I am thrilled to announce today that Elemental is joining forces with Amazon to accelerate the development and adoption of our software-defined video platform. As a part of Amazon Web Services, Elemental will continue to operate under our existing brand, delivering the full range of solutions required by our customers.
Like Elemental, Amazon believes in relentlessly executing on a long-term vision to help customers solve their most difficult problems. This alignment made us strong technology partners over the past four years. Through this partnership, we learned that Elemental and Amazon share similar core values and that the cultural alignment between the two companies is remarkable. Elemental’s top core value of Integrity is similar to Amazon’s Leadership Principal ‘Earn Trust of Others.’ Amazon ups the ante on Elemental’s core value of ‘Customer Centrism’ with their ‘Customer Obsession.’ And Elemental’s third core value, ‘Innovation,’ is matched by Amazon’s ‘Invent and Simplify.’ This alignment around the fundamental, intrinsic cultural values shared by our teams ensures that we will do great things together.
Even with the technical and cultural alignment between the two companies, entering into this journey with Amazon was something we thought long and hard about. We came to the conclusion that moving forward was the right thing for all of our stakeholders. Specifically:
- For our customers: Elemental’s unrelenting focus on making customers excessively happy will continue unabated. Whether you are running our software on-premises or in the cloud, you will see our pace of innovation accelerate and our investment in Service and Support increase.
- For our team: You have built the world’s leading software-defined video company, out-innovating and out-performing larger, entrenched competitors. This relationship will allow us to substantially grow our global team and ensure that we realize our vision to enhance more than 90% of the video bits being delivered over IP networks.
- For our community: Our community’s long- and short-term investments made Elemental possible. We are committed to ensuring that the “virtuous cycle” continues and will continue to expand our early Community Investment efforts in ways that enhance the cities in which we live around the world.
Thank you to everyone who has played a role in Elemental’s success thus far. We look forward to being an even better partner to our stakeholders as the next stage of the journey unfolds.
For Com Hem, a Swedish supplier of broadband and television services, deploying a unified headend to deliver linear video across cable, IPTV and over-the-top TV networks is the next crucial step to staying nimble in the marketplace. Com Hem, which was founded in 1983 and spun out of Sweden’s former telecommunications monopoly, has kept its eye on becoming a one-stop shop for customers and providing the best quality video experience regardless of platform or delivery method.
Elemental’s flexible and scalable unified headend solutions enable Com Hem to explore the benefits of multiscreen video delivery and optimize quality on a per network basis, while allowing the company to respond to market opportunities more quickly. This is especially important given the speed at which technology is changing – as new devices get introduced, next generation television services evolve, and in the OTT space, delivery protocols and digital rights management requirements continue to push the envelope.
With nearly 40% market penetration among Swedish households, Com Hem’s 1.92 million broadband, television and telephony customers are among the most digital savvy on the continent. According to the European Commission’s recently published Digital Economy and Society Index, Sweden ranked as the second most digital country in Europe based on factors such as connectivity, digital skills and overall Internet usage. A unified headend is one of the key factors strengthening Com Hem’s position as the largest cable operator in Scandinavia. And thanks to SDV-enabled solutions from Elemental, Com Hem is uniquely positioned to evolve with the demands of customers and the future.
Last month, Elemental announced that Sky is leveraging Elemental software to power and deliver its over-the-top (OTT) TV service NOW TV and mobile TV service, Sky Go. In a special press event at the Sky campus in West London, Elemental and Sky executives provided a definitive roadmap for the video industry as it rockets toward a new and exciting all-IP, multi-platform future.
Sky’s innovative VOD and linear OTT services and advanced video infrastructure set it apart from other content providers, and Elemental is proud to support Sky every step of the way. This second installment of a three-part blog post provides insights from Matt McDonald, Director of Broadcast Services and responsible for all things video/content supply chain at Sky.
Sky's OTT Proposition
By Matt McDonald, Director of Broadcast Services at Sky
It’s really clear that OTT is growing in importance all the time for Sky.
We’ve dramatically increased our focus both in terms of our standalone OTT proposition NOW TV and in our core hybrid proposition around Sky+ HD and Sky Go. Why is this important?
First, increased content consumption. For example, we are seeing about 2.6 billion downloads and streams in a given year. Second, our move into the ‘pay light’ market with NOW TV. This is a contract-free, flexible way to consume Sky content and it is growing all the time.
From a technology and operations point of view, multiplatform has to be inherent in everything we do. We have to be thinking about multiplatform and multiscreen, how we deliver VOD, and the implications of these trends in our VOD and linear OTT workflows.
Customers want choice with content - to watch it when, how, and where they want. We need to have platforms that can make that happen. From a quality point of view, this means providing the best possible customer experience and picture quality for the device, content genre, and available bandwidth. At Sky, we maintain and continuously optimize more than 20 different profiles for our VOD content to achieve this.
In addition to choice, customers want minimum delay from the action appearing on screen the first time to when it reappears in catchup. We have 38 different catchup channels on Sky Go. For big events and shows, viewers expect content to be there at the time we say it’s going to be there. At Sky, we say modern day “black to air” is when a VOD asset is not there at 9pm and consumers were expecting it to be there at 9pm. Speed is really, really important: we need to make sure that we can process content quickly and that it’s highly available and reliable.
Choice of content means massive scale. We are a big volume operation and must be able to provide the massive catalogue of content customers expect. We process tens of thousands of hours of assets a month and we need to be able to scale to deal with peaks in demand. Of course, nobody in Sky wants to compromise. We want it all: picture quality; ubiquity across all the bitrates; and high availability and scalability. Hence, our encoder choice is key.
How do we provide VOD content to all of these different OTT propositions? The Sky content supply chain is effectively a completely automated end-to-end workflow from ingest to publish. We can manage assets rights, asset scheduling across different platforms, orchestration of assets through content preparation, and track assets through each individual stage – ingest, transcode, QC, encryption, and/or publication. This engine enables us to operate at mass volume and to provide VOD catalogues both in terms of throughput and how you want to see it today as a Sky customer.
Elemental sits right in the heart of our supply chain, powering this engine and all our VOD assets. Why Elemental? We chose Elemental first and foremost because of balance. We needed picture quality across all the different bitrates and we needed high-speed processing. Elemental really hit the mark and satisfied our needs; it is a well-rounded transcode product.
Architecturally, Elemental is the right fit for us. We know it can scale to big processing peaks and it integrates well into our highly automated workflow engine.
Lastly, the software-based approach is simply faster. We see quicker feature development as well as fast roadmap turnaround and bug fixes. It is a key part of why we like working with Elemental. At the moment, Elemental is powering the Sky content supply engine, including all our VOD assets across Sky Go and NOW TV as they exist today.
But, at Sky, we don’t like to stand still. We have fantastic live linear content and that presents us with new challenges. Currently, we are in the process of re-engineering our linear, or as we refer to it, our IP video headend. With an end-to-end IP video architecture (content acquisition to stream conditioning and publishing), we can deliver both better quality for customers and dramatically accelerate Sky’s ability to provide new features and capabilities.
As part of our IP headend rebuild, we selected a new transcode platform; we chose Elemental. We made this decision for reasons similar to those that led to our initial purchase of Elemental solutions: we liked the balance with Elemental’s ability to deliver quality across different bitrates and we liked them architecturally. The software-based architecture is a really good fit. Their views and roadmap are very much aligned with where we are going. Over the next couple months, we will have rolled out our premium linear services on the Elemental platform and will go forward evolving with Elemental.
We know OTT is important. We know it is critical for Sky. And, we know that we need an architecture that is fast and responsive in this very dynamic OTT world. We see Elemental as a key component of this infrastructure.
Elemental Technologies is the leading supplier of software-defined video solutions for multiscreen content delivery. Founded in 2006, Elemental is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.