Discovery contracts with VCC for live, viewer-engaging pod-buster on Alaska: The Last Frontier

The Video Call Center (The VCC) today announced that Discovery Communications has chosen the VCC video caller platform to produce and deliver new live-to-air audience participation segments for its hit show, ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER airing Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel. The segments invite the audience to call in via the video app on their smartphone or other device for the opportunity to appear on air to ask questions of the Kilchers. The segments first aired Sunday, October 1, 2017 during broadcasts on the Discovery Channel and the company’s digital media platforms.

During the initial episode, stars from ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER, Jane and Otto Kilcher fielded questions from live video callers around the US including: Fredericksburg, VA; Oklahoma City, OK; Orlando, FL; Raceland, LA; Ranger, TX; Stafford, TX and Zephyrhills, FL. 

The VCC is providing Discovery with its one-of-a-kind video caller services platform to create a unique two- way video conversation between the Kilchers and fans. Caller Cloud services being used by Discovery in this production include: 


   >  Managing the screening and preparing of callers for air. This includes the VCC’s experienced team of call screeners and a customized, show-branded Caller Queue™, the VCC’s unique “green room in the cloud.” This process is handled in real-time by a VCC team in NY.
   > Optimizing the visual quality and reliability of video calls. Audience calls originate from smartphones and other devices using native video-over-IP applications and public Internet connections. The VCC provides the low-latency return video crucial to enabling effortless, undisrupted two-way video conversation.
   > Seamlessly integrating video callers, graphics and videos produced on the VCC platform with the live feed of the hosts, which originates in Homer, AK.
   > Delivering the complete program to both Discovery’s TV distribution facility, in Sterling, VA, and the Discovery digital media team.
   > Embedded social amplification tools that enable live audience participants to promote their appearance on the show to their own social networks.
   > Remote production monitoring services to permit the production team to supervise the production from wherever they are.

Mary Clare Baquet, VP Creative & Production, The Agency at Discovery Communications said, “We discussed many approaches to adding a live component to ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER, including having the stars read questions from our social media page. But we wanted something new, different, and that would really excite the audience. The VCC solution delivers, it makes viewers part of the show, with the unique opportunity to see themselves on air, have intimate interactions with their favorite stars, share their enthusiasm with their own social media circles, and do this all while providing our team with the editorial control needed to bring this live segment to air with confidence.”

The Video Call Center provides a patented caller acquisition and production system specifically designed to enable live broadcast remotes based on everyday smartphones and popular native video calling apps such as Apple FaceTime and Google WebRTC, as well as Microsoft Skype. By using native apps, viewers do not need to download an application, and by supporting multiple applications VCC screeners can optimize the quality for the conditions in the field. The VCC platform has been used to produce almost 500 live programs for broadcast television and web distribution with more than 5,000 callers and an overall on-air video call reliability exceeding 99%.

TC Conway, Discovery’s Director, Innovative Experiences and Innovation said, “Working with The VCC has been incredibly easy. They have the experience and technology savvy to make this very complex production scenario come to life. They guided us through their innovative process with complete transparency and provided many creative options for us to choose from. The VCC somehow makes it all look easy and the system’s reliability ensures that we look great.”

“The ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER team and everyone at Discovery brings incredible creativity and focus to this project. They fully embraced the potential of the VCC platform which has enabled them to make the most of this innovative new format,” said Larry Thaler, CEO, the Video Call Center. “Discovery and the producers of ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER are pushing the boundaries of audience engagement across multiple channels to significantly amplify the show’s presence on air and online.”

ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER is produced for Discovery Channel by Discovery Studios. For Discovery Studios, Daniel Soiseth and Vincent Ueber are executive producers and Dustin Rubin is co-executive producer. For Discovery Channel, executive producers are Matt Vafiadis and Jonathan Cane and Maryna Harrison is Coordinating Producer. 

About The Video Call Center, LLC: 
The VCC is a technology and content development company devoted to handling large numbers of IP Video remotes-by-smartphone and putting them on the air through patented workflow and assistive automation (patents #8,767,031, #9,654,731 and other patents pending). The VCC is both a Facebook Live Media Solutions and Broadcast partner. The VCC licenses its software and provides caller acquisition and production services. VCC has produced hundreds of programs for broadcast, cable and the web for clients such as TEGNA, Fox TV Stations, Discovery and TLC. The VCC’s advanced caller workflows help to expand audience engagement and extend the reach of its clients’ programs. The VCC can be integrated through traditional control rooms or controlled efficiently by the host without a control room.