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Most of us have only known sports to include physical activities performed either on a court, a field, or a dedicated arena. However, technological developments of the past decade and increased access have enabled a new class of sportspersons to emerge, popularly known as video gamers or, simply, gamers. These gamers have successfully brought vogue and regard to the video gaming world, so much so that it has given rise to the eSports industry. Read on to explore the outlook for the growing eSports industry and how gaming companies can better monetize their content on free ad-supported streaming TV platforms (FAST). Electronic sports or eSports have brought about radical changes in the entertainment business. Traditionally, people would hog their television sets and fill stadiums or arenas to get a glimpse of their favorite athletes, super bowl stars, basketball players, or grand slam winners. However, a rising number of audiences now want to watch eSportspersons doing what they know best. This eSports viewership phenomenon hit a landmark when over 40,000 people filled a stadium in Seoul, and millions sat on their computers and TVs to watch the League of Legends World Championship in 2014. Owing to the success of the League of Legends WC, TBS, ESPN and BBC took the initiative to enter the eSports streaming and broadcasting market to leverage the rising popularity of gaming events. Closer home, Venn TV built a 24X7 eSports streaming channel, and ESTV devised a multichannel, multiplatform AVOD viewing experience for eSports fans. This move capitalizes on the trend of highly engaged gamers and gaming fans replacing the passive TV viewing experience. The increasing viewership has allowed gaming companies to create massive events that stream across multiple platforms. Such events have given rise to eSports companies that are now attracting a large fanbase and consistent viewership across various streaming, cable, and video-sharing networks enabling nine-figure valuations, multi-million dollar sponsorship deals, and colossal prize pools. An opportunity for eSports to rise ‘FAST’ The rise of connected TV or CTV has provided viewers with more control over content they watch. Since a large section of the eSports audience is found on the internet, it is a brilliant opportunity for eSports companies to create ad-supported content and garner additional revenues for their teams. In addition, eSports companies can use FAST channels to monetize live, linear content, improving engagement and presence in the process. What the market says Presently, the most popular platforms to watch eSports content are on-demand streaming services. Platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, and Discord attract the majority of the eSports audiences today. These platforms have been in the market for a long time and have a long-standing reputation with viewers. Consequently, it becomes challenging to compete with traditional eSports streaming channels when looking to broadcast content. However, these eSports streaming services are usually restricted to browser viewing and fail to satisfy consumers on a larger screen. Traditional broadcasters such as ESPN and NBC are already on the move and broadcasting gaming events via cable and satellite; however, with high barriers to entry, such a route is virtually impossible for eSports companies to take. CTV to the rescue CTV viewership has reached record heights, presenting a unique opportunity for eSports companies to create dedicated content for their fans. One study found that 40% of all US adults watch CTV, spending an average of 180 minutes consuming content every day. Moreover, the study found that over 60% of viewers prefer free content supported with advertisements over a paid service. This niche can be a powerful enabler for eSports companies looking to move into the streaming space. Since CTV viewers are more open to ads, eSports companies can create and distribute niche FAST gaming channels to different viewer cohorts while also gaining from the steady revenues of advertising. A confident future The global eSports audience is currently almost 500 million strong and is expected to reach 646 million by 2023. Such viewer strength allows companies to create additional sources of revenue through ad insertions as well as sponsorships. We are already noticing industry giants taking their pick with moves such as NBC to broadcast sim racing events and Facebook launching its own eSports streaming service. Research shows that the eSports market will witness sustainable growth over the coming years, with revenues expected to hit $1.8 billion by 2022. eSports viewership is soaring and piquing the interest of major brands, which means the market is willing to invest in parties that dare to make a move. With FAST, companies can move one step ahead and leverage dynamic ad insertion to improve ad revenues while simultaneously providing a rich viewer experience through relevant advertisements. Also, most of the eSports audience is video gamers themselves, allowing ad campaigns to be much more tailored. Take the splendor of eSports to FAST with Amagi Amagi has been enabling content creators and broadcasters to thrive in the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) universe by reaching larger and newer audiences - and monetizing content with targeted advertising. With our end-to-end cloud playout solutions, eSports companies can deliver live, linear channels with low latency and superior graphics across FAST platforms, diversifying their distribution destinations and boosting revenues. In addition, the added UHD and HDR capabilities enhance content quality, allowing audiences to experience immersive in-game graphics through CTV, similar to a gamer's view. The eSports entertainment market is growing and we can help you grab the opportunity. Are you ready? Read our POV on eSports for more insights and reach out to us at email@example.com to start a conversation.
As a highly consumer-oriented industry, the sands are constantly shifting in the broadcasting and media space. Just before the pandemic, traditional TV viewership fell to its lowest since the industrial era, but come March 2020, content consumption across platforms and devices has steadily grown. However, the devil is in the details, and we have been extremely mindful of this aspect as we make these predictions for the year ahead and beyond. For example, even as content consumption rose in 2020, several households have also cut the cord, preferring to move instead to mobile viewership or consuming content across platforms via CTV. Hence, a simple move to produce more content will not be valuable. We must also consider our audience cohorts thoroughly and make streaming investments that cater to their specific needs. At Amagi, we believe these are the five trends that will be driving the future of broadcast and streaming. Broadcast will move to the cloud Sometimes, it is hard to imagine that just a decade ago, we consumed content in a linear format, primarily driven by traditional broadcast and cable TV channels and partly by video streaming platforms like YouTube. Today, we live in a multi-screen era where audiences worldwide are consuming any content they want at any time via a multitude of devices including cable, satellite, IP-connected devices, and streaming platforms. This is speeding up the shift to the cloud. Broadcasters are increasingly moving their on-prem, Capex-driven, backend operations to cloud-based and software-rich, virtualized environments that are Opex-driven and can be remotely operated from anywhere in the world. Broadcasters worldwide are beginning to enjoy better flexibility, greater efficiency, better resource utilization, and overall cost-effectiveness by leveraging unified broadcast workflows on cloud. There is increased recognition for the fact that cloud playout has democratized content distribution, and empowered content creators to maximize content ROI through strategic monetization opportunities. Cloud has led to drastic reduction in the time taken to launch a channel. What used to take 3-4 months is now achieved within hours. What’s more, with cloud broadcasters are able to run multiple channels parallelly. Broadcasters clearly understand that to stay relevant to the times, they need better and broader reach across cord cutters and digital natives. Gen Z is now a huge audience cohort in itself, and this digitally native generation expects seamless viewing experiences. Moving to the cloud will help broadcasters reach out to them and satiate their evolving content needs across new digital platforms and the connected TV. Advertising driven OTT models will drive growth in the industry Real television ad dollars are beginning to move into CTV powered destinations worldwide. Ad-supported video-on-demand, or AVOD, is one of many ways by which advertisers are able to reach their target groups in the right context, and with the right message. Currently, CTV penetration is higher in the United States, but other geographies are catching up soon, and the selling price of CTVs is falling rapidly giving more users access to this device. As the penetration of CTV continues to grow rapidly in 2022 and beyond, more content consumers will move to on-demand video platforms because of the sheer diversity of content offered here. Where the audience is, ad dollars are sure to follow. In 2022, we expect to see major shifts in ad dollars from traditional, linear channels to ad-supported VOD platforms. This trend, in turn, will also spur the rapid growth of Free Ad Supported Streaming TV (FAST). Consumers coming to FAST platforms expect advertisements as part of their consumption, and several players are competing already to bring them the kind of content they’d love to watch. Therefore, several prominent FAST players like Peacock, Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus and The Roku Channel are on an acquisition spree, roping in new content creators and creating niches every day. Anyone looking to join this ‘new linear TV universe’ needs to be extremely sure of their unique positioning and build large moats around it to protect their interests and thrive in a FAST world. Ad-supported on demand video consumption is evolving very quickly to keep up with consumer demand. Come 2022, we expect to see major shifts in where ad dollars are spent - and that means a move from traditional TV to CTV and ad-supported VOD platforms. Live programming will drive new user adoption Nothing beats the joy of catching a live event. Plus, it is expected that subsequent waves of the pandemic are yet to come. The only way to enjoy a live event then is to watch it in UHD at home- a trend that will continue in 2022 despite the world opening up and better vaccination rates. Cloud is now fully ready to handle large volumes of live programming in both the sports ecosystem as well as news delivery. Specifically, remote content production and distribution with low latencies are possible today, which means that the audience gets to experience live content as close to its original timestamp as possible. With its innate scalability and versatility, cloud is transforming the heart of live broadcast operations: the Master Control Room (MCR). By taking MCR to the cloud, broadcasters are enjoying increasing operational flexibility and the agility to launch and run live channels. Moreover, cloud support ensures that initial investment in expensive hardware typically needed for live programming is a thing of the past. Today, live content producers and broadcasters can benefit from easy access to cloud infrastructure, reducing the barrier to adoption. Live sports and news channels will drive new user adoption, and broadcasters will benefit from lower barriers to cloud migration including reduced costs. Retention, however, will depend entirely on the viewing experience as more sports channels move to OTT environments. The riches will be in the niches Niche content creation is not just about producing enough but producing enough of the right kind of content. For up-and-coming media companies and digital firsts, investments in niche content will become a powerful differentiator going forward. Consider Horse & Country that’s dedicated to equestrian sports, Dog TV streaming service for dogs, Tastemade – the TV network focused on food and travel or Fuse Beat – the Black culture channel and Elvis Presley channel - comprising the music legend’s archival content and specials. These are just a few examples from the plethora of channels and networks offering micro-niche content catering to audiences’ specialized interests. Today, we’re also seeing a rapid proliferation in the number of destinations audiences can head to in order to consume content. Even content around the same niche or genre is spread across multiple streaming services and devices. Going forward, cross-channel fatigue might give niche content holders an opportunity to build consumer loyalty. As they study their audience behavior and curate more content to meet their needs, streaming platforms will earn the coveted loyalty of an audience - a huge differentiator in such a rapidly evolving space. How they think of these niches today has the potential to shape the next decade of growth. We now have an opportunity to go beyond known and accepted niches and into areas catering to food lovers, music fans, dog lovers, and every other niche in between. There are also demographic niches such as a Latin/Hispanic audience, an audience looking for K-Drama, an audience for music icons, and so on. So, what must a broadcaster do? The best bet in 2022 is to identify a behavior-based niche that makes sense to the current audience cohort and offers growth potential, and to go after content creators in this niche. Over time, this differentiator can help cater to a highly loyal audience base, which in turn can power sustainable growth. Content creators can benefit immensely by niching down on their audience and producing quality content for a select group. As the noise of content grows, people will begin to demonstrate their unique preferences more clearly. Every decision in the streaming ecosystem will be powered by data Data-driven decisions have been the norm in some industries, and just a buzzword in some others so far. Specific to the broadcast and streaming industry, there is immense scope for using audience behavior and consumption patterns to determine everything from what kind of content to produce, to advertising, and the specifics of ad load and frequency of ad breaks. Using key data such as viewership minutes, unique users and average viewing sessions, and combining this with a rich content metadata, can give content owners and advertisers alike more opportunities to: Advertise in a highly contextual manner Know what kind of content to produce in ways that benefit the entire ecosystem of viewers, broadcasters, creators, and advertisers With powerful and well-integrated content and ad analytics technology, content owners and streaming services will be able to make more well-informed decisions and ace their business strategies. Comprehensive viewership and ad analytics will drive more granular and strategic decision-making by content owners, streaming platforms and advertisers. As a result, we will witness increased personalization of content and advertising, and better user experiences, eventually boosting revenues and audience loyalty. Thrive with Amagi These are exciting times to be a part of the broadcast and streaming industry for everyone from broadcasters, content owners and aggregators to advertisers and even audiences. For media SaaS partners like Amagi, the emerging and entrenched trends provide us immense opportunities to drive tech innovation that enable greater business agility. Team Amagi looks forward to help you ride the waves of change and maximize your content ROI - with our end-to-end cloud solutions for linear channel creation, distribution and monetization. To start the new year by embracing Cloud or by venturing into the new linear TV universe (FAST), reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Responding to multi-million concurrency is an interesting challenge confronted by ad-tech vendors. Amagi THUNDERSTORM, our Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) platform achieved this feat for the first time across news channels, during the last US presidential elections in November 2020. We have been handling exponential scale since then and decided to crystalize some of our learnings and insights in this blog post. Read on to understand the key considerations and challenges we encounter while designing systems to achieve concurrency at scale. Take a look at some of the preparations that went into handling a huge spike in production traffic, scaling limitations, and overcoming challenges faced during peak load. SSAI requirements during a normal load We were handling ad monetization for around 100K concurrent users for a typical linear channel on a free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) platform, with close to 500 million impressions per month. Internal components and most of the AWS services we use were within the limits to support this requirement. All the previous stress tests, performance tests, and scaling tests done were to accommodate a maximum of 100K concurrent users for a channel. Anticipation of a huge surge in traffic During the US presidential elections, we anticipated up to 2 million concurrent users, especially during the presidential debates and election days. Due to the nature of the event, it was difficult to judge when the surges would occur or what the magnitude of the surges would be. Hence, we decided to prepare for the highest load to give end-users a smooth and enjoyable experience during the events. Our preparations included precautionary measures like pre-scaling of some components and services - and giving some heads-up but not too earlier than the events.We identified components where the load is a factor of number of users, pre-scaled and over-provisioned till 80% of the highest load expected and let our in-house automatic scaling component handle the load after that. This was done to avoid any component failures because of the bursty nature of requests.Along with these, several monitoring and alerting scripts were added to promptly identify issues anywhere in the system. Partnering with AWS and solving scaling challenges With the high load, we worked with the AWS support team to increase limits for most of the services we use. In the case of components, we decided to make code changes and quickly deploy in production. S3 bucket per-prefix upload limit Amagi THUNDERSTORM stores all transcoded and re-timestamped AD segments in S3 bucket with channel and current DATE as prefixes. Since several segments were being created and uploaded concurrently in bursts and only for a few channels, it breached the per-prefix upload limit of 3,500 and started to throttle with the exception, Service: Amazon S3; Status Code: 503; Error Code: SlowDown; S3 is designed in such a way that it spins up machines based on the load. To handle the sudden spike in S3 PUT API calls and avoid exceptions, we created more prefixes under the current prefix, balanced the load between them, and changed the prefix structure. <channel>/<date>/object.ts ⇒ <channel>/<date>/<rand(n) + 1>/object.ts This would give us ‘n’ times more read/write performance. If n=10, we can scale write performance to 3,500 * 10 = 35,000. Additionally, we requested AWS to pre-scale to handle the load for this particular bucket and prefixes. For additional details, refer - Optimizing Amazon S3 AWS Lambda burst concurrency limit We use Lambda to re-timestamp segments on the fly for each user and serves fillers in case of any errors. AWS has a limit of per region burst concurrency and the best count is 3000. Lambda started to throttle once this limit was reached. To cope with the sudden spike in lambda calls, we used AWS lambda provision concurrency, a feature that keeps functions initialized and hyper-ready to respond in double-digit milliseconds. This helped us ensure all the requests were served by initialized instances with very low latency. Kinesis UpdateShardCount API limit We use Kinesis streams to write user session data and trackers data periodically. To minimize cost and increase throughput, we need to scale based on concurrent users. However, this API call is allowed only 10 times in a rolling 24hr window. To circumvent this, we used our in-house automatic scaling component to scale Kinesis shards out or in using split/merge mechanism by maintaining 2^k shards at any given point of time. Elasticache-Redis no. of connections limit Elasticache-Redis is used to store replaced ad segments details and quartile tracking URLs per user. 65,000 is the maximum number of clients that can connect to elasticache. So, we hit this limit when close to 4,000 clients, with minactiveconnections as 50. We decreased each client to have a minimum of 10 connections and a maximum of 50, so each client will have a min of 10 connections and it will go till 50 if it cannot use any of the already created connections. This gave us 4,000 * 10 connections, which is acceptable. ELB per target group instances There is a limit on how many EC2 instances can be launched in a particular target group. The default limit is 1,000. With a huge load, more than 1,000 app servers were needed. The ideal solution is to have multiple target groups and attach them to a single ELB based on weightage, which could give us more instances per ELB. The next phase is to have a multiple ELB based design. AWS batch and transcoding of ads We use AWS Batch to do transcoding of ad assets, which is very CPU-intensive. Here we were using SPOTCAPACITYOPTIMIZED allocation strategy. Since there were close to 10,000 jobs, the number of instances required rose to more than 2,000. We had configured the compute environment to allocate c5.xlarge instances. However, due to higher number of instances, all the subnets were filled and there were no IPs left to assign new machines. We tuned AWS batch to use BESTFITPROGRESSIVE instead of SPOTCAPACITYOPTIMIZED which could select additional instance types that are large enough to meet the requirements of the jobs in the queue. For additional details, refer AWS Batch Allocation Strategies Dynamic connection changes without restarts For communication across microservices, we needed to use different pipelines based on the service. Since scale across components were in a different order, we ended up using different event streaming platforms or different connection strings of the same streaming platform. As the load was heavy and live streaming shouldn’t stop at any point in time, restarting the component/s was not an option. We therefore needed a solution to change the communication pipeline at runtime without affecting the end-user. We introduced per topic-based connection config maps, which would define the connection configurations for a topic. Earlier, we were using global configuration for all connections, so we had a good fallback to global configuration, if per topic configuration was not defined. The configs were reloaded every 20s based on version/modified date so when per component config gets introduced in 20s, it would start sending a different host accordingly. In addition to what we discussed so far, a few more challenges need to be considered while designing such high concurrency systems: Reducing latency in communication pipeline (say, Kafka to SQS to gRPC)Periodic re-fetch of new users (using Bloom Filters can help, with the right design approach)Scaling static public IP allocation for pixel trackers (using a managed NAT is a possible solution) This post is a joint contribution of the entire Amagi THUNDERSTORM development team and we are eagerly working on some of the bigger challenges in designing next generation designs for higher concurrency and lower latency. We will come back with more on this topic in future. Until then, thank you for reading! Explore our SSAI solution – Amagi THUNDERSTORM To launch linear channels on FAST platforms and monetize them effectively, reach us at email@example.com
Even until fairly recently, broadcast industry professionals regarded safety in the cloud with an almost superstitious anxiety, convinced that the safest place for their content was under their own roof. Thankfully, the tide is turning on this fallacy. While there’s no reason you can’t keep your own content secure on your own premises, with the most powerful media companies in the world trusting their assets entirely to cloud, a new paradigm is emerging. The anxiety of letting go of your content: Security concerns & fears Content is the crown jewel of any media company and so the same sorts of security conscious conversations played out in content businesses when cloud storage - and later, fully cloud-based workflows - were introduced. Coming into the cloud fresh, there was anxiety about identifying all the potential threats. Control access: The first concern was being able to control access to the content. To use the bank analogy - how can I be certain that someone with a six-shooter and a black hat can't just walk into the bank, use my identity, and ride away with my money? And how can I access from within my organization. How can I make sure that my operators have access to all the assets they need, but still keep them protected from a well-meaning insider.Encryption & security: Beyond ensuring well-defined user authentication, will the content be encrypted and secured to a point that if it does get into the wrong hands - is stolen by hackers, say - that the material can't be used or accessed in any meaningful way without the proper permissions. As playout from the cloud became a viable option, a new set of anxieties reared their heads. Reaching the right audience: When content finally leaves the cloud storage and heads off through an IP pipe out into the public internet, how do you know it's going to the right people - the right subscribers, the right territories, the right content partners?Monetization: How can you be certain that it's getting monetized via the proper paying customers and the right advertising? Let cloud do the lifting In recent years, the security fears have given way to an understanding of the benefits of public cloud. The sophistication that the public cloud vendors have built in terms of security infrastructure today, are far, far higher than what a company, or even the data center of a particular company, can match. So, stealing content directly out of the cloud is an inherently difficult proposition. A recent article published by SMPTE observes that public cloud providers are now actively adapting tools for the needs of the media industry. When public cloud is prepared to court major institutions like film studios you can trust that you're dealing with a very secure environment. Cloud providers are continuously upgrading security protocols and threat detection. They are continually addressing security issues that would be expensive, and exhausting, for an individual organization to deal with alone.You also have the option of picking the right design considerations to build a highly resilient cloud infrastructure. Go for multi-cloud environments or instead pick a single cloud provider but multi-region environments.With cloud, you can thus enjoy the benefits of a seamless redundancy infrastructure. Content can be striped across multiple data centers in multiple regions and zones, which makes it theoretically unlosable - as well as making it more difficult to steal.Machine learning is becoming a core component of cybersecurity across industries. Sets of rigid rules which used to be the core of threat management, have given way to a flexible approach which - like some kind of cyber-tai chi - can flow and adapt to security threats that may take many different shapes. Because of its access to scale, a public cloud provider is able to access large amounts of security data, which can then be used to train machine learning-powered security protocols. Threats come in different forms, and patterns have to be recognized and learned. A larger infrastructure like the cloud can learn threat management and detection much faster, because it has access to the whole breadth of signatures and patterns threatening the system. Cybercriminals at the gate Cyberthreats are very real, which is one reason it’s good to have a powerful ally in fighting them. Cyberattacks are like a spray across the whole world of IP addresses, and with a vast system supporting it on the backend. But a large part of the solution is about the discipline, not the technology. It is the human element that is the weakest link in this whole value chain. It comes back to processes. What processes can you put in place? Best practices and proper protocols: The Amagi advantage At Amagi we work with 2000+ linear channel deliveries and 800+ playout chains, so we take adequate precautions. Amagi develops every one of its cloud products and services with security in mind right from the initial design stage. Our playout is run on hardened systems and we are inside VPC (virtual private cloud) rings, so we are not open to the web. All the data and content are encrypted at rest and encrypted during transition. We have established a 24/7 security operations center (SOC) that monitors anomalies and can make predictions of the outcomes of any hacks. Like any security team, our SOC runs simulations of threatening scenarios to practice and refine the best methods for defense and, if necessary, disaster recovery. To move to the cloud using our unified broadcast workflows and stop worrying about content security, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org Read our Whitepaper for in-depth understanding of how we ensure content security with Amagi CLOUDPORT
While sports channels are steadily rising on FAST, there is a huge scope for live sports streaming that can increase the opportunities for monetization and fan engagement. A recent survey from Statista puts viewership of digital live sports content in the US at 57.5 million viewers by the end of 2021 and 90.7 million by 2025. Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV has the opportunity to tap into the potential revenues by attracting a user base that is beginning to migrate away from traditional Pay TV and also question the value of paying exorbitant fees for SVOD services. Free ad-supported platforms increasingly recognize this and are steadily making sports an integral part of their programming - delivering linear channels with a mix of live and pre-recorded sporting events. Let’s take a look at some of the leading examples. Tubi launched “Sports on Tubi,” a streaming destination for sports in the US in partnership with Fox. In terms of attracting new viewers, its defining feature is its curation of ten live streaming channels for different sports, including professional baseball and football. Any football fan will appreciate the value of this offering as the rights to live-streaming a football season is extremely hard for broadcasters to get. Typically, this meant that consumers would retain a linear cable subscription to watch live sports while also investing in SVOD and AVOD platforms to consume everything else. Tubi’s new offering effectively solves this problem in one go by offering them the best of both worlds. In terms of retaining viewer interest, Tubi has much more to offer even outside the realm of live sports. Applebee’s and Uber Eats have signed on as inaugural partners to “Sports on Tubi” which now features linear content from various television networks, including Fox Deportes, Fox Sports, NFL, Fubo Sports Network, and more. In effect, this means recreating the live sporting experience even while watching recorded events with friends and family. All this with the add-on benefit of exciting food deals, making for the perfect sports party. Streamers like NBCUniversal’s Peacock have also included sports as a crucial part of their pitch. The free ad-supported version of Peacock offers the latest sports news, packed as it is with a 24/7 line-up of sports talk programming. A big milestone for the platform was its live streaming of the gymnastics and track and field competitions during the recent Tokyo Olympics alongside full event replays of other sports. Currently, it is providing daily live coverage of the U.S. Olympic men’s and women’s curling trials, which will eventually culminate in the finals and determine the teams that will be heading out to the Beijing Winter Games in 2022. The Roku Channel - Roku’s FAST platform also offers a good package of sports content for its audiences. The Roku Channel allows viewers to stream live events from the Fubo sports network, the Adventure Sports Network, and Outside TV+. Typically, where viewers are, advertisers will follow, and the Roku Channel understands this very well. Linear sports channels on the rise An increasing number of sports-focused media brands are recognizing the potential of sports on FAST. Take, for instance, DAZN that so far offered live and on-demand boxing content for a fixed monthly fee. Its current partnership with Pluto TV, however, is aimed at redistributing the same content on FAST platforms. In other words, people watching Pluto TV can enjoy DAZN’s live sports offering for no extra fee. For viewers who just want the match when it happens, FAST is always available. However, for those who want a more immersive experience, including e-sports opportunities, exclusive interviews, and more, the DAZN subscription is still the best option. Another example is that of beIN sports - a global network of sports channels, that launched its free ad supported channel beIN Sports Xtra, first on The Roku Channel and later expanded to Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus and Xumo. Similarly, live sports streamer FuboTV’s free ad-supported channel Fubo Sports Network is available on FAST services including Xumo. According to Fierce Video, “1.2 million traditional pay-TV subscribers cut the cord during the third quarter of 2021 and FuboTV picked up about 263,000 subscribers.” While Fubo Sports Network offers a slew of originally produced content, it also delivers content from partners such as Fan Duel, USA TODAY, The Players Tribune, and Young Hollywood. Sports clubs and teams are also steadily building fan engagement in the free ad-supported world through their own branded sports content channels. Recently, Cinedigm, one of the leading global content distributors, partnered with the Real Madrid football club to distribute the team’s branded sports channel as a free ad-supported streaming channel in the US and Canada. The channel aims at providing viewers one-of-a-kind access to matches on Roku, Tubi, Pluto TV as well as Samsung devices. Through this, the viewers will get access to about 8,000 hours of programming, every year. Real Madrid is very popular among Latino audiences, and according to industry reports, free ad supported streaming TV is gaining greater popularity in Latin America and the diaspora across the world. And of course, most of the top sports leagues including the NFL, MLB, MLS, Premier League, PGA Tour and WWE have all launched FAST channels. A journey well begun, but what’s the future of sports on FAST? If there’s a content genre that audiences still prefer watching live, it is without a doubt - sports. A Nielsen report confirms that in spite of the pandemic impact, the overall interest in sports continues to be high. For sports broadcasters, now is an opportune time to revive the splendor of sports and deliver its magic across connected TV and the FAST space. Today, a vast majority of sports content on FAST linear channels is limited to recorded content including replays, highlights, documentaries, talk shows, and training videos. The staple fare on the new linear channels is thus sports entertainment content. However, the real deal in sports, we all will agree, is live streaming. Live sports can provide solid opportunities for better fan engagement, and for attracting more advertisers into the space, and monetizing content more effectively. Drive all the live sports action on FAST with Amagi Spinning up and delivering live sports content is fraught with plenty of unique challenges. However, Amagi brings extensive experience in making this possible for some of the leading media brands across the world. We enable you to make the most of the cloud to power your live sports channels. With our integrated and end-to-end cloud-architected solutions, you will be confidently poised to create, launch, and run live linear sports channels across any platform, from anywhere. So, grab the moment and give sports the cloud power! For more insights into our live sports offerings, read our whitepaper. Also, look out for our next blog on Amagi for sports where we touch upon how content producers and rights owners can leverage their content catalouges more effectively in the FAST lane!
The winds of Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST) are blowing across Europe as its media landscape is undergoing tectonic shifts facilitated by Connected TV (CTV). CTV takes the best of the linear format and combines it with the best of digital to create a virtuous cycle for all stakeholders involved. Consumers can access vast libraries of top-quality long-form video content, advertisers can benefit from targeted ad campaigns, and content owners get access to scale, discoverability, and better monetization options. Compared to the US, Europe is diversified and fragmented in terms of media culture, digital infrastructure, and existing dominant services such as Pay TV. In that context, the growth of CTV has been nothing short of impressive. In the biggest markets in Europe, CTV already accounts for around 50% of the viewership when streaming devices and gaming consoles are included.50% of all the CTV consumers watch content through CTV daily and almost all CTV consumers watch content through CTV weekly.If we look into more granular data, according to a recent survey conducted by IAS, in UK 9 out of 10 consumers can access content through CTV. The demographic range in terms of consumption makes it evident that CTV is becoming the norm for all age groups. To make a case, we might intuitively believe that the largest consumer demographic could be Generation Z and millennials. However, according to SpotX research, it is Generation X that leads CTV viewership with as high as 43% of consumption. (Generation Z and millennials together account for 32%). Where AVOD fits in In addition to this, the pandemic and the economic challenges it created made the ecosystem ripe for AVOD. According to Magnite's new research, 63% of viewers who watch content through TV in Europe’s big five markets, watched ad supported content every week. To break it down country-wise: UK (74%) Spain (64%) France (62%) Italy (60%) Germany (55%) Further, as high as 69% of CTV consumers in Europe watch ad-funded content.As much as 58% prefer free content enabled by ads versus paying for ad-free content.The UK is leading this phenomenon where 83% of consumers are comfortable with ads if it means access to free content. The FAST advantage for consumers FAST, a part of the AVOD universe, enables a better consumer experience when we consider the following points: Universal search: FAST is becoming an attractive option for consumers who face subscription overload issues, in terms of multiple subscriptions and the challenge of content discovery.No paywall: Content on free ad supported platforms is not behind a paywall and this radically decreases barriers to entry and increases the user base.Vast content libraries: Consumers can access a wide range of content across a plethora of genre.Minimal ad load: In general, accounting for 8 minutes per hour of content compared to 17 minutes or above in traditional broadcasting TV.Relevant ads: Targeted, personalized ads catering to consumer preferences, ad placements and new formats that do not interrupt the viewing experience are becoming the norm. How can content owners and distributors benefit from FAST? For content owners and distributors, FAST becomes an enabler for scaling their content and reaching a wider audience both in terms of geographical as well as demographic expansion. This means that more consumers can now discover and enjoy their content in ways that feel organic to them. At the same time, for small and independent content creators, this platform could serve as a great equalizer and generate sustainable streams of income. Brands and services adopting the FAST route Major global platforms such as Samsung TV Plus, XUMO, Pluto TV, and Rakuten have launched their services in Europe and are quickly scaling across the continent. For instance, Rakuten TV offers both SVOD and AVOD and has 12 million viewers in all of Europe, and a whopping 95% of these viewers watch content on CTV. In Europe, Samsung users can now access 94 free channels through Samsung TV Plus instantly. Xumo offers FAST service with over 190 channels to countries such as the UK, Germany, Italy, and France through LG smart TVs. ViacomCBS owned Pluto TV, spread majorly in the UK, Spain and Germany in Europe, offers over 100 linear channels, genre-specific content, and other video formats made available through its partners. It launched its free ad supported service in France early 2021 with 40 original channels that have since then expanded to 50 and is planning to expand to Italy soon. The free ad supported streaming TV service is shaping into a solid consumer preference as these services expand into new European markets and with the rise of consumer awareness regarding the same. Get the Amagi FAST advantage Content owners and distributors partnered with Amagi have been able to successfully launch and scale their content in this booming space. For instance, Qwest TV, an SVOD music service teamed up with Amagi to launch linear channels such as Qwest TV Classical across various FAST platforms. Qwest was able to increase its reach into EU5 and other geographies and improve its revenues using Amagi ADS PLUS virtual ad service among other solutions. Similarly, Koch Films, a German content distributor was able to leverage Amagi as the one-stop solution for creating, launching and monetizing their channels on FAST platforms, and they have been successful expanding their reach across the world. A global leader in FAST solutions and tech champion of both big and small media brands, Amagi is uniquely positioned to fast track your business strategy in this increasingly competitive market segment. Reach out to us at email@example.com if you are looking to thrive in the FAST space.
One of the biggest value propositions of Free Ad Supported Streaming TV (FAST) platforms is a lower ad load compared to traditional linear channels. However, this has also given rise to one of the biggest dilemmas for content owners and streamers. As more and more advertisers divert an increasing share of their ad spend to the FAST space, how can content owners and platforms manage the ad supply - without compromising on the viewing experience? Is it possible at all to strike a balance between the promise of low ad load and the goal of increased ad revenues? Our answer to this question: Channels and platforms must explore the advantages of new ad formats that will do away with the unwelcome need to increase the ad load. Go for new ad formats that fit ads intuitively and seamlessly into your audiences’ viewing experiences New ad formats: Current landscape Massively popular platforms like Roku, Pluto and Peacock are already making the most of these unintrusive ad formats. For instance, Roku recently launched an advertising studio to specifically look after the production of new ad formats. Thanks to their investment in these intuitive ad formats, Roku saw $1.8 billion as platform revenue. This includes money generated through ad sales, subscription and transactional revenue sharing, sales of premium channels and branded channel buttons, and licensing agreements with TV manufacturers and operators. Peacock TV has also joined the league by introducing a new ad format called Spotlight. When a viewer watches some primetime content on Peacock network, Spotlight ad is the first video creative they see during the first standard break. This helps target the right audience at the right time. Quite an intuitive way to spread brand awareness ensuring maximum reach, isn’t it? Iconic brands are also taking the unintrusive route. Baskin Robbins, along with Roku TV, created a memorable experience for viewers watching Charlotte’s Web. They presented fun dessert ideas for family movie night taking interactivity to a new level. Baskin Robbins’ unintrusive and interactive ad Discovering and experimenting with new ad formats is an ever-evolving phenomenon and not limited to just a few styles. Various brands and broadcasters are constantly working towards making ad watching and making a purchase based on it an enjoyable and immersive experience. New ad formats can help you win-win-win Win for content owners & platforms: Better ad conversions and effective content monetization. These ads also increase the ad conversion rateWin for advertisers: Better brand recall and greater audience engagementWin for consumers: No additional ad breaks and an uninterrupted viewing experience Power of TV study conducted by Viacom states that television ads are three times more effective in influencing people to make purchase decisions compared to social media ads. Connected TV (CTV) advertising is even more effective. Based on a study by GlobeNewswire, 72% of US digital advertisers strongly believe that CTV has a wider and more effective reach compared to linear TV. So, you get to have your cake and eat it too! The FAST ad conundrum and Amagi’s power-packed solutions At Amagi, we are diligently focused on driving ad tech innovations that enable our customers to enjoy more ROI from their content. Thanks to the efforts of our engineering and product specialists, today we are well equipped to support three types of intelligent ad options. While these ad formats have been used successfully across various OTT and digital platforms, they will now steadily make inroads into the FAST platforms thanks to Amagi’s unique solutions. Let’s have a look at these in depth. Dynamic Brand Insertion (DBI): It lets you monetize your content without interrupting your audiences’ viewing experience. There are two ways to dynamically advertise on video platforms: Brand insertion: You can create 2D ads composited into the scene like the following example.Insert ad creatives in real-world objects within the streamProduct insertion: You can add 3D products directly into the scene like the following example.Place real-world objects & products not originally present in the streamWhy DBI? It is unintrusiveHelps improve brand awarenessIt provides demographics-based targeting Amagi DBI SolutionAmagi THUNDERSTORM dynamic ad-insertion platform INTEGRATED WITH TripleLift’s personalized brand integration solution. It is 100% transparent, accurate and secure. Graphics overlays: With this ad format, you can display static or graphics ads in the lower third intuitively based on the video content.Why graphics overlays? They can be highly engagingHelp promote brand awarenessPromote behavior-based targeting Amagi graphics overlays solutionUnique server-side stitched graphics ads solution that helps deliver graphics overlays ads at scale. Contextual video ads: These enable you to optimally sell video inventory with an additional metadata layer of in-video context.Why contextual video ads? Provide contextually aligned programming at scaleDelight audiences with meaningful and relevant ad experienceMeasure your ad impact effectivelyDrives better brand connection with consumersProvide marketers transparency and brand safety Amagi contextual video ads solutionAmagi THUNDERSTORM, now integrated with IRIS.TV, a leading video data platform, enables contextual video ads that are relevant to the content being watched by the viewers. By embracing these new ad formats, we help you unlock new content monetization opportunities and generate better ROI. Amagi is powering these new ad formats for one of its leading customers and driving impactful results. To know more, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most alluring aspects of Free Ad Supported Streaming TV (FAST) today is its growing consumer appeal and the ability to deliver niche content. More and more content creators are producing high-quality content in a niche of their choice for FAST platforms, and delighting their audiences, opening up opportunities to scale their ad revenues. Through FAST, creators are now launching channels on specialized areas of interest and earning sustainable revenues. For example, Tastemade, a leading content player focused on food and travel-based content, launched its broadcast-grade linear channel with program scheduling to platforms such as Peacock, Xumo, and Redbox. Sensical recently launched a kids-exclusive channel on Vizio. Independently, Sensical TV has also launched three kids’ exclusive channels on Vizio for augmenting safe streaming for kids. Cinedigm and Elvis Presley Enterprises are creating a dedicated channel for Elvis Presley’s music. Multiple YouTube channels now are capitalizing on FAST services to expand their audience base. Pinkfong, a kids’ content channel is a successful example of the same. It boasts of a YouTube subscriber base of 52 million and is now available for streaming on The Roku Channel. Big media houses like A+E networks and AMC are streaming several FAST channels and building up their portfolio to attract a niche, dedicated audience. For instance, A+E Networks’ Lively Place and Crime 360 are some popular channels streaming on various FAST platforms. What’s more, major free ad supported streaming services have also started focusing on offering local language content in the regions they operate in. Investing in the consumption potential of the Hispanic diaspora, Univision launched PrendeTV (in the US) in March this year, purely driven by Spanish language content. Pluto TV in the US offers around 50 Spanish language channels that account for over 20% of Pluto's total channels in that region. This further opens up massive opportunities for content creators. Where FAST meets SVOD, consumers rejoice Original programming, hitherto the differentiating factor of SVOD, is also picking up among FAST services. For example, Roku acquired Quibi with shows such as Chrissy’s Court and Die Hart being added to The Roku Channel. Tubi recently debuted an original series called Tales of a Fifth-Grade Robin Hood and announced the debut of an original movie starring Bruce Willis to be aired in 2022. Furthermore, successful SVOD services such as Crown Media’s Hallmark Movies are broadening their reach by leveraging FAST to cater to a wider audience. Hallmark Movies & More, a linear channel airs on The Roku Channel and Xumo as part of their content portfolio supported by ads. It also allows these content distributors to diversify their revenue streams by monetizing their vast libraries of premium content. Even live Sports that have long been the stronghold of traditional cable TV are starting to come to FAST services. Tubi live streams NFL games today. Real Madrid has a 24/7 free channel streaming on The Roku Channel. Earlier, free ad-supported sports channels were limited to reruns and extreme sports but the day is not far behind when ad-supported live sports become the norm instead of an exception. Reaching a new demographic with traditional content News networks such as Fox and CBS News are utilizing FAST services to boost their distribution and widen their reach to cover viewers who may not have access to traditional cable TV. For younger audiences, CTV is the only kind of TV that exists, and reaching them with not-so-niche content means moving into the FAST lane. Advertisers also see solid stakes in the FAST ecosystem in terms of targeted advertising based on demographic and lifestyle profiles. Ads can be dynamically inserted and their performance can be measured with more precision and accuracy. Ad revenue by virtual linear channels is projected to rise up to $4.1billion by 2023 in the US alone. The best bit? Consumers don’t mind highly targeted, in-content advertising if it means they get to watch more of their favorite content for free. All the above examples paint a compelling picture for broadcasters and content creators to switch to FAST and offer all genres of content in various formats, directly competing with notable SVOD services like Netflix. If content brands continue to keep up their content production and distribution in line with consumer demands, the day may not be far behind when FAST consumption is the only method of consumption that consumers prefer, switching up how they consume and pay for SVOD. Amagi is right at the center of the booming FAST universe, enabling a plethora of content brands – both big and small - to take to the free ad supported streaming space. If interested in signing up with us as your tech champion, write to us: email@example.com.
In today’s time, Video on Demand (VOD) is the need of the hour. If you are a content owner, no matter how small or big, you can’t afford to miss out on upping your VOD game. In fact, even businesses outside the traditional Media & Entertainment industry are creating new business models with VOD as a foundational pillar. If you are an individual or a small company, just starting out, VOD to you may mean a global video sharing platform like YouTube. Why, you ask? The answer is simple—zero entry cost and a global reach. Platforms like these are great for a start, but eventually you’ll realize that you are generating more revenue for them than yourself. What would you do next? Your next step would be—launching your own VOD offering. But if you are still plagued by the question of whether to deliver video via VOD or linear, then remember: this is no longer an either/or decision. If you want to succeed, you got to mix them up. We have seen that viewers are extremely comfortable accessing both linear and VOD formats. Both have become consumption formats of choice and are very complementary to each other. The linear vs VOD debate The pandemic led to some radical changes in the way people consume content. Linear TV made a strong comeback. Along with it, there was a good surge in broadcaster-VOD and subscription-VOD as well. So, it all boils down to one thing—what kind of relationship do you share with your audience? Is your offering a direct-to-consumer proposition, with a clearly identifiable audience, whom you know and can quantify – and have ongoing communication with? Or do you see yourself as a content provider piggybacking alongside others, on top of existing platforms like Roku, Samsung, or YouTube TV. Before developing your content strategy, you need to ask yourself just one thing—am I keeping my customers’ best interests in mind? If you think like your audience, ‘content discoverability’ will be the first thing to bother you. There might be some content gems hidden on your platform, but are they all discoverable? Do your customers know about their existence? In a situation like this, Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) can help break this deadlock by continuously delivering a feed of viewer content, then introducing the essential element of serendipity. Linear viewing on FAST channels leads customers to discover content they might want to explore further in VOD and vice versa. Linear then becomes an essential component in developing a VOD platform, giving customers the opportunity to find content they might not have otherwise encountered, then drill down deeper, via VOD, into related content and the customer journey created for them. Similarly, once a viewer has caught up with a favorite VOD content, she may resort to a schedule and watch linear TV. This shows that a balance of linear and VOD is the key to your success. Metadata is everything! Any modern VOD platform hinges on one principal element: good content discovery. Metadata has made this easily achievable. A complex system of structures that include thumbnail images, detailed descriptions, subgenres or even trailers, metadata makes content discoverability as easy as finding your favorite food in your refrigerator. If your metadata is of great quality, it automatically increases the chances for the audience to discover content. An episode accompanied by a short summary is going to be far more discoverable and potentially engaging compared to one with no summary at all. Looking to awe your audiences with a VOD offering like no other? Get the Amagi ON-DEMAND advantage. Amagi On-DEMAND is a cloud-based VOD content, metadata transformation and delivery platform that extends Amagi’s CLOUDPORT media services platform on the cloud. It is a linearly scalable self-service orchestration platform combined with a powerful metadata transformation engine. With Amagi ON-DEMAND you can: Plug and play connectors to 30+ OTT//MVPD/vMVPD platformsEnsure faster on-boarding and quickly expand your viewershipAchieve secure and high-speed asset transfer to platformsGlean insights through an easy-to-use dashboard with access to all the VOD workflow metricsQuickly fix errors or issues through an automated reporting that offers access to health of asset ingest and delivery to platformScale according to video delivery requirements on near real-time basis Customer success story One of our leading customers, delivering niche content to a loyal fan base, started their OTT journey with supplying their videos through social media channels, primarily YouTube. Slowly, they adopted the linear approach which massively helped them increase their reach and acceptance. As time went on and VOD took over, they realized it was time for more. Currently, they have a VOD platform and continue to provide linear content as well. In simpler terms, they were primarily looking for: A broadcast-grade linear channel playout and VOD with rich graphicsDistributing content through multiple OTT platforms Amagi enabled the content partner to deliver both linear and VOD content to more than fifteen platforms and achieve their objectives through a SaaS-based engagement model, helping them expand into international markets. Being able to balance linear and VOD well did the trick for them. If you’re ready to take the VOD world by storm, we are ready to provide you the right, cloud-based, robust technology support you need. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do read our POV for more insights.
As a content creator or broadcaster, what are some of crucial things you need to worry about? Yes, a rock-solid plan to create channels and distribute and monetize them across platforms. Content quality is definitely part of the game. But are they enough? The answer is no. Among others, a key aspect you need to think about is—content accessibility. The question is, are all your viewers able to access your content? The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 5% of the world’s population suffers from hearing disabilities. Though 5% seems like a small number, it totals over 430 million people across the globe. With the rapid increase of online video content, it’s become more important now to make this content accessible to everyone. If your content is not accessible to this huge chunk of audiences, you are losing out! What can you do to change this? It’s simple. Make your content more accessible through closed captioning. Captions for content, specifically closed captioning, is a globally accepted standard for giving more people with hearing disabilities access to content. How is open captioning different from closed captioning, you ask? Both serve the same goal of providing an acoustic experience for those who have trouble hearing. Yet, closed captions allow users to add or remove captions, whereas open captioning stamps or imprints text indefinitely on the screen. Closed captions are the key to video accessibility. Like subtitles, captions present spoken dialogues as printed words on any display device.Unlike subtitles, captions are precisely placed to recognize speakers, music, expressions, and sound effects to enable full participation of audiences who are suffering from hearing disabilities.Closed captions help viewers consume streaming video on channels where audio is designed to be optional, for instance in deployments across restaurants, airports, gyms, retail, and other businesses.With effective captions, viewers can easily follow the content even in noisy surroundings.Content within a closed caption file not only has speech but also includes non-speech elements like sound effects and speaker IDs that are crucial for understanding the plot of the video. Typically, a CC icon is used to indicate closed captions on a video player. Closed captioning in the US is governed by guidelines established by DCMP, FCC, and WCAG. By following these standards, broadcasters and content creators ensure their captions meet the legal requirements of the United States and are accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Making your content accessible is not optional. Failure to comply with captioning rules might result in huge fines and penalties. One such case includes the recent accessibility rules violation by a leading platform, which ended with a $3.5million fine imposed on the broadcaster. Therefore, it would help content owners, platforms, and services to have a clear understanding of some of the key guidelines. Described & Captioned Media Program (DCMP) DCMP is a set of guidelines that includes best practices for captioning. The primary objective is to include as much of the original language as possible. DCMP states that caption quality must be accurate, consistent, clear, readable and must convey the meaning and material of the content entirely. FCC (Federal Communications Commission) guidelines The FCC caption quality standards are applicable for pre-recorded, live, or near-live video programming. Captions must be accurate, synchronous with the audio track, complete and properly placed on the screen, and shouldn’t overlap with other captions or appear off-screen. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) WCAG includes a set of best practices for web accessibility, covering everything from keyboard functionality to video accessibility. It has three versions: WCAG 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1. Among these, WCAG 2.0 is the most widely used. Now, which of these rules must a broadcaster be mindful of? In many ways, WCAGs are all-encompassing, and ensuring adherence to them largely ensures adherence with the others. However, for broadcasters who offer a significant amount of live programming, the FCC guidelines are the gold standard. Closed captioning: Current challenges When the FCC ruling took captions into the internet realm, it stated that video websites and TV networks must include closed captions for any TV content streaming online. In other words, video content that is aired on TV, even in the past, must have closed captions while being streamed online again. The advanced FCC regulations also have requirements for caption correctness, completeness, and timing. When a captions-related issue is reported, the broadcaster needs to prove that there were no issues. The captioning rules affect every device, network, and website that accommodates long-form broadcast content. Though closed captioning doesn’t apply to all entities currently, it will soon become critical as distribution technologies evolve. Ace closed captioning with Amagi’s Capsequo service Amagi’s Capsequo service is the perfect solution for ensuring caption compliance. Here are some features of the module: Implements AI/ML based Google Speech to Text (GS2T) that is a cost-effective method, with plenty of features like rich contextSupports EEG Alta that implements iCap protocol enabling 50+ human captioning companies worldwide to be connected with playout, giving more accurate captions.Allows multiple services to call it simultaneously with input audio streams and provides captions in the required format. Depending on your requirement, Capsequo lets you choose the captioning style. You can either make the captions pop up on screen, have them painted on from left to right or choose to roll in one line after the other. One of our success stories involves a leading esports channel for which we enabled live events and near-live events (deferred live) playout through live captioning. AI-based GS2T was used to deliver high-quality, low-cost captioning.The output playout stream was captioned using GS2T, with the incoming text getting converted to captions in real-time. When it comes to choosing a captioning service, accuracy is paramount for a broadcaster. Amagi’s Capsequo is one of the most versatile solutions that can deliver a perfect mix of accuracy and cost efficiency. It supports automatic and 50+ human captioning solutions including VITAC, along with all major audio and caption formats. It also enables switching between AI and human captioners, and audio switching in case of redundant systems. As Amagi caters to a growing number of Spanish content creators across streaming platforms, Capsequo also supports closed captioning in Spanish using Google Speech to Text. Supports all configurations of multiple caption providers | Completely secure | Easily pluggable | Extendable to more captioning services If you want to explore Capsequo further, contact us at email@example.com.
In this blog post, I am glad to present to you the evolution of the algorithm we built for detecting black in a live stream. Black detection is one of the quality checks we conduct as part of our monitoring service - to ensure the playout systems are working fine. Detecting black video while monitoring the live stream played out by our playout is one of the key requirements. Our goal was to ensure that the detection algorithm takes minimal CPU load and less than a frame duration to process. Video black detection Detection of black in a YUV image requires to ensure the Y or the Luma is close to 0%. We used Root Mean Square(RMS) of Y (Luma) values of all the pixels in the image. UV or Chroma detection is not needed as when Luminance, i.e., the amount of light is 0% image will be black. Here’s the equation that we used to compute RMS of Y(Luma) boxing Formula used to compute RMS value of Luma where N is the width of image, M is the height f(i, j) represents a pixel at position i, j. Once we got the RMS value of Luma(Y) for a frame, we had to decide a threshold below which a frame can be termed as black. As broadcast safe color ranges from 16-235 for LUMA, and also to account for encode-decode losses, we came to a conclusion that a frame with RMS value lesser than 8% can be called out as black, let’s call it as rms_threshold. Now that we have established black detection mechanism for a frame or image let’s extend it to video. To detect black in video, we chose to use two inputs, one being number of frames for which black must be continuously detected before calling out the video as black, and the other being number of frames after which we must stop calling out the video black. Let’s refer to them as blackinpthresholdms and blackoutthresholdms. Using these two thresholds we were able to detect black video. Overcoming a challenge When there were small non-black regions in the frame, RMS was still below rms_threshold, but the frame was still being detected as black. Figure 1. was being detected as black: boxing Figure 1: Frame being detected as black To overcome this issue, we decided to slice or divide the frames into N slices of full width. Later, the RMS value is computed for each slice and compared with the rmsthreshold. If the RMS of any of the slices is higher than the rmsthreshold, then the frame is a non-black frame. With this algorithm we were able to overcome false positives. boxing Figure 2. Frame with slices depicted by dotted white lines We then optimized our implementation using Intel® Integrated Performance Primitives. Our implementation of black detection can be found on GitHub. Thanks to Swapnil Dabhade and Viswanath Bathina from Video Engineering Team @Amagi for their inputs.
Rising appetite for local news According to Pew Research, US is home to 839 local TV stations or news-producing stations including those owned by five large publicly held station companies – Gray, Nexstar, Scripps, Sinclair and Tegna. The good news for this collective is we are seeing a steady rise in the appetite for local news - ranging from local election results and weather reports to pandemic and sports updates. Comscore StationView Essentials data shows the viewership for the top local news stations—ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC witnessed an average hike of 4% for their evening and late-night slots, and 10% increase during their midday news time slot in 2020. Furthermore, the average hours of local TV news during the weekday rose by 18 minutes per hour according to a recent RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University Survey. The writing on the screen is crystal clear: today’s consumers are more open than ever to local storytelling. But here’s the catch. To stay relevant and continue monetizing their much-in-demand local fare, local news stations will need to go beyond the traditional track and enter the OTT and FAST highway. Why local news stations must diversify their presence Here are the top reasons why local news stations must consider launching linear channels on Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) platforms REACH: While the going seems good now, cord-cutting is gaining more momentum, with 68% of view time devoted to streamers and only 28% to traditional TV. The task is therefore cut out for local news stations: meet the audiences where they are. Local station groups must also remember that about 47% of US audiences watch FAST channels, and about 60% of the 69.8 million households that own a connected TV stream ad supported content. FAST is gaining larger, broader and niche audiences - and this is exactly where local news stations will be able to reinvent themselves successfully. REVENUES: The golden goose for local stations – retransmission fees paid by cable and satellite TV operators for carrying the channels – is seeing slow growth with the retransmission revenues estimated to reach just about $13.3 billion in 2025 from $11.9 billion in 2019. Carriage disputes between distributors and broadcasters are set to significantly reduce this source of revenues, according to Fitch Ratings report.On the other hand, FAST is geared for a bigger flow of ad revenues. The estimated worth of ads across CTV (that is largely driving the FAST growth) will be about $27.5 billion by 2025. Amagi's own FAST industry report shows that 9 out of the 25 top performing FAST channels on our systems belong to the news genre. They have been driving 30% of the total ad impressions in the first two quarters of 2021, and we continue to see the dominance of news channels on FAST platforms. Local news makes steady inroads into FAST: A few examples Sinclair Broadcast Group launched its news streaming service – STIRR in 2019, setting the stage for local news to be served outside of traditional TV networks. When Syncbak launched VUit in 2020, it gave another opportunity for local TV stations to monetize OTT. The free ad-supported streaming service built in collaboration with local television station groups including Gray Television, Meredith and others, recently tied up with Cox Media Group to expand its local news coverage to more than 150 markets in the US. Local news is also seeing growing demand across other platforms such as Pluto TV, Tubi and Peacock. Fox’s Tubi launched ‘News on Tubi’ last year to provide live, local news feeds from FOX’s 17 O&O stations and other partners including CBC, NBC and News 12 New York. Pluto TV ‘went local’ enabling viewers to watch latest news and updates from Boston, Bay Area, Chicago, Denver, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. On Peacock, viewers can consume local news content produced by 11 NBC owned stations including WNBC New York, KNBC Los Angeles and WRC Washington. Reinvent yourself and establish your roots in the FAST universe There are adequate examples to prove that free ad supported space provides plenty of opportunities for local news channels to thrive. If you decide to make the plunge, there are some key factors you need to address. 24/7 Programming Typically, local news stations have only 5-6 hours of programming a day, all related to the local time zone or local geography, but linear FAST channels run 24/7. Increasing your live hours for a day is not a favorable option to meet the 24/7 requirements due to the cost involved. Here’s what you can do. Create a 24/7 linear channel using live content, live recordings and a sequence of pre-recorded playlists. Live: Spin up live channels and manage multiple live feeds, graphics and ads. With Amagi LIVE - our UHD ready, cloud-based live orchestration platform, you can orchestrate broadcast-grade live content on the go.Live content recordings: Simulcast and record 5-6 hours when the studio is live. In the interim, when not live, you can stream some of your live content recordings in a way that makes it interesting for the audiences.Shorter clips to re-run: Typically, news clip editors in production rooms create smaller segments of live news content. Leverage these segments to create a run-down of multiple 3–5-minute clips about a story, supported with rich metadata. Stream these collections of newsclips during the day to keep your audiences hooked to an evolving news story. Amagi now enables MOS protocol integration to help integrate these mini playlists from the production rooms with our cloud playout, allowing you to stream the pre-recorded playlists with ease. Breaking news Local stations get breaking news from any of the stations across the country, and need a mechanism to switch immediately and seamlessly into the breaking news. Amagi enables not only multiple live source ingest but also provides effective support for breaking news. With our advanced features including manual ad break extensions, seamless MCR/PCR interplay and rapid-prep for playout, you can effortlessly deliver breaking news to audiences. Exceptional graphics for an unmatched viewing experience Secondary graphics is key to making your content programming delightful to viewers’ eyes. Your linear channel might require static graphics or animated sequences, time-based graphics like a channel bumper, advanced dynamic graphics including full screen NOW / NEXT / LATER, ‘Back in’ counter and countdown timers. Amagi CLOUDPORT supports these and also digital video effects (DVE) which are commonly used for promotional purposes and can be automated using Adobe After Effect templates. Apart from these, we also enable custom HTML graphics to provide advanced tickers that render real time scores and other data from external sources. Advertising FAST offers you the advantage of monetizing content through Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI). You have the power to deliver targeted ads based on audience profiles as well as contextual ads based on content your audiences are watching. Do this effortlessly using Amagi THUNDERSTORM - our DAI/SSAI platform and measure your ad and content performance with Amagi ANALYTICS. You can also delight audiences with a seamless and uninterrupted ad viewing experience by leveraging some of the latest innovative ad formats available - including Dynamic Brand Insertion (DBI), graphics overlays ads and contextual video ads powered by rich metadata and AI technology. Get the Amagi advantage for your live linear channel A growing number of local news stations are choosing to stay relevant by joining the free ad supported TV revolution. If you are keen on exploring your options, reach out to us and leverage our end-to-end suite of cloud solutions for creation, launch, distribution and monetization of linear channels across 50+ FAST platforms. We offer unparalleled expertise in delivering live linear channels, backed by our experience as tech partners for leading news customers including USA TODAY, NBCUniversal, Atmosphere News, AccuWeather and more. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we power live linear channels.
Disasters can disrupt almost anything. Whether natural or man-made, they have the power to uproot any business and broadcast or TV networks are no exception. It’s up to you as a successful broadcaster to come up with a plan that can come handy in case of an emergency. A natural calamity or man-made disaster can impact any point in your broadcast workflow, resulting in broadcast blackout and loss of revenue. By investing in a robust disaster recovery plan, you can ensure continuity and reliability of service. The challenge before broadcasters In most cases, broadcasters have a primary and secondary output to distribute their signal. If one goes down, the other can take over. Now imagine a situation where both these distribution channels are in the same physical location and a disaster hits the very area. What happens in that case? This calamity could potentially take down the whole station making it completely redundant to have a secondary output. While major television networks can afford to invest in creating a parallel infrastructure, it might not make sense for a smaller broadcaster. A big movie channel might be able to handle the disaster better due to the availability of evergreen content that can be played for a few hours during a calamity. So, how do you build a broadcasting network so robust that no disaster, no matter how big, can impact it in any way? The answer is—Cloud. Your broadcast network may not be invincible but switching to cloud can make it indestructible. Cloud is, by definition, disaster-proof. In most cases for broadcast, I don't even need a disaster recovery system if I'm running on cloud. The entire system is architected to be disaster-proof. Traditional broadcast set-up is bad for your pocket as you’ll need to replicate the entire infrastructure of the primary feed and the ROI will remain questionable. How does a cloud-backed solution help? No office access? No need to worry. Imagine a cyclone hits your area and you are unable to get out. Since you can’t physically approach your office facility, how will you run your broadcasting network smoothly? It’s in scary situations like these when a cloud-powered Disaster Recovery (DR) solution can emerge as a savior. Cloud allows you to have a distributed architecture. You could even go so far as to have nothing on-premises and access everything remotely or have multi-region capability, without having to invest in hardware-based facilities running in parallel. Hot, warm, or cold: Traditional vs cloud DR In simple terms, hot, cold, and warm are terms used to describe various recovery sites that work to manage data recovery in case the primary feed fails. These terms have slightly different meanings when used for a traditional vs a cloud DR. The definitions totally depend on how the disaster recovery sites work and the resources needed. Traditional DR Hot: Exact replica of the data centre that has all hardware and software operating systems running in parallel to the primary feed. Cold: No hardware equipment, just a space reserved to act like a data centre, if needed. Warm: This lies somewhere in between hot and cold sites in terms of hardware and software system deployment. Cloud DR Hot: When you use a cloud-powered disaster recovery solution, ‘hot’ refers to a DR that runs 24/7 and is readily available to be engaged automatically, through a switcher. Here, playout happens simultaneously and redundantly from two different sources.Amagi can support live playout in a DR situation as well. The disaster orchestrator can bring up the live infrastructure and start pulling live streams from the source quickly and pass it along for playout. Warm: Cloud plays a major role here. Here, a broadcaster might have content prepped and ready to go from the cloud, but not actually start playout on the channel until disaster strikes. The playout server comes up based on the need, whereas the automation (media management & playlist management) is always running. The playout server is in general the largest cost component.Amagi recently built an orchestrator for a customer’s cloud-based disaster recovery system. The solution constantly pulls in the output from the primary feed and keeps watching the same. If that feed goes down for a duration more than a configurable threshold, the cloud backup spins up automatically. Cold: Cloud has no role to play here. When a disaster occurs, the whole system is orchestrated to automatically come up via some trigger. It might take some time to fetch the assets, playlist etc., and once ready, it starts playing out the channel. It's a low-cost option as nothing needs to be running 24/7 on the cloud. Why go for cloud-based disaster recovery solution? They provide you a cost-effective solution to manage your workflow without having to heavily invest in hardware You get an end-to-end disaster recovery platform for all your playout and content delivery needs Are you ready to weather the storm with cloud-backed solutions? Get the Amagi advantage. Amagi’s disaster recovery solutions have been designed to work wonders for any broadcast network irrespective of its size. You can choose the kind of backup you want from the following options: 24/7 disaster recovery: Ensure disaster readiness for the entire broadcast workflow. Automatically sync content and playout for a disaster recovery solution with high content availability. On-demand disaster recovery: Use disaster recovery as a ‘flexible backup’ platform that can activate disaster recovery at short notice, without the need to operate a fully replicated secondary broadcast feed. Rescue playout: For basic level of disaster readiness, use Amagi’s Edge playout or STORM IRD to store and play content. Reach out to us at email@example.com to know more!
Explore how AccuWeather Now and Atmosphere News delight audiences with unique graphics experiences With the US Free Ad Supported Streaming TV (FAST) market expected to reach over $4 billion by 2023, sports, news and weather will be among the winning genres gaining viewership on connected TVs. Many news and sports brands have developed sophisticated graphics offerings for traditional linear TV. New technology has now enabled equivalent visual packages without the expensive graphics production tools of legacy broadcast control rooms. Advanced secondary graphics such as a channel logo, a bug or a lower-third are an integral part of a video stream for FAST channels. Apart from providing viewers a glimpse into upcoming programs, ad-breaks and promotional teasers, graphics help package content segments aesthetically to deliver a seamless and rich viewing experience. Amagi's unique ability to introduce custom HTML graphics has enabled our clients to achieve standout experiences in the FAST space with limited investment and rapid time-to-market. While this is applicable to all content genres, live sports, news and weather channels also have a unique need for custom HTML graphics to render real time scores and data from external sources. AccuWeather delivers real-time forecast data to FAST viewers When AccuWeather launched AccuWeather Now - its new FAST channel now available on The Roku Channel - it was important that they created a unique visual approach for their ever-present weather data appearing on the screen. Amagi huddled with AccuWeather’s design team and created a custom HTML5 application based on the customer’s advanced API set for proprietary weather data. Amagi’s application queries the API every few seconds to fetch data points for each geographic region and passes this information to the on-screen ticker. boxing Figure 1. AccuWeather Now channel Atmosphere News delights out of home streamers Atmosphere is the leading provider of streaming video to restaurants, airports, gyms, retail and other businesses. Audio is designed to be optional in these deployments, which makes rich onscreen graphics even more important to users. Atmosphere News, which launched this week and is available to Atmosphere’s over 15,000 business customers across the country, tapped Amagi to create a unique graphics experience programmed in real time with the upcoming story list. The channel is assembled using Amagi’s CLOUDPORT, and the next-up story queue is communicated automatically to the graphics application, creating a steady run-down for viewers. Figure 2 & 3: Atmosphere News A key differentiator for Amagi Amagi’s CLOUDPORT Linear Channel Playout Service with Advanced Graphics enables powerful HTML5 graphics rendering for any channel in a very short amount of time. Bring us your vision and we’ll code it into existence, connecting to any external data source for real time relay of data powering tickers, lower-thirds, social promotions, and more. If you are keen on knowing more about Amagi solutions, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org Read our blog on Advanced Graphics Automation HERE.
When you do decide to adopt a unified broadcast workflow, there is a lot to think about – because there is a lot more you can do. In the post-pandemic world, global media companies have shown increased willingness to make decisions about their wider infrastructure that they have been putting off until now. The obvious one being about migrating to the cloud. The global lockdowns and the forced remote operations were definite catalysts. However, the opportunities that new streaming TV and OTT platforms offer to monetize content are also forcing broadcasters to relook at their traditional strategies and business models. There’s no denying that direct-to-consumer offerings have become a booming business for the big players dominating the VOD market right now. But with so much competition, broadcasters and rights holders are finding it challenging to grow their owned and operated apps and viewership through sustained investment in branding and marketing. Broadcasters can seek inspiration from local, second tier and niche content companies that have benefited from the new star in the streaming TV space - Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) that has levelled the playing field in discoverability. FAST platforms are enabling content owners to reach out to a new and bigger audience base while also raking in higher ad revenues. The big networks including NBCUniversal, Comcast, ViacomCBS and Fox have jumped into the fray with their respective FAST services – Peacock, Xumo, Pluto TV and Tubi to cash in on the comeback of linear TV. Linear channels featuring content from docuseries, news, sports and music to kids shows, weather and related events, and movies are making their way to the free ad supported universe. Another dominating trend is more and more connected TV manufacturers and mobile manufacturers such as Apple, Roku, Samsung, Vizio, LG Electronics, TCL, Philips and Xiaomi building their own FAST or aggregation offerings across the globe. We can certainly say that we are now operating in a super content aggregation world! Need of the hour: A multi-pronged strategy In this new landscape, traditional TV networks starting their digital content journey can benefit from a multi-pronged strategy. Along with their traditional cable and satellite, linear and VOD offerings, they need to start leveraging these third-party aggregators. AVOD, SVOD and even social media offerings all need to be employed in a well-rounded portfolio of content distribution. Until recently, companies have been organized according to the structure of traditional TV networks. While the broadcast business is run by a CTO or VP of engineering and operations, a digital department takes care of the new digital streams. But as digital and OTT become a larger part of the business, it can longer be relegated to a corner as an add-on. As the roles of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and CTO begin to blur, broadcasters that hope to compete in the new digital landscape are presented with a choice. They can merge their teams via a single unified platform, or they can let digital take the driver’s seat. Recent proponents of the latter include Disney, which has been discontinuing some of its traditional linear channels in favor of its Disney+ service. As we speak to more and more customers and industry leaders, it looks more like an inevitable trend to have one single organizational structure and infrastructure to address both these sides. Tap into many opportunities with one workflow Consolidating operations into a unified digital platform is not a pointless exercise in enforced modernization. It can start to open up whole new areas of business and opportunities that had been lying dormant. Companies with large content libraries can now launch on-demand offerings and ad supported linear channels that would have been utterly non-viable in a traditional TV network world. Several of Amagi’s customers are now monetizing their massive content library that accumulated over time. With new streaming TV platforms, content owners can now better leverage their library, all using a single unified workflow that’s also integrated with third party systems. With a solid media asset management system in a unified storage infrastructure, these pre-existing content libraries can become a gold mine that can be leveraged across direct-to-consumer and the FAST space, thus filling in the gaps brought about by the shrinking of traditional broadcast revenues. With a unified infrastructure, you can in theory spin up as many live linear channels as you like, based on the various content parameters of your library. What once seemed to be the sole domain of broadcast is now moving to the cloud and is offering viewers more choice than ever before.Suddenly, you can spin up 100 channels out of your content library that can address just about any interest area you can think of. We’ve seen many customers creating linear channels on a single theme. This new cloud-based model allows special interests such as niche sports to find an audience that may not be big on a local level, but globally can add up to considerable numbers. The need to have a system for managing content rights, therefore, becomes more critical with rights that may have been acquired years ago, in a linear – even analogue – world, now being able to produce new revenue in a completely different environment. When it comes to OTT content, rights holders don’t only have to take into consideration geographies and time windows, but also what consumer devices they have rights to send to, and issues like rights for FAST versus on-demand OTT.As content owners start seeing OTT become more and more valuable, they are starting to slice and dice their rights and sell individual device level rights. So, to keep a handle all of that, centralized content rights management is becoming critical. Unifying workflows has also changed how advertisers do business. Traditionally, linear and digital ad sales would have been done separately. But buyers on the agency side start to integrate with an eye to buying ad space on a connected TV or connected TV plus basis. Content providers can start to sell based on the audiences for their linear and digital audiences, and make the process seamless for the advertiser - with one bill at the end. Unified workflows make for much easier monitoring, too. A traditional network operation center monitored linear and broadcast, with digital monitoring largely left to its own devices. As the importance of digital has grown, and monitoring becomes more important – and easier – the monitoring of the rest of the operations center begins to fall under the digital realm as well. Making the transition to cloud-based workflows Transitioning to cloud can devolve into a turf war between departments about who is going to own it. So, the mandate has to be top down, with clear organization-level directive for a digital transformation of the entire company. Typically, this involves transferring to cloud from on-prem infrastructure. That would mean having a centralized schema, especially in terms of metadata. It’s also about simplifying the interfaces for different teams so that different users can all easily access the same content, no matter where they are working in the organizations. Digital teams that have been used to operating independently from much of the business may have to adapt to the greater responsibilities as well as company-wide implementations, which need buy-in from multiple teams. With all this in place, the power and agility of the digital infrastructure can be harnessed in transformative ways. One of our customers that unified their entire operations said, ‘My digital team is asking me to start a channel within one day’. For something that previously took three-month planning, they can now say, ‘There’s a new sporting event, let’s launch a pop-up channel over the weekend.’ This speed and flexibility is illustrated in the new infrastructure a high-profile Amagi customer is using to make its live, linear programming instantly available on-demand. The content becomes available not just after the event is over, but is available in segments as the live program is still playing out. Traditionally, with separate workflows, the time from when the live event is over to when it becomes available for VOD might be eight hours. With our solution, after 30 minutes of a one-hour show, the first 15 minutes of content is already available on-demand for pickup users to watch. We can do that, because now we have the live event recording, transcoding and delivery all in a unified platform. Amagi advantage If you are looking to leverage unified cloud-based workflows for content creation, distribution and monetization across broadcast and streaming TV platforms, reach out to us at email@example.com
It’s the weekend. You have the entire day to relax and watch interesting movies. You wind up all your chores, get some popcorn and sit in your favorite chair. As you switch on your video device and begin browsing through a huge collection of apps each with a huge collection of movies, you realize something—you don’t know what to watch! Having multiple S-VOD subscriptions in hand doesn’t excite us any more as more options simply mean more chaos. Audiences across the US and Europe are showing signs of this phenomenon called subscription fatigue, forcing them away from the S-VOD model towards linear TV experience delivered by Free Ad Supported TV (FAST). The question before content brands and distributors in the APAC region is, does FAST stand a chance in this part of the world? Will the demand for linear content in the Asia-Pacific region see a boom? What are the opportunities for content owners in the ad supported streaming TV space? The outlook seems bright thanks once again to CTV that is making steady inroads into households across countries such as Japan, Vietnam, Australia, India, and Singapore. FAST platforms such as Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, the Roku Channel, Xumo and Peacock offer a litany of free linear channels of all genres served with targeted ads. In the last few years, we have seen a growing number of content owners distributing their content, belonging to a wide variety of genres, across ad supported platforms and expanding their reach and revenues. The star catalyst of the FAST revolution has been connected TV (CTV) that has given a huge fillip to FAST. While the APAC region continues to be a strong mobile first market, the adoption of CTV is projected to witness a robust growth as well. Here’s a quick snapshot of people viewing streaming TV from the GlobalWebIndex 2020 report: Vietnam: 83% Thailand: 78% Indonesia: 63% Malaysia: 69% Singapore: 68% The Philippines: 76% If we talk about Indonesia alone, 7 in every 10 consumers already have access to a connected TV. The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be fruitful for the growth of connected TV adoption as more and more people switched to family viewing. This led to a 92% increase in the consumption of streamed content. CTV adoption figures from Australia are impressive as well. 8 in every 10 consumers have access to a connected TV and prefer it for viewing over a mobile device. Giant consumer electronics companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, LG, and TCL have already taken the cue and are hence looking at capturing the space that combines linear television viewing and federation of third-party S-VOD and A-VOD apps. Looking at these numbers, it’s safe to say that connected TV-based viewing is only going to exponentially rise in the APAC region. This also means big things in terms of advertising spends for connected TVs. In an interesting study by Video Advertising Bureau, it was discovered that when people consume ads as a group, they tend to get more emotionally invested in them. The emotional response of solo viewers was recorded as 37%, while group viewers had a whopping 71%. Why APAC content brands must think FAST Better content distribution and monetization Higher adoption of connected TVs means a brighter horizon for FAST resulting in better content monetization chances. Currently, content owners in Asia are primarily looking at international FAST markets to carry their content. Especially, channels catering to diaspora like Indian/Filipino as well as internationally popular content like Korean drama. Given the rising connected TV adoption rates, and the fact that APAC consumers are more tolerant to ads, they are ready to hop on to FAST. Content owners, therefore, automatically have a large user base to target. They can create niche content and leverage dynamic ad-insertion technology to launch highly impactful ad campaigns, successfully monetizing their content. Users love longer videosAccording to YouTube’s Internal Data from Japan, Australia, and India for 2021, audiences are streaming content for longer hours and choosing longer videos to watch. Longer videos mean increased opportunities for ad placements and hence, better monetization chances. Opportunity to target multilingual usersThere’s a significant proportion of regional audiences who love to watch long-tail content either in their local language or English. Creating and distributing such content with subtitles, on an ad-funded OTT model can massively help content brands. Is FAST the future in APAC? As people move away from traditional cable TV and even S-VOD, A-VOD is predicted to be the fastest-growing content model. Based on a study by Digital TV Research, A-VOD revenues are set to increase by 100% between 2020 and 2025. On the other hand, revenue from S-VOD is projected to grow by a mere 59% for the same timeframe. What makes FAST the new black? No subscription fee: In a world where consumers are tired of paying up for multiple S-VOD subscriptions, FAST is a breath of fresh air. No strings attached entertainment: All they need for quality entertainment is — an internet connection and a video device. The love for quality content: As one of the major drawbacks of the S-VOD model is poor content discovery, viewers tend to miss some great titles. Replacing this with a simple, lean-back, linear model like FAST helps them discover some excellent multilingual content with subtitles, thus ensuring a great viewing experience. The demand for high-quality multilingual content also helps attract the regional content players making FAST a win-win. Lower ad-loads: With A-VOD options like FAST, consumers get to enjoy great quality content with minimal ad interruption. Device agnostic model: FAST can be viewed on mobiles, connected TVs and smart TVs that come pre-installed with options making it easily discoverable and customer friendly. COST | CONTENT | CONVENIENCE Have any brands already taken the free ad supported route in APAC? The answer is, YES! Samsung TV Plus: After launching in Australia, Brazil, and Mexico, Samsung TV Plus came to India in March 2021. A smart TV working on a ‘no strings attached’ model is hence not an alien concept for the APAC audiences anymore. Amazon MiniTV: Launched with the aim to drive more people to shop on Amazon, this free video streaming service resides inside the Amazon Android app. Amazon has partnered with various content creators like TVF (The Viral Fever) and offers different genres of entertainment like lifestyle, comedy etc. Jungo+: It is a free video streaming platform that has a highly niche audience base. It targets people with interests K-Pop, health and wellness, e-sports, and mixed martial arts. There’s no better time than now for content owners to enter the FAST lane and create unforgettable viewing experiences for users while making the most of their content in terms of monetization. The APAC market is ready for FAST. It is ready for YOU. Are you? If you are all set to thrive in the FAST world, it’s time to get the Amagi advantage. Amagi is the largest FAST provider in the industry and has got everything you need to thrive in this increasingly competitive ecosystem. You can count on us as your one-stop broadcast team to manage your end-to-end channel creation, distribution, and monetization requirements – with agility and proven technical excellence. End-to-end streaming solutions | Ease of launch | Quick GTM Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the top USPs of our suite of cloud-native solutions is unmatched user experience. At Amagi, we believe in the business value of User Experience (UX) design. We know that it is the cost of entry and a key differentiator in a crowded market. Our UX strategy is infused with the core principle that technology can be engineered to shape experiences and evoke emotions. We keep in mind that there is a human behind the screen who just wants to get his/her work done in the shortest amount of time. Product design is a process of co-creation that stems from specific business needs, user aspirations, and technical know-how. To factor in all these aspects, our Product Experience Design team collaborates closely with Product Management and Product development teams. boxing At Amagi, we are guided by our belief that good user experience is functional, intuitive, simple, elegant and seamless. Which is why we always keep two key questions at the back of our mind: 1. How does the UX work? 2. How does the user feel while using the product? End of the day, our product and UX design teams work to ensure a fine balance between user needs and our internal business goals. We strive to keep bias at bay The discovery and exploration phase is a very important part of the design process at Amagi, since it provides our design team a true and complete context of the requirements and challenges at hand. Without context, we risk letting bias influence our decisions. Bias is a tricky proposition that can often make a mess of design. Designers need to be aware of unconscious biases within themselves or cross functional teams while designing solutions. UX design decisions must be rooted in solving real problems faced by real users, and strongly shaped by research, data and facts. Not by opinions! This can be the trap that design teams fall into if any key stakeholder is biased and dives into the solution space without exploring the problem holistically. UX research can solve this by helping the team take a step back, gain an understanding of the context – i.e. what we are solving, for whom and why it is important. It can also help validate a design and prove or disprove a team’s assumptions. User is at the heart of our design The Product Experience Design team follows a user centric design process driven by the following: Periodic user research sessions. Here, the product design team also work with users to help prioritize our product roadmap. Regular tracking of the voice of the customer via demos, regular calls with our Customer Success Management (CSM) team, support tickets raised, usability testing, behavioural analytics and so on. The teams thus strive to understand the customers’ business and workflows, the mental model of the target audience and then provide solutions on how our products can serve them better. This ensures we are in line with the user’s expectations and provide real value to our customers’ business. After the discovery phase we come together as a team to brainstorm, work on design explorations, wireframing and prototyping to get quick feedback. Once there is a buy-in from stakeholders, we proceed to work on the visual design and then hand off to the engineering team. A north star for us is being cognizant of the fact that people care more about their problems than our solutions. By genuinely investing in the user experience process, the company as a whole mitigates the risk of spending thousands of dollars on trying to solve the wrong problem and hence avoid unnecessary development and rework. Robert Pressman, in his book “Software Engineering, A Practitioner’s Approach,” says, “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release. Explore our multi-disciplinary approach At Amagi, product management, product design and product development teams are equally responsible for the user experience. Incorrect definition and compromise on implementation whether it is frontend or backend, negatively impact the intended user experience. We believe that the devil is in the details. In a scenario where functionality is developed but there is a deviation from the design specifications, the feature is not allowed to be shipped as it compromises the brand image. The product is almost like a living being that goes through its natural evolution. Just because a product is launched, the design or implementation can never be considered ‘done’. Our teams are constantly trying to gather feedback, look at ways to enhance the experience and create more business value. This is where having an agile mindset comes in where the three teams are open to correct and even go back to the drawing board if required. Like they say, a stitch in time saves nine. Data is our ally To conclude, we at Amagi, strive for a thoughtful and data informed product design strategy with highest standards of implementation to ensure that Amagi suite of products simplify workflows and provide a delightful experience. This has been the bedrock of our engagements with over 500 content brands who have banked on us to thrive in a multiscreen world. Well, apart from the obvious advantages of reduced sales and support costs, our strong design principles have enabled us to build strong, long-term relationships with our customers.
I know you hear this all the time - ‘Competition in the streaming TV space is growing.’ But what we are hearing more often these days is to thrive in this evolving space, you cannot sidestep data. Comprehensive knowledge on how audiences are engaging with your content and other critical metrics is indispensable to your OTT success. Data is your powerful tool to help optimize resources, and sharpen your decision making on content, platforms and ad strategies. There is reason for cheer because you can leverage the power of data and insights efficiently today, thanks to robust analytics platforms. What will of course distinguish you as a winner from the also- rans in the streaming race is the ability to respond to these insights with lightning speed. Say yes to analytics. But to begin with, what do you measure? The tricky part of chasing data is to know what you want to measure. Once you zero in on the right metrics, you will be able to ace your analytics strategy. In this blog, I am listing out some of the top metrics you need to measure to get a complete picture of your business strategy and steer it in the right direction. What genre and format of content engages your audience? As broadcasters and digital media companies, here are some of the questions you need to address to determine the kind of content you need to produce or procure. What do audiences prefer? What are the stories that captivate them? Will they be open to innovative content formats? Is it scripted content that brings in more ad impressions and revenues or do non-scripted reality and talks shows work better? How to program content? With comprehensive data on what the audience is viewing, you can start to make tweaks in the content you are acquiring and producing. You’ll be able to see what shows are most popular – and which audiences are responding best. Data on how audiences react to different formats can also be invaluable. Are viewers just popping in for the occasional bit of premium content? Or are they returning regularly, but only for specific genres or a show? A robust analytics platform can provide insights into viewership metrics such unique views, sessions, average viewing time, total viewership, concurrent users, and content load time. Based on these, you can decide what content to repeat on your 24/7 curated linear channel, and how often and when. You will have clarity on whether you must intersperse long format shows with shorter formats. Data will also tell you when you can run premium content and attract more advertisers. A deep dive into audience behavior will help you craft and execute a winning content and programming approach. What advertising strategy will work? A June 2021 paper by Hub Research confirms the potential for ad-supported content. Free ad-supported platforms such as Pluto TV, IMDb TV and Tubi have seen growth in users. This shows audiences are much more willing to watch ad-supported content than we typically believe. However, you got to tread your ad monetization turf carefully so that you don’t upset your audiences’ threshold for ads. Granular data from analytics platforms - including on ad breaks, ad requests, responses, total number of ad assets received, impressions, completion rates and ad drops - can speak a load of truth on effective advertising strategies. It will let you approach the following niggling challenges with confidence. What is the ideal ad load? How frequent should the ad breaks be? How best to deliver personalized and seamless ad experiences? If advertisers are willing to invest 30% of their budget on streaming TV, how will ad supported platforms such as Hulu and Peacock with low ad loads manage the supply? Today, content owners and platforms aim to serve customized ads based on viewers’ interests and consumption history. Your secret to retaining customers on your channels or platforms will depend on how well you can serve ads audiences will watch - or more precisely ads they will appreciate as being useful to them. How do you plan your distribution strategy? Which are the platforms where your content will get maximum viewership and engagement? Where are audiences available - native apps, smart TVs, mobile devices or OTT devices such as gaming consoles, Amazon Firesticks, Chromecast and other streaming devices? Again, your answers will come from accurate and real time data, which is the informed way to maximizing your content ROI. Finally, manage your data. Get the right analytics platform. Depending on where you stand in your growth life cycle, you will need different types of insights from the analytics platform owner. While you need solid insights to craft your long term strategy including programming, revenue planning and forecasting, you also require quick real time data to guide your tactical decisions. For instance, if the analytics platform can tell you that a certain content is witnessing sudden increase in viewership, you can quickly decide to increase your ad load by a few seconds. And vice versa! The key is to utilize a next gen AI-driven platform that can get you live data on users using easy to digest visualizations. Choose a platform that will provide comprehensive data specific to regions, devices, channels, content assets, and time zones, and these will come especially handy when your content expands its footprint across the globe. Which means your platform must also be able to scale as your audiences scale. Streaming TV business is increasingly going to be a data driven game. To thrive and keep winning, arm yourself with a robust data and analytics solution. Most importantly, chase the right metrics, garner deep insights, and act upon them with agility. If this blog has piqued your interest in ad monetization and analytics, reach us at email@example.com
Welcome to the Free Ad Supported Streaming TV (FAST) universe! As a content owner, you would love to be a part of this rapidly growing world if you are looking to delight a far wider expanse of audiences, while enjoying maximum returns on your content. Reach + Revenues. Those are the key attractions of this evolving market segment. FAST belongs to the larger ecosystem of AVOD (advertising-supported video on demand) where marketers are estimated to spend over $25 billion on ads by 2025. While cable and Pay TV are almost in their sunset years, the subscription video on demand (SVOD) market, dominated by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, offers little room for new players to increase customers’ share of wallet. It is in this FAST platforms consist of pre-programmed linear channels weaved along with dynamically targeted ads. Viewers can watch these channels for free on connected devices like Roku boxes and smart TVs like Samsung smart TV & Vizio smart TV scenario that the free ad supported model has emerged as the frontrunner in the race for consumer attention and loyalty, and advertising revenues. So why join the FAST revolution? Well, it is all about being where your audiences are. Sample these numbers: 200 million global viewers are indulging themselves on the ad supported platforms 47% of US consumers are tuned into this space Look at the top three reasons for audience migration to the linear channels. Tired of too many! Gen Z & Millennials with ~ 5 streaming video subscriptions are suffering from subscription fatigue. This is evident in the YoY subscriber growth, which is down to 31% in 2019 from 119% in 2017. Money is still king! 65% consumers are seeking cheaper ad-supported options. Easy discoverability. Yes, streaming has come a full circle with audiences now hankering for a comfortable ‘lean back’ experience that FAST channels easily provide. Free ad supported channels offer a good spread of content with a linear TV like experience, and a decent load of ads that does not overwhelm viewers. Definitely more for less! Join this growing universe, which today comprises more than 500 channels (and still growing) across leading platforms including Pluto TV, Roku, STIRR, Samsung TV Plus, Xumo, Peacock and Tivo+. The best part is FAST has won the confidence of even big media companies who have plunged into the space with significant investments. Here are the stories, in a nutshell. Comcast acquired Xumo for over $100 millionViacomCBS acquired Pluto TV for $340 million Fox acquired Tubi for $490 million NBCUniversal launched Peacock Script your own success story We can certainly say that now is the right time to tap into a panoply of opportunities unravelling at quick pace in the free streaming TV segment. From cable operators and specialized niche app players to some of the largest TV networks, a growing number of brands are getting on board, making this a very competitive space. So get started! Leverage an end-to-end, tightly integrated cloud playout platform for content ingest, scheduling and playout as well as channel monetization. Create linear channels by making the most of your existing content and workflows. Get your channels before 200 million and growing pool of viewers by effectively distributing them to all the leading connected devices and streaming platforms. Most importantly, make your content perform with dynamic ad insertion and boost your revenues. Finally, get detailed analytics and insights into viewership and platform performance to be able to ace your FAST content and advertising strategies. Get the Amagi advantage As the largest FAST provider in the industry, we have got just what you need to thrive in this increasingly competitive ecosystem including data-backed insights into audience behavior and content performance. You can count on us as your one stop broadcast team who can manage your end-to-end channel creation, distribution and monetization requirements – with agility and proven technical excellence. With Amagi as your strategic technology and business partner, you can effortlessly navigate your FAST business strategy. Here are some of our key strengths. 50+ FAST platform partnerships 100+ platform partnerships globally 500+ channels on our cloud platform 20-30 channels launched every month Quick time to launch | Maximum reach & engagement | Higher revenues If you are looking to build or strengthen your presence across FAST, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Olympics is a big event, and that I know is an understatement! More than 11K athletes from across over 200 countries are expected to converge at Tokyo between July 23 and August 16, 2021 to play the XXXII Olympiad and demonstrate the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. For technology companies, Olympics stands out as a ‘new-age technology’ demonstration exercise. For broadcasters to cloud companies, and playout and media technology providers like Amagi, Olympics is a marquee show they don’t want to miss! This edition of Olympics will stay special in the collective memory of Amagi as we help herald the new era of cloud for live sports. Amagi has been chosen by NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, to provide UHD playout with cloud automation for its production of the Olympic Games, on its Olympics Channel. Cloud playout for standard SD and HD in itself is a formidable challenge that very few tech providers in the industry are equipped to handle. Given this background, delivering UHD on the cloud, without a single piece of hardware in use - combined with live workflows - is a feat that Amagi is poised to achieve with confidence. We are excited to be able to make this possible for NBC Sports Group at a grand global stage like the Olympics. We are offering an end-to-end cloud solution with the following key features: On demand orchestration of the solution on the cloud Dual region redundant live and non-live streams with UHD Smart on-cloud hitless switching Compute-efficient architecture with CPU and no GPUs Orchestrated live closed captioning Live to VOD recording Rich HDR graphics with DVE effects including HTML graphics Dolby Atmos 10 channel audio Multi-view monitoring and 24/7 tech support Here’s a peek into a few top Amagi cloud advantages Cost effectiveness With Amagi’s live orchestration system on AWS cloud, resources are provisioned or deprovisioned based on requirements, delivering significant cost savings. The broadcaster might cover a more popular sport like a track event and skip another that is not preferred much by the US audience. Which means, it might decide to stream only a limited number of hours of live content in its 24 hours programming every day. Amagi’s system ensures that cloud resources are provisioned only for those live hours, thus directly translating into cost savings. (Of course, with our live-to-VOD recording capabilities, the network can create live recorded and live deferred content that can be added to the rest of the programming schedule.) Here’s another highlight. Unlike many other vendors, we leverage normal off-the-shelf CPU processors instead of high-end GPUs for processing visuals. These result in additional cost savings that do not come at the cost of quality, as we are able to ensure high quality visuals, validated by multiple eye ball tests and screen quality tests. High reliability A high stakes event like Olympics demands greater reliability and seamless operations. With dual region redundant streams combined with Amagi’s smart hitless switching, we ensure that the high profile event is insured against one major geographical outage. Even if the redundant input from one region goes down, the end output is hitless. As a result, consumers will have a seamless viewing experience. I would say, this is as good as it gets! The smart here is in the Amagi switcher that resides in the cloud. Deep integration for simplified operations One of the biggest advantages we offer is tight integration of our solution with NBCUniversal’s existing workflows. Our flexible and well-integrated solution enables seamless operational capability to the network’s various teams. In addition, our single, unified web interface is extremely user-friendly, allowing the network teams to easily access all workflows from anywhere, anytime, thus simplifying operations. Awesome viewer experience Olympics is a much anticipated sporting gala and the latest edition is one that the world - that has been under the grips of uncertainty unleashed by the pandemic - is keenly awaiting. Amagi is proud to play an integral part in making this a great experience for viewers across the US, with first of its kind UHD live playout on the cloud. We have built effective tools to reliably transport the higher bitrate UHD streams in and out of our playout solution, and also added support for new video formats like HEVC, specifically to support UHD. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, in spite of leveraging CPU processors, Amagi will deliver rich, high quality visuals. As for audio, by supporting Dolby Atmos 10 channel audio, we are helping augment the rich 4K experience with immersive sound that would give viewers at home a near-live experience. Closing note There is palpable excitement in the teams as the countdown to the grand event begins, and we will be bringing you more updates in the coming weeks and days. I would like to leave you on this note for now: The Olympic experience is a huge opportunity for Amagi to reinforce the power of cloud playout for live sports - and demonstrate its viability for events of such massive scale, where much is at stake for broadcasters. As a cloud-native tech partner, this is perhaps our big leap towards bringing cloud + UHD onto the mainstream, and paving the way for more innovations in the streaming space.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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?
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.