SVG Europe Sit-Down: AWS Elemental’s Keith Wymbs discusses cloud migration, content personalisation and monetisation
By: Philip Stevens
Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 12:42 pm

Keith Wymbs, Chief Marketing Officer, AWS Elemental

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a dynamic, growing business unit within Amazon.com. In 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) began offering IT infrastructure services to businesses in the form of web services – now commonly known as cloud computing. Today, Amazon Web Services provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries around the world. The discussion with Chief Marketing Officer, Keith Wymbs, begins with a look back at NAB Show 2018…

What really sparked the interest of visitors to your stand at NAB?

Cloud migration is definitely accelerating amongst M&E customers. Now at the core of many content providers’ operations, cloud is driving more agility, innovation, and lower costs. 21st Century Fox, Discovery Inc., Amazon Prime Video and NASA JPL all talked about their use of AWS cloud services during the NAB keynote this year. Other emerging video providers, such as Spuul and fuboTV, rely on AWS Media Services to improve consumers’ viewing experiences. 

We saw early interest from providers looking to build intelligent video workflows with AWS machine learning services to improve viewer engagement, make workflows more efficient, and deliver additional revenue. One of the best examples of this happened just after NAB with Sky News coverage of the Royal Wedding with it’s Who’ Who Live app, where cloud-based video delivery powered by AWS Elemental Media Services was combined with Amazon Rekogntion and partner solutions from GrayMeta and UI Centric to create an automated celebrity-recognition solution for a more unique viewer experience.

Is there still some scepticism in some broadcasters’ minds about using the cloud?

I think acceptance of the cloud is becoming widespread at this point. The transition is on, and our job is to help broadcasters understand how dependable the cloud is for their mission-critical content, how seamlessly it scales for unpredictable audience sizes, how quickly they can test and deploy channels, and how they can realise savings from the pay-as-you-go cost model. When customers understand that, they start to go down their cloud migration path in earnest. 

Traditional broadcast infrastructures have challenges keeping up with the increasing demands placed upon them to adapt to the growing number of experiences audience demand. AWS Elemental Media Services enable video providers to reap the full benefits of cloud-based solutions across their entire video workflow. These cloud-based services offer customers the tools to ingest, process, package and deliver video content at scale with pay-as-you-go utility.

Broadcast-grade services can be deployed as discrete components or as the building blocks for complete cloud-based workflows, making it easy to launch, operate and scale video offerings, while accelerating innovation and time to market. Among the many media leaders leveraging AWS Elemental Media Services are Sky News, Network 7, TV New Zealand, BT, Cinépolis, Pac-12 Networks and fuboTV.

Can you tell us more about QVBR – Quality-Defined Variable Bitrate Control?

QVBR is a video compression technique that automatically adjusts bitrates in real-time to maintain a consistent viewing experience based on a target quality level. What that means for the customer is that it eliminates the guesswork and frustration of managing your “bits budget”: set it and forget it. When video scenes are more complex, QVBR allocates bits to maintain desired video quality levels. When video quality levels are reached, QVBR saves bits. In the process, QVBR can realise bitrate reduction, which saves on CDN delivery charges and storage. QVBR puts an end to video quality discrepancies. It supports MPEG-4 AVC and HEVC, your viewing audience enjoys a consistent experience, and you enjoy the most cost-efficient method of providing it.

How do your solutions help broadcasters monetise more effectively in real-time?

AWS Elemental MediaTailor, one of the cloud-based AWS Elemental Media Services, supports content personalisation and monetisation using a server-side ad insertion approach, which allows video providers to insert personalised advertising into live video streams prior to packaging. The service calls upon ad decision servers to furnish an ad based on information about the user supplied by the client device and in accordance with the provider’s preferences. Ads are presented to viewers as part of the primary content stream, with the same format and quality, which can help mitigate the effects of ad blocking software. Server-side ad insertion provides all the personalisation capabilities without the quality or buffering issues created by client-side ad insertion, such as volume or format mismatches from content to ads. Audiences get a broadcast-like experience, while providers and advertisers are able to better engage viewers with more interesting and relevant advertising.

Are there any innovative European sports related case studies you can share?

A great example of the benefit that the AWS cloud is bringing to sports applications is the recent announcement by Snowball Digital in Norway and their ability as a small start-up to build a secure, scalable sports OTT subscription service for Odds Ballklubb, the oldest football club in Norway’s top professional league. Snowball Digital used AWS Elemental Media Services and its Crystallize e-commerce platform to cut time to market in half for the club’s new Gullpila paid subscription video streaming service. AWS and Crystallize enabled Odds to have full control over its video monetisation strategy with a powerful, flexible and easy-to-use platform.

Launched in March, Gullpila offers subscribers exclusive access to match highlights, player interviews, tips and tricks, and other fan-friendly content streamed live or on-demand to connected devices. Subscribers have unlimited access to content and can choose a monthly subscription or pay a one-time fee for the full season. Within weeks of launch, Gullpila recorded hundreds of subscribers, establishing a new source of significant recurring revenue, and its subscriber base continues to grow steadily.