SVG Europe Sit-Down: SIXTY’s Henriette S Sæther on the value of partnerships and future challenges
Based 60 degrees north in Norway, in the heart of the Bergen Media cluster, SIXTY creates interactive services that enable media companies to enhance their TV solutions. In its own words, ‘SIXTY has been helping broadcasters globally to make every click and pixel the best it can be’. As Chief Commercial Officer Henriette S Sæther discloses, IBC provides an excellent showcase at which to prove their point…
At IBC, you revealed your ‘game changing’ interactive TV platform. For those who didn’t make it to your stand, can you tell us more?
At IBC 2017, we were able to highlight some of the key benefits of our interactive video platforms. They enable broadcasters to innovate and implement a wide range of interactive features and graphics on top of existing OTT platforms and apps, to ultimately enhance the television experience and excite viewers worldwide.
Our biggest talking point at IBC this year was our Ease Live solution – a flexible platform that unifies the linear and online TV experience with a consistent brand and design, providing on-screen graphics that come to life in the hands of the audience by making them “viewer clickable” across all devices. By showcasing the flexibility and unique capabilities of our Ease Live solution in the sports industry, especially through key partnerships with a number of big name brands in the sporting arena including OPTA Sports, STATS and Unified Streaming, we were able to demonstrate how content can truly come to life in today’s increasingly dynamic and complex video industry, taking the sports viewing experience to the next level.
Essentially, the Ease Live solution makes content more engaging, ensuring viewers have a more immersive and absorbing viewing experience. We can see through the wider adoption of clickable on-air graphics in sports viewing that fans are enjoying the plethora of up-to-date stats, scores, and purchasing options available to them. However, one of the fundamental selling points of the Ease Live solution that we wanted to underline with broadcasters and operators at IBC was is its inherent flexibility and streamlined integration into current systems. The product can be used by any broadcast system or online video platform and integrates seamlessly into current workflows, taking advantage of all the unused data available, including the latest statistics, tracking and highlights.
In September, you announced a new partnership with Unified Streaming. What benefits does this bring to your clients?
Through our recent collaboration with United Streaming, broadcasters and content operators will now have access to an even wider range of devices and streaming formats with which to distribute content than ever before. The integration of our graphics solution, Ease Live, with Unified Streaming’s Unified Origin streaming solution, provides broadcasters with the essential tools to deliver interactive and immersive viewing experiences across all streaming formats, including Adobe – HDS, Apple HTTP Live Streaming – HLS, MPEG-DASH and Microsoft Smooth Streaming.
Essentially our collaboration with Unified Streaming will ensure broadcasters have an industry advantage, enabling them to deliver highly immersive and exciting innovations across all streaming platforms, devices and codec-types to maximise viewer and outreach programme value. On top of this, we can provide our clients with additional features such as content protection, restart TV, time-shift, catch-up TV, subtitles, as well as multiple language and audio tracks.
We believe that the combination of our on-air graphics technology and Unified Streaming’s expertise in delivering cost-effective and efficient video solutions will play an incredibly influential role in delivering smart, interactive video streaming technologies to viewers worldwide.
A couple of months ago, you announced a partnership with STATS. Just how does ‘Ease Live’ fit into the solution?
The partnership will see our on-screen clickable graphics technology combine with STATS’ comprehensive sports data and content services to allow broadcasters to deliver engaging, interactive sports video experiences. As a result, sports fans will have access to the most immersive sports viewing experiences available, combining the interactive and engaging features of our clickable graphics technology with a comprehensive pool of sports stats.
With STATS’ global presence, headquartered in the US market, the partnership will enable sports broadcasters to leverage the power of interactive TV technology with a broad sports database, providing greater value and ultimately deterring sports fans from seeking alternative, often illegal routes to watch sports.
Virtual studios are on the increase. What is your solution?
The broadcast industry is embracing virtual studios because they bring numerous and important benefits. They facilitate flexibility in operations and enhance the opportunity to be truly creative in ways that were previously not possible – delivering it in real time. Last, but by no means least, virtual studios create a superior viewer experience. We deliver complex virtual sets and immersive graphics that will bring new dimensions to broadcaster programming.
Broadcast technology is moving fast – so what do you see as the challenges for 2018?
The industry has collected more data and more content on file than we ever have had before. We face a future where most of the content will be handled by AI technology and a lot of manual work will be reduced. In the wake of this, new, creative and engaging jobs will emerge. The adoption of interactive technology and its ability to work alongside an increasingly AI-controlled distribution and metadata driven video industry will play a key role in retaining viewers. Those who manage to tell rich stories through personalised and engaging experiences with all the available data at hand to meet user demand will be most loved by the audience.
The ability to adapt to viewer behaviour and stay one step ahead will be fundamental to retaining viewer engagement in coming years and interactive technology will play a key role this issue. The TV and media industry is constantly evolving and viewers are becoming increasingly impatient in how, when, and where they watch their favourite content. By developing effective technology – such as our Ease Live platform, that offers immense flexibility, simplified integration, and the ability to adapt and work with today’s viewing habits – broadcasters will be able retain viewers more effectively well into the future.