Harmonic targets channel-in-a-box market with ChannelPort

Video technology company Harmonic has launched ChannelPort, described by the company as a replacement for first-generation channel-in-a-box products.

ChannelPort is an integrated channel playout device for Harmonic’s Spectrum media server system that combines channel branding and master control switching with clip playout.

Lawrence Kaplan, office of the CEO and co-founder of Omneon, which Harmonic acquired in 2010, said that this product was key to the merging together of Harmonic’s and Omneon’s product lines.

Channel Port delivers two channels from a half-rack-unit device, enabling the creation of up to four branded channels from a single rack unit. For NAB, Harmonic will release the channel-branding module.

Kaplan said one of the key differentiators for the product was that it was compatible with third-party automation systems. “We don’t do applications – we don’t lock someone into a particular automation environment,” said Kaplan.

Rather than tie users into a proprietary graphics platform, ChannelPort uses a Flash Pro rendering engine to enable channel providers to get on air quickly and flexibly, according to Kaplan. Graphics control is provided by Oxtel. Broadcasters can continue to create graphics using their existing tools. Flash Pro comes complete with the commonly used Creative Suite.

Kaplan said that broadcasters had not typically used first-generation channel-in-a-box devices for high-revenue services. ChannelPort was designed, he said, to enable both live and pre-recorded content to be played out, enabling it, for example, to support local opt-out channels.

ChannelPort is designed to work with other Harmonic products in the Spectrum family, including MediaCenter and MediaDeck. Kaplan said the product could also be integrated with Harmonic’s distribution encoder platform, the E9000, for multiscreen and multi-device distribution of channels.

Kaplan said that with this product Harmonic has the market currently dominated by Miranda’s iTX platform in its sights. “With ChannelPort, because you can leverage the existing Spectrum environment it lends itself to multi-use cases,” he said.

Kaplan said that Harmonic would test the product with at least six beta customers around the world for a couple of months ahead of NAB and would begin shipping in April.