Authored by Diane Powers, Head of Marketing & Business Development Asia, Elemental
SNH48 is one of the fastest growing cultural phenomena in the world. Thousands of teens rush to buy tickets for the group’s pop idol concerts across China, including daily performances at the SNH48 Theater in Shanghai. But concert halls only have so many seats, and fan frenzy surrounding SNH48 is much bigger than any single venue can hold.
SNH48 was formed in 2012 and is a Chinese spinoff of the original Japanese idol girl group AKB48. The troupe now has more than one hundred female members. The team is split into a number of companies, which allows performers to share the workload in support of their ongoing live concerts. In addition to regular shows in Shanghai, the group performs routinely in Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. Tickets for these shows – priced between 80 – 168 yuan (US $12 – 26) – sell out immediately.
Yashushi Akimoto, producer of the AKB48 group on which SNH48 is modelled, realized that young audiences want more than just idols on stage – they want to interact with them, too. Chinese fans have the opportunity to meet and interact with their homeland performers at “handshake events”. The band also offers live streams from its shows to expand the group’s reach. This is important for the SNH48 performers because each year there is a “general election,” in which the fans vote for their favorite performers. Election winners are promoted to more prominent roles.
In late 2015, the SNH48 production team deployed Elemental Live video processing to support live event streaming from the band’s Shanghai theater. The offering was an instant hit with fans, which encouraged an expansion in capabilities. In early 2016, the group implemented Elemental Live to stream concerts from theaters in Beijing and Guangzhou, in addition to Shanghai.
The team behind SNH48 chose Elemental solutions because quality, reliability and scalability were key to providing fans access to the stars’ content via connected devices and helping create a new sort of idol in the China music and entertainment industry. Viewers can now catch every SNH48 performance streaming live in high definition (HD), thanks to Elemental video processing. Watch SNH48’s most recent music video here.
In 2015, two major players in the Canadian communications business, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications, came together to roll out an exciting new consumer over-the-top (OTT) offering dubbed shomi. An expert team at the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service curates content to align with the specific appetites of the Canadian market: currently its video content base includes approximately 1200 movies and more than 10,000 television episodes.
With the goal of scaling to offer a broad range of viewing choices, and to deliver premium content coast-to-coast, shomi sought a cloud-based solution for video processing and delivery. It found one in Elemental Cloud running AWS infrastructure, using Amazon S3 for storage and Amazon CloudFront for content distribution.
When the shomi service launched, it originally employed other encoding and distribution solutions. Yet as the company’s experience with Elemental and AWS has grown, so have the benefits of cloud infrastructure, and now the company’s operations are fully migrated to Elemental-AWS solutions.
In the last year, the cloud processing and storage that shomi required grew ten-fold. “We have enjoyed Elemental Cloud so much that we have moved all of our content to it,” said Augusto Rosa, Senior Director, Head of Video & Network Infrastructure for shomi. “We are preparing video assets nearly 20 percent faster than before, and we are rapidly scaling our offerings and subscriber base.” The Elemental Cloud workflow allows shomi to manage, process and package large batches of content for on-demand OTT video delivery. Adaptive bitrate assets are packaged with popular digital rights management schemes and stored on Amazon S3. Shomi uses Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront to give high throughput to a broad range of connected devices.
Rosa added: “Thanks to Elemental and its deepening integration with AWS, we plan to use more Elemental and AWS features going forward. This is critical to meeting the growing demand in the Canadian streaming market.”
As one of the largest global cinema operators with nearly 850,000 seats across 13 countries, Cinépolis is expanding its theatrical experience with the addition of multi-platform content delivery and an over-the-top TV (OTT) service known as Cinépolis KLIC.
Cinépolis, which was founded in 1971 and is based in Morelia, Michoacán, in Mexico, has 1,200 movie titles on offer for its KLIC service, and is expecting rapid growth as the TVOD service extends the traditional cinema experience beyond the theater. The expansion couldn’t be more timely.
The online video services market in Mexico is forecast to reach up to USD $809 million in 2018, representing the largest market in Latin America according to market research firm Dataxis. More than 58 million people in Mexico – approximately 45 percent of the country’s population – now access the internet for their news, information and entertainment.
Originally, the Cinépolis KLIC service was set up as a browser-only, standard definition service, available by subscription or transaction. In 2014, the company upgraded the offer to a true TV everywhere experience. That meant supporting multiple resolutions for different devices, multiple audio formats and multiple codecs. It also meant supporting different DRM protection systems, including Widevine and PlayReady.
To deliver high-quality video, Cinépolis uses adaptive bitrate streaming, which requires support for HLS, Microsoft Smooth Streaming and MPEG-DASH. The addition of different subtitles and descriptive metadata makes the content delivery challenge even more complex. Cinépolis also wanted to integrate the KLIC service with the rest of its business and to leverage market-driven cross-promotion: for example, a theater-goer might be offered a free rental from Cinépolis KLIC.
Finally, while intent on enriching services and accelerating time to market, the Cinépolis team wanted to avoid the need to build dedicated infrastructure and incur large capital expenditures. So the company turned to the cloud, allowing it to focus resources on the core business of building a successful service.
Today, an integrated AWS and Elemental solution enables Cinépolis KLIC to deliver a true TV Everywhere platform with movie delivery to customers on a full range of connected devices. Placing all the processing – from storage to CDN – in the cloud allows the solution to be as flexible as possible, responding instantly to peaks and troughs in demand as new content comes available. The result is that Cinépolis maintains tight control over costs, relating them directly to each individual transaction, while providing consistently high technical quality and guaranteed responsiveness. It also gives the company the opportunity to extend the scope of its service at any time.
Currently available in Mexico, the fastest growing OTT market in Latin America, the Cinépolis KLIC service saw seven-fold growth between 2014 and 2015 with the launch of its new, richer and more convenient TV everywhere offering. The company is predicting further six-fold growth in 2016. That is an astounding 42 times more business than just two years ago.
By offloading complex video infrastructure and workflow requirements to AWS and Elemental, Cinépolis is free to focus on extending its OTT and multiscreen content delivery across Latin America and beyond and to do what it does best: distribute premium content to entertain its customers.