Technology

“Competition in OTT solutions is what makes it exciting:" Amagi's Baskar Subramanian

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Founded in 2008, Bengaluru-hqed broadcasting, cloud and OTT ad and tech solutions provider Amagi is a homegrown outfit that is slowly and steadily making its mark globally, thanks to its innovative tech prowess.  With offices in New York, London and Hong Kong, and its R&D lab in Bangalore,  Amagi has made  deployments in over 40 countries and delivers more than 80 feeds to audiences worldwide. Its client roster features some big ticket premium players like: Discovery Communications (for DSport), Vice (for its Viceland channel),  Turner, AMC, IMG and B4U.

Like previous years, the company is exhibiting at the global broadcast and OTT ecosystem confab, IBC in Amsterdam. Among the tech solutions it is showcasing at the exhibition include:  Cloudport channel Playout, Thunderstorm OTT Ad insertion, and Storm TV localization.

Indiantelevision.com’s Kirti Chauhan had a brief conversation with Amagi CEO Baskar Subramanian about the company’s participation in IBC as well as on its journey so far. Excerpts from the interview: 

What are the innovations you are bringing to IBC 2017?

This time we are carrying two big innovations. First is related to machine learning capabilities or we call it the new deep learning capabilities, the artificial intelligence approach. For the first time, we are announcing products and services that would leverage machine learning capabilities to create new services. For example, we are demonstrating the  sports highlight feature.

In a 90 minutes live soccer match, as soon as the match completes, a video editor identifies and creates a 10-15 minutes highlight show removing injuries, fouls and much more non-highlight things.

But, Amagi has created a system that can automatically spit out 10 minutes highlights without worrying about missing the key factors.

This is one step in the evolution of the bunch of services we are bringing in, which is going to transform how content is processed more in terms of live as well as VOD content.

The new capabilities allow us to create promos, key frames, and much more with the help of our new solutions, which are done manually today.

The second big innovation is the auto ad detection capability. It is an OTT offering. We have created a mechanism that can identify an ad and content separately so that each can be monetized on an individual basis.

What is the amount of investment put in the technologies, which you are showcasing at IBC 2017?

Amagi has raised $60 million to date and a large part of these funds are used on technology and research and development from the past six years. The products and innovations which we are going to present in IBC 2017 are a result of that R&D. We have raised  $35 million earlier in this year from KKR Emerald Media.

How much traction has your ad insertion solution got globally?

The total amount of ad insertion transaction we have done is close to about $30 million.

You are entering a competitive market in OTT end-to-end solutions. Comment.

There are three different parts specifically to the OTT value chain today. Looking at it from the technology standpoint, there is a need for OTT platform, that is, first, the software infrastructure, users interface towards the customers and the interaction with the customers. That is the whole customer related platform which is the online platform.

Second is the advertising monetization, which is a separate piece of managing the monetization part. And third is video back pulling which is bringing the content into the system.

Amagi basically focuses on its strength -  which is ad monetization as well as video back and forth today. We work with multiple different online platforms.

Yes, it is a competitive market and that is the exciting part. The market is growing dramatically in this segment. Many different players from different parts of the globe are getting into this particular space.

Who is your target clientele for live streaming online?

Our target clientele is everybody who is into live streaming of any sort of content. One bunch is the large professional  sports TV channels. Another bunch of clients we are targeting is Youtube stars and wannabes. Those who already exist on Youtube space now are looking to create live events and sessions.

We have few clients worldwide who have started to look at it and lot more is going to happen in the next few months, where we will be seeing digital first companies becoming great consumers of live streaming capabilities on the internet.

For example, we already have channels that are using Amagi’s infrastructure for live sports. In India, DSport,  a Discovery Communications sports channel, is run by Amagi. We are handling their live content day in and day out. Content coming in from worldwide is going through our infrastructure where we help them to orchestrate and create live streams for different sports events worldwide. Currently, we are managing their Pakistan vs World XI  match via Bangalore.

How you will take out the interruptions (ad breaks) from the live content that you are demonstrating at IBC2017?

When an event happens, we take the whole event content into the cloud, and then there is a stream of the event coming as an IP stream or internet stream into the cloud. In the cloud, Amagi can through a browser insert exact points of the ad. For example, if we are watching a cricket match, exactly at the end of an over to put an advertisement, Amagi uses its browser-based approach. Another current example, in the DSport scenario, the satellite uplink is happening in Hong Kong,  the cricket match is happening in Pakistan, the control of the advertising, graphics and sports score card is done in Bangalore.

Amagi does the effective master control of the whole live stream from the Bangalore master control room on cloud infrastructure. Amagi has built out sophisticated and complex architecture that we are demonstrating at IBC 2017 as our new innovation.

What would be the time lag in the telecasting of the live content?

From the time the camera captures the event to the time it comes to on any screen is called glass-to-glass latency. In Amagi, the glass-to-glass latency is about 10 seconds.

How have you scaled up to offer these solutions?

Amagi’s infrastructure has been built from a software architecture standpoint through which we would be able to scale and offer thousands of services. Once, applied on a public cloud infrastructure like Amazon, Microsoft Azure, then it starts scaling up dramatically.

How do you operationalize these channels and run them?

Amagi uses a lot of automation instead of people and has built automated monitoring capabilities, alerts, and system capabilities. Everything is automated, as much as possible, and we minimize manpower, as well as our scalability, is automatically addressed using machines.

How do you manage monetization?

Amagi has the technology to identify the location of all the ads breaks on the online television content, which is available on television today. Once it is identified, we connect with ad networks and ad exchanges and sell the advertisements to them.

What is your expectation from these innovations?

Fundamentally the innovations we are doing are world class and pioneering. We will be probably the only company or one of the companies talking about taking the machine learning and artificial intelligence approach. Also like Google and Microsoft, we will be one of the few companies, which talks about these capabilities for broadcasting as a media business programmer.

Also read:

Managed Broadcast Services Amagi's Skylight Cloud Platform

Amagi wins IBC Innovation Award

Amagi to provide ad solutions to Sun TV Network

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