ClearCaster Customer Spotlight: CCR-TVFebruary 25, 2018
Case Study Snapshot
Master Control Room:
CCR-TV is a professional radio and television broadcast station that delivers Spanish-language, Christian programming to audiences all over the world. They syndicate the station’s original content to multiple destinations, both online and over the air (OTA).
CCR-TV needed a hardware solution that could stream to Facebook Live with the same reliability and quality as their radio and television broadcasting. But they ran into frequent problems with unstable connections and streaming errors. Their search for a dedicated solution for Facebook Live finally led them to the Wowza ClearCaster™ appliance. As they describe it, ClearCaster “simply works,” enabling them to deliver more successful broadcasts to online audiences.
CCR-TV Faces Unstable Setup and Confusing Errors
The CCR-TV station is fully equipped for any manner of broadcasting, using dedicated playout hardware to distribute live content both on- and offline. Their programming lineup contains several original series, and new episodes are simulcast to cable, OTA and online streaming destinations.
Jose Vega is the general manager at CCR-TV. Vega and his team focus heavily on Facebook Live, and built a professional workflow for streaming to this platform, using a high-end computer running Wirecast Pro encoding software and Blackmagic input cards. But time and time again, they ran into problems with reliability, and were sometimes unable to connect to the Facebook Live platform in the first place.
“The setup was hardly stable, and sometimes the stream wouldn’t work for no apparent reason,” Vega says. Since Wirecast required Vega to reconfigure encoder settings every time they needed to create a live stream, the headaches were persistent, and it was hard to pinpoint the origins of the errors they encountered.
Like most professional broadcasters, Vega knew that using dedicated encoding hardware was important. When a single machine is used to run production and encoding software, it can over-tax the computer’s processing power, causing streaming errors and drops. Vega was eager to find hardware designed specifically for Facebook Live, and regularly searched online for a device that was robust enough to handle their streaming needs. Frustratingly, however, his searches only returned “prosumer” devices: consumer appliances that, while high-end, were not meant for studio-grade streaming.
“Eventually, ClearCaster got released, and appeared first on my Google results. It surprised me that it was the first dedicated hardware for Facebook Live that was actually meant for professional broadcast use.” —Jose Vega, general manager at CCR-TV
Dedicated Facebook Live Encoder Delivers Superior Quality and Stability
After all the difficulties they’d experienced with Wirecast, Vega admits that he was “skeptical at first” about how well ClearCaster would work, and how hard it would be to get it up and running. Their previous setup required the team to manually configure their encoder—followed by desperately hoping the settings were right, with no way to know until the live stream either worked, or it didn’t. Since Facebook Live has specific configurations that must be met for streams to work, this is a common source of frustration among broadcasters.
Vega was amazed at how easy it was to perform the initial setup; all they had to do was connect ClearCaster to their network, select the device from the drop-down menu on the Facebook live-streaming portal, pair it with the platform and connect their Facebook account. And best of all, ClearCaster automatically configures streaming settings to meet Facebook’s requirements, so new live streams can be started and stopped in seconds from the Facebook user interface.
“It simply worked. … It was hard to believe [that] there was not much to configure, and it worked on our first test run,” Vega says.
CCR-TV’s studio workflow for Facebook Live streaming with ClearCaster
The biggest benefits CCR-TV experienced, however, were improvements in quality and reliability. ClearCaster delivers higher-resolution video to Facebook Live than other encoders on the market; while the default resolution for Facebook Live videos is 720p, ClearCaster enables 1080p video quality. This helps professional TV stations such as CCR-TV stand out from other, low-quality videos in users’ News Feeds.
“We achieved a higher stream quality than ever before, [with] lower latency, and the video was up for on-demand play as soon as the stream was over. Wirecast Facebook Live streams take a while to become available for on-demand play.” —Jose Vega, general director at CCR-TV
Another frequent problem Vega’s team experienced with their old setup was streams freezing and dropping mid-broadcast, making for awkward viewing experiences. Since implementing ClearCaster, this is now just a bad memory. The serial programs CCR-TV streams to Facebook Live play through in their entirety—without having to reconnect, losing viewers in the process. And while their Wirecast streams had a delay between the live broadcast and availability of the on-demand recording, ClearCaster makes the recorded videos instantly available for viewers who miss the live stream.
ClearCaster also solves for some common problems broadcasters experience: CCR-TV has multiple Facebook accounts that they post and go live from, so they appreciate that the appliance makes it easy to switch back and forth. And the fact that the device is rack-mountable saves space in their crowded control room, so there’s one less object to trip over or network cable to accidentally unplug.
“Having the unit switch Facebook accounts reliably and quickly enables us to take better advantage of our investment,” Vega says. “Switching Facebook accounts on Wirecast was a hustle.”
ClearCaster Simply Works, Enabling CCR-TV to Scale Streaming
Vega and the production team at CCR-TV are thrilled with the benefits ClearCaster has brought, including:
- Superior video quality, lower latency and more reliable streaming delivery that doesn’t drop mid-broadcast.
- Instant availability of the on-demand video after a live broadcast.
- Elimination of manual encoder configuration, allowing new live streams to be created in seconds.
- Rack-mountable device saves space in the control room.
- Easy to switch between Facebook accounts from broadcast to broadcast.
Thanks to these improvements, the station plans to scale up its Facebook Live streaming in 2018. In addition to their syndicated broadcasts of serial TV shows, CCR-TV will incorporate bonus content, live Q&A and “micro-programs” into their lineup. This year and beyond, ClearCaster will help CCR-TV better engage audiences and build their brand on Facebook Live.
“[ClearCaster] is made to be rack-mounted, it has an SDI input, it comes ready for 4K video and it is stable as a rock. We haven’t had an interrupted stream since moving over to ClearCaster.” —Jose Vega, general manager at CCR-TV