularly with one or more guests reacting seven or eight seconds after another on-screen.

  2. A user-friendly system that connects and manages contributors in a rational way for editorial leadership to control it in real time, and that can drive on-screen graphics.

  3. Functionality that enables genuine real-time interaction between studio and remote guests, such as Q&As, voting and buzzers that are timed fairly between contributors in different locations.

As we emerge back into the light after months of lockdown, it looks like the progress back to normailty will be slower than many of us had hoped for, and that's why we are thrilled to announce that EMP has found a new system, called PATH, built by the Ionoco group of companies, which delivers all of our shopping list.

The system sits on a cloud-based network, delivering lightning fast video between dozens, or even hundreds of guests or audience members. Dr Phil's new season in the USA is using the system (he name-checked it on air last week), to present a live video wall of 100. His show depends on audience and guest interaction: without live audiences the format is dead. Using PATH the live format is back, strong and with new features like voting that add to the show.

We are building a European control room for PATH in Athens, and alongside the existing one in Burbank, California, this means the technology can be utilised by a wide range of broadcasters. Larger companies can simply buy the solution and operate it themselves, or we can offer a wet-hire service where our team can manage your guests and contributors - feeding a live contribution or managing a giant live audience wall.

For broadacsters planning the next year of production, the ability to manage genuine live interactions across large numbers of participants is going to be industry-changing, and here at EMP we are thrilled to have found the answer, and to have been appointed UK and Europe re-sellers for the system.

For more information about PATH and what it can do, or to orgainsie a live demo, contact Ed Hall at EMP.

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