COVE: We can rebuild it . . . better, stronger, FASTER!

Recently, we rolled out a significant upgrade to the COVE video portal. We rebuilt the foundations of COVE to improve the overall performance of the video experience.

This upgrade is an important release because it addresses the number one pain point we hear from stations, the slowness of the COVE experience. Based on performance tests, and station feedback, we are already seeing dramatic load time improvements across the board.

While each station portal will be slightly different, we're seeing average overall improvements of 3x-10x. Homepages have gone from taking many seconds to load to less than a tenth of a second. Program pages now take half a second on average to load (down from an average of 5 seconds).

We are excited about this upgrade to the portal experience, and we hope it enhances your user’s experience with the content you create.

On a personal level, as someone who has been on the COVE development team since its beginning, I’m thrilled about this improvement because COVE’s success is an important part of my life. While that may sound a bit dramatic, there is a story to tell that began a little over three years ago.

In 2008, I made a decision to pack up my family and move 1000 miles from Miami to Washington, DC for a new opportunity at PBS’ main offices. I was leaving a place I had lived for twenty years (and for my wife, all her life). I was also leaving a local PBS station I had worked at for ten years (WPBT2), a place I loved dearly.

This new job at PBS involved a new product called COVE, a video player featuring local and national content that stations can customize for their users. My job would be to advocate for station needs, lead roll out and encourage adoption. Sounded simple enough because at the time online video wasn’t new, and many stations were already doing it for local content.

But COVE was unique.

It was a video experience capable of playing local and national content, but it was also a complete “eco-system” of content that allowed stations to share and blend content from across the entire PBS network of stations.

For me, it was a different approach to a video solution that gave stations ways to adapt to their community’s needs. It was an idea that I wanted to be part of and couldn’t pass up, even if I had to give up an ocean view.

One year, many crowded meeting rooms, and a long pilot phase later, COVE hit the ground running, with over 100 stations wanting some flavor of it for their web sites. Another year or so goes by and adoption keeps growing. The amount of local and national content hours was continuing to rise quickly, but unfortunately, COVE was also showing some signs of aging.

With over 130 adopting stations, millions of visitors, and approximately 8500 hours of content available, COVE was overdue for an upgrade. Fast forward to last week, that upgrade came, and the video portal experience is much improved for it.

Three years later after that long drive from Miami, my wife and I have settled in, and for the most part, we are used to the winters. My family has grown; we now have a cute 15-month-old little boy. And while we still miss the ocean view, we can catch glimpses of it from time to time while watching programs from my old station on COVE.

The idea of what COVE could mean for stations is what brought me to PBS. An idea I still believe in. Since COVE launched, new products like Merlin and video monetization have come along to add more layers of station benefit. Now with a faster, more dependable and more flexible admin tool on the horizon (along with the ability to publish to mobile), we hope that COVE will once again help stations reach further into the community.

And now, be able to do it a lot faster.

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