The ability to create TV channels online and distribute them to multiple platforms has smashed the barriers to entry of launching your own TV channels by:
Eliminating the need for physical TV stations and expensive over-the-air broadcasting equipment.
Significantly reducing the staff and costs required to sustain a linear channel operation.
Enabling content owners to reach a wider audience than ever before.
Helping content owners to monetize their content more effectively.
But just because it's easier to launch doesn't mean it's easier to succeed. If you want to build a profitable channel and increase your revenue streams, you need to incorporate the right technology, distribute on the right platforms, and develop a strategy that minimizes costs while maximizing revenue.
That’s where Amagi comes in. Amagi is an award-winning, cloud-based channel playout platform that helps television networks and other content owners manage, deliver, and monetize their content on online video platforms (like Roku, Samsung TV Plus, Sling TV, Hulu, etc.). We’ve helped over 500 content brands (like Discovery Networks, Tastemade, Fox Networks, Vice Media, and more) launch channels in over 40 countries.
In this guide, we'll show you how Amagi can help you launch a broadcast-grade online TV channel at minimal cost while yielding maximal revenue. We'll cover:
How to create your online TV channel and deliver it to video platforms, apps, and/or websites.
How to use our cutting edge ad technology to monetize your content more effectively.
How Amagi's Managed Broadcast & ADS PLUS Services can completely eliminate the hassle of running your TV channel.
Want to launch and monetize your channel with Amagi? Contact our team to get started.
How to create and deliver your TV channel with Amagi
In order to create and deliver your own TV channel, you will need the following tools:
Asset management software
Asset management software is used to store and organize your video content for your playout tool. Your content scheduling tool tells your playout tool which piece of content to play and where to find it in your AMS.
Playout software transmits your content stream to CDNs (content delivery networks) and then to the video platforms viewers will watch it on.
Content scheduling tool
You need a content scheduling tool to create a programming schedule (i.e. playlist) for your TV channel. The scheduling tool tells the playout tool what to play and where to find each piece of content in the AMS.
A content delivery network is a geographically distributed group of servers. Playout tools send your content stream to your CDN, and the CDN delivers the content to viewers using the servers that are closest to them.
Dynamic graphics tool
Dynamic graphics tools are used to insert graphics into your content and channel stream. This can include your channel logo, an animation displaying which content is coming up next, social media posts, etc.
Live playout orchestration tool
If you plan on delivering live content on your channel, you'll need a tool that can spin up live TV channels as needed, encode the feed into a size and format that can be streamed over the cloud, and play it out to your CDN.
Each of these tools is expensive. And buying them separately increases the cost of your operation, necessitates more staff to manage them, and introduces the complexity of coordinating several different vendors.
But Amagi provides all of these tools in one end-to-end solution, enabling you to simplify your workflows and reduce costs. You can manage your entire linear channel operation, multiple TV channels, and multiple platform deliveries all from one unified location.
Asset management and playout
Traditionally, you would need to store your video content in an asset management system that is compatible with your chosen cloud playout tool.
But Amagi CLOUDPORT is an award-winning cloud playout platform that provides both asset management and content playout, so you can:
Ingest and manage your video content in our system.
Deliver your linear channels over the cloud (as well as via fiber and satellite) to OTT platforms, apps, and websites.
Insert dynamic graphics into your content.
Amagi CLOUDPORT has several features and capabilities that make it the best asset management and playout platform for your online TV channel.
1) Easy data ingestion
Ingesting your content with Amagi CLOUDPORT is easy, as it supports all industry-preferred formats for audio (PCM, Dolby Digital, MP2, etc.), video (MOV, MXF, MPEG, etc.), and subtitles (SRT, PAC, DVB, etc.). And to make things even easier, our onboarding team can work with you to transition your entire ingest workflow onto our platform.
Amagi CLOUDPORT can also integrate with most leading third-party asset management systems such as Harmonic, DIVA, and more. If you want to switch over from your current system, Amagi CLOUDPORT can automatically pull your content into ours. And if you want to continue using your current system, Amagi CLOUDPORT can still provide playout.
After ingest, Amagi CLOUDPORT automatically transcodes all of your media files into the format and tech specifications of the video platforms you deliver to. Whenever those platforms change their tech specs (as they often do), Amagi automatically updates your content to match.
Automatic adjustments to platform requirements is especially important if you have a large content library and deliver to multiple video platforms. Without automation, you'd have to update all of your content on each platform that changes its specifications — a process that could take weeks if you were doing it by hand. Amagi CLOUDPORT significantly reduces the cost and complexity of managing your online TV channels and content by automating these updates.
2) Automated quality control
With traditional playout systems, finding and fixing errors in your content (like black frames, audio loss, etc.) is done manually, which costs time, money, and human resources.
But Amagi CLOUDPORT leverages automated quality control processes to spot issues such as:
Loudness or audio silence.
Asynchronous video and subtitles.
Our playout system provides a low-resolution preview of all assets so they can be manually validated and re-uploaded if necessary. Amagi then notifies your QC team of any errors so they can correct them. Alternatively, we have a managed services option if you prefer to entrust these corrections and other in-depth monitoring to our team.
3) Broadcast-grade playout
Some content owners mistakenly believe that, though it's more cost-effective than on-premise solutions, delivering content via the cloud results in lower quality playout. While that may be true for some other platforms, Amagi offers flexible, broadcast-grade quality playout at a significantly lower cost.
With Amagi CLOUDPORT, you can manage hundreds of playout feeds and deliver them to FAST, vMVPD, and VOD platforms (like Roku, Samsung TV Plus, Apple TV, Hulu, and more); your app or website; and cable or satellite TV.
Amagi can generate output streams in multiple formats. It can also deliver output in whatever video file format that is required by the platforms you're delivering to and stream video in SD, HD, and 4K Ultra HD. Just as importantly, we can deliver channels to different platforms in different stream formats, video file formats, and video quality levels as required.
Amagi's global network of CDNs spans 40+ countries. We use Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, ensuring fast, reliable content delivery to viewers everywhere. You can regionalize channels to address local broadcast regulations (like audio/video format and subtitle/caption requirements) and viewer preferences. Plus, Amagi has 99.99% uptime with 24x7 infrastructure monitoring.
Because your playout is on the cloud, your team can manage playout remotely from one user interface. It provides detailed analytics on playlist and asset status, and can be configured to your liking.
Amagi CLOUDPORT also offers live playout controls so you can manually insert ad breaks and live graphics (such as your channel logo, a ticker, social media feeds, etc.) if needed.
Notes on technical specifications:
Supported output stream formats include HLS, RTMP, UDP, and HD-SDI.
Supported video file formats include MXF, MOV, MPG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG-TS, etc.
4) Subtitles and captions
Different regions have different requirements regarding subtitles and closed captioning. Failure to comply with these requirements can earn hefty fines from regulatory agencies. Your channel must meet these requirements and supply subtitles/captions in whatever language is required.
Amagi can meet the caption and subtitle requirements of any market, can add subtitles and captions in multiple formats, and supports more captions and subtitles than competitors, including:
Up to 6 captions in the U.S.
Unlimited subtitles in the EU.
For live events, you can choose between voice-to-text software or human translation services to quickly and accurately translate live subtitles in any language.
Notes on technical specifications: Amagi subtitle formats include EBU-STL, SRT, PAC, DVB, Teletext, .890
5) Dynamic graphics
Many channels insert graphics in order to brand their content (e.g., channel logos, program logos and titles, etc.) and increase viewer engagement (e.g., images and animations that tell viewers what's coming up next, social media feeds, countdown timers, etc.).
Many cloud playout tools don't have native graphics-insertion capabilities, but Amagi does have native support for dynamic graphics. You can add dynamic and static overlays, dynamic lower-thirds, overlays, and other advanced secondary graphics to your content. You can also add graphics in real time during live playout.
And with our proprietary software that uses CPUs instead of more expensive GPUs, we can render graphics cost-effectively and pass those savings on to our users.
Notes on technical specifications:
Amagi supports rich video effects, such as Credit Squeeze, PIP, L-band, and more.
Up to 10 hardware layers and unlimited software layers of graphics.
Graphic formats: TGA, MOV, Adobe After Effects.
Scheduling with Amagi PLANNER
With Amagi PLANNER, you can schedule programming for all of your traditional broadcast, cable TV, and web TV channels using a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Amagi PLANNER has features and capabilities that enable you to quickly create EPGs (electronic program guides) weeks in advance of playout:
You can find your content metadata alongside your program details, making it easier to search and sort media in your schedule calendar.
You can create content playlists and use them to construct program schedules for quick and repetitive scheduling.
You can create scheduling pattern rules — such as playing certain content/playlists on weekdays vs. weekends — to automate program schedules.
You can then export your playlist to Amagi CLOUDPORT to be viewed as a day-wise, detailed playlist with auto-scheduled ad breaks.
Live-streaming with Amagi LIVE
If you plan on delivering live content to your channel, you'll need a live streaming orchestration tool like Amagi LIVE.
Amagi LIVE takes your live broadcast from your studio, compresses it, and delivers the stream to viewers’ connected TVs, smartphones, and other devices.
You can deliver your live content according to the tech specs of the platforms you're delivering to, and in whatever stream quality you desire: SD, HD, or 4K.
Amagi LIVE also supports dynamic platform delivery, so you can:
Deliver your live broadcast to some platforms but not others.
Deliver certain parts of your live broadcast to some platforms but not others.
Deliver your live broadcast to different platforms in the streaming format/quality each requires.
With an average latency of just 3-4 seconds, Amagi LIVE has a much lower latency than competing playout tools. This is because we ingest and encode live stream feeds using the fastest protocols for streaming video (such as HLS and RTMP), thereby increasing playout bandwidth.
Amagi LIVE also includes VOD Recording capabilities, so you can automatically record your live events and replay them on your channel and/or deliver them to video on demand platforms.
How to monetize your online TV channel with Amagi THUNDERSTORM & Amagi ADS PLUS
There are three ways to monetize your TV channel:
Hybrid model (mVPD)
You can use Amagi THUNDERSTORM to monetize your channel with dynamic ad insertion. If you have unsold ad inventory, we can fill those ad slots for a percentage of the revenue. In this section, we explain the three ways of monetizing your channel, plus what ad-based monetization looks like when you’re using Amagi.
Ad monetization can be a good option when:
You’re not sure if audiences will pay a monthly fee for your channel.
You want a low barrier of entry for your channel (i.e. more people can access your channel because it's free).
You have a niche audience that select advertisers will pay premium prices to reach.
To monetize your content with ads, you need to stitch ads into your content stream with an SSAI (server-side ad insertion) tool. SSAI is better than the alternative, CSAI (client-side ad insertion), because:
SSAI ads can’t be blocked by ad blockers. If your ad gets blocked, you won’t earn money for the ad impression.
SSAI tools can use content metadata and viewer information to personalize ads for viewers.
But there's a step above SSAI which Amagi THUNDERSTORM provides: SSDAI (server-side dynamic ad insertion).
Amagi THUNDERSTORM partners with leading ad networks (such as Google DFP, SpotX, Pubmatic, etc.) to seamlessly insert dynamic ads into your content. With Amagi THUNDERSTORM, you can:
1) Improve ad delivery to avoid losing revenue
Frame accuracy is important to ad delivery. Your ad should begin at the final frame of content before the ad break, and it should play every frame of the ad. If even one frame of an ad isn’t delivered to the viewer, you won’t get paid for the impression.
Another problem that can affect ad delivery is fill rates. When ad insertion tools call for an ad from the ad server, those ads sometimes don’t get filled (i.e played to the viewer) for technical reasons.
Not only does THUNDERSTORM deliver frame-accurate ads, it also requests multiple ads for each ad break so that if one ad can’t be played, Amagi THUNDERSTORM can play another ad in reserve. Some of our customers who switched over to Amagi THUNDERSTORM from other SSAI tools have reported a 35% increase in their fill rates.
With Amagi THUNDERSTORM, your channel can deliver more ads more consistently to customers and thereby earn more revenue.
2) Manipulate manifest files to deliver personalized, hyper-relevant ads to viewers.
When content is delivered to viewers, it comes with a manifest file (i.e. a playlist) that details which content and which ads are to be played and in what order.
SSDAI tools enable you to manipulate that manifest file for each viewer so you can deliver personalized ads based on:
The type of content they're watching.
The genre of content they're watching.
The viewers location.
3) Deploy cutting-edge ad capabilities
Amagi THUNDERSTORM also offers access to our cutting-edge ad capabilities, such as nonlinear ads and interactive ads.
Nonlinear ads are ads that are displayed while your content is playing (instead of during an ad break). These ads can be displayed on a split-screen or lower-third L-band. We even support dynamic brand insertion, allowing you to swap in the logos and promotional material of advertisers into the content itself.
Because nonlinear ads don’t interrupt the viewing experience, you can earn more ad impressions, collect more ad revenue, and potentially reduce the number of ad breaks.
Interactive ads are ads viewers can interact with. For example, an ad for an iOS or Android app can include a QR code that viewers can scan to download the app. Or, if you're displaying an ad for sneakers, viewers can use their remotes to cycle through different sneaker colors or styles.
Interactive ads have the potential to increase ad conversions. When your ads convert more, you can charge advertisers a higher CPM and earn more ad revenue.
4) Use ad analytics to improve your ad strategy
Amagi THUNDERSTORM provides real-time ad analytics that provide insight into:
Which content performs the best with ads.
At what time your ads perform best.
With which audiences your ads perform best.
You can use ad insights to improve your ad strategy, scheduling strategy, and content strategy.
Amagi ADS PLUS
You can use Amagi ADS PLUS to ensure that you sell as much of your linear TV channels’ ad inventory as possible. We do this through programmatic exchanges and through direct sales.
Ad buyers using the programmatic exchange might be targeting “females ages 24 - 35,” for example. Let’s say your cooking show content regularly attracts these viewers. In that case, your ad slots will be bundled with other CTV content powered through Amagi and purchased on the exchange.
We also broker direct sales, which significantly improves the CPM you can receive for your ad slots. When buyers are looking to place their ads directly into your content (such as using dynamic product placement) or to base their ads on the type of content playing, we can secure much higher CPMs through direct sales.
Best of all, Amagi ADS PLUS is a risk-free approach to growing your ad revenue by monetizing unsold inventory.
Subscription-based channels charge viewers a monthly fee to access the channel's content (like HBO or Showtime).
If you create a subscription-based smart TV app or mobile app, you'll have to choose whether to handle subscription monetization yourself or use subscriber and billing management tools.
If you manage subscription monetization yourself, you'll need an app developer to build the subscription paywall into your app. You'll also be responsible for managing:
Payment workflows and processing
Subscriber and billing management tools can be used to create secure, compliant paywalls and manage payment processing for your app.
Hybrid model (mVPD)
Some channels choose to monetize with both ads and subscriptions on mVPD platforms like YouTube TV.
This can be an ideal monetization strategy for newer channels, as it enables you to:
Generate revenue from two different sources.
Gauge the revenue potential for both sources.
Provide some free content that lures viewers in and lets them decide whether they want to pay for your premium channel.
If you choose this route, you'll need both ad and subscription monetization tools. Amagi can cover your ad monetization needs.
Launch and grow your online TV channel with Amagi
With Amagi, you can deliver a high quality linear channel while minimizing costs and maximizing revenue.
You can use Amagi to:
Generate broadcast-grade quality playout to your chosen platforms.
Automate content ingestion and quality control.
Insert subtitles and captions that comply with the requirements of the regions you deliver to.
Insert dynamic graphics that enable you to brand your channel and boost viewer engagement.
Create EPGs for all of your channels using a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Create content playlists and programming rules so you can automate your TV channel schedules.
Deliver low-latency live streams to multiple platforms in whatever format and stream quality is required (SD, HD, and 4K).
Handle dynamic content delivery needs, such as delivering streams in different qualities to different platforms.
Automatically record live streams for redistribution on your linear channel or VOD offerings.
Deliver highly-personalized ads to viewers that generate more viewer engagement.
Deliver frame-accurate ads with higher fill rates.
Use real-time ad analytics to improve your ad strategy and increase ad revenue.
Sell more of your ad inventory to so you can earn more on every online TV channel you manage.