Connecticut’s NBC News channel has chosen PhotoFlight Aerial Media to help integrate drones into the channel’s operations, in support of the network’s mission to differentiate itself from the competitors in the market. Thanks to this partnership, NBC Connecticut is now able to fully leverage the use of drone technology to offer an unusual access and perspective to their viewers. In July 2017, after months of testing and a successful pilot program, the network decided to officially announce its drone program and name it Drone Ranger.
While many other TV news networks are still struggling to implement their own drone programs, NBC can now offer exclusive drone footage, LIVE views from many different locations throughout their market, and offer high production value stories and reports. How did they get there faster than others? Simply by making a decision to outsource the entire drone operation to PhotoFlight Aerial Media, one of the largest drone service providers in the market. By doing this, NBC was able to gain a huge advantage by bypassing the learning curve, and instead focus on integration of PhotoFlights commercial drone services within their operations – in essence they have gained quick access to their “own” UAV department without a need to actually create one.
How does Drone Ranger program work?
NBC Drone Ranger Teams usually consist of two people, a pilot and a visual observer. A third team member, camera operator, is occasionally used when the shoot conditions require it. For LIVE broadcast, the video feed from the drone is directly connected to a unit that takes care of high-bandwith Live HD video transfer to the studio. The drone team is in a constant communication with the news producer, and viewers can enjoy beautiful drone shots from “surprise” locations throughout the state with their news and weather – quite a departure from the old “webcam”.
The Live feed is also streamed on NBC’s Facebook page, and have became very popular there, with many viewer interactions. Other services include providing footage for NBC’s promotional videos, reports, and stories. All Drone Ranger flights are under strict scrutiny of NBCs legal department. Permitting and legal compliance was (and still remains) the largest hurdle to overcome. A substantial amount of flights is actually declined due to strict commercial UAS/drone flight regulations. To be fair, the FAA has been very forthcoming and cooperative, which played a big role in successful launch of the Drone Ranger Program.
Advantages of Outsourcing UAV services.
So what makes outsourcing the drone operations such an appealing proposition? The drone service industry continues to consolidate and larger, more robust drone service companies emerge. A larger service provider with multiple drone camera operators readily available around the clock can be an invaluable resource. Professional drone camera operators fly very frequently, have experience flying in many different environments and know their equipment very well. This means better product, less liability, and less risk of losing expensive equipment to pilot errors.
Just like with many other technologies, the equipment is evolving at incredible speeds. Large professional UAS service providers do a great job keeping up with technology and updating their “arsenal” as needed. Their clients then enjoy the advantage of access to latest and best equipment without having to worry about their expensive drone becoming obsolete rather quickly.
The regulatory environment is challenging and at times confusing, and working with a dedicated drone service provider saves tremendous amount of resources. It takes quite a bit of time and effort to learn to navigate the ever changing universe of commercial UAS regulations and establish working relationship with different involved authorities. Larger professional drone service providers usually have people dedicated to legal compliance and liability/risk mitigation, which helps overcome the largest hurdles to most commercial UAS operations.
Finding the right partner for commercial UAS/drone operations gives organizations ability to focus on their core business, while enjoying the advantages of an access to a UAS department for fraction of a cost of establishing and maintaining their own. Large and robust drone service providers offer reliability, flexibility, legal compliance, equipment expertise, and pilot/camera operator experience, and can provide their partners with the solutions that leverage this amazing technology to help the bottom line.
Please, contact us for more information about our professional drone live broadcast services for news and events.