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Cloud is ready for live sports broadcast. It’s just waiting for the kick-off While the technology has been available, it has taken time for the broadcast world – where a minute of downtime can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – to entertain cloud as an option for live transmission. But now, some are beginning to see cloud not just as an alternative, but as the best way to future-proof their businesses. Amagi has been a cloud-based company since its launch in 2008, a time when most media companies hadn’t even heard of cloud yet. Now, Amagi is helping customers deliver video to audiences through multiple cloud services, including playout, master control and complete end-to-end broadcast workflows, as well as add-ons like analytics and server-side ad insertion (SSAI). The company has also been lending its expertise to companies ready to take the plunge into live broadcast in the cloud. “Cloud originally was not made for real-time video workflows,” explains KA Srinivasan, co-founder of Amagi. “But it has come to a stable configuration where you can run fairly complex workflows with high bandwidth video, and then get that out to viewers with latencies similar or even better than you would have seen with on-premises workflows.” The sheer number of vendors offering mature software tools in the cloud has been one factor in making live cloud more appealing. The fact that the cost of operation has come down too has also helped – a trend accelerated by cloud operators working with vendors to create much more efficient cost structures. But this year’s major tipping point in accelerating cloud adoption has been the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing needs have cleared out traditional master control rooms, forcing crew and talent to work remotely from home – a development that may be with us for some time. For workflows designed to be operated on-prem, this is a daunting challenge. For the cloud, it’s simply business as usual. “Cloud and remote collaboration have become a necessity now, not just a nice-to-have,” says Srinivasan.” However, moving to the cloud doesn’t mean broadcasters need to immediately eviscerate their entire on-prem workflows – the transition to the cloud is sometimes quite gradual. And with the recent push given by Covid-19, broadcasters are realising they now have access to a whole new raft of opportunities, with their teams able to work remotely from any number of locations the major, and most immediate, advantage. But one of the biggest long-term benefits cloud is offering in the current unpredictable world is business agility. “We recently did a project with a customer who said that if they had tried to launch with a traditional hardware-based set-up, it would have taken a year, or year and a half, to set up, install, test and validate everything. We went from start to finish in three months,” explains Srinivasan. This kind of agility means a company can speedily add channels, swap branding, experiment with content, as and when it needs to, spinning up offerings for sports events or pop-up channels without large capital expenditure costs. Spend can be also tailored for each channel, time of day and other circumstances. A sports broadcaster might want to deploy triple-redundancy for a major national sporting event, but won’t want to keep that level of overkill for regular weekday programming. In the same way, a company can deploy disaster recovery only in the moment it is required, rather than continuously spending money on standby systems that aren’t needed. “In pretty much every other business, technology would follow what the business aims were,” says Srinivasan, “but for broadcast, it has been the reverse, with businesses operating within the boundaries set by the technology. The cloud gives those business teams freedom to get out of those constraints. They don’t need to plan five years in advance, they can adapt to whatever the circumstances are.” Sports live So how ready is cloud for live broadcast? Especially for content like sports, where a moment of downtime can ruin the audience experience? Amagi has run sports channels in the cloud, in a variety of markets, for some time, including Discovery’s Eurosport and DSPORT in Asia, beIN Sports in the US, as well as EDGEsport and the Tennis Channel. Amagi’s experience confirms cloud is more than ready to handle live. The question is, are the live sports rights holders ready for cloud? “There may need to be some more stress testing for something like the Super Bowl,” says Srinivasan, “but we are ready as at least a secondary solution for even those major events.” Some of the benefits Amagi sports broadcast customers are already getting include live, AI/machine learning-driven closed captioning. Cloud makes it easy to incorporate the latest iterations of AI tools directly into the workflow. “AI and machine learning on-prem doesn’t even make sense, given all the capacity that goes up and down. Given how much traditional MAM closed captioning would cost, on the cloud it comes in at one-thirtieth the cost,” says Srinivasan. Live graphics are an essential part of sports television. Cloud can enable more flexible and powerful graphics content, particularly in being able to localise or customise graphics for audience location or demographic. The flexibility and scalability of the cloud allows for more experimentation and trial and error in all aspects of the broadcast, including branding and visual style. Amagi has added support for more cloud-based graphics vendors, like Singular.live and NDI-based live graphics. So when will cloud be Super Bowl-ready? “It’s not a technology problem, it’s more just a confidence problem. Am I ready to bet my few hundred million dollars on cloud? At that level, any amount of capital expenditure is worth it – it’s not about the cost savings that cloud can provide. But that confidence will come over time,” explains Srinivasan. Amagi currently offers a sports automation product allowing live sports networks or other rights holders, such as sports teams, to bring studio and stadium feeds, in a variety of protocols, directly into the cloud for transcoding, orchestrating and delivering to live playout streams. The product can ingest up to eight simultaneous streams and, using a browser-based interface, switch seamlessly between them, while incorporating live graphics, voiceovers and captioning. “It’s full-blown sports automation, just running in the cloud, operated from a browser,” says Srinivasan. “And it can be distributed across different geographies with permissions specific to each user.” Teaming up with the customer But just as every sport has its own rules, so does each sports workflow. Each broadcaster has its own particular requirements. Collaboration with these customers ends up being a growth experience for both parties. “Our customers all have unique workflows and unique situations they each have to deal with, depending on what sports they’re handling, the configuration of event and where their feeds are coming from. We’ve built capabilities to help handle those,” assures Srinivasan. Recently, a customer needed to manage consecutive live sports events that, due to delays, would overlap. Amagi created a solution that meant the second event was queued after the first. In another case, Amagi helped a customer accommodate the unpredictable incorporation of different formats – NDI, Zixi, etc – which might be used in the variety of feeds it had to deal with. Other customers have had specific live close-captioning parameters that needed to be included or special requirements for automatic VOD publishing to their platforms, which would be available the instant the live game ended. “We try to make our system as generic as possible with rules and customisation that our customers can use to build things for themselves,” says Srinivasan. But Amagi also offers its broadcast and OTT cloud offerings as a fully managed service, which some of the company’s sports clients are taking advantage of. “We run the channel ourselves for many of our customers. Unlike other software vendors, we understand what it takes to run live sports on the cloud. These are all high-profile events that have very high penalties if you don’t meet their SLAs. It requires highly resilient architecture and not just playout and automation, but an efficient monitoring infrastructure,” explains Srinivasan. Choosing the right cloud service Sports broadcasters need to do some consideration before they choose a cloud services provider. They need to ensure that any solution that is going to replace their legacy systems needs to not just work well, but to work well over a long period of time and on a large scale. Some vendors may produce impressive results within a certain range, but may start to falter when asked to work with large bandwidth live streams. Latencies are, of course, essential to examine closely. A cloud service must be able to achieve close to on-prem latencies. Until recently, issues of latency were one area where on-prem infrastructures had the lead, but this is no longer always the case. The company coming new to the cloud will also want to have access to other related workflows beyond the mere ability to live stream. It’s also important to have facilities for live recording, highlights creation, playback and VOD deployment all within the same system. It also needs to support all the available formats a broadcaster will want to distribute in – if not now, then in the future. These might include 4K and HDR right now, but in the years to come we might even see 8K in the cloud. The new cloud service has to be able to support the workflows that are currently underway. Cloud may be a step up for some broadcasters, but it doesn’t mean a clean break from everything that has gone before. The cloud service must play nicely with the incumbent systems. By the same token, it must be able to adapt to new things coming down the pike. “Some broadcasters aren’t sure yet if they want to have everything on cloud. They want to have an architecture that could be hybrid, where they could have some playout and automation on-prem and some on the cloud,” says Srinivasan. Although companies may be adopting cloud at different rates, will all broadcast be done through the cloud eventually? Srinivasan thinks so. “I think it will all eventually go to a cloud-based model,” he says. “As a broadcast company, my specialisation is not building and maintaining infrastructure. My specialisation is building great content. That’s what I should be focusing on.”
The ability of cloud-based platforms to provide an efficient and versatile basis for news production is being recognized by broadcasters worldwide Like so many areas of broadcast, news production appears to be on the cusp of a technological shift. IP production and cloud workflows are already delivering greater efficiency and scalability for broadcasters, as well as supporting the growing trend for remote production and smaller local operations. In this interview, Amagi co-founder Baskar Subramanian discusses why news could be one of the greatest beneficiaries of cloud production. Why is news broadcasting so complex and in what ways can the cloud help to streamline this area of production? From an Amagi perspective, we see that two areas of news broadcasting are evolving around the world. The first is in the US, in particular, with a very high number of local news stations moving into a new era of production. Historically, because of local advertising and the way that stations operated, there was a requirement for a complete production set-up at local level. But now you see plenty of organizations exploring the possibilities of IP infrastructures and remote cloud-based workflows to do things differently. For example, where you have a local or regional broadcaster, it is now possible to house all systems and suites in one centralized location, as opposed to maintaining lots of separate sites. This whole area of development is one that really lends itself to a cloud infrastructure, allowing you to have everything as a software-centric and evolving workflow in the cloud. Then you can have remote locations and some additional stations as and when required, all using the same cloud-based platform. The second area of change is that, thanks to OTT, a lot of viewing activity has moved onto iPads and other devices. Consequently, broadcasters are thinking about how they can extend their existing news capacity and bring in an OTT infrastructure. This means there is a trend towards the creation of a unified capability; once again, this is something to which the flexibility of the cloud is ideally suited. How has Amagi responded to these changes with solutions such as Amagi CLOUDPORT Cloud Playout, which provides a broadcast-grade channel playout platform for both TV and OTT services? We have been working in this space for a few years, and have learned a lot from news broadcasters wanting to move away from on-premise operations towards more centralized infrastructures – on the basis that they can dramatically reduce both costs and complexities. As a result, we are able to provide news broadcasters with a single unified workflow in the cloud that can dramatically reduce the costs and complexities of their operations. Moreover, we can deliver this across different platforms – for example, IP-based, cable or satellite services – from a single operational environment. That is where news broadcasters are seeing the greatest value in our system today. Which aspects of the news workflow are most suited to virtualization at this point, and how might that develop in the future? The first step in terms of virtualization for stations is going to be the MCR environment. Technically, many of the elements required to deliver low-maintenance, multi-camera operations in a virtualized way are now in place, and within the next 12 months I should imagine that the industry will be all the way there. One thing we will see is broadcasters virtualizing their OTT channels first, so they can learn the environment and become comfortable with it. Once that has happened, virtualizing linear channels will seem like more of a logical next step. Beyond that, more people will probably be asking the question, ‘Can I virtualize my PCR too?’ But that is more complex, of course. To summarize, a lot of the technology for full virtualization will be in place very soon, but for a variety of reasons – including broadcaster decisions being dependent upon long-term investment cycles – it could take five years for it to take place across broadcast production. Choice of cloud platform is going to be critical for broadcasters moving forward, so what characteristics should they be looking out for? We are talking here about potentially long investment cycles of up to 1.5 decades, so choosing sustainable vendors is very important. One of the best ways to ensure you have a future-proofed infrastructure is to avoid being connected to only one cloud platform. What is good today might not be so good in the future, meaning it’s advisable to hedge your bets across multiple cloud solutions. Latency is definitely a very important factor, too. The service you choose already needs to be low latency, but with the awareness that there will be further improvements as time passes. Similarly, the ability to utilize a very sophisticated graphics environment in the cloud is vital, including best-of-breed graphics and real-time graphical information and rendering. Therefore, a powerful graphics engine is essential. Of course, you also want a solution that is effective and good value for money in general terms. So it can be a difficult call for broadcasters to make – there are always lots of aspects that customers need to think through carefully. What are your final thoughts on how news production in the era of the cloud is likely to evolve? There is going to be a lot more growth in connected TV, not least because of the emergence of FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming) TV platforms. More and more there will be services that look and feel like TV, but which are being delivered via OTT. As a result, it won’t make sense for broadcasters to have different workflows for linear and OTT – they will want the ease and capability of unification. The pace of adoption will vary, and there will be broadcasters who want to move OTT to the cloud first, before migrating the rest of their operations. But I would forecast that, in five years, most news production will be running on the cloud.
Q&A with MAGNAH LAW PARTNERS on the new rules for digital media intermediaries and OTT platforms On February 25, 2021, the Government of India introduced the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (2021 Rules), under the Information Technology Act, 2000. Raghunath Ananthapur, Partner at Magnah Law Partners, and his associate Prithvika Prasad answer some of the commonly asked questions that many broadcasters and content owners across the world have when it comes to operating digital media and OTT in India. What is the scope and application of the new rules? The new rules applies to ‘Intermediaries’ and to ‘Publishers’ in relation to digital media. Who are ‘Intermediaries’ and ‘Publishers’? Intermediaries are widely defined to mean all kinds of online service providers, that, on behalf of another person, processes or provides any service in respect of digital content. The 2021 Rules introduce two new classes of intermediaries - Social Media Intermediaries (SMI) and Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMI). SMIs are intermediaries that primarily or solely enable online interaction between two or more users and allow them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its services, and SSMIs are those SMIs that have over 50 (fifty) lakh registered users in India. The 2021 Rules contain a set of compliance requirements applicable to all intermediaries in general, while also subjecting SSMIs to an additional set of compliances. ‘Publishers,’ on the other hand, can be either publishers of news and current affairs content or of online curated content (OCC). A ‘publisher of OCC’ is one who plays a significant role in determining the OCC made available to users, and makes available a computer resource that allows users to access such content over the internet or computer networks, also includes such other such entities that are functionally similar to publishers of OCC. (Publisher). However, an individual or user who is transmitting OCC in the course of a systematic business, professional or commercial activity is excluded from falling under the definition of such a publisher. The 2021 Rules apply to: A Publisher having a physical presence on the territory of India, or A Publisher conducting a systematic business activity of making its content available in India. What is Online Curated Content? Would OTT fall under its definition? Yes, Over-the-Top content (OTT) would fall under the definition of OCC, and an OTT Platform would be considered as a Publisher of OCC, as OCC is defined as: Any curated catalogue of audio-visual content, other than news and current affairs content, Which is owned by, licensed to or contracted to be transmitted by a publisher of online curated content, and made available on demand, With such service being offered through a subscription mode or otherwise, over the internet or computer networks, and includes films, audio visual programmes, documentaries, television programmes, serials, podcasts and other such content. How is OCC to be classified? OCC is to be classified based on its content, while adhering to the following guidelines: Consideration of relevant factors: A publisher should not transmit, publish or exhibit any content that is prohibited under any law or by a competent court. Due heed must be paid to India’s multi-racial and multi-religious background, and caution must be exercised in relation to content that affects the sovereignty and integrity of India, compromises the security of the State, affects India’s friendly relations with foreign countries, and that which is likely to incite violence or disturb public order. Assignment of content ratings: A publisher is to classify OCC through age-restricted content ratings of U, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A. Such classification is to be on the basis of themes and messages, violence, nudity, sex, language, drug and substance abuse, and horror. Print, television, or online promotional material should include content ratings. Viewer discretion advisory and content descriptor: Each content or programme must begin with a viewer discretion advisory, along with the classification rating and a content descriptor that informs the user about the nature of the content. What are the access-control mechanisms to be put in place? Access-control mechanisms: OCC that is rated higher than U/A 13+ must have access-control mechanisms, including parental locks, and A rated content must have a reliable age verification mechanism. Improving access to persons with disabilities: Reasonable efforts are to be taken to improve accessibility of OCC to persons with disabilities through appropriate access services. Do publishers have any other obligations to comply with? Publishers that have a physical presence in India have obligations with respect to furnishing details regarding their entity to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting within 30 (thirty) days of publication of the 2021 Rules or 30 (thirty) days from start of their operations in Indian territory or their coming into existence, publishing of a monthly compliance report, and grievance redressal. How is the grievance redressal mechanism set up under the 2021 Rules? Any person having a grievance regarding the content published by a publisher in relation to the Code of Ethics can make complaints through the established grievance redressal mechanism. Publishers are to appoint an India-based Grievance Officer to receive and acknowledge complaints within (24) twenty-four hours, and address them within 15 (fifteen) days of its receipt. They must also join a self-regulating body of publishers that is registered with the MIB. The self-regulating body is empowered to oversee publishers’ adherence to the Code of Ethics and also hear appeals from the decisions of the Grievance Officer. Grievance appeals arising from decisions taken by the Grievance Officer or the self-regulating body are to be heard by an Inter-Departmental Committee constituted as part of a governmental oversight mechanism. For more information, write to: Raghunath Ananthapur firstname.lastname@example.org Magnah Law Partners Bangalore This publication is for general information purpose and should not be construed as legal advice.
Q&A with Srividhya Srinivasan, Co-founder, Amagi Describe your childhood and student days. How did those life experiences shape your future? I belong to a typical south Indian middle-class family. Both my parents were teachers. I wasn’t from a family of entrepreneurs. However, there were no restrictions to dream of or become one. Throughout my growing up years, it was instilled in me by my parents, “Do whatever you love” and “Put your heart, soul and more into it, and you will achieve your goals”. As a kid, I was fascinated by science and mathematics. This interest in later years made me lean towards technology, software and hardware. I had genuine interest in building software products and platforms that will challenge the status quo. Even though I did my schooling with Tamil as the medium of instruction, the desire to excel on merit ensured that I managed to assimilate advanced technology concepts and ideas in English. Even though, I hadn’t seen a computer till my second year of engineering, I could learn it from then on, as it fascinated me. When I was in college, all the girls would be asked to return back to hostel by 6:00 PM, while boys could continue to use the computer lab till late in the night. I simply wanted to practice more, and started living in the city avoiding hostel. As I reflect, it taught me that one should be open to learn and adapt, and never be overwhelmed by challenges. Till date, I learn new things every day. I carried that attitude throughout my professional life, believing that by combining hard work, sincerity and passion with the ability to learn and unlearn, I will be able to challenge status quo. My mentors: Primarily, I should say, in my early days, it was my parents. Then, I was moulded in Texas Instruments by my managers. When did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur? I didn’t plan on becoming an entrepreneur. My life journey with two of my best friends Baskar Subramanian and Srinivasan KA, from college was the primary driver. We were a small group, with a lot of passion for engineering, and a strong calling to solve business problems by applying technology. Ability to think ahead of time is Baskar’s strength. Trying interesting ideas and making them work my nature, and Srini’s as well. We joined hands to set up our first company, Impulsesoft in early 2000s. We worked on building a Bluetooth technology stack those days. After exiting from our first venture after its acquisition by SiRF, the three of us wanted to create something more path-breaking. We wanted to bring about a change led by technology while focusing on specific problems in India. We observed that while Internet wasn’t the biggest medium in 2007-08, it allowed targeting of messages and advertising to its users. In contrast, television being the biggest medium had not seen any significant disruption for a long time. Small and regional advertisers were shying away from national channels due to high cost of advertising, leading them to lose out on higher viewership and enhanced brand visibility. In case they did advertise on national channels, they were paying a huge premium as their ads were relevant to a very small geographic area. For instance, serving only the market of Mumbai, but advertising across the country. At Amagi, we wanted to reinvent television advertising by enabling TV networks to air different ads in different cities at the same time on a common satellite feed, while making TV advertising affordable to small advertisers. Buoyed by our success in replacing primary ad spots with regional ads on a common satellite feed, an Indian broadcaster approached us to replace two hours of content to comply with local broadcast regulations in Singapore for one of its pan-Asia feed. This unexpectedly paved the way for Amagi’s cloud-based linear channel playout platform that can run 24x7 live channels, a business that would eventually expand internationally with deployments in more than 40 countries, playing out more than 400 channel feeds. Soon, the company pivoted to become a global cloud technology provider for TV networks, content owners and OTT platforms to launch, manage and monetize 24x7 live linear channels. How did you go about addressing the opportunity? Even though Amagi solutions caters to the media and entertainment industry, at the very core, we are a technology company working on innovative cloud solutions. Our company is based in Bangalore which give us tremendous access to tech talent with the right culture, entrepreneurial spirit, and openness to work in start-ups. We pioneered the use of cloud for TV broadcast. Our goal was and continues to be – To transform broadcast operations from a primitive, hardware-based, expensive set up to software-based, scalable, reliable and cost-effective model. It was natural for us to look at global markets which were relatively mature in terms of internet infrastructure and penetration. While we housed our entire R&D, product development and operations teams in Bangalore, we set up sales offices in Los Angeles, New York, and London. We started hiring sales and technical pre-sales professionals from local regions. It gave us the right balance to manage costs, and deploy capabilities where it mattered the most. What products/services are you offering and how are they niche? Amagi offers cloud-native playout, delivery and monetization platform for traditional broadcast TV industry and new-age streaming TV industry to launch 24x7 live linear channels and monetize them through ad insertions. Unlike most of our competition who had legacy solutions and are trying to port them to cloud, Amagi is cloud-born. Therefore, our solutions are scalable, flexible, reliable and gives much better control to our customers to manage their costs. How is your equation with your co-founders? For how long you have known them? I co-founded Amagi with Baskar Subramanian and Srinivasan KA. We have been classmates and friends from college, been partners for most of our professional career as well, right from our first jobs at Texas Instruments and then at our first venture, Impulsesoft. While I lead Customer Success at Amagi, Baskar runs Product Management, engineering, and investor relations. Srini leads global sales and revenue management. This way, we complement each other’s strengths and provide the required leadership to our company. Being good friends from college days meant that we understand each other very well – emotionally and intellectually. We are frank with each other, and never hold back any opinions, feedback, our fear or vulnerabilities. I went on to marry Baskar, and our friendship and partnership strengthened – both personally and professionally. What kind of growth have you seen since inception? What are the factors that contributed to the growth? We now support 400+ channels across 40 countries, working with leading TV networks, content owners and OTT platforms. Our customers include A+E Networks UK, Discovery Networks, beIN Sports, VICE Media, Warner Media, CuriosityStream, Tastemade, Cinedigm, Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, NBCUniversal and many others. We embarked on a journey in uncharted waters. We looked at emerging technologies such as cloud and placed our bets. In the beginning, it was quite challenging. None of us in the company had broadcast industry background. No one in the broadcast industry used cloud as the primary infrastructure. Added to that, we were a start-up from India trying to establish ourselves in a global market. We built a robust technology platform, and some of our early customers tried it as the cost benefit was hugely attractive. Once we proved the technology and business model, we were able to build trust among customers. At the same time, we built our solutions to cater to both broadcast TV and streaming TV. So, we were able to spot trends early on and benefit from it when the demand surged. Do you think it’s difficult to be a woman entrepreneur? I think we have a slightly skewed understanding of a woman entrepreneur. For decades, we have seen women across socio-economic strata trying to become financially independent, setting up small businesses (which may not be fancy) and at the same time supporting their family. So, if you look around, you will see so many examples of women from different walks of life creating their own identity through business ideas, however small they may, and whatever be their motivation – financial, intellectual, or simply survival. And, now that the business ecosystem has improved so much (Yes, the pandemic phase will eventually pass) – setting up companies is easy, access to funds are easy, technology support is advanced, access to talent pool is healthy, families are more supportive. And several success stories across the society act as a great inspiration. What is your advice to other women entrepreneurs? If you believe in an idea, persist with it until it fructifies Do not give up easily succumbing to family pressures. Realize that family and profession are important and one cannot be sacrificed for the other Build a core team of passionate people with an entrepreneurial spirit Execution is key. Never lose focus on execution Command and control structures are critical for the business to scale
FAST on the rise In 2021, we can expect to see a tremendous amount of growth in Free Ad Supported TV (FAST). New players will emerge in the industry, as Telcos, cable operators and specialized niche app players get into the game. Some of the large TV networks that have sat out on FAST will now come into the space, creating an extremely competitive industry. Outside of cable networks, we will also see local news take this opportunity to reach a younger audience. 2021 will definitely be the year of FAST Mobile takes the spotlight In the last several years, we’ve seen CTV continue to grow. This is especially true as many viewers were tied to their homes with the global health crisis. However, as we begin to bounce back, we’ll start to see in 2021 and 2022, mobile take the spotlight with companies offering mobile applications for linear streaming content. We’ve already seen this from Samsung, Roku and several others. I believe we are headed in the direction of seeing a default TV application installed on phones, offering FAST. Freemium vs Paid As the landscape grows more competitive, we’ll begin to see paid channels offer freemium options and free apps offering a paid premium option. Currently, we see this approach with Peacock where users can freely stream certain shows with ads or upgrade to have an ad-free experience. In 2021, I expect to see many more companies taking this approach to increase viewership and take additional market share. Explosion of channels “Similar to a cable experience, consumers want access to different channels all at the touch of a button. With this high demand for content consumption, we will continue to see an explosion of channels being launched. For Amagi specifically, every month we launch 20-30 channels for our customers who are trying to keep up with the demands of viewers. As the volume of channels continues to grow, we will see a split in how platforms will handle the way they provide and distribute their content as the industry determines the most productive and efficient way of operating. On one end, we will see some platforms spread out their content into many subcategories, making niche content incredibly easy to find for their viewers, where on the other end of the spectrum, we will see platforms consolidate and simplify their channels to provide a broad overview of content. The consumer ultimately will hold the power in the end when determining which approach provides easier access to content and meets their overarching needs.” Original programming for FAST “There are many players in the FAST industry, and as more and more pop up, each will be experimenting with different ways to provide a unique experience and differentiate themselves from competitors. We will see FAST providers experiment with creating owned and operated channels to help them distinguish themselves. We will find these platforms commissioning productions for new content and channels of their own, providing them as exclusives for their platform users. FAST platforms will inevitably use these methods and features to promote their services and provide a user experience that consumers want to go back for.” User experience “For FAST platforms, available content is incredibly important for gaining traction with viewers, however with many different players in the industry, access, interface, and user experience are going to be the key differentiators for the leaders in the industry. The platforms with the best user experience, allowing quick, easy, and customizable access to ideal content without putting extra work on the consumers will be the ones that gain traction and come out on top.”
We engineers are unsung. Coming into the limelight(?!) only when things break. Some of our tribe have been battling a massive outage in the AWS us-east-1 region over the last 24 hours non-stop, but they seem to be coming out on top finally (as seen from the AWS status page). Here's a shoutout to all the hard work they've put in, and wishing them good luck. Many businesses have taken a hit worldwide. We too have seen partial degradation in some of our systems deployed on AWS us-east-1. Our AWS TAM & BDM (Hi Anup & Raghu!) have been proactively supporting us over the last 24 hours, and demonstrating a genuine concern over what sort of impact this has on us & our customers. It will take some more days for us to determine the actual extent of the impact and start thinking on how we can be better prepared for such outages in the future. In the backdrop of this situation, I would like to share with you all, some of the thoughts & conversations we Amagians are having, on designing distributed systems that are expected to run reliably in an unpredictable environment. Distributed Systems and Fault Tolerance Let's say we have grown past the first law of distributed systems. And say, we have designed the distribution with basic hygiene principles such as low inter-service coupling high intra-service cohesion control plane and data plane separation standardised protocols for inter-service communication Those principles are necessary but insufficient to deal with an unpredictable / unreliable environment in which those services are deployed. Uptime is not a problem to be outsourced to Devops / SRE (!!). Fault tolerance should be included into the design of systems well before they're implemented & deployed. Some considerations for this would be: Statelessness (or at least unbundling compute & state) Redundancy (not as simple as deploying 2 copies of a system!) RTO / RPO, checkpointing Versioned configuration (say GitOps equiv) Robust service discovery (saving money by running etcd / consul in a non-cluster mode looks like a brilliant idea, until ...) Fail-fast & fail-safe And then some more, from an operational perspective: Infrastructure as code "What if" checklists / SOPs Chaos engineering, fire drills & game days (to verify if the checklists / SOPs can save the day) As part of the global engineering community, we too are debating these aspects and learning something new every day at Amagi, in a very open engineering culture that does not penalise mistakes, but actively encourages us to learn from our failures and others',
1. Recently, Amagi organized Geek’s Day. Tell us more about it Geek’s Day is a technology showcase event organized by engineers at Amagi to foster the culture of innovation in the company. The program was conceived with the following goals in mind. Enhance tech collaboration within teams through knowledge sharing Strengthen ‘innovation as a competitive advantage’ for the company Nurture the passion for technology in our engineers to create world-class products We organize this company-wide event twice a year. It gives our teams a great platform to demonstrate their technology prowess, especially to young engineers who get a first-hand experience to see the big picture of how all the smaller modules that they work on come together to solve complex challenges for our clients. Many times, we even highlight incremental innovation that our teams have undertaken to improve our own approach to coding and product development. So, it’s not all always about how we have simplified life for customers. It’s also about how we are improving our own understanding of technology and sharing smarter ideas that other teams can implement in their workstack. 2. What was the focus of the recent edition of Geek’s Day? The key focus was knowledge sharing across engineering teams based on lessons learnt from our failures and successes in the last couple of quarters. Over the last six months, as a company, we have significantly increased our capabilities in the area of live events production and broadcast. Cloud as a backbone infrastructure to deliver live events such as sports and news has been closely scrutinized owing to latency issues, challenges with ad insertion, and ability to replicate the broadcast-grade TV-viewing experience delivered on traditional delivery mechanisms such as satellite and fiber. Due to advancements in cloud technologies, access to high-speed internet, and innovation in the last-mile content delivery frameworks – all these have now made it possible to produce live events on the cloud and distribute them in a multiscreen environment. We expect a surge in demand from broadcasters who run hundreds of hours of live content every month to transition to cloud. And, we are developing some really cool tech to support their unique requirements. A lot of Geek’s Day sessions were focused on practical do-s & don’t-s related to on-demand live event orchestration, fault tolerant distributed systems on the cloud, large scale media processing for live streams, application workflow orchestration, infrastructure as code, efficient CI/CD pipelines, enterprise grade inter-service messaging and reusable UI component designs. The other hot topic was content analytics. As streaming becomes the new TV, metrices like viewership stats, ad impressions, ad opportunities, ad durations, top performing channels and more, need to be made available in real-time for content owners and platforms to manage their ad inventory, pricing, and to determine their strategies covering content genre, distribution markets, ad partnerships and so on. We are making early inroads in this segment and had several geeky features to preview. 3. How was the response given remote working in COVID times? Geek’s Day, if held in normal circumstances would have been a day-long celebration, competition and knowledge exchange sessions. However, this time, we organized it across 10 days with teams joining through collaboration platforms. Overall, we had about 10 sessions, 25 speakers and nearly 400 man-hours of engagement. It just goes to show as humans how well we have adapted to the new pandemic situation. Even in our business, we continue to deliver broadcast-grade SLAs in these testing times. I am happy that we are able to carry that rigor in the areas of learning and development as well. 4. Amagi also organized a hackathon in partnership with HackerEarth in August. Is this part of Geek’s Day initiative? Innovation has always been central to Amagi’s existence, growth and value we deliver from every stakeholder’s perspective – Customers, employees, investors or for that matter our media and entertainment industry. The hackathon was largely to engage the developer community in the experience band of 2-5 years, recognize and reward their tech problem-solving skills. We had more than 2,700 registrations with over 1,300 participants completing the GO CLOUD Challenge. We have an obligation to contribute and to sustain the spirit of innovation in the community. It also gives us an excellent opportunity to interact with bright minds and attract them to our vision of transforming the media and entertainment industry through application of innovative cloud technologies. 5. Do you have plans for expanding the Geek’s Day to outside the company? In some ways, we are already doing that. We set up quarterly business reviews with key customers to give them a preview of our technology roadmaps. This helps us to align our products and delivery milestones to support their business goals. For others, we have our regular trade show formats to showcase tech innovation. While this year our events calendar has been impacted, we are looking at virtual platforms to bridge the gap. I would urge the readers of this blog to follow our website and social media channels for all such announcements. Vijaya Sagar Vinnakota is the Head of Cloud Engineering at Amagi.
Five questions for Baskar, CEO and co-founder, Amagi What are your observations on the broadcast industry's transition to virtualizing operations? Virtualizing broadcast operations on a public cloud infrastructure such as AWS has become a key strategy for decision-makers over the last 2-3 years. Every top-tier TV network is implementing a cloud strategy in some measure. Some of the evident trends as I see them are: New business models are taking shape The traditional 5-year business models where TV networks invested in large facilities, hardware equipment and satellite distribution infrastructure involving high capital expenditure to launch channels and run broadcast operations are no longer viable. Cloud is leading the shift to an OPEX-based business model. It gives you flexible ‘pay as you go’ options! Cloud is no longer for storage only The media and entertainment industry had initially looked at a cloud infrastructure for content storage and archival. However, with the advancements in cloud technology, the entire broadcast workflow can be automated on the cloud. This means that content preparation, scheduling, graphics, playout, distribution, monitoring and monetization can all be managed on the cloud delivering broadcast-grade quality and viewing experience. Integrate and manage distributed workflows As broadcast operations get virtualized, it’s no longer a necessity for all functions in a broadcast workflow to be co-located. Cloud gives the flexibility for teams to access the systems from any remote location and manage workflows. This is leading to optimizing real-estate costs and better space utilization. Collaboration for specialized skills Virtualization has opened the doors to collaborating with specialists from any part of the world. Broadcasters can now access a large talent pool and put together teams with specialized skills for any activity from any location. Address broadcast and streaming TV requirements with a common infrastructure As many traditional Pay TV networks begin to dabble with streaming TV opportunities, virtualizing broadcast infrastructure is bringing enhanced flexibility and efficiencies to content distribution. With cloud, there is no need to invest in separate infrastructure to launch linear OTT channels. DR as stepping stone to cloud adoption Several large broadcasters are replacing their expensive brick-and-mortar backup infrastructure with on-demand cloud-based systems. A natural follow-up to such a transition is the virtualization of the entire primary broadcast infrastructure. What are the big benefits of moving on to a cloud infrastructure? Cloud infrastructure is inherently agile and comes with a shorter deployment time. The biggest contribution in my view is the rapid democratization of content, that has been largely ushered in by the power of cloud. Moreover, there are several major benefits that cloud infrastructure provides to broadcast and media companies. Cloud is very cost-effective, and gives superior control on budgets and resources Gives flexibility to scale and contract operations as per business dynamics Provides access to operations from any remote location. No need to be physically located within the broadcast premises Provides best-in-class security and redundancy capabilities Facilitates seamless integration with other cloud-based software and AI tools to enrich broadcast workflows Supports live events production and broadcast with low latency and on-demand infrastructure Distribute content to any location, any device through IP-based delivery Spin up short-duration pop-up channels to test audience response, leverage special events, promotions, holidays and festivities In the era of COVID pandemic, has cloud made all the difference? The COVID pandemic has certainly accelerated cloud adoption in the broadcast industry. We are in a situation where personnel have limited access to broadcast premises. In many cases, due to lockdowns and facility sanitization exercises, the physical facilities are off-limits. Broadcasters till now planned for natural disasters and infrastructure downtime. This is a very unique and real situation where the need of the hour is secure remote access at the safety and comfort of individual homes. Cloud has been a life-saver in this context. Many of our customers across the world could continue their operations uninterrupted. They are able to open up their secure browsers and have a bird’s eye view on the status of their playout and delivery operations, content monetization with all the reports and analytics, exactly the same way they could see during pre-pandemic days. I believe COVID pandemic has taught us that moving to a cloud-based infrastructure for all the media and entertainment operations is an extremely important step that we need to take forward as an industry. Should cloud infrastructure be thought of only in the context of business continuity? As I discussed earlier, cloud infrastructure is at the cutting-edge of broadcast technology and stands to have its impact on all the facets of broadcast business operations and workflows. TV networks can orchestrate live events, operate channels, monitor playout operations, create channel programming, upload content, monetize linear streams and VOD assets, and everything else you can imagine remotely using platforms like Amagi. What I would like to say is, cloud has ensured that it is business as usual for us, even with the constraints of the COVID pandemic and business continuity is an important part of a diversified offering that we have to offer to the industry. To what extent can broadcast operations be monitored remotely? From a monitoring standpoint, we are looking at all the systems, subsystems, and endpoint handoff equipment in case of traditional broadcasters. In this case, we can keep the need for human intervention to a bare minimum. On the other hand, our customers can monitor 100 percent of broadcast operations remotely as we have introduced various monitoring workflows to do QC and asset validation. As a lot of assets that are integrated into the system for playout come from multiple sources and locations, we deploy look-ahead playout using our cloud infrastructure to validate the entire linear stream in advance and monitor the same for inconsistencies and anomalies. Look-ahead playout is a classic example of how we leverage AI and machine learning to remotely monitor channel feeds before the actual playout. In the streaming TV segment, we work with content owners and OTT platforms across the globe to create a global supply chain for thematic content management and packaging, content delivery to multiple platforms, and content monetization. As this ad-supported business model thrives on in-stream ad insertion for monetization, we deploy cloud infrastructure to achieve 24x7 remote monitoring of playout, channel distribution, server-side ad insertion (SSAI), ad performance and analytics and the overall broadcast workflow. In conclusion, I would say that owing to current business climate, the broadcast industry needs to innovate to survive the downturn, create new revenue models and respond to market dynamics in an agile manner. For that, the transition to cloud is an irreversible change - A new reality.
Five Questions for Srini, Co-founder, Amagi As an industry player, what are the big trends in TV that you see? I see a fundamental shift in TV viewing habits happening, further accelerated by the pandemic now. A few large trends, apart from the broader shift to Streaming TV from linear broadcast: Connected TV devices are growing at a rapid pace. As per reports, by 2023, connected TV households will be 83% of all households in US. This is a massive shift Advertising is shifting from traditional TV to streaming TV –advertising grew by 330% in 2019 according to a recent report Shift to cloud – we are seeing a large scale migration across M&E sector towards cloud as the industry prepares itself to be agile in these changing circumstances. How is the industry responding to these developments? At the outset, we see two distinct segments in the TV industry emerging today – Broadcast TV and Streaming TV. As consumers shift from traditional cable subscriptions to new-age over-the-top streaming models, we are seeing many of the broadcast TV networks creating OTT offerings to stay relevant in the marketplace. Large content studios are seizing the opportunity and launching their own streaming platforms banking on their large content libraries. Content aggregators and video service providers are innovating on various business models – subscription-based, ad-supported, hybrid models with tiered content offering. Similarly traditional TV advertising is quickly moving into the programmatic way. I believe, one of the biggest trend we will see is in the Connected TV space. As Connected TV providers already have market penetration, they have a huge opportunity to generate continuous revenue by offering programming as well. Why are we seeing a demand for live channels on streaming TV? Isn’t streaming largely an on-demand territory? As I said earlier, streaming is the new TV. When we see content creation being democratized, it brings about an abundance in content availability. Discovering content has always been a challenge for viewers. Even on video-on-demand platforms, content recommendation engines are in play. It’s hardly surprising that many viewers aren’t fully aware of all the program titles available on the platforms they follow. Added to that, the complexity of choice as one subscribes to multiple platforms leading to a subscription fatigue. To free oneself from the burden of having to discover and watch content, viewers are warming up to the idea of content being available as part of a channel EPG. As a result, linear channels are increasingly becoming attractive to viewers. To expect TV-like viewing experience while streaming is becoming a norm. Hence, a growing demand for linear content on streaming TV! Will advertising shift from broadcast TV to streaming TV? Won’t viewers prefer ad-free, subscription-based streaming models? Realistically, you can’t expect every household to subscribe to multiple streaming platforms. At best, one will have some sort of a cable TV subscription and add a couple of streaming TV subscriptions to their entertainment budget. In some cases, we may see a complete cord-cutting. In any case, I don’t see an average household investing in more than five platform subscriptions at any given time. Now that we have several big studios and networks with their vast libraries vying to get a share of this pie, we will see consolidation in the industry. This means that top 3-5 subscription platforms will eventually capture most of the market, but make enough room in the market for ad-supported models to co-exist. This will include those platforms that offer a hybrid model as well. In the ad-supported streaming TV model, advertisers will be able to segment audiences more granularly and leverage higher number of ad impressions. This makes advertising on streaming TV platforms more flexible, cost-effective, and measurable. We expect to see advertising budgets shift to streaming TV in the range of US$200-$250 billion in a year, and grow at higher percentage levels in the years to come. What according to you is the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the streaming TV industry? It’s obvious that owing to lockdown restrictions in many countries around the world, people are staying within the confines of their home without access to different forms of entertainment which they are generally accustomed to. As a result, we are witnessing a huge spike in streaming TV consumption. This pandemic with extended restrictions is changing our outlook towards life, and has brought in new habits, a different lifestyle, and affected our disposable incomes and so much more. It has impacted us in several ways – the way we watch TV is certainly one. I think the pandemic will accelerate adoption of streaming TV as people have been exposed to newer content experiences. I also believe, given the financial implications, ad-supported streaming models will come out much stronger from these times. We do see a dip in overall advertising as we live in a world of interconnected economies. But, this dip is for the short-term. The big picture we must appreciate is that overall TV viewing habits are impacted, and it will put some of the inevitable changes on a fast-track.
Pop-up channels are time-bounded, 24x7 linear content streams delivered to viewers – be it on traditional broadcast TV platforms or on OTT platforms and devices. Pop-up channels can take multitude of hues – theme-specific, event-driven, seasonality, demographic-oriented, market testing and many more. In the era of cloud broadcast, pop-up channels may soon become integral to the content and growth strategy of broadcasters, operators, content owners and platforms. With cloud, you can easily spin-up/down channels without having to invest in large infrastructure and operations teams. You can create channels from any remote location and distribute them, globally. Further, pop-up channels are relatively less expensive than fully-loaded linear channels with no long-term commitments. Even the viewers are clear in expectations and understand that the channel will be on air for a 15-20 days’ period. As we enter the holiday season, here are three ideas that you can build your pop-ups on. Idea #1: Milestone celebrations This week, Disney clocked US$ 10 billion in box-office revenues, the highest for any studio in a single calendar year. Frozen 2, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, The Lion King, Captain Marvel, and Toy Story 4 contributed to Disney’s massive haul. And, we are still awaiting the December release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker! Now, Disney can look at launching a linear pop-up channel for two weeks, lining up all their releases that collected more than a US$ 1 billion at the box-office in their entire history. This way, Disney can bring their fan-base together to celebrate iconic movies from the studio, enhancing their association with the Disney brand, and create a 360-degree buzz – social media, merchandize, advertising, and subscriptions. Disney can also create a Star Wars-specific pop-up channel in the run up to the worldwide release of the latest offering. It can air previous editions of the franchise movie, behind-the-scenes snippets, interviews with current cast, live reactions/reviews from outside the theater, endorsements with brand partners (apparel/toys/gaming), and offer premium advertising inventory that caters to a finely segmented and identifiable audience pool. Idea #2: Recycle VOD content into calendared thematic channel This year, two of the globally popular long-running series aired their final episodes – Game of Thrones and Big Bang Theory. HBO and CBS respectively can rerun the entire series as a linear broadcast, complete with channel graphics, promotions, and advertising. Even regional networks across the globe can potentially license the content and launch a pop-up channel with audio-dubbed in local languages, subtitles, attracting regional advertisers, and building a channel profile piggy-backing on popular content brands. Idea #3: Determine revenue-sharing models through content trials If you are an operator finalizing content licensing deals with studios/content owners, and you are unsure of the revenue share split, pop-up channels are an excellent tool to gauge audience interest and advertising potential. You can create a program schedule with different types of content and tweak overall programming based on audience feedback. If you run a pop-up OTT channel, you can access detailed analytics, giving you insights on viewership, primetime viewing, ad impressions range, and advertising yield among others. This way, you can make informed decisions on programming, content acquisition, ad inventory and pricing. You can then launch full-fledged linear channels based on the pop-up channel experience and learning. Launching pop-up channels Amagi offers an end-to-end solution, as a fully managed service across channel creation, distribution, monitoring and monetization. At Amagi, we have identified three critical elements that make pop-ups work. On-demand infrastructure and resources Instant spin up/down of broadcast infrastructure Pre-integrated distribution arrangements with platforms We rely on a lot of automation across the broadcast workflow to accelerate channel launch while keeping the costs low. We use a public cloud infrastructure such as AWS with a pay-per-use cost model. Our presentation scheduling is automated – accessing initial schedule, placing program segments, creating ad breaks, adding promos and interstitials based on pre-configured rules. One can easily add dynamic graphics through templates, add subtitles, and create a broadcast-grade channel in SD/HD/4K UHD formats for both traditional broadcast TV and OTT platforms. So, this holiday season, would you let a new cheer pop up?!
At the beginning of 2019, as per the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), 4,987 satellites revolved around the Earth’s orbit, an increase of 2.68 percent over the previous year. In a recent article published in Express (The Home of Daily and Sunday Express), the European Space Agency (ESA) warns that should there be a solar storm, much of these satellites are at a great risk and we will be mute spectators to the resulting damages to satellites and associated blackouts. The ESA is now planning a mission to watch the sun from deep space as part of building an early warning system to collect data on solar activity before it strikes Earth. Be it solar activity, asteroid hits, or technical glitches, space disasters can cripple human life as science and technology has permeated into even our mundane activities. Much of our connectedness in the world is riding on petabytes of data crisscrossing through satellite and network infrastructure. One industry that has had tremendous reliance on satellite networks is television. Post the first satellite television signal transmission in 1962, satellite-based TV broadcast completely redefined the way TV content was distributed and watched by viewers. Across the world, TV networks – small and big, took to satellite-based content delivery to broadcast SD, HD, and later 4K UHD channels covering live as well as thematic/library content. The surrounding economics of content production, broadcast, subscription and advertising revenues meant that the entire infrastructure had to be available 24x7 for satellite TV industry to sustain. Pursuing “all time” availability, TV networks built secondary and tertiary feeds setting up a back-up infrastructure. Given the prohibitive cost-structure of satellite broadcast infrastructure, creating parallel feeds and activating them to recover from unpredictable disasters and downtime have resulted in businesses devoid of precious capital for growth. For instance, imagine spending anywhere between 100,000 – 500,000 dollars annually in setting up a primary feed and spending an equal amount on back-up parallel feed! While most satellite services offer SLAs of 99.9999 percent uptime, downtime preparedness has been locking funds in the absence of viable alternatives. All this changed with the advent of cloud technologies for TV broadcast. Extending capabilities of cloud beyond storage, the entire broadcast workflow – ingest, storage and archival, scheduling, playout, delivery and monetization - can all be managed on the cloud today at a fraction of the costs when compared to traditional models. This has completely changed the outlook towards broadcast disaster recovery. For TV networks already invested in long-term contracts with satellite-based distribution services, cost-effective cloud presents an affordable alternative for managing parallel feeds. Not limited to disasters in outer space or for that matter satellite technical glitches, moving to a cloud infrastructure provides coverage against downtime due to natural calamities, technical issues at teleports and datacenters. Here are a few ways one can take advantage of cloud for disaster recovery purposes. 24x7 Disaster Recovery Using Cloud Playout Manage media assets: Store all your media assets on cloud, for continued access despite malfunction of your physical data- centers. Public cloud ensures instant recovery with a new instance going live instantly in case of malfunction Access from cloud: Move the playout to cloud while maintaining same level of broadcast readiness for both playout and media assets Deliver from cloud: Deliver your channel via fiber, satellite, or IP streaming. So, in case of complete breakdown of primary delivery infrastructure you can still deliver your channel using other methods On-Demand Disaster Recovery Using Cloud Playout Automated import and remote deployment: Auto-sync content, playlists, and graphics on the primary feed for playout readiness. You can spin up/down the playout only for the duration of downtime on primary. Since it’s cloud-based, you can start broadcasting practically from anywhere in the world, ensuring complete flexibility and portability for your channel Flexibility of differential pricing: Pay as per usage unlike the traditional set up which duplicates the costs of entire infrastructure Rescue Playout Using Edge Servers Manage Media Assets at the Edge: Send assets to the edge server via cloud and store up to 16 terabytes of data. In case of satellite downlink or any other error, you can continue broadcasting with latest rescue content Remote playout management: No need to create separate recovery sites. You can use the edge playout server to shuffle content and play rescue content remotely If you are distributing content using satellites, putting in place a reliable and cost-effective disaster recovery process and content distribution workflow using cloud is undoubtedly a progressive approach to future-proof your business!
According to the latest report from Convergence Research Group, cord cutting continues to accelerate this year as well with 4.56 million TV households opting to ditch pay TV. As we end 2019, 34% of U.S. households won’t have a traditional TV subscription! As consumers move to streaming services, wide range of options are in fact effecting a downside. As per Deloitte’s Annual Digital Media Trends survey, nearly 47% of U.S. consumers are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions required to watch what they want. Today, there are more than 300 OTT video options in the U.S. market, and that list is growing. The wide choice is creating two key pain-points for the consumers– Subscription fatigue and increased barriers to content discovery. In such a setting, a growing realization in the OTT world is that ad-supported streaming services could be a viable model to overcome subscription fatigue. FAST (Free Ad Supported TV) players like Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Pluto and STIRR are taking an early lead with a combined gross reach of over 80 million users. New launches like Amazon IMDB TV are expected to accelerate this trend. As content owners, studios, post-cable networks compete to get a share of the OTT pie, taking the route of native apps only complicates content discovery. This requires significant marketing and development spends to create, maintain and market these apps directly to end consumers. In the age of Netflix and Disney Plus, reaching an app download of 1M across OTT devices would require tremendous effort and investment. Instead, 3rd party distribution through platforms like Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel and Pluto is a much faster, cheaper and better option. Linear OTT channels make it easy for viewers to access content through EPGs, and minimizes ‘losses’ resulting from ‘abundance of choices’. Through a linear EPG experience, getting discovered becomes much easier for the content owner. In addition, linear OTT experience provides much higher levels of engagement and loyalty compared to ‘on-demand only’ experience. As all OTT FAST deals are based on revenue share, time, cost and effort for onboarding new channels on these platforms are significantly lower compared to traditional linear distribution. The viability of the channel purely depends on content-led strategy that attracts loyal viewers, in turn yielding increased advertising opportunities. At Amagi, we have been a pioneer in cloud-based technologies for broadcasting and monetizing content, enabling digital-first and traditional networks create and deliver linear OTT channels to vMVPD and FAST platforms. Amagi, through its DAI platform supports ad monetization of OTT content, generating ad revenues and providing detailed analytics and insights. Amagi offers the end-to-end solution as a managed service, making it simpler for content owners, digital first networks and studios to launch and monetize linear OTT channels. Amagi’s clients include Tastemade, CuriosityStream, TYT Network, MGM, Conde Nast, PeopleTV, FuboTV, Magnolia Pictures and Pocket Watch among others. If you would like to take advantage of Free Ad Supported TV, and increase your revenues, Amagi can set up your channel and distribute to all the leading vMVPD platforms, Connected TV and device platforms. The last time I checked, there is no other technology provider in the market who has solution/technology acceptance from all the leading platforms. With Amagi, the holy grail of linear OTT in the world of free ad-supported streaming model can truly be within your grasp.
Media industry is going through its most exciting transformation. No time in the history of mankind has there been the breadth and volume of content that we see today. As all of us are gravitating towards an Internet-driven media consumption behavior, innovations in this business is at its peak, across storytelling, content creation, processing, selling, distribution, discovery and in consumption. The other interesting trend of Internet media consumption is the globalization of content consumption. We are now exposed to content from across different cultures, languages and issues that were once local, are now topics of discussions across the world. As we watched ‘Narcos’ we could experience the underbelly of the Colombian drug-cartel world, which is far from the issues of politics, family feuds and mythology that we are exposed to in Indian television. As the media industry started to change, a parallel change was happening in the big iron world of IT. Servers and racks in offices were getting replaced by public cloud providers who were renting servers over the Internet. Public cloud companies were evolving into a phenomenon that has transformed multiple industries. Public cloud’s business model, on-demand infrastructure and its associated services fits the needs of the new media world as a glove to the hand. Media industry is one of the largest consumers of storage (content archives), compute (transcoding, machine-learning, graphics rendering) and network (serving video to end-users). Given media is all digital bits and bytes, the software-driven processing on on-demand compute on cloud is driving just-in-time processing as content arrives or when viewers scale. The key innovations in the media industry are driven at the edges- Content production and consumption. We as viewers are driving the consumption pattern, which in turn drives how media businesses enable us to discover, serve and monetize content. Tremendous innovations are taking place on content production, be it UHD, 3D, drone capture and production of local sports, news by amateurs turning to professionals. The lines between professional content production and consumer videos are blurring with the availability of technologies and equipment in consumer hands. At Amagi, we are in the eye of this perfect storm. We have a unique view of the media industry as it transforms and embraces the cloud. We have been pioneers in this movement of the industry to the cloud and continue to drive the best of cloud technologies to benefit media businesses worldwide. I would like to share some of the key trends that are at the cusp of breaking out and would become primetime over the next 12 months, We are moving from a 100% subscription-driven premium content model to a high growth advertising-driven premium content. We will see multitude of platforms worldwide that will be advertising-driven and delivering premium content. This is largely driven by the viewership moving to connected TV platforms, which in turn is driving advertisers to treat this on-par with TV advertising. This mass adoption by advertisers, makes it viable for content owners to monetize premium content through an ad-only business model. We are seeing a resurgence of linear channels on online platforms. This rather counter-intuitive trend is largely driven by, a) glut of content on platforms leading to a ‘paradox of choice’, leading users to spend a large amount of their time in discovering what to watch and b) connected TV viewing drives a lean-back experience, and viewers are preferring a lazy channel-flipping behavior. In addition, content owners and video platforms are discovering linear channel viewing behavior acts as the entry point for viewers to delve into related on-demand video library and thus acts a great content discovery tool. Live sports and news creation are getting democratized. We are seeing a large set of amateur content creators starting to produce local/college/school level sports, hyper-local news stories. With Internet video destinations, there is space for all content and creation of niche communities for viewership is a reality. Given mobile phones and consumer-range priced outdoor camera installations, there is a surge of live production that will be available for all of us to watch.The breadth and depth of events that will be covered is mind-boggling, and the quality of the event production, be it sports-graphics, commentary, and camera positions are starting to rival large TV production formats. If I could sum up the upcoming year, viewers are in the driver’s seat and a golden time if you are an entertainment junkie. Tons of content across genres, every imaginable sports events from across the globe and the icing on the cake, all of this available for free. At Amagi, we will continue to leverage cutting-edge cloud technologies to make media businesses successful in their transformation. As a viewer, get ready to be entertained like never before and thank the cloud that has brought loads of entertainment closer to you like never before!
Traditionally, live sports production has been a big budget undertaking, involving hundreds of people. It’s also one of the most time-sensitive broadcast functions. Operators in Monitoring Control Room (MCR) of any live broadcast need to meticulously follow commands of the sports director, with very little margin for error. Over the years, this model has become increasingly dependent on physical infrastructures, skills of the playout operators, and presence of sports experts to orchestrate seamless shifts during interruptions in the game and ad breaks- from live feed to ads, and back to live feeds. Such complex playout orchestration can be simplified through today’s intelligent cloud-based playout platforms with an intuitive User Experience (UX) design, the only requirements being a web browser and internet connection. With UX design paradigms, automation and intelligent alert systems applied on the Live broadcast workflow, here are three ways one can reinvent live sports orchestration. Creating event-specific ad templates for each sport Since each sporting event is different, MCR teams today must be exceptionally well-versed with nuances of each sport. Also, a sports expert is required to continuously give instructions to the live playout controllers to transition between live feed and ads. However, events of certain type tend to have a distinct pattern. Soccer, for example, tends to have ads predominantly during the half-time, whereas cricket broadcast can have an ad-slot between each ‘bowling over’ – a set of six legitimate deliveries. To deal with these challenges, a sophisticated playout interface can define a sporting event with parameters to create a ‘template’ for each event. This will completely streamline event scheduling, and allow small and medium sports channels to run a full-fledged event with minimal staff. Contextual UX for different user roles (Event Programmer/Scheduler/ Live Controller) within the system for large sports channels. Once an event template has been created by the ‘event programmer’, scheduling team of the sports channel could use the scheduling interface to fill-up the ad spots. This process could be made as simple as dragging and dropping assets into the event buckets. The interface will dynamically show the remaining time in any of these buckets, as well as show alerts to simplify the activities of the scheduling team. Once the final schedule has been created, the playout control team can simply trigger the ad-breaks and graphics through the interface, at appropriate intervals based on real-time requirements, and monitor the live feed. This user centric design approach to different broadcast functions can improve ease of use, bring in efficiency for each role and ensures that the system works seamlessly. Super-user dashboard (where a single user is required to carry out all roles) for small and medium sports channels If a channel has minimal support staff at the playout center, a multi-user playout software design may not be an ideal approach. In this scenario, a ‘super-user’ interface can be very handy. This kind of design approach to the playout software could integrate all the roles within a single dashboard. Channel’s playout operation expert could then access this interface to not only schedule ads on the go, but may also be able to trigger them, and monitor the result, all in the same browser window. As sports broadcast evolves, modern consumers would have wider choices for live sports action, which will lead to rise of niche sports channels. However, modern users accustomed to broadcast-grade experience would still expect the best live coverage, which could be economically unviable for smaller channels, unless they innovate with cloud and design thinking. How evolved is your playout software’s user experience? Let us know in comments!
You could be almost certain that certain popular movies and holiday themed reruns would make a come back because of a simple reason. It has an audience. However, apart from rehashing the same titles every year, and adding a few new ones, little has changed with holiday season TV, especially when it comes to facilitating a more binge-worthy experience. Binge-watching isn’t really a Netflix-era invention. Before streaming video became a reality, catching-up on your favourite sitcom was done with good-old all-day reruns. In fact, some of the popular shows from 90’s still have such massive following that channels like Nickelodeon recreated the exact same playlist in 2015 to capture the nostalgia quotient of their audience. One of the reasons why binge-watching is so rewarding, could possibly be the continuity that the audience enjoys. Heidi Thomas, the screenwriter of BBC’s drama, little women, believes that binge watching has also helped content creators improve their quality. Of course, just because people may binge-watch, your whole programming cannot be made-up with just re-runs and holiday season films. Or can it?? Economics of a holiday TV channel There is no reason why we don’t have channels with just X’mas movies apart from the economics behind it. After all, these movies and re-runs have a clear seasonality. A channel that makes up of holiday flavour titles may enjoy a slight increase in viewership before X’mas holidays, but would not be able to sustain it after the audience goes back to their usual routines. In a heavy CAPEX TV broadcast model, spinning-up this holiday channel could never be justified. However, with rise of cloud technology, economics of a dedicated holiday-themed, short-duration channel adds up. Spinning-up customized pop-up channels on cloud The channel can go live for the duration of holidays, run parallel to the primary channel, and could be taken down once the viewership numbers start to decline at the end of the holiday season. This way, TV networks could facilitate a HULU or Netflix-like binging experience on TV, without investing in long-term contracts. With cloud, it might also be possible to create customized playlists as per regional requirements. For example, HBO could create could create a holiday channel for Diwali holidays in Asia and for X’mas holidays in North America. Due to the flexible nature of a cloud playout it may even be possible to create multiple pop-up channels with targeted playlist for each state within a country. Content-centric, platform-agnostic channels While pop-up channels have always been imagined as properties with a fixed expiry date, the ultimate destination for their consumption is assumed to be just TV. However, as people become accustomed to discovering content across platforms, TV networks may also want to attempt a multiscreen, content-centric model. For example, a X’mas-themed linear channel could be delivered on TV, while the TV network’s mobile app could host VOD content with personalized ads. This ‘follow-the-holiday-user’ model could then be used effectively by the TV network’s marketing team who could create special holiday bundles for cross-device consumption. As technology evolves, everyday human experiences including holidays and festivals are undergoing a transformation. And yet, the core experience of celebrating holidays with family and friends, remains unaffected. Content creators who can capture the holiday cheer in new ways and formats, will always have an audience. Happy holidays!
How TV Shopping Channels can compete with eRetailers Online shopping has picked up over the last few years. A whopping 95% of Americans with internet access have tried it in their lifetime, with 67% millennial Americans preferring to shop online. Even in developing countries such as India, online shopping is expected to reach new heights as per the report by ASSOCHAM. Where does this leave the TV shopping channels who pioneered the concept of home shopping? Why TV Shopping channels are still relevant Television still has the widest reach across the globe. Also unlike internet-based shopping experience, consumers are likely to be more engaged with the demos on TV. Live commentary by the presenters, and a sense of connecting with a real bargain could be primary drivers to TV shopping. In many countries, rural or Tier II cities often have lesser number of internet subscribers, whereas terrestrial networks still have significant coverage. Additionally, cord-cutters who have begun to avail the free-to-air channels, may also present an interesting opportunity for shopping channels to maximize exposure to their products. However, there are a few hurdles that these channels must cross. Limitations of television and how they can be overcome Even though television offers a live and linear experience to the viewer, the choice that the online retailers offer can often be more tempting. The ability of eRetailers to customize the offering with targeted offers can especially be the drawback when directly compared with TV. However, with cloud technology, television channels can also regionalize their offering without incurring significant costs. For example, a channel with feeds in New York and Boston could have different offers for viewers at both locations, with customized calling numbers. This way, the channel could easily track the caller without asking questions, while also ensuring that offers are exclusive to these cities. Essentially, with cloud the TV shopping channel can create two customized channels without having to create additional satellite feeds. The delivery can be done directly to the terrestrial station headend or cable operator. Reinventing shopping channels with existing satellite feeds While cloud can help in creating customize feeds, what if the shopping channel already runs a satellite feed. For example, a diverse region such as India could be too complicated to reach with separate feeds, or could have regulations that restrict usage of cloud. In this case, cloud could be used to transfer only the customized content to the Intelligent Receiver Decoders (IRD), that can then be operated remotely to trigger customized content. This way, the channel can still play customized offers and calling numbers without risking broadcast violation. Cloud Conclusion Ability to innovate with customized L-bands or tickers significantly improves the experience on shopping channels. Regionalization of calling numbers etc. also allows TV shopping channels to gain significant insights about their buyers, which in turn can help them create a buyer-centric shopping experience. With wider reach, and innovations facilitated by cloud, Shopping channels on TV can compete with online retailers, and stay relevant in age of online shopping.
Over the Air or Direct to Air television brought up an entire generation of cultural developments, before slowly making way for cable TV in 1990s, which is also about to sunset. With mobiles video consumption on the rise, television as a medium is itself predicted to walk the long road to technology extinction. However, while the pundits drafted their obituaries for TV, OTA broadcast has come back as a blast from the past. As per recent research report by Park Associates, 15% of the US households are now using only antenna to receive television broadcast. This may sound baffling, but there are definite reasons why OTA remains relevant today, and may become even more relevant in days to come. Antenna Cord Cutting + OTA = Match made in heaven One of the reasons why television broadcast is preferred by the audience could be the quality of live broadcast. Millennials who were raised on steady payTV experience on cable, find issues with online streaming of live sports cumbersome. As per a WSJ report, younger audience is rediscovering the high quality of live broadcast on OTA, and are pleasantly surprised to know that it’s completely free. Pinned Tweet This trend can be expected to gain more strength with 7% projected increase in sales of antennas in US. A hybrid model that uses OTA sets for live broadcast, and sVOD such as Hulu or Amazon, seems to be the millennial hack for entertainment. And its about to get better. ATSC 3.0 Standards One of the most important future trends today in broadcast would be delivering 4K UHD broadcast, and OTT streaming. In this context, increasing cost of satellite or fiber bandwidth makes ATSC 3.0 an interesting prospect for TV networks and broadcaster, especially when coupled with new age cloud-playout solutions. For example, a TV network could reach millennial audience with 4K content across platforms by directly delivering linear channels to OTA stations, through cloud. Since ATSC 3.0 would be supporting mobiles as well, the same channel could be seen by people on their smartphones, creating a seamless experience. Relevant, regionalized content & advertising As more people move to OTA, locally available content could be made available at very low CAPEX & OPEX. Ability to customize content at station level may offer significant benefits to the TV networks, and facilitate advertising innovation. For example, it may be possible to customize graphics appearing on advertisements with local number that the audience can contact. This way, the TV advertiser and TV station would not only be able to offer more relevant customer support, but also determine insights about region-wise ROI as well as effectiveness of the creatives. Conclusion As new technologies rise, the old ones do not become obsolete immediately. Often the old way to do things can be reinterpreted for an improved, sustainable experience. As millennials become the most dominant audience segment, resurgence of OTA could be an opportunity in disguise for TV networks trying to figure out a way to stay relevant in age of cord-cutting.
With rise of Alexa, and Siri, humanity at large has had its first brush with how artificial intelligence may change their lives. As the use of smart assistants becomes commonplace, there have been voices of concern that caution with foreboding predictions. For the everyday professionals though, including those who work in the broadcast space, the biggest concern could perhaps be – “How would AI impact my job?” A closer look on real-life application of machine learning could put job-related concerns to rest. This doesn’t mean that the way the broadcast industry functions wouldn’t change. Here are three predictions about how AI could change the way you work. Impact on traditional media or content services A video expert today must manually go through hundreds of video hours, to carefully create broadcast-ready segments, or to determine logical ad points in linear broadcast. Moreover, this process must be repeated with change in air-time or change of formats. Machine learning-based system could help in reducing timelines for content preparation by automatically detecting segments, and logical ad points. This way, content processing service providers would be able to deliver more broadcast-ready content, in lesser time, allowing them to play more directorial role than tactical one. Impact on QC & monitoring roles Traditional playout roles are likely to change dramatically as machine learning-based systems become prevalent. These systems can already detect basic aberrations in video and audio levels, monitor sync between video and subtitles, and detect errors such as black or freeze frames. Thus, the traditional functions of a basic QC may evolve into more analytical roles. For example, a QC manager in near future may not individually check each asset, but only check the report of the system to determine which asset needs further examination. Since the machine-learning-based system learns from inputs and validations, QC managers of today may also find themselves performing roles of training the systems. Impact on managerial job roles Machine learning will remove certain boundaries that have traditionally held back key operations managers from innovating. When use of machine learning becomes commonplace, most managerial or operations roles may become more demanding in terms of strategy. Managers will need to think of the big picture, and focus on adding long term value to their processes. This could foster innovation as managers would encourage their teams to innovate in order to gain strategic edge over competition. For example, machine learning may enable operations manager to reduce the timelines of live to VOD conversion. This in turn could allow the channel’s marketing team to market the speedier availability of this content. Having said that, this may also result in increased competition and continuous pursuit of delivery innovations. Conclusion Machine learning will solve key business challenges for TV networks and OTT content networks. It will allow them to scale up faster, across platforms and geographies. However, it would also have a significant impact as the workforce aligns itself to the new way of working. While it could be perceived as a threat to current ecosystem, it is more likely to turn out as a boon to help the broadcast industry add value to the job roles, making them more strategic-intent driven than their current tactical and process-driven nature. If you would like to know more about the various impact of AI on traditional broadcast roles, don’t miss the webinar hosted by Amagi Co-founder, Baskar Subramanian on “How AI will impact traditional broadcast roles” on December 7, 2017.
Live sports broadcast has come a long way in the era of dynamic animations for sports data, drone cameras, and social engagement. The modern viewer expects a graphic-rich viewing experience with very little tolerance to outliers. Owing to shrinking attention spans between live action, sports broadcasters are increasingly looking at in-action advertising options, and efficient ways to manage transitions from live to ad-break, and back to live. The live playout interface brings all of this together to stitch the desired experience. Naturally, choosing the right playout platform is the single most important decision for sports networks. Here are a few things that sports networks could keep in mind while selecting the live playout; Supporting various formats of live sources The playout should be able to support various live sources like direct satellite feed/ HLS/RTMP. Can it process RAW feeds from video source and convert and transcode the feed to various outputs like 4K UHD, HD & SD? Also gone are the days when broadcasters used separate platforms for live streaming and on-demand content. The playout should be able to support both live and on-demand videos simultaneously on a single hybrid platform. A cloud playout helps not only in easy content ingest but also in recording and storing all on cloud, ensuring readiness for future re-runs etc Flexibility and simplicity of the playout The playout should seamlessly integrate with third-party systems to create a cohesive workflow. Support 24/7 remote monitoring giving you the complete control and accommodate last minute asset uploads, real-time playlist changes, graphics insertion etc. Graphics insertion capabilities Capabilities to insert real-time advanced dynamic graphics, static/animated logos and bugs, multi-layer full screen graphics, count down timers, ticker/lower thirds overlay, with dynamic social media integration is important for user engagement. Security and Reliability While a cloud playout is simple and provides high degree of automation and transparency, it is important to keep your role/permissions and access levels in place, and have built-in redundancy to avoid outages. Live MCR An MCR that uses the cloud-native web UI as backend, can be easily accessed by the TV networks. This way, the broadcaster can easily find out the exact status of playout, what’s being played out, and how effective is the management of live sporting event by the MCR team. Last, but not the least, the Live MCR controls on the playout interface should simplify abrupt transitions from live to ad-breaks to augment monetization opportunities. Ability to do this remotely can further channelize business innovation as it can allow TV networks to collaborate with the best in sports, anywhere in the world. Here is how Amagi helped DSPORT in successfully launch its channel cost effectively, broadcasting at least 8 hours of live content every day. Read more
Machine Learning or AI in real life works far more differently than science fiction would have you believe. The fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is whether we need an artificial intelligence at all, and what for? As far as the broadcast industry is concerned, the answer is quite simple. With increased globalization, and higher adoption of OTT video, we are witnessing a content explosion, and Machine Learning could address many issues caused by it. Content is the new bacon As internet became omnipresent in early 21st century, potential pipeline for content production widened exponentially, and irreversibly. TV networks eyeing to expand into new territories, or new content consumption platforms are facing a curious problem. Unlike individual content owners, TV networks need to maintain flawless quality of their content. Segmenting thousands of hours’ worth content manually can multiply costs, and not doing so could push the audience away. With Machine-learning it could not only be possible to create logical video segments, but also perform QC for aspects such as freeze frames, noise, black frames etc. Live to VOD via deep neural networks A decade ago streaming live was a forgettable experience. Mainstream TV was unchallenged when it came to quality live experience. While this still holds true, parallel content consumption is on a steady rise. Consumers today want to move seamlessly between devices and may want to catch specific parts of live events-almost as soon as they are broadcasted live! Creating VOD segments manually can be challenging and inaccurate. On the other hand, with Machine Learning it’s possible to generate OTT-ready segments in an instant. The machines could be taught exactly when the live reception starts, when it stops, and to remove any ad breaks in between. More money from OTT with automated ad detection Today, ad detection is largely an ad-marker driven enterprise. However, TV ad spots cannot be ported into OTT space, mainly because attention spans and other user behaviours differ greatly between the platforms. Manually detecting ads, inserting ad markers, and communicating the same to various content delivery platforms could require setting up additional teams. Machine learning could do this cost-effectively by using intelligent ad mining engines. What’s more, as more channels start using AI-driven detection, the accuracy of such services will further improve. In many ways, broadcast and advertising is set for the next stage of evolution, and companies like Amagi are at the forefront of it. Reach out to us to know more about our innovations in the space of machine-learning and AI!
There are multiple application areas for artificial intelligence, machine-learning, and automation in broadcasting. 2017 has witnessed the peak of the hype cycle with most of the industry forums and conferences discussing at length on what this means to broadcasters, possible areas of innovation and the road-ahead. If AI and Machine-learning- based broadcasting is in your agenda, here are the top 4 must-attend sessions for you at IBC 2017: Session on Artificial intelligence and machine learningVenue: Startup Forum - G102-3 - 17 Sep 2017 -17:00 - 17:20 Who should attend: Publishers and broadcasters who want to connect with their audience by delivering the relevant content using AI Key note session on creative automation with AI and machine learningVenue: Startup Forum - G102-3 - 17 Sep 2017 -16:45 - 17:00Who should attend: Content creators who want to understand the impact of AI on creating appealing digital content Paper session: AI is here and the machines are hungry to learn!Venue: Startup Forum - G102-3 - 17 Sep 2017 -16:45 - 17:00Who should attend: Content creators who want to understand the impact of AI on creating appealing digital content Panel discussion: How IP, the cloud and artificial intelligence are reshaping the broadcast value chainVenue: Startup Forum - G102-3 - 17 Sep 2017 -16:45 - 17:00Who should attend: Content creators who want to understand the impact of AI on creating appealing digital content About Amagi: At Amagi, a cloud native media technology company, we constantly innovate and create path-breaking solutions for linear TV and OTT platforms. Swing by to our booth 2B19 for demos on machine-learning- driven content preparation - automated video segmentation, highlights creation, and auto replay. Personalize and targeted ads on OTT with AI-driven auto ad detection for OTT aggregators that eliminates the need for ad markers!
Broadcast scheduling is critical yet extremely manual task today. The complexity of the scheduling workflow increases with more number of feeds, and integration with ad schedules for each feed. Thus, a traditional scheduling process may need additional number of people, who need to be supported by additional infrastructure. This inflates the costs, and still does not limit the possibility of human errors. How rule-based scheduling works An automated approach to scheduling could help address both these issues. Broadcast scheduling could be completely reinvented, by defining rules for scheduling, and deploying deep-learning based systems. Such systems could be programmed to intelligently identify content segments and use the pre-defined rules to create schedules using those segments. How automated scheduling can help TV networks Simplified workflow with automated validation of assets as per scheduleAn automated system can notify errors such as mismatch between schedules and actual assets. It can also help in detection of errors such as varying audio levels, audio silence, black frames etc. Ability to create multiple schedules for multiple feeds with minimum human intervention, using pre-defined rulesAs TV networks look to scale up rapidly, managing multiple feeds manually could become extremely complex, and resource-heavy. Using the rule-based method, broadcasters could simply tell the scheduling system to intelligently create schedules based on pre-defined criteria. For example, matinee movies could be a defined genre, assigned a slot in afternoon. Then, all the movies that the broadcasters wish to show in afternoon could be tagged as ‘matinee’, helping the system identify these assets. Once identified an automated system could build a schedule for entire week by itself, with minimum intervention. Automation of complex processes such as content rights management and graphics generationAnother area where a rule-based system could help is management of content rights etc across the globe. The system could automatically make an asset available or unavailable based on the content distribution right status of the asset. Traditionally, this would require manually checking status of each asset, and still the chances of playing out wrong asset cannot be ruled out. Automating this process could prevent any accidents, making broadcast more efficient. There are many more ways in which automation, and machine-learning can reinvent broadcast. As the automations systems evolve, we could see more interesting applications of the technology in all areas of broadcast.
The world is moving away from downloading. Streaming music, and videos have become the norm with a whopping 45% increase in streaming revenues. Our emails, contacts, schedule, our neighbor's dog, everything is on cloud. It's just convenient this way, with lesser chances of losing out on any of our content. Yet, when it comes to broadcast the most common approach is creating a redundant system which mirrors everything in the primary broadcast workflow. Assets, schedule, ad insertions, subtitles, everything'. In short, a TV Network spends as much in creating a redundancy as running two separate channels at the same time! But what happens if the back-up system goes down in a major disaster? Well, there is a backup system for backup, and so on till there is an infinite loop of redundancy systems. To paraphrase matrix, Nobody knows how deep the redundancy rabbit hole goes. Needless to say, each extra redundancy is piling on the bills, making it a high OPEX affair. Fortunately, there is an alternative. By shifting to a cloud-based disaster recovery, broadcasters, TV Networks, and content owners stand to benefit in not just the reduction of cost but also improved efficiency. Here are three ways shifting to cloud can help: No need of maintaining physical DR sites Typically, a TV station needs to have a disaster recovery site (hot, warm, or cold) at a geographical location non- contiguous to the primary site. This involves additional maintenance as the sites need to be broadcast ready' at moment's notice. With the cloud, it's possible to completely manage disaster recovery from a remote location. In fact, one could do it sitting on a beach, provided there is adequate internet connectivity. Disaster recovery at all levels A disaster doesn't come with a calling card. It can strike any point in the entire broadcast workflow, including your data center, teleport, or even satellite. In short, even after painstakingly taking back-up of back-ups at your datacenter, there is still a possibility of broadcast going kaput. Also, even if content assets are protected in a non-contiguous location, playout and schedule may not be protected leading to a blank screen for the audience. By moving the entire workflow to cloud, TV networks can continue transmitting despite being hit by disaster as the content as well as the playout are both in cloud. In a public cloud like AWS a different instance of cloud goes up instantaneously when the primary one is down. This ensures that the channel operation is uninterrupted. Pay only for use Most cloud based broadcast services offer a higher level of flexibility to the TV network. For example, Amagi CLOUDPORT can be configured to automatically pull content and schedule from a channel's existing content and schedule, without the need to set up expensive satellite or fiber network. It can be priced appropriately for usage as a backup solution' so that the TV network does not have to bear the costs of a primary feed for their back up feed. Using a cloud-based playout as the primary broadcast playout system, completely eliminates even the need to set up a separate disaster recovery feed. The cloud-based nature of the playout ensures a built-in disaster recovery. In a time when the world is fast moving to OTT playout, and multiscreen viewing, TV networks are facing the challenge of staying relevant. A heavy capex model of traditional delivery such as satellite or fiber for disaster recovery limits the ability of TV networks to invest in high value areas such as HD, or UHD playout, or even an OTT feed. A cloud-based model can help TV networks save money and resources, which could be redeployed in making the broadcast truly future-ready.
As per a 2016 Nielsen survey, two third of global SVOD viewers watch multiple episodes in a single sitting, highlighting the growing trend of binge watching. Epic small screen sagas such as Game of Thrones are further driving the trend, and new age platforms like Netflix are simply fulfilling the need even more. So apart from starting weekend marathons of popular shows like Big Bang theory, there is seldom anything else TV networks can do to capitalize on this trend. Cloud technology is about to change that by enabling TV networks to launch seasonal channels cost-effectively. Here are three basic questions that test the viability of launching a seasonal channel on cloud for the TV networks. Is there an audience for it? Before starting a channel, even for a short time, there has to be an assurance of the success. A dedicated channel sounds farfetched only till you have seen the massive viewer charts for some of the more popular shows. For example, Game of Thrones finale had a venerable 8.9 million views. However, more interestingly, a Youtube video discussion on season 7 theories has already reached 1.2 million views. Surely, the audience must be moving between platforms as they crave for more content related to Game of Thrones. A dedicated channel that delivers not just episodes, but a lot of behind-the-scenes content, can be assured of sizeable viewership. The next question to ask would be, would the channel be profitable, considering the broadcast CAPEX and OPEX involved. Can it be profitable? Typically, starting a TV channel involves significant investment in either satellite or fiber infrastructure, datacenters, and playout services. So starting a channel for just a season can sound a bit strange, in spite of all the views such a channel may get. Enter cloud. The cloud-based playout technology can help TV networks launch a channel without the need to use satellite or fiber cables. The channel can be set up easily with a virtualized playout, and can be delivered in fraction of costs of traditional model. Finally, TV networks would need to think of what happens to the channel once the show goes off air. Is it future-ready? Building up entire infrastructure for a channel can seem a bit pointless if the channel goes off-air in just a few months. For years, broadcast has invested heavily in terms of resources, and dedicated infrastructure to ensure the channel keeps delivering quality content. So in the traditional set-up, future of a channel matters a lot, as broadcasters get trapped in contract jail with various third parties in the broadcast workflow. However, with cloud technology it's possible to launch a channel in just a couple of weeks with no long term commitment required. The channel can be simply taken off air once the season is over, and replaced by another pop-custom channel for another show, to capture the shift in the interest that month. As technologies such as VOD become ubiquitous, the traditional method of setting up a single channel for all the shows may not attract the audience, so the broadcast infrastructure could itself become more flexible. This would allow the audience to subscribe to their favorite shows instead of channels, a feature reserved for the VOD platforms till now. Or conversely, the VOD platforms may extend into traditional TV domain, offering better user experience with lesser buffering. Either way, TV-watching in the 21st century is about to change forever, and cloud technology will play a big part in this change.
There couldn't be a better time to discuss broadcast industry trends and predictions, with IBC just a few hours away. As per a 2016 Nielsen survey, the audience prefer watching videos through Video-On-Demand (VOD) platforms due to the personalization options. Clearly, content personalization has emerged as a bigger theme when it comes to broadcast. With more personalization, broadcast industry can expect a newer set of challenges including the three most important ones given below. Monetization: As the old formats of content consumption change, the industry will have to find better ways to monetize content. Ad blocker apps remain a challenge for the industry, and will need solutions that can be effective counters. Targeted advertising may also gather more momentum as advertisers demand more clarity from traditional broadcast. Cost Management: As broadcasters grapple with need to personalize content, traditional methods like satellite and fiber would pose the challenge of cost management. There may still be space for these technologies, but other, more effective methods may replace them as the standard broadcast delivery models. Content Delivery: Although VOD services are on the rise, old school television is not going anywhere for foreseeable future. However, in order to keep up with audience demand, TV networks will need innovation in playout management. To tackle these challenges, TV networks will need to look at cloud as more than just a storage solution. Cloud-based solutions could become ubiquitous for broadcast delivery with other methods like satellite and fiber complimenting them. Experience Amagi's Cloud broadcast solutions at IBC 2016 Amagi is showcasing three cloud based solutions at IBC 2016 that can help TV networks, content owners, and broadcaster meet the needs of the industry. CLOUDPORT 3.0: An advanced playout solution based on secure public cloud STORM: An effective content localization platform THUNDERSTORM: Dynamic ad insertion platform for OTT Amagi will also provide an opportunity to directly interact with Amagi's leadership team and technical experts to understand how these platforms can help TV networks personalize, deliver, and monetize video content. Drop by at booth stand B19, Hall 2 to experience next -generation cloud broadcast and monetization solutions.
The Olympic fever has hit a high note, and most Indians are unable to stop talking about young Dipa Karmakar, who has made India proud by entering into vaults finals. Unfortunately, her proudest moment of performing making it to the vaults finals has been missed by many, in spite of staying up late to watch the event. Understandably the merciless twitter-verse has turned its ire on Star Sports, for not broadcasting the event live, and covering other events from Olympics instead. However, live sports broadcast is a very complex process and often there can be multiple reasons contributing to situations like these. Local broadcasters have limited control over live feed Typically, a sports broadcasting or a media company captures the live feed, which is then sent to various broadcasters across the globe with rights to televise the event. For example, in case of Olympics, it's the Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) that holds the rights to produce the live feeds. Broadcaster with televising rights may use these raw feeds coming in from the OBS or packaged feeds coming in from intermediaries to create their broadcast. While those using the raw feeds have better control over televising events as per their viewers preferences, broadcaster using a packaged stream have no control at all over the live feed. Difficulty of managing abrupt break-out scenarios on OTT The live feed from OBS is also used to create OTT streams for mobile and SVOD platforms. Often, fans watching sports on OTT complain of ad-breaks cutting into the live action. This can happen either due to accumulated network delays while fulfilling ad-breaks or due to abrupt switches from ad-break to content. Once again, the fault lies not exactly with the broadcaster, but with the Client Side Ad Insertion (CSAI) technology that is predominantly used today to manage OTT ad-insertion. However, upcoming technologies like server-side ad insertion can resolve this particular issue. What sports channels can actually control Channels using the live feed coming directly from the broadcasting or media company can create customized sports broadcast to better suit their viewer preferences. They can use the live feed to create a complete package including editing, inserting lower thirds, animated bugs, scoreboard panels, commentary, and pre as well as post-show discussions. As the content consumption becomes more individual-driven, broadcast of live sports will also evolve to allow more personalization. Already, popular OTT and SVOD platforms grant users greater control by directly allowing them to view the events they are most interested in, instead of the channel deciding it for them. In near future, the audience could have a completely personalized feed, and may even have control over exact camera angles in a live broadcast. Although this level of personalization may first be experienced on OTT platforms, it could also trickle down to traditional TV. Until then, lets just enjoy rest of the games, and wish luck to all the athletes competing in the Olympics!
It's official, Kick Ass torrents is down, with founder nabbed by the US government officials. But American TV networks would be a bit premature in celebrating this, considering that piracy is not the only issue that is leading more people to get rid of cable TV. The real reason why so many people are cutting the TV cord comes down to one basic fact they want to be in control of their entertainment. boxing As more people are watching TV online, it's changing the way content owners are planning their release. The success of web-only shows and SVOD models like Netflix is simply bolstering belief in the OTT technology. Does this mean, the end is near for traditional TV, and there is nothing that can be done to reverse the cord-cutting? Not really. If TV networks can repurpose their offering and give more freedom to their audience, it could be possible to reduce cord-cutting. Here are three technologies broadcasters in the USA can use to reduce cord cutting. 4k playout As the number of minutes watched on TV decrease, TV networks will probably need to think of content consumption experience as a driving factor. While the freedom of watching content over the internet can be very exciting, OTT is highly dependent on internet speeds and often struggles to even ensure HD quality. TV networks have a potential opportunity to pull audience back to TV by offering superior quality of broadcast by shifting to a 4K playout. The only issue with offering 4K quality broadcast could be in terms of investment needed on satellite bandwidth. This could be easily negotiated with next-gen broadcast infrastructure that uses cloud playout and can deliver content directly to local affiliates without investing in satellite feeds. Pop-up channels A cloud playout can also help in creating seasonal channels, which can respond better to current trends when it comes to viewer demands. Most TV shows today have a seasonality to them. For example, Game of Thrones averaged 25.1 million views for season 6. But now that it's off the air, fans of the show are binge watching predictions for season 7 on Youtube instead of watching shows that have replaced Game of Thrones. As other content platforms compete with prime time TV, keeping the channel profitable could become more challenging. Pop-up channels can make it flexible to start and stop channels as per the current trends, ensuring that TV networks can optimize costs. OTT playout One way to survive the current transition is by completely turning the situation on its head. Instead of thinking of OTT and IPTV as threats, broadcasters could embrace these technologies and create legitimate channels that can keep their audience interested. Since the audience likes moving between devices seamlessly, providing the option to consume content on mobile through an OTT playout may, in fact attract them to a bigger screen. For example, a sports fan could stream a live match from his or her phone, while on the way to home from the office, and switch the same channel on their TV as soon as they reach home. They may again switch to mobiles when they step out for dinner. As smartphones become ubiquitous, content consumption may become more dynamic. In order to survive, TVs would evolve into an extension of other devices like mobile, with better viewing experience, and with more personalization options. An intelligent TV viewing experience may yet prevent people from cord-cutting, but will it be enough to overcome piracy is a question for another day. scalability to broadcast operations, eventually leading to cloud evolving as the de-facto platform for broadcast.
Amagi and Amazon AWS demonstrate why Cloud is a viable alternative to traditional broadcast models, and a future-ready technology for TV broadcasting. At the Amazon AWS Partner Summit held earlier this month in Bangalore, Amagi was recognized as the Regional Rising Star in the Southern Region. The award not only celebrates the significant Year Over Year (YOY) growth that Amagi has achieved by integrating its solutions with AWS, but is also a testament to the combined vision and faith of the two companies in cloud technologies as a game-changer for TV broadcasting. boxing The broadcast industry in the last 3-5 years has seen a tectonic shift in how viewers like to consume video content. The proliferation of multiscreen devices, availability of high quality broadband internet, and the growing demand for content personalization have put the viewer in control like never before. On the other hand, expensive, CAPEX-intensive satellite and fiber-based delivery models are slowing down TV networks in responding to the evolving needs of viewers due to scalability, extensibility, time-to-market, and ROI limitations. A reliable, secure, and scalable cloud infrastructure from Amazon AWS, coupled with advanced playout and monetization solutions from Amagi is fast enabling TV networks to drive broadcast efficiencies. Using Amazon AWS cloud infrastructure, Amagi is able to transition the end-to-end broadcast workflow to the cloud. From content ingest, playout, delivery to monetization, TV networks can manage their entire broadcast operations remotely, at a fraction of the costs of traditional broadcast models. Through Amazon AWS, Amagi's clients are able to drastically reduce cost of content storage and archival by moving their entire content to the cloud from in-premise or third-party data center facilities. Once content assets are on the cloud, TV networks can use Amagi platforms to create a channel feed on the fly and distribute it anywhere across the globe. The fact that TV networks can cater to non-contiguous geographies as per business needs gives them tremendous flexibility to focus on individual markets that offer the best returns. They no longer have to live with a non-optimized satellite footprint. Further, Amagi leverages Amazon AWS to localize content and ads on traditional linear TV, as well as deliver personalized and targeted ads on OTT multi-screens across live and non-live genre of content. This association promises to grow stronger as we bring about increased efficiencies, cost reduction, and enhanced scalability to broadcast operations, eventually leading to cloud evolving as the de-facto platform for broadcast.
It's raining Pokemons everywhere! Is this the moment when we finally evolve from human beings to Pokemon catchers? We will soon find out. In the meantime, here are five crazy things that might happen if the Pokemon craze continues. First rule of the Pokemon club is boxing Forget bar-fights, we might soon have Pokemon clubs that fight each other in real life over which team they belong to. If rivalries in football clubs were legendary, imagine how much more crazy it would be when fans themselves are part of a global, real team. Lured with promise of a rare Pokemon boxing There was a time when mothers would caution their kids, not to take candy from strangers. Well, moms you have a whole new problem on your hands now. Anyone can resist candy, but Pokemon radar disables any sense of caution, and could lead to abductions, or major accidents. Keeping up with the Pokemons boxing When Youtube was launched, nobody imagined that it would lead rising of a new kind of celebrities. People like Ryan Higga have practically created stardom through Youtube, and similar examples can be seen on Instagram. It's not very difficult to imagine the rise of new Pokemon Go champions who are revered by their teams worldwide. When Harry fought Sally and her Pikachu boxing Since Pokemon Go allows people to meet with strangers and fight them. Eventually, someone somewhere will stumble upon a romance between the ruthless red team guy and ice queen yellow team girl. Perhaps Hallmark folks might already be halfway in script writing. Wanted: An experienced Pokemon specialist boxing If the craze for Pokemon continues, there is a possibility that soon it might develop into a full-time career to professionally train Pokemon and orchestrate public events, not unlike in the actual series. With holographic technology, it might even be possible to make the experience even more immersive. By the time this gets published, Pokemon Go is becoming the most successful mobile app. Of all time. Such is the craze that its already closing on to Snapchat. The best part? It's not even launched yet in many countries around the world. What are some of the crazy things you anticipate when the app becomes even more popular? Let us know in comments below!
In 2015 the Wimbledon final featuring Andy Murray and Djokovic received close to 9 million views in UK, and 1.2 million views in Australia. More significantly, there were 1.7 million streams viewed through 21 million unique devices as per data released by AELTC. Clearly, there is an indication that sports broadcast is changing. However, just shifting to OTT platforms cannot resolve all the issues with monetizing video content. Fragmented markets, loss of revenue due to ad-blockers, and higher demand for personalized content are some of the biggest challenges television networks are facing. Here are three things that can help overcome these challenges. Defeating ad-blockers with server-side ad insertion By 2020 TV networks and broadcasters are estimated to lose $27 billion due to ad blockers. Client side ad insertion, the most commonly used method for monetizing OTT platforms, is ineffective against the ad-blockers. With client-side ad insertion ad blockers can completely stop the advertisement from loading, severely impacting the numbers for the advertisers. Along with the adverse impact on the traffic, this method is also highly dependent on third party applications. By shifting to the server-side ad insertion, live sports can be monetized better as ad stitching occurs on the server, preventing ad-blockers from blocking the ad. This dynamic ad insertion technology also improves the user experience by eliminating the delay in ad-buffering. Ad insertion on live feeds Unlike recorded content, live content is a far trickier territory when it comes to over-the-top content delivery. Wimbledon and other live sporting events face the risk of content being cut by ads when streaming live content over the top. One of the integral parts of broadcasting live sports is ensuring smooth switch to the advertisement in an abrupt break scenario. In an OTT environment, this switch is seldom without consequences and can lead to accumulation of delay, which ultimately can cut into the content, leading to audience missing out an important movement in the match. Imagine missing out on Roger Federer's recent victory moment in a comeback thriller against Marin Cilic! This article explains how a well-designed server-side ad insertion strategy can help TV channels avoid this. Personalized advertising and content The iOS and Android apps launched for Wimbledon 2016 allow the fans to personalize their experience completely. This includes personalized content, messaging, and even a create your Wimbledon story feature. In days to come other sporting events will also need an OTT personalization solution to identify interests of their users, and insert appropriate ads in live-stream using these interests. As the world makes the shift from a fixed programming to personalized programming, users will have more choice in kind of content they consume. TV networks, sports broadcasters, and content owners will need to think of innovative ways such as dynamic ad insertion to retain their audience, and expand their revenues. You can read more about monetizing video content and server-side ad insertion on Amagi blog. Please feel free to put your questions and suggestions in the comments section below. Visit Amagi.com to know more about delivering personalized ads on OTT feeds.
So in case you have missed it, the big story from Google+ is that it has revamped itself, yet again. The new user interface seems to have a crossover with elements from Google Inbox. However, the question is, does it even count? For a long time the search engine giant has been playing catch up with Facebook, and is no longer even a contender. As a matter of fact, despite Google's claim of 300 million users, an independent study suggests that fewer than one percent of Google users are actively using Google+.Harshad-Blog-Profile Facebook on the other hand has become the go to social network occupying mobile, laptops, and i-pads alike. Whatsapp has captured the mobile social networking space comfortably, while Instagram and Twitter have captured user stories, or trends space. So the key question is, where does Google+ fit in, what does it offer that other networks don't? Here are a few ideas based on the latest upgrade Customized Content Feed with Collections One of the most irritating feature about Facebook is that users have very little control over what they see on their wall. Sure they could, unfollow people they no longer wish to see any content from, and mark others as favorite'. Yet, the fact remains that most of Facebook content is not neatly stacked up based on interests. With collections, users can create a content channel that caters to specific interests, similar to a YouTube video channels. This is great for brands who may want to focus on interest groups. Google Search with Social Goodness Google seems to be catching up with Facebook with prominent search bar integration. However, when combined with collections' and communities, the search results are amazingly fruitful. It lets you subscribe to new collections, which allows easier access to content preferred by the user. Although it's somewhat similar to what a page' is on Facebook, from sheer user experience point of view, it's an improvement on Facebook. Pop-Up Status Update One of the most irritating things about continuous scroll design of Facebook is that you always need to scroll right back up to post something. Google+ seems to have caught this loophole and have introduced the pop-up status update' button. The button is in line with Google's next generation of design enhancements, and allows you to keep scrolling down, and update your status from any point, instead of scrolling up all the way up again. Very nifty indeed. While these enhancements may not bring doom to other social networks anytime soon, it's often little things like these that lead to a bigger change. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see the response to these enhancements from other social networks.
Over the last few years, there has been a massive shift from traditional television to multiscreen viewing. In fact, recent research from Digital TV Research found that by 2020, 3.98 billion people will watch video content via a PC or laptop over a fixed broadband connection. As multiscreen television viewing becomes ubiquitous, broadcasters today are looking to get better value out of their content and improve upon the television viewer experience. Targeted advertising has emerged as a way to achieve those goals. By delivering targeted content to users at a personal level on second-screen devices like smartphones, tablets, and PCs, new revenue can be explored and viewer satisfaction increased. Yet, the ad insertion method that is being utilized in the majority of OTT multiscreen use cases (i.e., client-side ad insertion) has major limitations. This article explains the challenges TV networks face when using client-side ad insertion, taking a look at how server-side ad insertion methods enable TV networks to deliver targeted, personalized content to any device, driving new revenue streams. Client-Side vs. Server-Side Ad Insertion The majority of multiscreen ads today are delivered via client-based ad insertion systems. Under this approach, the ad insertion technology resides inside the device's media player. The video player requests an ad from an ad network and delivers it to the end user (See Figure 1). boxing Figure 1: Client-side Ad Insertion (Source: IAB VAST 4.0 specification) The major drawback is that once content leaves the CDN, broadcasters and advertisers lose control over the advertising playout process. Often, viewers can skip the ads, or block them altogether via ad blockers. Hence, TV networks and advertisers need a superior ad insertion technique for multi-screen television. In comparison, by moving ad insertion to the server side (See Figure 2), broadcasters can provide a more seamless and personalized user experience. boxing Figure 2: Server-side Ad Insertion (Source: IAB VAST 4.0 specification) The following chart summarizes the benefits of server-side ad insertion vs. client-side ad insertion. Client-side Ad Insertion Viewer experience of live streams is sub-optimal due to buffering of ads Viewers can skip ads through ad blockers Ad insertion is dependent on client application and often requires SDK integration into each client App Non-linear ad format deliveries are dependent on App capability Impossible for content owner/TV network to impose brand rules for ads if content is viewed through 3rdparty OTT platforms Advertiser-specific rules like frequency and day cap cannot be imposed as ads are being delivered by multiple ad networks directly to the App Reporting is cumbersome for advertisers as they have to depend on multiple ad server reports Server-side Ad Insertion Viewer experience is seamless as ads are pre-stitched into the video stream Ad blockers will not recognize ads as they are an integral part of the video stream App-independent ad insertion, making it platform agnostic Non-linear formats like L-bands, lower thirds, overlays, etc. can be stitched into the video stream Ad experience is controlled by TV network/content owner As all ads are aggregated from different ad servers by a single server, restrictions like frequency and day cap can be imposed Supports a single uniform report for the TV channel/network to advertisers spanning all ad servers An excellent example of the type of user experience typically encountered with client-side ad insertion is YouTube. Let's say you are watching a video on YouTube. Each video has a progress bar with markers for when the advertisement will pop up. It's not uncommon for the ad playout process to be delayed due to buffering or on-the-fly interaction with external ad-networks. With server-side ad insertion, there are no video markers to speak of; the content is already packaged together in a unified stream, leading to a smoother overall experience that increases user satisfaction. In a live broadcast scenario, client-side ad insertion results in ads cutting into the content, either due to accumulated network delays while fulfilling ad-breaks or due to abrupt switches from ad-break to content (say, during live sports). A well-designed server-side ad insertion system overcomes this limitation by appropriate integration with the broadcaster, thereby ensuring the integrity of the live broadcast. An OTT stream personalization and server-side ad stitching solution, such as Amagi's THUNDERSTORM, has been designed for a range of live sources including SDI, RTP, RTMP, MPEG-DASH, and HLS, and supports a variety of linear video and non-linear graphics ad formats. It sits between the broadcast source and the users' CDN, modifying the playlist manifest to enable server-side ad insertion and tracking content/ad playout metrics. These metrics are helpful for providing tracking information to ad servers that implement IAB's VAST 4.0 specification (or an equivalent custom server side tracking support). Ad breaks are tagged as segments of interest, and contain additional metadata such as the ad-break duration, ad-break type, and splice type. THUNDERSTORM publishes a single common playlist manifest across all users, preserving the metadata contained in the broadcast source playlist. It has the capability to consume and track external event inputs such as SCTE-35 markers and GPIO triggers to enable a seamless server-side ad-insertion in live/sports broadcasts. These live sessions can be turned into VoD and catch-up sessions as required. Conclusion OTT multiscreen service offerings are becoming a pervasive part of our everyday lives. Whether catching up on the news from a smartphone on the train commute home from work, or streaming the latest premium program on an iPad in the living room, television viewers are looking for a unified user experience across all devices. If broadcasters want to create a more seamless viewing and advertising experience for their viewers, including personalized and targeted content, they need an ad insertion technique that is flexible, efficient, and capable of supporting monetization across all screens. Server-side ad insertion platforms provide TV networks with an effective approach to OTT ad insertion compared with the traditional method of inserting mid-roll ads on the client-side, enabling them to bring new value to advertisements in the multiscreen environment. About Vijaya Sagar Vinnakota Vijaya Sagar Vinnakota heads Ad Tech Engineering at Amagi. He has over 19 years of experience in software development covering online video technology and communications systems. Prior to joining Amagi, Vijaya Sagar was a Senior Director at Tribune Media where he led the India engineering practice for Gracenote's data products. He also had a stint as an entrepreneur, being the co-founder and VP-Engineering at Althea Systems, a multi-screen social video discovery start-up.
We are a generation that loves drama, and the treacherous ways of Game of Thrones. In many ways, this irreverence is also reflected in our own career choices. Most millennials do not rate very high on the loyalty scale, and could be described as self-centered. We have been beneficiaries of enormous growth of the open market economy, and boast salaries that were unimaginable for a common man in 90's. Yet, here we are, a generation that is more likely to waltz in office, with our facial hair untrimmed, or our jeans torn at unpleasant places. Harshad-Blog-ProfileAlright, maybe that was more applicable to just me, but you get the point. In spite of all the pleasures of economic growth, we are a generation that feels we have made compromises, that we have sold our souls to the devil. A PWC survey claims that 72% of millennials feel this way. I have heard countless friends say I want to do something in life, I don't know what, very few actually get around to doing something, anything. Here are three things that define our generations. #TheHamletGeneration boxing A tendency to fantasize what could be, without supporting it with actual efforts, leading into a sense of injustice and escapism that is directly proportionate to perceived success of peers. In simpler words, we are incapable of taking decisions, or following up our proclaimed decisions with actions. At some point this leads to self-doubt, which worsens in direct proportion to perceived success of our friends. A university of Pittsburgh School of Medicine survey found out that higher usage of social media, and depictions to idealized lifestyles of peers is leading the millennials to depression. I am not convinced its just social media though. Our willingness to accept ourselves and our condition stems from something much deeper. It probably goes back to the extremely comfortable upbringing most millennials have had. If there was a generation that is personified in Hamlet, it would be the millennials. We are restless, and incessantly broody over what should have been, and unable to let go of the past. We are also filled with a sense of wanderlust. This brings us to the Supertramp co-efficient. #TheSuperTrampCoefficient boxing Milennials love to travel. We roughly spend around $200 billion every year on traveling. Ever thought why we travel so much more? It could perhaps be a result of incessant lifestyle comparison with peers. The more we are exposed to lives of others, more we compare it with our own. It builds up a considerable gap in perceived career goals that cannot be achieved without substantial efforts, the higher the perceived efforts the lesser likely it is that millennials will get around to do it. So a millennial with low self-esteem and desperation to break free, naturally looks at the easiest way to satisfy his or her need for a better self-image by traveling, or making irrational purchases. On a graph, this could be seen as a diagonal slant, which is directly proportional to abruptness and frequency of trips. And in spite of all that traveling, the restlessness does not go away. #TheJumpingJackCycle boxing Back in the day, my father religiously got up, groomed himself with a deadly contraption he called a shaver, and left for his job. He would come back exhausted, with his hair all over the place, and sometimes with a torn pocket, courtesy of suburban trains of Bombay. Yet, I never heard him complain about the boss that doesn't know what he is doing, colleagues that don't deserve the promotions that they got. In comparison, our generation leaves job at a heartbeat, often without holding an offer. Deloitte calls this one foot out of the door. However, there is a lot more to this than just the tendency to be flippant. Let's assume that a millennial consistently uses social media, and develops a skewed sense of career progression. They are then likely to feel more restless, and take more trips, or purchases that can temporarily alleviate the feeling. The additional expenditure may result in failing to invest into milestones like a house or a better car. This could again fuel the low self-image, until it reaches a point where make-shift solutions cannot help anymore, and only viable option remains changing the job. If the choice of new job is done in haste, without thinking over the consequences, the whole cycle just repeats. So yes, we are a generation that is not very loyal, a little flippant, and easily dismissed as shallow. However, before anyone starts distributing an eternal underachiever tag to us, they should consider a very simple fact. We are still just starting out. Many of us are not even in forties, and have a good twenty odd years left to make our mark. Yes, we sometimes walk to our offices in shorts, without shaving, but we get the job done, and it's wonderful that our generation has built workplaces that allow this. After all, what's life without the pleasure to do what we want, when we want it? We are the first generation that can truly claim to have made choices because they felt right, not because they were deemed right, and I am proud of it! P.S. If you haven't figured it out yet, we've replaced air-quotes with hashtags! Who said there was no revolution in the pipeline?
Mobile phones have zero-to-little shelf-life in emerging markets these days, and the technology behind them gets archaic before you can say app-store'. So it's pretty much a potential foot-in-mouth gimmick to claim that a certain mobile phone concept will change everything. Yet, as the countdown continues towards another impending Apple WWDC and another keynote and another Microsoft special-announcement, someone from the real consumer-world needs to take the plunge and get creative! So, without further ado, here are four path-breaking innovations that couldn't possibly get here any sooner! #1 The Projector iPhone boxing The next-generation of i-phone, may not be a phone anymore. This concept is closer to the holographic UI interfaces from Star Wars. The projector i-phone design conceptualized by Samuel Lee Kwon can lead up to interesting ideas. Would we actually be able to transfer data with a high-five'? What about when you wave someone over? Surely app developers will go crazy over this one! Read More: #2 Dual Cameras boxing We live in a world that is increasingly becoming image-oriented. Our memories are now predominantly stored on a cloud and captured from our phones. It's surprising that we haven't already seen more development in improving quality of phone cameras. This prototype aims to change just that. More clarity for my images, and opportunities to show up friends with DSLR? Come here and take our money already! Read More: #3 Transformer Android Phone boxing While most futuristic concepts can get somewhat wild, and we absolutely adore them for that, the idea of a modular phone is very practical. It's almost insane that we don't have this already. While everything else about android is modular, we still don't have a phone that can be customized on both software as well as hardware fronts. Fortunately Project Ara from Google is almost here. This modular phone will allow you to customize different hardware parts of your phone, the way you want them! It's still not clear how it will be prized and what it means for android, but hey, having a choice is always good, isn't it? Watch More: #4 Transparent Dual Touch boxing Sometimes an invention in one field brings completely unintentional innovation in other fields. The technology of a transparent, dual screen display for example, can have many takers from other field. Wearable, for example could potentially benefit from this NTT Docomo innovation. The technology lets users easily navigate from both sides of the display, which can lead to some very interesting gaming and app-navigation ideas. Read More: Agree with our list? Do let us know what are some of the mobile phone ideas that you are waiting for.
We recently witnessed the launch of this year's London Entertainment Week in grand tradition. And continuing our run-in with the latest developments in the world of broadcast tech, we exhibited some of Amagi's latest offerings at the Broadcast Video Expo (BVE), London. BVE happens to be the largest event for video content creation and consumption professionals, attracting an excess of 15,000 visitors from more than 60 countries, and brings together a myriad of expert opinions in the broadcast innovation segment. The Amagi team felt right at home amidst 250+ of the leading manufacturers, distributors and resellers of professional production and broadcast equipment and systems. The show stealer at the Amagi booth was CUMULUS, Amagi's end-to-end broadcast management toolchain, available on the cloud. CUMULUS allows TV networks to prepare, manage, playout, deliver, and monetize their content, all through a common platform. Built on a global, secure AWS (Amazon Web Services) architecture, CUMULUS also offers centralized content storage, integrated archival and instant revival of archived assets. There was extensive media interest surrounding CUMULUS at BVE; Sri Hari T, Head of Business Development, Amagi (UK) was interviewed at the booth by InBroadcast Magazine. The Amagi booth also offered a sneak-peek into THUNDERSTORM, Amagi's brand new dynamic OTT ad insertion platform. THUNDERSTORM performs instant server-side ad insertion on OTT feeds, and allows broadcasters to insert multiple types of ad formats, including bugs, L-bands, and linear video. It provides penultimate flexibility, eliminating device-driven OTT ad streams and consequently preventing ad-blockers from interfering with pre-roll/mid-roll ads. Real-time dynamic stitching also ensures adaptive bitrate streaming for ads alongside the actual content stream. As a platform-independent model, it can integrate seamlessly with any OTT video service. Both CUMULUS and THUNDERSTORM were widely appreciated by visitors at the Amagi booth, and we hope to continue enthralling this uber-active community of broadcast enthusiasts at London, in the years to come.