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Managing Assets

Sep 22, 2003  •  Post A Comment

As part of its initiative to grow video-on-demand, broadband and other emerging content venues, Scripps Networks has adopted a new system to manage content across its four cable channels.

Scripps is not the first content company to introduce an enterprise-wide solution to manage its assets. But the effort is noteworthy because many other content providers rely on their systems to better manage production, while Scripps’ system is designed to save time on business processes and to leverage existing content to build new businesses.

The proprietary system, called CaTS (for Content Tracking System), unites hundreds of disparate and often redundant databases that Scripps has used over the past several years to track the television programs on its networks-HGTV, Food Network, DIY and Fine Living-but that have become inefficient as Scripps ramps up its growth in new platforms.

“For our company to grow, we have to be scalable,” said Ron Johnson, VP, information technology, at Scripps. “We needed to get a cohesive technology in place.” CaTS will also serve as a bridge to other new tech tools the company is introducing.

CaTS is an online repository of metadata with information on shows, series, segments, episodes, titles, hosts and other data. It will eventually be a one-stop shop for information on Scripps content. CaTS will be accessible by all 900-plus Scripps employees in Knoxville, Tenn., New York, Chicago and other locations through a Web-based system.

The system will substantially reduce the time it takes to design and package new VOD offerings, for instance.

This month, Scripps introduced a new wrinkle into its VOD slate-branded VOD content across its networks focusing on a different theme each month. September’s theme is “best kitchen ideas,” with segments from each network relating to the kitchen. October’s fare will be Halloween-centric, with Halloween crafts and decor from HGTV, “Unwrapped Halloween” from Food Network and Halloween masks and costumes from DIY.

CaTS allows the VOD producers to easily find content in those areas across the networks and to compile them for the VOD package. “If we are trying to put together an episode about flowers, today it’s just a huge manual process,” Mr. Johnson said. “You search by network and by people remembering that last year HGTV did a show on roses. With CaTS we can do a keyword search on roses and find any episodes about roses. It will help [Scripps] put together more compelling content as opposed to relying on memory or local databases.”

Another new business to benefit from the system is the online division, which has been charged with becoming a profit center for the company for the first time this year and which is on track to meet that goal. Since the Web sites feature complementary content to the on-air programming, CaTS will enable Web producers to quickly locate compelling content from TV shows to use on the Internet.

As part of its effort to use technology to manage its growth, Scripps is launching a new traffic and program scheduling system from CAM Systems to manage its ad inventory. Later next year, that system will be linked to CaTS. That integration will help ad sales executives create more tightly targeted packages for advertisers.

If a salesperson is putting together a package for Lowe’s, he or she could use the traffic system to view upcoming programming related to home improvement and then use CaTS to get more details on the content, Mr. Johnson said.

Later next year Scripps will integrate CaTS with its existing media asset management system from WebWare that contains video clips from current and past Scripps shows, enabling users to both search and view clips from one system.

Discovery Communications installed an enterprise-wide content management system about two years ago to enhance the production process by helping the networks get a better handle on what’s being shot and what’s already been shot that could be repurposed for another show. Discovery’s system is different from Scripps’ in that its purpose is to save production time and use technology tools to collaborate editorially across locations.

“We want to apply the technology first and foremost to helping us in those areas,” said Peter McKelvy, VP of the content management group for Discovery Communications. “As other businesses come online, we will look for ways to make them as viable as possible by applying these technologies.”