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Telestream® specializes in products that make it possible to get video content to any audience regardless of how it is created, distributed or viewed. Throughout the entire digital media lifecycle, from capture to viewing, for consumers through high-end professionals, Telestream products range from desktop components and cross-platform applications to fully-automated, enterprise-class digital media transcoding and workflow systems.

Telestream upgrades to Platinum membership of IABM

IABM recently announced that Telestream has upgraded its IABM membership to Platinum. Telestream now joins a select group of industry leaders including Avid, AWS Elemental, Dell EMC, Google, Grass Valley, Oracle, Piksel, Skyline Communications, V-Nova and Verizon in enjoying the wide range of benefits and recognition that top-level Platinum membership of IABM confers.

IABM is the international trade organisation whose members represent the majority of the broadcast and entertainment technology market’s revenues worldwide. IABM facilitates the important networking and interaction between suppliers that shape and define the unique ecosystem of the broadcast and media technology industry.

Telestream is a global leader in file-based media workflow orchestration, media streaming and delivery technologies: for over 20 years, the company has been at the forefront of innovation in the digital video industry. It develops products for media processing and workflow orchestration; live capture, streaming, production and video quality assurance; and video and audio test solutions that make it possible to reliably get video content to any audience regardless of how it is created, distributed or viewed. Telestream solutions are available on premises or in the cloud as well as in hybrid combinations. Telestream customers include the world’s leading media and entertainment companies: content owners, creators and distributors. In addition, a growing number of companies supplying and servicing much larger markets such as ad agencies, corporations, healthcare providers, government and educational facilities, as well as video prosumers and consumers, are turning to Telestream to simplify the access, creation and exchange of digital media.

”Today, we stand on the cusp of a live production and streaming revolution where the commercial opportunities are enormous and these are matched by a need for the broadcast technology community to act responsibly, collaboratively and towards shared goals and desired outcomes,” comments Scott Puopolo, CEO of Telestream. “IABM is one of a very small number of organisations worldwide that can influence the course of this seismic change. It is actively helping to feed that debate and fuel that revolution. Telestream has been an IABM member for many years – now is the right time for us to step up our participation even more.”

“Telestream was one of the first companies to see the direction the broadcast and media industry was heading and is now a worldwide leader in helping drive the industry’s migration to IP and live and OTT streaming,” said Peter White, IABM CEO. “We of course welcome Telestream to Platinum membership and look forward to working closely with them to ensure everyone in the company fully leverages all the benefits now available to help Telestream do even better business.”

Video providers: Prioritise monitoring or risk impacting consumer QoE

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Written by Stuart Newton, VP Strategy within the Corporate Development Group at Telestream

Video is now going everywhere – to anyone, wherever they are, on whatever access network they are using.  This “global accessibility” is still a relatively new development in the evolution of video delivery, for both media companies originating content and for the networks that transport it. As with most innovations, the service itself generally precedes high-quality versions of the service, as companies rush to be the first to market with due service monitoring.  Any issues with the service result in emergency triage to find out what is going wrong, and usually a fair amount of finger-pointing and blame, usually achieving nothing other than increasing stress levels and delaying the resolution of the issue.

Monitoring, although not glamorous, is a fascinating challenge.  In general, it can be there for safety reasons, diagnostics, revenue, cost efficiencies (time-to-resolution, reducing incorrect personnel resource allocation) and brand protection (which, incidentally, is a major reason for monitoring after the live streaming failures of the last several years).  Most people don’t even realise it’s there.  The speedometer or temperature gauge on a car, the brake warning light, a house alarm, an alert on a smart phone – monitoring surrounds us all and we generally take it for granted.

In industrial production, monitoring is there for safety, performance monitoring and diagnostics – it costs a lot for a production line to go down, especially with the just-in-time production methods of today.  Within the on-demand world, monitoring is essential to make sure the pieces or data are where they need to be, or working properly, at all times.  Even if there is a backup system, it needs to be monitored to make sure it really is available as a backup system.

Industrialisation of video – monitoring plays critical role, even in unmanaged networks
Video is no different to any of these applications.  Today, video information is compressed and put into IP packets and sent all over the world, either live, or on-demand per the streaming catalogues available today.

Those packets need to be created and stored (for on-demand) or sent out immediately (for live streaming) and have to find their way across a multitude of networks to eventually be decoded back into the pictures we see on our TVs or smart phones.  There are a multitude of resolutions to create for large-screen TVs to smart phones, and different bit rates (with varying quality of the same video content), so that the players can choose to step down in bit rate (to a lower quality version of the same video) if the supplying network is getting congested.

This highlights another challenge – the supplying network. Not many people realise that when they are watching sports content on their home TV, and then switch to their phone temporarily, that the video they are now watching may be delivered over a completely different supply network than the video they were watching on their TV. If they walk out of the house and switch to a cellular network, it will most likely be a completely different path again, and will almost certainly be a different quality feed, with the packets probably constructed by different servers in a different geographical location.

In understanding this, it may be unsurprising that the streams are rarely in synch, with different time-lags behind the live stream.  Even the viewing device will add different levels of delay compared to the person watching next door, due to buffering calculations relevant to that device and how good the network is that feeds it.

All of this barely scratches the surface of the number of things that can go wrong, or affect, the quality or streaming performance of live video.  Even in the past, when video delivery networks were controlled end-to-end by a video service provider (encoding, multicast delivery, access network, residential gateway and the set-top box) as in satellite, cable, or early IPTV deployments, monitoring was essential for most providers.  Without it, it could take days, weeks or even months to isolate an issue (especially when the issue occurred at random times), and in many case would often result in the video processing team, the core network team, the access network team and the retail team (residential gateway and STB) all pointing the finger of blame at one another.

The importance of demarcation monitoring in a multi-network environment
The move to adaptive streaming has further compounded all of these issues.  Multiple bit rates, multiple adaptive protocols (HLS, DASH and legacy) and multiple delivery networks that are no longer owned by the video service provider (content delivery networks, multiple access networks), have all made video monitoring essential.  It also means that for the video service provider, it is essential to know what the video transport quality looks like going into, and coming out of, the third-party networks. Demarcation monitoring is absolutely critical to understanding where the root cause of the video delivery issues start, so that the right teams (and company) can be deployed to fix them.

Complexities around latency have also crept in, and have, in many cases, taken video delivery backwards in terms of time-behind-live issues for live events. A great example of this is the challenge that video service providers have in synchronising multiple camera angles to the viewer on their home TV. The main TV feed may be coming across the core telecommunication network, while the different camera angles may be delivered using adaptive streaming across different national or global networks, introducing a significant lag from the main feed.

Video streaming “whenever” and “wherever” is now emerging out of its infancy, and people expect a good quality service – especially if they are paying for it.  Real-time monitoring is absolutely critical to video streaming services, and due to the reasons above, involves an intimate understanding of the entire end-to-end process for video delivery. Real-time feedback is also essential for the future of zero-touch video services, where the data can be used instantly to correct or compensate for issues with the video service.  Without real-time feedback from multiple points along the end-to-end delivery chain, closed loop capabilities are simply not possible.

 

 

Does OTT make sense for smaller broadcasters and media organisations? 

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: Over-the-Top (OTT) services are now well and truly in the mainstream of broadcast operations. It isn’t just big national/international broadcasters that are investing heavily in OTT provision. Many smaller organisations are launching OTT services – but are the business issues facing all broadcasters the same. In this article, I look at the big OTT picture and asks when smaller or regional broadcasting channels decide to shift to OTT, what are some aspects they should keep in mind with the technology implementation?

What impacts the cost of OTT services?One of the great benefits of an OTT strategy is that the costs associated with a successful channel launch can often be minimised through the use of cloud and social media channel origination and delivery services. Social media is often times a great tool for creating awareness around a broadcaster’s brand, entice new viewers to their programme offerings and affordably distribute content to a broad audience. Cloud solutions provide the programmer with the ability to rapidly try out new delivery approaches, different promotions and novel programming line-ups to entice a broader audience. Whether as second screen experiences or as a premium channel, social media and cloud origination can dramatically cut up front investment costs and enable rapid development of an internet scale audience. While OTT delivery costs often scale with the size of the audience, novel approaches provide a path to testing and validating audience response to your programming and marketing efforts without the need for very large initial investments. It’s not uncommon for programmers and broadcasters to leverage cloud services and social media to develop the audience, and once established, look to pull ownership of the end user experience, video hosting, ad trafficking and content rights enforcement in-house. While this can increase costs, it can enable the programmer unique audience insights and new monetisation opportunities.

As mentioned, cloud service offerings can deliver value by scaling out much of the technology investment typically associated with new content channel launches. However, it’s not uncommon for there to be requirements that may benefit from investment in on-premises “accelerated” processing appliances and private cloud deployments that are optimised for fast content turn around and processing of large libraries without the overhead associated with moving large files in and out of cloud service offerings. Ensuring that the technology stack supports the optimum mix of on-premises, private and public cloud deployment options can be essential to launching a new channel and supporting growth and scale.

Another factor a new OTT service requires at launch is a differentiation strategy; focusing on premium features like quality (4K, HDR, Premium Audio, etc…), library size or exclusivity, content localisation and others enhancements designed to entice subscribers or broader audience engagement. While content transcoding for the OTT marketplace may seem to benefit from commodity transcoding services, the overall business drivers will often require very sophisticated tools to implement those differentiators at scale. Choosing technology partners who offer premium capabilities in a deployment model that makes sense for the business is a critical element to a successful channel launch.

What’s a prudent ROI for OTT implementation and its success rate?  

Return on investment (ROI) may vary depending on the business model for the OTT implementation. Advertising based programming, subscription services, and transaction oriented OTT channels will each have different approaches to garnering audience share and optimising costs. A common thread for ensuring ROI across platforms is to have good visibility in to what features of the OTT service are delivering the most “bang for the buck”. It’s very important to not only deliver a differentiated experience, but to also measure how the audience experience is being received. Actionable analytics that enable you to dynamically monitor video and network quality all the way down to the player is an essential component of successful OTT channels.

Programming delivered over-the-top enables the broadcaster unprecedented capabilities to interact and entice a direct audience. Being able to understand and rapidly react to production and distribution problems that are impacting audience engagement are critical. An abundance of indexes that measure the overall Quality of Experience being delivered, in multiple geographies and across delivery networks combined with a rich set of analytics that describe how audience engagement varied with those performance indexes enables smart investment with the production and delivery solutions that are most benefiting your audience. Investment in QoS/QoE monitoring ensures that a new channel launch excites the audience while providing almost immediate ROI in the form of service optimisations that can dramatically reduce operational expenses.

Boost audiences by targeting specific viewers 

For broadcasters, it’s essential to reach increased numbers of viewers while optimising costs. Audience reach can be delivered in a number of ways. Many OTT services are increasingly leveraging live programming to entice new viewers. Delivering a live experience while blasting real-time highlights out to your social media followers is a highly cost effective way to create brand and programme awareness. Compelling editorial metadata enriches the content, creating relevance and searchability that, when missing, can be very frustrating and lead to a poor viewer experience.

Metadata driven content discovery also lends itself to audience engagement.  An extensive VOD library is only a differentiator if you can direct your viewer to content that engages them. By continuously investing in and enriching the metadata around the library you can create interesting ways to dynamically package and promote licensed programming. An emerging tool in the metadata enrichment domain is machine learning services that include offerings like speech-to-text, OCR and other pattern-based algorithms to pull out more descriptive information that can be used to create relevance and relatedness within your library.

Interactivity is increasingly used to attract viewers and elevate brand awareness. Curating an active community around your premium programming can deliver an intensely loyal fan-base and multiply your marketing efforts. Interactive second screen experiences, behind the scenes features and social media events create excitement, awareness and engagement with your audience. A rich community experience is rapidly becoming a cost effective and compelling way to grow audiences and open new potential revenue streams within the existing channel.

Is OTT distribution too expensive for smaller broadcasters – the need for agility in your OTT strategy?Some smaller regional broadcasters shy away from OTT platforms because the incremental cost for every stream keeps increasing prohibitively, while the reach gets narrowed to limited viewers. Is this reality?

This is one of the great challenges with effectively launching a direct-to-consumer OTT channel. Nobody wants to scale a business that is losing money, and there are risks associated with launching OTT services that are compounded by the dynamic nature of the OTT marketplace today.

Traditional broadcast mediums typically offered a set capital investment. Once made, only marginal costs were incurred as the audience size scaled. However, the traditional model offered very limited direct consumer interaction and little to no direct targeting and personalisation.

Advertisers are dramatically increasing their investments in digital video advertising and seeing the benefits of creative targeting and campaign management, paying higher average CPMs (price per thousand views) and delivering greater volumes of ad content.

Paid sponsorship is another way to offset costs. It’s unlikely that the number of minutes an average viewer spends watching video each day grows much moving forward, but a growing percentage of overall viewers are spending an increasing amount of their video viewing time in OTT and social media video platforms. The risk to not having an OTT strategy is irrelevance as the audience and advertisers shift to OTT consumption. Because of the increased audience acquisition costs associated with OTT, broadcasters are increasingly looking to increase ROI in the areas that they control, and chief among these is operational efficiency. Implementing flexible technology solutions that automate production and dynamically apply service and delivery cost optimisations ensures maximum ROI through operational efficiency.

Can intelligent tools and data analytics help map audience viewing habits?  

Is OTT no more than a means of recycling old and poor performing content as some commentators suggest? Premium OTT providers that offer “web series” content would likely disagree. These providers are investing billions of dollars in new content development and many would argue that some of the most compelling content exists today in the form of these OTT offerings.

Having said that, the “long tail” of the web creates an incentive for low budget, low quality content to proliferate and there are many examples of poor quality libraries filled with unsuccessful films and TV shows. Niche content owners now have a vehicle for reaching their audience that they’ve never had before, and you see that some of the most successful small-scale OTT channels often offer something unique in their programming mix to entice a loyal and devoted fan base.

To conclude, the single most important investment that an OTT channel operator has to make is licensing and rights deals. No amount of technology investment will entice viewers to tune in if the underlying content library is unpopular and of poor quality. However, if you have not invested in an agile OTT technology strategy, then all the content in the world will not make your OTT business successful.

OTT represents a fantastic commercial opportunity to many sorts of media and broadcast organisations. Just like all new business start-ups, it requires careful planning and an agile business plan.

Written by Ken Haren, solutions engineering manager, Telestream

Telestream introduces integrated closed caption inserter and multi-screen live streaming solution

Telestream, a global leader in file-based media workflow orchestration, media streaming and delivery technologies will introduce a unique ‘one-box-solution’ for closed caption encoding to multiple live streams at NAB 2018, booth SL3316. Sophisticated 608/708 caption insertion capability is part of the latest version of Lightspeed Live Stream -Telestream’s multiscreen live encoding and packaging at scale solution for broadcasters, content aggregators and live event production companies.

From national broadcasters to college sports, houses of worship, live event producers and even the military, the broadest range of organisations need live captioning. As live video streaming over IP networks continues to grow exponentially, the need for live closed captions within multiscreen applications is becoming critical. In response, Telestream’s new integrated live caption encoding solution is now part of Lightspeed Live Stream, helping avoid the cost and complexity of going to baseband when inserting digital captions.

A unique approach to live captioning maintains the integrity of content with zero restreaming

Today, virtually all IP caption insertion systems are cloud-based, requiring content to be moved first to the cloud, there captioned, then re-encoded and re-streamed for delivery. This introduces a significant opportunity for human and mechanical error, ultimately impacting the quality of the final content. In contrast, Telestream’s live captioning solution with Lightspeed Live Stream eliminates restreaming, instead of encoding the live captions within the original stream and ensuring the best possible quality.

And unlike expensive traditional one-channel baseband caption hardware, Telestream has used its industry-leading experience to develop a single 1RU enclosure that encodes captions to multiple live video streams, saving space and as much as $7K to $10K per channel. The system’s scalability offers on-demand caption insertion over as many streams as needed. Lightspeed Live Stream uses standard captioning protocols to receive caption data, so existing third-party court reporting software can connect to Lightspeed Live Stream via IP, making the system truly ‘plug and play’.

“Whether its commercial broadcaster streaming or live captions for Facebook, YouTube or any other streaming platform, we have developed functionality in Lightspeed Live Stream that absolutely simplifies live stream captioning,” said Scott Murray, VP Product Management at Telestream. “Uniquely, our solution involves no re-encoding or re-streaming so there is zero possibility of blips and glitches being introduced into the streamed content.”

In addition to the new live captioning capabilities, users benefit from a true enterprise-class live streaming, encoding and packaging system. For multiscreen live encoding and packaging at scale, Lightspeed Live Stream is Telestream’s premiere live encoder for broadcasters and content aggregators. With this advanced solution, users can add time delay to the stream for synchronisation purposes. In addition, they can use Lightspeed Live Stream to route captured recordings to Telestream’s Vantage Media Processing Platform for further enhancement.

For more information on Telestream’s various captioning solutions go to Telestream’s website.

Telestream announces Elastic Domain virtualised deployment model for Vantage

Telestream, a provider of digital media tools and workflow solutions, recently announced the latest version of its media processing and workflow orchestration platform, Vantage. Key new functionality within Vantage 7.1 centers on Vantage Elastic Domain. This new deployment model for the market’s leading file-based media processing platform empowers media companies to leverage public and private cloud infrastructure strategies to run Vantage.

In an increasingly cost-conscious environment where many broadcasters and media companies are adopting commercial off-the-shelf abstracted hardware and virtualised software deployments for content production infrastructure, Vantage Elastic Domain is a scalable deployment model for Vantage. It allows users to rapidly adapt to increases in media processing by allowing for “bursting’ capacity based on the daily use of extra virtual instances of Vantage.

With Vantage Elastic Domain, users can supplement perpetual licenses with on-demand license rentals, allowing their system capacity to expand in periods of peak demand, while retaining a predictable base cost for standard operational levels. With this new functionality, media companies can exploit innovations in public and private data center technology, paired with Vantage Elastic Domain to optimise flexibility and efficiency within a dynamic enterprise environment.

The proven multi-node orchestration engine within Vantage allows it to adapt to a dynamic system footprint. The Vantage architecture makes adding capacity a zero-configuration operation, and makes the solution agnostic to the underlying hardware and virtualisation solutions. With this option, users can pick the infrastructure best suited to their business and respond rapidly to ever-changing workloads. An intuitive reporting and billing console keeps users fully up to date with their current use of Vantage Elastic Domain.

“Our goal with Elastic Domain is to not only embrace the use of IT-based virtualisation and SaaS solutions for Vantage, but to add further value by making Vantage as flexible and scalable as those underlying infrastructure solutions’ commented Max Denton, product manager at Telestream. “Dynamic orchestration, centralised configuration, and centralised licensing are the key requirements for any multi-node solution to be sustainably scalable. These have been attributes of the Vantage architecture since day one. Now, with the technical and commercial enhancements of Elastic Domain, Vantage can thrive in dynamic virtual environments.”

ATG Danmon expands channel partnership agreement with Telestream

ATG Danmon announces a widening of its channel partnership portfolio to include the Lightspeed and Vantage product ranges from Telestream. In addition to its role as an international systems integrator, ATG Danmon also promotes selected third-party products which can be used together to create a comprehensive workflow solution.

“ATG Danmon has represented our Vidcheck range of quality-control products extremely well for several years,” comments Telestream Director of Sales for EMEA Guy Elliot. “Partnering with a systems integrator of ATG Danmon’s proven experience increases the level of pre-sale visibility and post-sale support available for Telestream customers in the UK.”

“Telestream has a long track record of successful innovation,” adds ATG Danmon managing director Russell Peirson-Hagger. “Its products are well tuned to the needs of today’s file-based media market, both at a broadcast level and in the rapidly expanding world of online content distribution. We have been successfully delivering the company’s QC solutions and are confident that we can build upon the strong market presence of Lightspeed and Vantage.”

Lightspeed Live Stream delivers enterprise-class live streaming for media and entertainment companies, corporations, government agencies and educational facilities. It can be deployed stand-alone for live multiscreen services or combined with the Vantage Media Processing Platform via the Lightspeed Live Capture option. Lightspeed Live Capture is a highly scalable and flexible multiple channel capture solution for ingesting high resolution and proxy files for use in production, post-production or broadcast workflows. RS422 VTR control of log and capture is included.

Vantage is a scalable software-enabled content processing platform running on standard off-the-shelf server hardware or a Telestream GPU-accelerated Lightspeed server. Vantage manages all media services from the camera to the point of distribution. It is made up of discrete services and connectors that combine to create automated workflows under unified system control. Vantage services provide transcoding, media capture, metadata processing, media analysis, and content assembly. Vantage connectors enable seamless API-level integration with third-party systems. Processing can be extended from on-premise systems to the Cloud, quickly addressing peaks in production demand or testing new business concepts.

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