Authored by Diane Powers, Head of Marketing & Business Development Asia, Elemental
SNH48 is one of the fastest growing cultural phenomena in the world. Thousands of teens rush to buy tickets for the group’s pop idol concerts across China, including daily performances at the SNH48 Theater in Shanghai. But concert halls only have so many seats, and fan frenzy surrounding SNH48 is much bigger than any single venue can hold.
SNH48 was formed in 2012 and is a Chinese spinoff of the original Japanese idol girl group AKB48. The troupe now has more than one hundred female members. The team is split into a number of companies, which allows performers to share the workload in support of their ongoing live concerts. In addition to regular shows in Shanghai, the group performs routinely in Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. Tickets for these shows – priced between 80 – 168 yuan (US $12 – 26) – sell out immediately.
Yashushi Akimoto, producer of the AKB48 group on which SNH48 is modelled, realized that young audiences want more than just idols on stage – they want to interact with them, too. Chinese fans have the opportunity to meet and interact with their homeland performers at “handshake events”. The band also offers live streams from its shows to expand the group’s reach. This is important for the SNH48 performers because each year there is a “general election,” in which the fans vote for their favorite performers. Election winners are promoted to more prominent roles.
In late 2015, the SNH48 production team deployed Elemental Live video processing to support live event streaming from the band’s Shanghai theater. The offering was an instant hit with fans, which encouraged an expansion in capabilities. In early 2016, the group implemented Elemental Live to stream concerts from theaters in Beijing and Guangzhou, in addition to Shanghai.
The team behind SNH48 chose Elemental solutions because quality, reliability and scalability were key to providing fans access to the stars’ content via connected devices and helping create a new sort of idol in the China music and entertainment industry. Viewers can now catch every SNH48 performance streaming live in high definition (HD), thanks to Elemental video processing. Watch SNH48’s most recent music video here.
As one of the largest global cinema operators with nearly 850,000 seats across 13 countries, Cinépolis is expanding its theatrical experience with the addition of multi-platform content delivery and an over-the-top TV (OTT) service known as Cinépolis KLIC.
Cinépolis, which was founded in 1971 and is based in Morelia, Michoacán, in Mexico, has 1,200 movie titles on offer for its KLIC service, and is expecting rapid growth as the TVOD service extends the traditional cinema experience beyond the theater. The expansion couldn’t be more timely.
The online video services market in Mexico is forecast to reach up to USD $809 million in 2018, representing the largest market in Latin America according to market research firm Dataxis. More than 58 million people in Mexico – approximately 45 percent of the country’s population – now access the internet for their news, information and entertainment.
Originally, the Cinépolis KLIC service was set up as a browser-only, standard definition service, available by subscription or transaction. In 2014, the company upgraded the offer to a true TV everywhere experience. That meant supporting multiple resolutions for different devices, multiple audio formats and multiple codecs. It also meant supporting different DRM protection systems, including Widevine and PlayReady.
To deliver high-quality video, Cinépolis uses adaptive bitrate streaming, which requires support for HLS, Microsoft Smooth Streaming and MPEG-DASH. The addition of different subtitles and descriptive metadata makes the content delivery challenge even more complex. Cinépolis also wanted to integrate the KLIC service with the rest of its business and to leverage market-driven cross-promotion: for example, a theater-goer might be offered a free rental from Cinépolis KLIC.
Finally, while intent on enriching services and accelerating time to market, the Cinépolis team wanted to avoid the need to build dedicated infrastructure and incur large capital expenditures. So the company turned to the cloud, allowing it to focus resources on the core business of building a successful service.
Today, an integrated AWS and Elemental solution enables Cinépolis KLIC to deliver a true TV Everywhere platform with movie delivery to customers on a full range of connected devices. Placing all the processing – from storage to CDN – in the cloud allows the solution to be as flexible as possible, responding instantly to peaks and troughs in demand as new content comes available. The result is that Cinépolis maintains tight control over costs, relating them directly to each individual transaction, while providing consistently high technical quality and guaranteed responsiveness. It also gives the company the opportunity to extend the scope of its service at any time.
Currently available in Mexico, the fastest growing OTT market in Latin America, the Cinépolis KLIC service saw seven-fold growth between 2014 and 2015 with the launch of its new, richer and more convenient TV everywhere offering. The company is predicting further six-fold growth in 2016. That is an astounding 42 times more business than just two years ago.
By offloading complex video infrastructure and workflow requirements to AWS and Elemental, Cinépolis is free to focus on extending its OTT and multiscreen content delivery across Latin America and beyond and to do what it does best: distribute premium content to entertain its customers.
STN, or the Satellite Telecommunications Network, has experienced rapid growth since its founding in 2004. The privately owned teleport located on the outskirts of Ljubljana, Slovenia is now recognized as a global provider of broadcast and media solutions, with top ranking from the World Teleport Association (WTA). STN has extensively expanded in the past 11 years and provides high quality services for over 650 TV channels and 300 radio channels for global clients.
STN is gearing up for further expansion to build on this strong foundation to support its next phase, to enter new markets and to diversify its services. According to Anver Anderson, General Manager, STN, the teleport is considering several new opportunities – geographic, vertical industry and services to take advantage of innovative ways of using technology to advance within an ever-evolving industry.
Geographically, STN is uniquely positioned to cover the globe with access to all commercial satellites. The Middle East was one of STN’s first markets outside of Europe and it continues to grow. With regard to vertical industry expansion, Anderson cites opportunities with enterprises that span a variety of industries from oil and gas to education to banking as well as offshore ventures.
Overall, there is growing worldwide demand for a broader range of services including IPTV, over-the top (OTT) and direct-to-home (DTH) video delivery. The strategy at STN is to provide more – more services and more capacity – so the company can enable new technologies while using fewer frequencies. These include innovations such as 4K Ultra HD (UHD) content delivery, which takes advantage of high-efficiency video coding (HEVC) while keeping end user costs to a minimum.
Using a unified headend powered by Elemental video processing to deliver both broadcast and OTT TV content allows STN to operate in a way that aligns with the company’s “utilize technology, maximize possibility” philosophy. A unified headend enables operational efficiencies on a massive scale. The flexibility, reliability and scalability of software-defined video solutions from Elemental ultimately allow STN to deliver the highest quality video experience to customers around the world.