SVG Europe Sit-Down: Imagen’s Kerry Freeman reveals IBC plans and offers advice on the monetisation of assets

Kerry Freeman Sales Executive, Imagen

With over 20 years’ experience in media management, Imagen now has over one million hours of video stored on behalf of leading brands. The company helps businesses, sports organisations and media companies to manage and distribute their ever-growing media libraries. This ensures fast, easy, secure and controlled access to content through a highly-customisable content portal. Sales executive Kerry Freeman tells us more…

Your web site states that “Imagen offers a premium solution for managing and distributing your sports content”. Would you like to tell us more?

The demand for content has never been greater. Sports rights holders have so many different types of content to aggregate, catalogue and distribute – live, near-live and archive all need to be managed, formatted and delivered to the right audiences at the right time. Broadcast partners, newsrooms, sponsors and fans all need servicing with content. That’s quite a logistical challenge which would normally require a wide range of software applications, IT infrastructure and expertise. Imagen brings all your sports content into one place so you can manage all your media more effectively from one cloud-based portal. 

Earlier this year you launched Imagen 6 – what makes it so special?

Imagen 6 represented our introduction into the live arena – we now can offer a great mix of live streaming, near live distribution and access to large archives all through one portal. With the focus very much on live – we gave content owners the ability to shot list the live streams in real-time using Imagen’s Media Logger, publish clips direct to social media, and capture the event for long term archiving and re-use. 

In effect we now offer a convergence of live and archive workflows – a one-stop shop media portal which covers all types of media. Sports rights owners can now offer live services as well as access to archived content to a wider set of customers faster and more easily than before. 

What can we expect from you at IBC?

We will be returning to IBC to showcase our latest system update, Imagen version 7. With Imagen version 7, we’ve included significant updates such as a major overhaul of our content management tools which will make it much easier for media mangers to optimise the web interfaces at the front of their media portal.

More than that, though, it’s about volume and scale – our customers are looking for true elasticity in their media operations – not just in terms of storage, but also in terms of video processing power. In Imagen version 7 we’ve modified our video processing engine to offer the greatest flexibility for our customers who need to covert media at scale and speed for broadcast partners – or consumers on social media.

We’ve also taken time out to increase our support for CDNs. This builds on our current Global Distribution feature which replicates large libraries of video to strategic points around the world. The two combined means we can cache commonly used content across CDNs alongside our own PoPs (Points of Presence) for faster access to content in more locations.

What is your biggest challenge for the next 12 months?

Our technical challenges go hand-in-hand with the ambitions of our customers. There’s the obvious challenge of meeting the increasing demand for content – and the shift away from linear TV towards a more personalised service on multiple connected devices. Our two latest version releases address these issues, but I think the key challenge for any content owner is the cost of curation – what do you keep, and what is valuable? Furthermore, how do you shortlist the content that makes the cut – so it can be easily retrieved and marketed effectively? Our roadmap is all about addressing these issues. In fact, we have introduced a range of storage tiers with a range of price points – with each level providing varying speeds of access to content. 

The other issue of course is cataloguing and the hot industry topics are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. We already offer a range of tools which allow content owners to index their media – either automatically with speech to text or with one click shot listing features. The race is on to develop technology to describe and catalogue large volumes of content reliably and affordably using machine learning – no one’s cracked it yet but we’re hard at work researching ways of doing just that.

How can sports right holders further monetise their assets?

There are four steps. First, throw out short video clips on Social Media to drive audiences towards paid for content such as live streamed or pay per view content.

Secondly, use archive content in between games and in pre- event build up to provide historical context and a narrative that will increase audience engagement – which will ultimately drive traffic to the main PPV event and ticket sales.

Next, provide a better experience for broadcaster partners, or any organisation that wants to license content. If it’s easy to find and access broadcast ready content it follows that they will keep coming back for more – and contribute more to the bottom line.

Lastly, in our white paper ‘Rise of the e-fan’, our studies suggest that fans are prepared to pay for good quality content. Overall, we think that fans should enjoy a better experience all round – they are the life blood of professional sport. That means plenty of free content across social media to drive awareness of exclusive content – featuring archive, interviews and exclusive clips – via paid for apps or OTT channels. 

Finally, do you have a recent European sports related case study you can share with us?

Since our last appearance at IBC, we are pleased to announce that WTA Media, a partnership between the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Perform Group, chose to collaborate with Imagen to create their online distribution portal. 

Prior to implementing Imagen, ease of access and deliverability caused frequent issues for WTA Media. By the time previews were reaching their clients, their editorial usefulness would have expired as play would have already commenced. Meanwhile, for broadcasting staff, the manual process was often very time-consuming, and as a workflow it was far too slow. 

WTA Media’s clients now receive RSS feeds directly to their email every time a new document, update or piece of media has been uploaded, even if they’re not logged on to the portal – offering specific updates and the ability to self-serve their own requests. 

One of my favourite features of the portal is that it enhances the value of WTA Media’s offering. With timely access to exclusive content, the portal allows media managers to monitor what their broadcast clients are using and have downloaded, so they can allocate their production resources more efficiently, in line with demand.

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