Amagi will explore M&As to accelerate revenues, expand marketplace: Baskar Subramanian

Amagi will explore M&As to accelerate revenues, expand marketplace: Baskar Subramanian

The executive talked about powering the next phase of growth for Amagi and M&E industry.

Baskar Subramanian

Mumbai: Just a couple of years prior to the pandemic Amagi was known as a targeted TV advertising solutions provider. At present, it prides itself on calling “a global leader in cloud-based SaaS technology for broadcast and connected TV,” which aims to transform the media and entertainment industry by virtualising entire broadcasting operations.

Pivoting around the growth of streaming, Amagi has evolved into a next-generation media technology company driven by increased demand for its products, more so globally, than in India. Today, its clientele includes large media conglomerates (NBCUniversal, Paramount, A+E Networks UK), connected TV majors (Samsung TV Plus, Roku, Vizio, LG Channels), content owners (Tastemade, USA Today, AccuWeather) and leading OTT/FAST players (Fubo, Stirr, Redbox, Rakuten TV & more).  

Overall, Amagi supports 650+ content brands, 800+ playout chains, and over 2000 channel deliveries on its platform in over 40 countries. It has a presence in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Paris, Singapore, broadcast operations in New Delhi, and an innovation centre in Bangalore. Amagi witnessed a 59 per cent surge in customers in 2021, 108 per cent YoY growth in revenue, and 112 per cent YoY growth in ad impressions generated using its dynamic ad insertion platform - Amagi Thunderstorm.

In March, the company solidified its position as a unicorn after raising $95 million in a funding round led by Accel. Impressive traction for Amagi’s cloud solutions, and its demonstrated leadership in the rapidly growing CTV-led Free Ad-supported Streaming TV space, led to further investments from existing investors Norwest Venture Partners and Avataar Ventures to power the next wave of growth.

“The media industry has been swept up in a content storm with consumers demanding high-quality, personalised content at faster-than-ever turnaround speeds,” says Amagi investor Avatar Ventures’ founding partner Nishant Rao. "Amagi has enabled major media players to stay relevant in these times of change while helping them to extract nearly 40 per cent operational savings through cloud solutions."

But what does Amagi actually do?

Amagi provides end-to-end cloud-managed live and on-demand video infrastructure to content owners, broadcast and cable TV networks, and OTT platforms. Its core expertise lies in broadcast-grade 24x7 linear channel creation, channel distribution to Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV platforms, live orchestration for sports and news, OTT server-side ad insertion, analytics for monetisation, and cost-effective disaster recovery, among others.

“The popularity of streaming and the resultant change in consumer behaviour has also effected a change in the back-end or what is called the content factory,” Amagi co-founder and CEO Baskar Subramanian simplifies the jargon for us. “What used to be a hardware-based setup is now becoming software-driven. As a result, large TV networks are moving all of their media operations to the cloud. And this movement to a virtualised model of operating the business is nothing new; it has happened in retail, in BFSI, now it is happening in the media business,” he says.

For TV channels Amagi helps in moving all operations to the cloud, while OTTs use its services to operate and monetise their content with targeted advertising at an individual level.

“Even though OTT is starting to become big in the country, it’s not really big in advertising dollars. In India, we made about 900 million in ad revenue last year, which is quite low for a country of our size. Video CPMs are also dismally low at three-four dollars vs 30 dollars in the US. This needs to change, and it will happen when marketers start moving their TV budgets to OTT platforms. I see that happening in the next few years,” shares Subramanian.

“FAST which is gaining traction due to increasing fatigue among consumers overwhelmed by choices, can be a great way of increasing streaming ad revenues, but it has not yet made inroads in India,” he informs. Internationally, FAST services like Pluto TV and Tubi continue to up the game by investing in quality content. Audiences and advertisers are following.

According to the latest edition of the FAST industry report by Amagi, in 2021, total FAST viewership hours grew by 103 per cent, while the average session duration increased by eight per cent. Ad impressions grew by a robust 134 per cent, reminiscent of the $50 billion in ad opportunities up for grabs for content owners each year across FAST platforms.

The next wave of growth for Amagi

Buoyed by the recent fundraise, the company is doubling down on its R&D from last year. It has quadrupled its sales team and also plans to expand offices across the globe including in Australia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

Amagi recently announced two new hires including Daniel Marshall as EVP of global sales for its SaaS business and streaming TV veteran James Smith to lead its global ad sales and partnerships business. Marshall moves in from Amazon, and Smith, from Facebook.

The company is keen on raising capital and growth through mergers and acquisitions. “We are looking at acquisitions which can help us to accelerate the overall revenue and expand the marketplace,” informs Subramanian.

“This is a crucial juncture for our business as we look to hit a hyper-growth trajectory by creating a winning combination of goals, processes, team structures and more. Our investors have a known history of crafting the success stories of companies with the promise of potential. We look forward to leveraging their astute understanding of the B2B SaaS landscape to successfully navigate the market intricacies and position ourselves for sustained success in the coming years,” he concludes.