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Multichannel playout software: Distribute & monetize with Amagi

July 13, 2022

By Matthew Allard, Director, Product Marketing, Amagi

As a seasoned provider of a cloud-based multichannel playout tool used by media companies large and small — such as Discovery Networks, Fox Networks Group, NBC Universal, Tastemade, beIN Sports, IMG, Fremantle, and more — Amagi is intimately familiar with the unique challenges involved in multichannel playout.

Whether you're delivering a single stream to multiple platforms at the same time or delivering multiple streams to different destinations, Amagi's multichannel playout software is capable of meeting your needs. It’s optimized to meet the challenges of multichannel playout while helping you maximize the profitability of your operation better than any other tool on the market.

You can use Amagi to:

  • Ingest, manage, and play out your media assets.
  • Build program schedules.
  • Spin up and deliver live broadcasts.
  • Dynamically insert ads and sell your ad inventory.

More than 700 brands use Amagi to deliver 2000+ channels. To learn more about using Amagi for multichannel playout (as well as VOD distribution, content management, live streaming, scheduling, and ad monetization), contact our team.

Ingest, manage, and play out content with Amagi CLOUDPORT

Amagi CLOUDPORT is a high performance cloud playout solution that you can use to ingest, manage, and play out content to all of your channels on OTT platforms, satellite, cable, websites, apps, and social media.

Amagi’s software is built for the cloud and based on proven, reliable SaaS technology. Amagi CLOUDPORT enables media organizations to easily launch channels with little to no capital expenditure and lower operating expenses than traditional playout systems do.

With Amagi CLOUDPORT, you can:

  • Ingest assets in all industry-preferred encoding formats for audio and video (such as MXF, MPEG-2).
  • Manage all of your assets and asset metadata with a user-friendly, configurable dashboard.
  • Generate playout in multiple formats (such as HLS, RTP, RTMP, HD-SDI, and more) and in multiple video qualities (such as SD, HD, and 4K).
  • Perform region-wise live opt-in, skip video/graphics, and configure multiple users with role-based permissions.
  • Insert dynamic graphics with rich video effects, such as picture-in-picture (PIP), Credit Squeeze, L-band, and more.
  • Generate subtitles and closed captions that meet the requirements of any market you broadcast to.

There are three key aspects of Amagi's software and services that make it the best solution for multichannel playout:

1) Save time and money with quality control automation.

Managing playout for/to just one channel involves a lot of work. These challenges are multiplied with multichannel playout.

But Amagi CLOUDPORT is designed so that a single operator can handle playout for hundreds of channels. This is possible because the tool uses automation to handle repetitive tasks and ease broadcast workflows, such as:

Quality control automation

Many production teams are still doing manual quality control — devoting multiple people to combing through their content to detect errors. But manual quality control is inefficient and expensive.

Amagi automates some aspects of quality control, such as error detection. It can detect errors such as black frames, misaligned audio/video, loudness correction issues, invalid assets, playlist mismatch, and more. You can configure the parameters of your automated quality control checks and receive email alerts when errors are detected — enabling you to perform quality control at a lower cost.

Automated redundancy

Cloud-based streaming is subject to the quality of the internet connection you're streaming on. Amagi CLOUDPORT uses 1+1 redundant playout configuration and automated switching so that, in the event that one network goes down, your playout automatically switches streams. Using Amagi CLOUDPORT provides an SLA (service level agreement) guarantee of 99.99%.

2) Spin up dozens of channels with no restrictions.

Because multichannel delivery requires playout solutions to process many large files simultaneously, the quality and cost of your multichannel playout will be impacted by your solution’s processing capabilities.

Amagi CLOUDPORT leverages cloud scalability and elasticity to manage the workload easily and cost-effectively. Amagi manages thousands of incoming and outgoing feeds; there is no limit to the number of channels you can deliver with us simultaneously. Whenever you want to expand your reach, you can.

3) Outsource channel management whenever you need.

Amagi provides managed services for anyone who doesn't have the staff or infrastructure to manage multiple channels — as well as for organizations that simply want to outsource certain aspects of channel management.

Amagi’s managed services include:

Live stream monitoring and management: Amagi can remotely create, manage, and tear down cloud instances (on Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform) for live streams and pop-up channels.

Scheduling and creative management: Amagi team members will discuss the programming direction of your channel(s) with your team. Based on your objectives, the assigned team members can program the channel schedule and develop graphics, channel branding assets, promos, highlights, and full-screen animations.

Channel monitoring: Amagi monitors channel feeds from remote centers in Bangalore, New Delhi, and London. The team uses look-ahead playout and sophisticated machine learning technology to spot and fix any errors and quality issues. A dedicated operations team provides 24x7 support and guarantees the resolution of critical issues within one hour.

For more information on the capabilities and benefits of Amagi's broadcast playout software, check out this article: Why networks are retiring broadcast video playout servers.

Build schedules with Amagi PLANNER

Media content scheduling and planning is a challenge for everyone, but especially for those managing multiple channels. Large media companies have traditionally used complex broadcast scheduling and traffic systems, while smaller groups were forced to schedule their content manually into playout systems — both tedious methods that eat up lots of time.

Amagi PLANNER is an easy-to-use content scheduling application. When it comes to multichannel playout, there are a few key features of Amagi PLANNER that make it the best scheduling tool on the market:

1) Ad-break automation saves you hours of tedious work.

Traditional scheduling tools require you to manually insert ad breaks, forcing you to spend hours scheduling hundreds of ad breaks.

With Amagi PLANNER, you can set up ad-break automation rules such as:

  • Scheduling an ad break every 15 minutes.
  • Creating different ad-break rules for different assets based on characteristics such as genre, asset duration, rating, number of segments.
  • Determining the time or date range for which for which your ad-break rules apply (e.g., automatically inserting more ad breaks during peak viewing hours).
  • Determining the length of ad breaks, when it applies, and the type of ads you want to use.

Based on the rules you set, ad breaks will be automatically inserted as you build your content schedule.

2) Easily create program schedules for multiple channels.

Amagi PLANNER has multiple scheduling features that reduce repetitive actions and enable you to quickly and easily build program schedules for multiple channels:

Drag-and-drop interface: The drag-and-drop user interface simplifies schedule construction.

Scheduling rules: You can input scheduling rules to create schedule patterns — like scheduling one episode of a series to play every Sunday at 9:00pm — so you can easily create a schedule across multiple days in just a few clicks. You can also create scheduling patterns, like daily schedules, weekend-only schedules, or any custom pattern you desire.

Search and replace: You can search for an asset and replace the specific occurrence or all occurrences of the asset with another asset within the month. This enables you to easily alter your program schedules based on the viewing habits of your audience.

Copy-and-paste scheduling blocks: You can simply copy and paste entire schedule blocks. For example, if you create a schedule block for a channel in Europe and want the exact same programs to play in the exact same order but at a different time on your US channel, you can just use the copy-and-paste function.

Creating complex program schedules: Some organizations have complex scheduling situations, particularly those managing channels in different regions and time zones. Amagi PLANNER can handle complex scheduling needs like:

  • Scheduling content at different times for different time zones — e.g., scheduling a game show to play at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and 6:00 p.m. Pacific or at the same time in both regions.
  • Delivering different content to different regions on the same channel based on what performs best in that region — e.g., scheduling more soccer matches on your European TV channels vs. more football matches in the U.S.

3) Avoid rights management violations.

Navigating licensing agreements can be tough, especially if you're licensing lots of content and managing multiple channels.

You may have the rights to play a piece of content in one region but not in another. You may have the rights to play a piece of content only at specific times in specific regions.

Amagi PLANNER uses an automated warning system to ease the burden of rights management. Simply insert the licensing agreement rules into the metadata for your licensed content. Amagi PLANNER will alert you of any licensing violations by displaying a red dot in the top, right corner of the scheduled content.

For more information on the capabilities and benefits of Amagi PLANNER, check out our article: The best cloud-based broadcast scheduling software

Spin up live content with Amagi LIVE

With Amagi LIVE — a live event orchestration platform capable of handling video in up to UHD resolution — you can easily:

  • Spin up live channels and manage them remotely.
  • Dynamically alter prerecorded content in real time.

There are a few key aspects of Amagi LIVE that make it the best platform for multichannel, live playout:

1) Manage live events with fewer operators.

With traditional live production tools, multiple operators are needed to manage the live event. But Amagi LIVE is built to enable a single operator to manage multiple live events (depending on the complexity of your operation) using efficient features such as:

  • Centralized group controls for advertising: Group controls enable you to orchestrate multiple live feeds using a single live control experience. For example, you can create event templates for handling event parameters such as ad duration and ad slots.
  • Intent capture: Program intent-based actions such as playing specific graphics during predetermined mini-events during the live broadcast.

2) Flexibility for managing multiple live streams.

Amagi LIVE is built to provide flexibility and handle dynamic production needs:

  • Multi-format/protocol ingest: You can ingest from multiple live inputs and in multiple file formats, such as RTMP, HLS, UDP, LTN, NDI IP standard, etc.
  • Live controls: You can use flexible live controls to insert graphics in the live feed, control break durations and slots, extend live playout, switch between input sources, and more.
  • Dynamic delivery: You can deliver content to different platforms in different formats and quality levels as needed. For example, you can deliver the same live stream to one platform in HD and another in UHD.
  • Dynamically alter prerecorded content: You can also dynamically alter prerecorded content that's being delivered to your channels. For example, if you're streaming the same show at different times on different networks, you can insert different channel logos for each network you deliver to.

3) Automatically record live content for VOD delivery.

You can record your live events for delivery to your VOD platforms and replay on your channel(s).

4) Low-latency streaming.

If low-latency is important to your live stream, you can reduce the latency by using the Amagi live event solution to minimize the time between when your master control operator sends the stream to the live stream tool and when CDNs receive it.

5) Outsource live events with Managed Services.

As mentioned earlier, Amagi's team can spin up and spin down cloud instances for your live broadcast, as well as monitor your stream to ensure quality and uptime.

For more information on the capabilities and benefits of Amagi LIVE, check out this article: How to live stream sporting events with Amagi

Insert highly targeted ads & monetize with Amagi ADS PLUS and Amagi THUNDERSTORM

Amagi provides solutions for inserting ads into your content and filling your ad inventory.

Amagi ADS PLUS is a first-party Connected TV (CTV) advertising marketplace that you can use to outsource your ad sales and fill some or all of your ad inventory. Ad buyers find your ad inventory more appealing because, using Amagi, they gain access to…

  • 200 million smart TV households
  • 2000+ channels
  • 50 billion ad opportunities
  • 50+ OTT platforms (like Roku, Hulu, PLEX, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, PlutoTV, and more)

By connecting ad buyers with ad sellers and using highly targeted, innovative advertising tactics (more on that in the next section), Amagi helps deliver ads that generate more conversions so channel owners can increase their ad yield.

Content owners gain access to Amagi’s CTV advertising program when they use Amagi THUNDERSTORM, a DAI (dynamic ad insertion) tool that enables media companies to monetize their content with ads. Amagi THUNDERSTORM's innovative ad formats, advanced ad targeting, and dynamic advertising capabilities make it the best ad insertion tool for multichannel playout:

1) Use Amagi THUNDERSTORM's innovative ad formats.

In addition to traditional linear ads, Amagi THUNDERSTORM gives users access to several innovative ad formats, including:

  • Nonlinear ads: You can insert ads while your content is playing without cutting to a commercial break. For example, you can display a graphic overlay or video ad in the lower third of the screen, on a split screen, etc.
  • Interactive ads: You can insert ads that viewers can interact with. For example, an ad can include a QR code that viewers can scan to download an app or access a discount.
  • Brand/product placement ads: You can insert a brand logo or product into a scene. For example, if there is a can of Pepsi in a scene, you can change it into a can of Coke.

2) Deliver uber-personalized ads.

In addition to using viewer data (like location, age, gender, etc.) for ad targeting, Amagi THUNDERSTORM can deliver ads based on:

  • Content type: Deliver ads that match the type of content the viewer is watching (e.g., ads for cooking products to viewers who're watching a cooking show).
  • Content genre: Ads that match the genre of the content the viewer is watching (e.g. ads for home security tools during horror content).
  • Scene-level metadata: People who use Amagi CLOUDPORT and Amagi THUNDERSTORM can use their content metadata to insert ads into specific scenes. For example, you can insert an ad for Hershey's chocolate during a kissing scene of a romantic comedy.

3) Deliver ads dynamically.

Amagi THUNDERSTORM enables users to insert ads dynamically. For example:

  • If you're playing out the same show on different channels, you can deliver different ads to each channel as needed.
  • You can deliver localized ads for local businesses (e.g., an ad for a Boston-based real estate company delivered to viewers in Boston).
  • You can deliver specific ads to specific regions, as determined by your broadcast/creative/marketing team.

For more information on the capabilities and benefits of Amagi THUNDERSTORM, check out our article: Boost ad revenue with dynamic ad insertion for linear TV

Use Amagi for more efficient and profitable multichannel playout

Amagi offers an end-to-end, cloud-based automation and playout solution that you can use to:

  • Store, manage, and deliver content to VOD and linear channels on OTTs, satellite, and cable.
  • Easily create program schedules using automation and rapid schedule-building features.
  • Spin up and easily manage multiple live programs.
  • Fill your ad inventory and increase ad yield by inserting highly targeted ads in innovative ad formats.

Amagi's tools are the best for multichannel playout because they use efficient technology and features to minimize costs, automate repetitive tasks, and provide you with the flexibility needed to manage any multichannel playout operation.

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