The Making of SD.net

Posted by By Larry Rohrer | Director of Content | South Dakota Public Broadcasting | DMAC on

2017 marks our 20th year of streaming audio and video at SDPB. We starting experimenting with the “real-media” a few weeks after it was released. Since SDPB had provided TV/Radio coverage of our legislative session, our then two person Internet Department (me and Kent Osborne) decided we would stream the state house and senate. The rooms were equipped with audio systems, they met a finite times, and legislative debate protocol made it a natural for audio streaming. 2 years later, that project expanded and became an official service of SDPB with live streams and archives of all legislative committee hearings throughout the year and the house and senate during legislative sessions.

Our streaming services became somewhat of an independent operation… providing tools to SDPB Radio and TV, and to state government and other public/private partners. Our early “digital team”, had grown to 3 people strong, managed web presence and streaming systems for SDPB, and sought out independent projects. We started our high school sports and fine arts coverage within the Internet team before it became a TV project. I think we were digital first before we even knew what the term would mean. As these projects added up, so did our back end demands. We moved through Real Media, to Limelight Networks, to Ooyala, and now have made the transition to a vender called Haivision, for the streaming system AND for the backend organizational tools. The scheduling and display systems we have had designed by Haivision has made the app possible. SD.Net is actually a two letter web domain that our state agency had in reserve. We brought it out for this project because it is easy to market, and is a great name for this project. Skyblue works with us building apps and bringing the streaming and archives of the Haivision database to display in sd.net the app and sd.net the website. This expansion and branding of sd.net includes expanding to streaming services to all 125 South Dakota Government boards and commissions as well as the legislature.

We have been in the right place at the right time with a good resume. SDPB has a strong reputation in our coverage area as a creative and dependable media partner to both public and private organizations. It has helped us grow funding while many of these digital productions and services make unique broadcasting programs too, so out local program hours have soared. Which has led to more funding, more partners, more audience, and more reputation … and around we go. It’s all local stuff and that is a good identity for us in a REALLY red state.

Here is what Bento has done for us …  it has allowed us to VERY effectively outsource web development. We are not a very big organization, so we are not coding, we are producing stories, events, partnerships, and leaving a majority of the coding to you. It is a bit of challenge sometimes with our many local program needs and being a dual licensee, but Bento allows us to take development costs off the table and reinvest in content. In my opinion, that is a “no-brainer” for smaller stations, but probably something to be examined by any station size. Could web development be better directed to other digital content production or outreach … dare I say SOCIAL MEDIA?

We may be a one-off living in a unique media landscape, but that is out story and I’m sticking to it!

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