This week, Elemental announced that Sky is using Elemental software to power and deliver its over-the-top (OTT) TV service NOW TV and mobile TV service, Sky Go. At a special press event set in the modern and dynamic West London-based Sky campus, Sky executives Matt McDonald, Director of Broadcast Services, and Emma Lloyd, Director of Corporate Development and Startup Investments, joined Sam Blackman, CEO and Co-founder of Elemental, in providing a definitive roadmap for the video industry as it rockets toward a new and exciting all-IP multi-platform future.
This first installment of a two-part blog post examines the single most disruptive innovation shaping next-generation viewing experiences: software-defined video (SDV). Part two will detail Sky’s multi-platform leadership and Elemental’s support of it as well as the deepening cooperation between the two companies.
Software is eating the video space with a voracious appetite
Elemental CEO and Co-founder Sam Blackman takes a look at the disruptive impact of software through the video lens during a special Pre-IBC2015 event held at Sky.
We all know that change is sweeping the industry, given the massive shift to IP-based delivery and consumption of multiscreen content. By some estimates, 15-20 billion IP connected, video-capable devices with high-quality screens will be in use in the next five years. This influx exerts enormous pressure on media companies to rapidly evolve traditional broadcast facilities in support of an infinitely more complex multiscreen world.
The exponential growth of video complexity also reveals an inescapable truth: dedicated video hardware can no longer keep pace with changing market dynamics. Software is eating the world with a voracious appetite. Video infrastructure is in the midst of a disruptive process that initially took root at the lower end of the market. Now, Moore’s Law enables software to be all-consuming as general-purpose processors have become increasingly powerful. We saw this happen with VMware in enterprise computing; Salesforce in CRM; and more recently, with Arista Networks in the data networking market.
Now, as the transition to HEVC advances and device count ramps to 20 billion, software adoption is taking over. It is unlikely that another generation of hardware-based video processing equipment will come to market.
Elemental is a textbook example of the power of disruptive technology. Since we rolled out our initial VOD and live multiscreen products (Elemental Server V.1 and Elemental Live V.1), Elemental software has devoured a good-sized chunk of the multiscreen market. Since then, we’ve continuously improved our core technology and launched our software-defined VOD and unified headend solutions (Elemental Server V.2 and Elemental Live V.2).
So that’s our hypothesis. The good news is we are seeing results that prove the hypothesis: there is definitive data illustrating that this change is underway. Each year since 2010, Elemental has doubled our customer base as well as the size of our company; our cloud platform growth has tripled over the past 12 months alone. Overall, we’ve grown our business at 50% annually. This momentum simply wouldn’t be possible if software wasn’t taking over – because that’s all we sell!
Elemental software is now sufficiently powerful and comprehensive that it can support entire linear and multiscreen workflows – a single, unified SDV platform for the entire video delivery backbone. The future is here.
As the UK’s biggest pay TV provider, Sky is constantly innovating new ways for customers to enjoy premium TV Everywhere content. Sky has been extremely successful, as evidenced by its NOW TV OTT service growing beyond expectations. In a coming post, you’ll learn from Matt McDonald, Director of Broadcast Services for Sky, about the Sky content supply chain and how Elemental is powering that engine.
Ravensbourne is a renowned and highly innovative London arts college that specializes in digital media, fashion, and design. Notable alumni include David Bowie, Stella McCartney, and Bruce Oldfield. Every year at Ravensbourne, students organize and run The Degree Show where graduates show off their talents.
From June 17 to 19, Ravensbourne technology students live broadcast The Degree Show events and field interviews in 4K using Elemental Live, which converts SDI inputs to high-efficiency video coding (HEVC/H.265) for 4K broadcast over a temporary local television frequency and a simultaneous online stream via the official Ravensbourne website.
“The experience afforded to us by companies like Elemental is invaluable,” said Yasser Youssef, Ravensbourne Student and Degree Show Engineering Manager. “The chance to get hands-on with the video processing capabilities of Elemental Live is a key element of ensuring that we stay abreast of current and emerging technologies.”
Elemental is proud to have been involved in The Degree Show and to have worked with Ravensbourne’s talented broadcast technology students. As broadcast technology continues to evolve towards 4K TV, OTT streaming, and software-defined video, the hands-on experience gained by Ravensbourne students with Elemental Live will enable them to take on roles at leading broadcasters and operators including some of our biggest customers.
Around the globe, we’re seeing more and more people opt for tuning in online to catch major live events in real-time. The higher profile the event, the more pressure mounts to meet the technological demands of massive audiences expecting to see high quality video streamed to their device of choice.
Whether it’s a specific sporting event like a World Cup final or the opening ceremony of an Olympic Games, must-see performances and concerts, gaming tournaments and other iconic content, online viewership has increased at staggering rates, doubling over the past three years alone. Knowing that demand could very quickly outstrip available resources, video programmers around the world have turned to Elemental to support these high-stakes scenarios and to deliver premium content anywhere, anytime with innovative, scalable software.
Now we’re doing the same with the Microsoft Xbox Live Events team. The team was created in 2010 to bring high quality live events to discriminating viewers that expect first class standards in terms of picture quality, latency and content delivery. In fact, 75 to 85 percent of Xbox console viewers can tap into an 11 Mbps stream. With 80 live streamed broadcasts to more than 40 countries to date, the Xbox live events team has met the lofty standards of their technologically advanced audience. This commitment to execute and deliver is the reason why Corey Smith, Service Engineering Manager at Xbox Live and his team partnered with Elemental.
“With Elemental we have been able to tackle the most demanding internet based broadcast events. Our partnership has been the key to success for Xbox in delivering a high quality broadcast that customers expect and differentiates us from many other internet broadcasters.”
To watch the presentation Corey gave at Streaming Media West 2014 on the use of Elemental software-defined video solutions to execute its goals around linear events streaming with dynamic ad insertion to a worldwide audience, click here.