SVG Europe Sit-Down: Telestream’s Chris Osika provides insights into the Cloud and current OTT developments

Telestream chief marketing officer Chris Osika

Telestream delivers live and on-demand digital video tools and workflow solutions that allow consumers and businesses to transform video on the desktop and across the enterprise. The company’s products span the entire digital media lifecycle, including capture and ingest; QC, live and on-demand encoding and transcoding, captioning, playback and inspection, delivery, live streaming; workflow automation, and video analytics and service assurance for the entire workflow. It is no surprise, therefore that our Sit Down with Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Osika, covered a wide range of topics…

Telestream recently commented that “Cloud is no broadcast cure all”. Can you elaborate on that statement?

We’ve seen that cloud is something that many customers cannot simply flip like a switch and turn on. Cloud must be a critical enabler to the business and operational strategy and not be force fit on every element of business operations, simply out of principle that cloud is always the correct answer.  In our experience, the most sophisticated media workflows – in many cases, the high value brands with a lot to lose – have benefited from a deliberate, strategic transition to the cloud that ensures quality throughout the migration process. Further, we’ve seen many customers make a calculated decision to move some operations away from the cloud. Typically, those choices come after the customer has experienced service deficiencies or workflow vulnerabilities. Whether due to technology limitations, security concerns, economic drawbacks, and so on, our customers are showing us that it simply doesn’t make sense for all operations to go to the cloud.

The beauty of our position is that Telestream doesn’t have a stake in whether our customers host their workflows on-prem or in the cloud. We’ll simply do what is in the best interest of our customers. They trust us to protect their brand reputation in the process of exploring cloud migration. What we’re able to give them is a smooth onramp, rather than dramatic shift.

AT NAB you launched the world’s first integrated closed caption inserter & multiscreen live streaming solution. For those who were not in Las Vegas, please tell us more…

Our customers who are live streaming on an enterprise scale – sports broadcasters and live event companies, for example – told us they needed caption insertion for multiple live streams with social media support. To avoid additional cost and complexity, they wanted a solution that avoided re-encoding and re-streaming the content once captions were added.

Again, Telestream is in a great position to thread this needle. Our Lightspeed Live family is built on the sophisticated media processing capabilities that include the industry’s best caption handling. That heritage allowed us to create a unique ‘one-box-solution’ that includes really sophisticated 608/708 caption insertion capability.

What can we expect to see on Telestream stand at IBC?

What is going to really blow attendees away is the scope of what is possible for the new media landscape. With the addition of our iQ video quality assurance products to the Telestream portfolio, and the creative ways we can incorporate cloud-powered technologies like speech-to-text into customer workflows, what customers will see is the future of video workflows – a system that captures and QCs content, creates and packages all your variants with the appropriate metadata for your linear or OTT live/VOD, ensures that the content is correct through each stage of  the distribution chain to the finish, actively monitoring, and reporting back on performance all the way to the viewers’ screens. 

Are there still companies who are resisting digital archiving of their media collection?  If so, how do you convince them of the need to start the process with your solutions?

We do still see some resistance to digital archiving – sometimes due to cost or security concerns. But the proliferation of OTT viewing platforms has created a major opportunity for media organisations to leverage undigitised archives to create a modern file-based media library that can be tapped to spin up new channels or products. That is a major incentive for businesses that haven’t yet done so to develop a digitisation plan. They can’t afford to be left behind.

What do you expect to be the next major innovation when it comes to OTT?

We’re very close to the point at which self-healing networks are an achievable vision. Virtually deployed monitoring and analysis, when paired with machine learning capabilities that interpret and understand content will allow intelligent workflows to make upstream adjustments that, in turn, optimise performance. The key will be sophisticated communication capabilities up and down the media supply chain with strong integration between ecosystem partners. This sort of system will elevate the OTT experience to a point where viewers experience a quality on par with linear content delivery.

Can you tell us more about your solution when it comes to ABR (Adaptive Bit Rate)?

ABR delivery is becoming a priority for media organisations. Many of our customers have spent the last several years launching 1st generation TVEverywhere (TVE) and OTT platforms. Many of the challenges that they faced in the past have largely been solved, with enterprise solutions and cloud services like Telestream Vantage and Telestream Cloud allowing them to efficiently manage large libraries of mixed content in a sophisticated ABR workflow. 

However, now that they’re successfully delivering streaming experiences to their audiences, they’re turning their attention to creating differentiated viewing experiences, increasing audience engagement as efficiently as possible. HEVC compression is making the delivery of UHD/4k and HDR content more cost-effective, and for content such as live sports and performances, the viewer experience is incredibly compelling. Customers can now implement tailored advertising that supports the cost of delivering all of this new content. And the most ambitious organisations are looking at virtualising the compute environments used to deliver live and on-demand ABR packages, to dynamically scale up production capacity as needed, without greatly extending production costs, to create more OTT content choices for their customers. Ambitious, innovative organisations have many realistic options at their fingertips to support their mission to expand streaming services.

With TVE/OTT, content providers get a direct relationship with the end user. With this comes the responsibility to ensure a great user experience and to quickly identify and mitigate conditions that may be negatively impacting that experience.

Increasingly, our customers are integrating live and on-demand ABR encoding and delivery with robust, pervasive monitoring, providing real-time actionable intelligence throughout the ABR delivery framework. This way they can ensure that streaming playback is optimised to deliver the highest quality viewing experience to the greatest number of viewers. By tightly integrating ABR production service and actionable real-time QoE/QoS analytics, our customers have a comprehensive view into how their content is performing and can proactively respond to things like content outages, degraded network quality, localised disruptions, and so on. Additionally, Telestream is working to further integrate ABR production and analytics so that enhanced metadata inserted at the encode/packaging stage can inform monitoring. We want to give our customers a truly comprehensive view of streaming performance.

What is Telestream’s vision for the future?

Telestream is actively pursuing a future where organisations get to market faster, with a lower unit cost, and provide comprehensive end-to-end monitoring to ensure an optimal quality of experience for the end-user. We see tremendous potential to help organisations get their content in front of broader audiences, spinning up new products efficiently and with assurance that those products are of the highest quality. This moment provides a tremendous opportunity for the premium brands of the future to emerge. 

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