Catering to a National and International Connected Audience
The multiscreen video revolution is a global phenomenon, as viewers worldwide seek access to broadcast content beyond their television sets. When Media Prima Berhad (‘Media Prima’ or ‘the Group’), Malaysia’s No. 1 integrated media group and owner of four television stations, began running into frequent technical issues with its incumbent encoding systems, the company prioritized finding a partner that kept a keen eye towards effective delivery of multiscreen video to smart phones, tablets, PCs and other Internet-connected devices. The company knew it would take a top-notch solution to set its streaming offerings apart from competitors and it was determined to deliver nothing less than an optimal user experience. Where did Media Prima find a video processing solution capable of satisfying its innovation, quality, support and pricing requirements?
Background: A Technical Leader In the Media Landscape
Media Prima was founded in 2003 and is Malaysia’s leading integrated media investment group. The Group owns TV3, 8TV, ntv7 and TV9 as well as three radio stations, three national newspapers, outdoor advertising and digital media assets. In a nation of 29 million people, the company brings new technology to the country’s media landscape. The group has a strong online presence via its video portal Tonton (www.tonton.com.my). This multiscreen portal is a flagship product of Media Prima Digital, the Group’s digital media subsidiary, which presents content in a cinematic environment on personal computers and connected devices.
Media Prima is responsible for the TV3 broadcast and live streaming of the popular music competition Anugerah Juara Lagu (or AJL, Malay for Champion of Songs Awards). The event has run annually since 1986 and features the best musical and lyrical compositions of the year. Nominees are derived from a list of mostly-Malay songs that have received the most votes from the public. The list is whittled down to 12 by a panel of judges: four songs from each of three categories (Pop/Rock, Ballads and Irama Malaysia) are selected. These 12 are awarded the prestigious honor of entering the Juara Lagu. The set-up of the competition is similar to that of American Idol, with the key difference being the competition is aired live on a single date, as opposed to being presented weekly as a running series.
Challenge: Delivering An Improved Viewer Experience
Media Prima Digital’s Tonton portal gives viewers the ability to stream many of their favorite shows on-demand free of charge, while other shows are free for a period of time before falling into the premium category which requires payment in the form of ‘Credits’. Credits allow instant purchase and playback of media which is made available for a one month or three month period. This HD-ready viewing experience has more than 2.8 million registered subscribers, most of whom reside in Malaysia. However, the portal does provide international viewers access to a large portion of its streaming content and identifies it accordingly.
The configuration of the portal on the backend coupled with user expectation of top-quality streaming made it critical for Media Prima to deploy encoding systems with exceptional performance. Unfortunately, the systems in Media Prima’s workflow were suffering from issues that continued cropping up, and the company decided the equipment was not up to the standards that its technical team—or its viewers—expected. GOP alignment problems, for example, led to visible quality hiccups during adaptive bitrate switching moments. As the client video player adjusted between bitrates, a noticeable jump occurred and a visible line displayed on the stream for several milliseconds.
Critical errors such as these could result in a downtick in viewer satisfaction, an outcome that was not acceptable to Media Prima. With more and more viewers relying on the portal to consume their favorite shows, it was time for Media Prima to find high-performance, reliable video software to meet its expanding streaming requirements.
Solution: Streaming Multiple Channels to An Array of Devices
Media Prima identified the solution to make its top broadcast channels—TV3, 8TV, ntv7 and TV9—available for live streaming in Elemental® Live. After meeting and learning about Elemental at Broadcast Asia, Elisa Mohd Isa, Manager of New Media Support, Management Information Systems, recognized that Elemental provided extremely innovative live encoding and on-demand transcoding solutions. After receiving a demonstration, Media Prima evaluated Elemental software and was extremely satisfied.
“I became excited right away working with the Elemental support team as we achieved superior quality for the video output at each adaptive bitrate streaming level,” Isa remarked. “Compared to our incumbent encoding solutions, I really appreciated Elemental’s focus on ease-of-use.”
Details such as the ability to connect to popular CDNs via a dropdown menu in the Elemental Live user interface made it quick and easy for Isa and other technicians at Media Prima to get up to speed on the solution. Additionally, the sheer capacity of the system allowed all four of Media Prima’s channels to be powered using a single four SDI input Elemental Live encoder. A second instance was earmarked for outside production projects.
Media Prima Workflow
Media Prima utilizes the functionality of Elemental Live to stream its four main channels in two formats: Adobe HDS and Apple HLS, using three unique bitrates for each: 300 Kbps, 700 Kbps and 1.2 Mbps for HDS and 200 Kbps, 600 Kbps and 1.0 Mbps for HLS. Lack of sufficient bandwidth is a persistent issue in Malaysia, underlining the need for superb video quality at these lower bitrates. Fortunately for Media Prima, the processing power of the Elemental encoder spares the media company from making a difficult choice between total number of bitrates and picture quality. Elemental Live allows the freedom to achieve both.
“We have high encoding standards because we want to make sure our mobile users can stream successfully,” said Isa. “It is very clear to us that Elemental has the best-in-class video processing systems.”
- Stream multiple live linear channels 24/7
- Deliver the highest possible video quality
- Provide a superior user experience
- Retire legacy encoding systems
- Output multiple adaptive bitrate formats
- Leverage a flexible and easy-to-use platform
- Complement standard broadcast distribution
- Stream video content to record audiences
- Unprecedented international viewership
“I became excited right away working with the Elemental support team as we achieved superior quality for the video output at each adaptive bitrate streaming level. Compared to our incumbent encoding solutions, I really appreciated Elemental’s focus on ease-of-use.”Elisa Mohd Isa
Manager of New Media Support, Management Information, Media Prima
Benefit: Breaking Viewership Records
Media Prima went into production with Elemental Live in 2012, seizing the opportunity to live stream the UEFA Euro 2012™ football championship, the Union of European Football Associations’ appetizer for the four-year World Cup. With Elemental Live introduced as a mainstay in the company’s live streaming workflow, Tonton viewership numbers continued to rise rapidly throughout the latter half of 2012. This culminated in the live streaming of badminton champion Dato’ Lee Chong Wei’s wedding receptions on November 9 and 10, 2012 and TV3’s landmark live event, Anugerah Juara Lagu, which aired on January 6, 2013.
The live coverage of Anugerah Juara Lagu 27 was accessible worldwide, resulting in a record 225,000 live streaming views. The event also drove 507,000 page views on the show’s microsite, as well as 155,000 tweets and 64,000 SMS votes for Best Performance. Yuna’s “Terukir di Bintang” took home the top spot.
With its flexible and upgradable software architecture, the Elemental Live platform is built to support new streaming requirements and technologies as they become available. The versatility and power of Elemental video processing systems allow Media Prima to deliver best-in-class multiscreen video today and to scale its streaming offerings far into the future.