SVG Europe Sit-Down: Volcano City’s Hassan Peymani discusses live streaming and sports fan engagement
Edinburgh-based Volcano City specialises in creating managed, flexible services for companies keen to strengthen and amplify their brands globally through affordable, multi-language live streaming and localised video content. Its IP solution provides fan engagement opportunities for brands through targeted content to multilingual audiences. In fact, says co-founder Hassan Peymani, the concept of localisation has become a key part of the company’s worldwide solutions.
Your website says you are at the forefront of delivering innovative live streaming and localisation solutions for clients worldwide. Can you give us a sports related example?
We work with PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, along with their production partners to provide a fully scalable live stream personalisation solution for the flagship events.
Typically, floor space and resources for the on-site broadcast team are limited, with only one or two distinct feeds being produced from the event location. Using our managed streaming infrastructure allows them to broadcast in up to ten languages, each with distinct localised commentary, graphics and in-stream adverts. The majority of commentary teams are remote, operating from their native countries, using bespoke broadcast hardware provided and remotely managed by our engineering team.
We also manage the simultaneous delivery of every feed to multiple destinations including well-known CDNs, social media platforms, digital channel partners, and occasionally, partnered TV stations.
Poker live streams are notoriously long – with some sessions lasting upwards of 14 hours. On average we stream 50-70 hours per five-day event in each language. Our solution means that clients no longer need a technical team in each remote commentary location. This, combined with our streamlined workflow for stream personalisation, allows for incredible economies-of-scale which are a huge driver in the client decision-making process when considering localisation.
You tell us that localisation is global (nice play on words). What is your solution for localisation and Live Stream Personalisation?
As veterans of the broadcast and live streaming industry, we understand that every production has different needs, so our solution is flexible and modular by design.
At its core, our solution is a managed technical service to allow multi-channel personalisation of a live broadcast, taking a World Feed from a production and using it to create multiple distinct versions with their own commentary, on-screen graphics and advertising content.
Our engineers and support staff oversee every aspect of each project, from World Feed acquisition, remote commentary production, multi-channel content playout, all the way to simultaneous multi-platform delivery. This allows the on-site broadcast team to focus on what’s happening at the event.
Remote commentary teams receive a low-bitrate proxy version of the World Feed, so they work from their home or office. We can also include IFB, so they can hear cues from the director as if they were at the event. Commentators are free to use their own microphones and computers, but for the best experience we offer our Remote Commentary Console, which allows up to three commentators to work simultaneously and offers an experience similar to traditional broadcast commentary units. We strive to give remote commentators the on-location experience as much as possible.
Audio from remote commentators is mixed with the high quality World Feed during our playout and mastering process. Quality control is key to our service and we hold ourselves to the highest standards.
We also offer bespoke solutions for on-site encoding – including staff, as well as specialist remote commentary units for installation to studios and external production facilities.
Our goal has always been to be a committed and innovative technical partner who utilise a decade of live streaming experience, bespoke solutions and system integrations to provide our clients with hassle-free and cost-effective ways to engage new and existing audiences.
Maintaining and increasing fans engagement with their clubs – or their favoured sports in general – is vital. How do your solutions achieve that goal?
Providing content to viewers in a language they understand on a range of platforms leads to an organic increase in engagement. That is what we do. We make sure our client’s content is delivered to their fans in their native language. No longer do foreign audiences have to watch content where they can’t understand commentary, calls-to-action or sponsored ads.
What’s more, our solution allows broadcasters to target new markets for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional methods, while retaining full control over their brand.
Do you see remote production impacting the way you work?
Not at all. In fact, it’s fundamental to how we operate. Once a broadcaster’s World Feed is on our network, everything else happens remotely using a combination of smart technology and talent based all across the globe.
Remote production is accessible and reliable and allows us to provide our clients with the opportunity to reach new audiences as cost-effectively and painlessly as possible.
How do you view the future of Esports?
It’s a huge opportunity for content creators, technical suppliers and sponsors. I’m sure the SVG audience are already aware of the incredible stats associated with viewership, engagement rates, demographics and growth. They are mind-blowing and are only set to become more dazzling.
Personally, I believe Esports to be the best example of the direction of the broadcast industry. What it shows me is that a relatively small production team, working with the latest technology and a handful of powerful influencers, can reach a passionate, engaged and enthusiastic audience of millions online without the need for traditional linear television. It may be that the “being on TV” is essential for mainstream credibility, but I think the plethora of data available on cord-cutters and digital consumption partners highlights that this will likely change in the near future.
What are your biggest challenges over the next twelve months?
Awareness of our services is perhaps the most immediate obstacle. Educating clients as to the possibilities would be the second. Live Stream personalisation at scale, in my opinion, is a new category within the industry. We offer a holistic and tailored approach to live stream personalisation and work with our clients to fulfil their needs. That’s quite hard to communicate in a soundbite or in a piece of visual communication. However, working with our partners and the SVG team I am sure we will soon become a well-placed and trusted solutions provider especially for niche sport organisations.