Linear and Non-Linear Scheduling: How to Get it Right

linear and non linear scheduling


Linear scheduling has always been a challenge for broadcasters, demanding meticulous planning and precision – especially when we consider the diversity of platforms in use today.

Non-linear scheduling – while less complex – still comes with its own considerations in terms of maximizing ROI.

This article explores the challenges inherent in both types of scheduling and explains how TV scheduling software can help you achieve optimal efficiency and viewer satisfaction.

Challenges of Linear Scheduling

Complex Planning

Linear scheduling involves sequencing programs, ads, graphics, and jingles for one or more TV channels, sometimes weeks in advance. This requires careful planning and coordination to ensure content is scheduled correctly while respecting broadcasting rights and avoiding conflicts.

Alongside this challenge is the need to capture and retain audience attention in an era of fragmented viewership. This requires a strategic approach to placing compelling content, a task that grows increasingly challenging as viewer preferences evolve.

Focusing on the high-level strategy is much easier when repetitive tasks are automated. In fact, workflow automation can give staff 77% of their time back which would otherwise have been spent on routine tasks.

Coordination Across Multiple Channels

For broadcasters operating multiple channels, achieving seamless scheduling that optimizes viewership while avoiding content overlap requires yet greater coordination and flexibility.

Ad Management

This task is becoming more challenging due to the increasing fragmentation surrounding consumption patterns. The traditional TV advertising market in Europe is forecast to decline by 0.60% between 2024 and 2028, while in the US, linear TV viewing now accounts for less than 50% of total viewing. As such, the complexity increases in terms of pricing, competition, and monitoring.

Rights Management and Compliance

Again, programming must be scheduled with consideration for broadcasting rights to ensure content is aired within its legal constraints. Managing these rights requires great attention to detail if broadcasters want to avoid facing legal issues down the line.

Real-Time Changes

Last-minute changes to programming must be instantly communicated and adjusted across all departments. This demands a highly responsive and flexible system that can always ensure continuity of operations.

Integration with Other Systems

Linear scheduling is not an isolated task; it must integrate seamlessly with other processes such as content management and advertising billing. Ensuring the integrations between platforms work smoothly can be complex and requires a robust and flexible platform.

Challenges of Non-Linear Scheduling

As broadcasters expand into OTT, VoD, and social media, non-linear scheduling offers an avenue to meet viewer expectations for on-demand content. However, this flexibility introduces its own set of challenges, such as:

  • Content discovery: With the vast array of available content, ensuring that viewers can easily discover and access it is a significant hurdle. Effective metadata management and content segmentation become crucial here.
  • Platform-specific requirements: Each platform, from YouTube to proprietary VoD services, has unique requirements and audience expectations. Tailoring scheduling for each platform while maintaining brand consistency requires flexibility.
  • Monetization and analytics: Unlike linear broadcasting, where advertisement segments are well-defined, monetizing non-linear content often involves using detailed analytics to understand viewer behavior and preferences, informing both content strategy and advertising models.

How Does a Broadcast Management System Improve Scheduling?

These challenges highlight the need for comprehensive and adaptable broadcast management software. Software that offers all the necessary tools and flexibility to manage the intricacies of scheduling (especially linear).

VSNCrea, our television automation software, is an advanced solution that uses automation to address the complexities we’ve discussed. It offers a range of modules that handle everything from catalog management to analytics, and broadcasters can customize the system to meet their specific needs. Here are some of its key features.

Content Catalog Management

As mentioned, efficient media management is crucial for effective program scheduling, both linear and non-linear.

VSNCrea’s catalog management tools allow broadcasters to manage their entire library efficiently, adapting content for different platforms. This makes it easy to create content segments and prepare them for broadcasting; whether it’s live events, video playout of other forms, ads, or anything else, your content is always organized and centrally stored.

Here are some more bonuses associated with content management and acquisition:

  • Users can change the metadata in their media asset management system from within VSNCrea.
  • Purchased productions are stored centrally with their associated metadata, broadcasting rights and contracts.
  • Users can calculate the ROI of acquisitions using the Amortizations table as well as produce reports.

Linear TV Automation and Rights Management

VSNCrea’s automated tools help manage broadcasting rights and ensure compliance. This streamlines scheduling by significantly reducing the administrative burden involved.

Users can schedule upcoming programming for multiple TV channels daily, weekly, or on a long-term basis for those that want to stay ahead. This is done using virtual blocks, which can be defined well in advance.

What’s more, users can have multiple playlists prepared in parallel and can export them (or EPGs) for different channels via any file system or using the API.

Ad Rates Management

It’s not just the scheduling itself that needs streamlining; there are auxiliary tasks that can slow your staff down, such as managing ad pricing. Again, this is more challenging as linear TV viewing declines.

Thankfully, our solution has a Commercials module which offers a range of tools for managing ad rates pricing. With an intuitive table view, users can assign prices to blocks and adjust other variables such as the type of ad rate cost (e.g., fixed, Cost per Mille, and Cost per Rating).

Non-Linear Scheduling

Our solution has various tools for non-linear scheduling on social media and video platforms, WebTV, VoD, OTT, and more. It’s possible to publish manually, sequentially, automatically, or with a programmatic episode, depending on the rights associated with the content.

Real-Time Synchronization

Last-minute changes don’t need to be a source of stress anymore. VSNCrea’s real-time synchronization ensures that any adjustments in the programming are immediately and automatically reflected across all departments, minimizing disruptions and maintaining schedule integrity.

Cloud and SaaS Readiness

Cloud based solutions offer unparalleled flexibility and scalability. The cloud and SaaS options we offer give users the agility to scale and adapt to fluctuating workload levels – without large upfront investments. (Our software can still be installed on-premise if needed.)


VSNCrea has an extensive API, ensuring compatibility with broadcasters’ existing ecosystem, for the ultimate in efficiency. Possible integrations include ERP systems, advertising billing systems, IBOPE for ratings and targets, and your existing media management system (among others).

Successfully managing the intricacies of linear and non-linear scheduling today demands an approach driven by automation. Advanced broadcast management systems help in overcoming the challenges posed by programming complexity, rights management, and platform diversification.

If you’re ready to manage your entire catalog and scheduling with ease in one place – far in advance – contact us today to request a demo.


Subscribe to our newsletter