Advances in Powering TV Everywhere Efforts

A turnkey platform enables broadcasters to quickly test, launch and expand their online presence.
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For the past year Anvato, a Silicon Valley-based TV Everywhere platform provider, has been helping high-end broadcasters including Univision, Fox Sports, NBC (all of the NBC network brands) and station groups such as Hearst, Gray Television, Lin Media and Scripps, prepare and monetize live and on-demand content for viewing on the Web and mobile devices.

Anvato supplies each broadcaster with off-the-shelf high availability servers running its proprietary video encoding software. The entire end-to-end workflow, including content rights, content replacement and restrictions, is managed using Anvato's cloud-hosted Media Content Platform. Anvato's players support video playback on mobile devices as well as the desktop.

The company's linear TV Everywhere strategy is based on Apple's HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) format, which enables its customers to reduce costs and complexity without compromising reach. Anvato's on-premise hardware converts video from its original HD-SDI or MPEG-TS format, enriches the content with all the available metadata (closed captions, ad markers, etc.), and delivers the combined package to every screen without the worry or cost associated with all of the other mobile delivery platforms in an FCC compliant manner.

Anvato also delivers non-fragmented VOD assets (a.k.a. digital video files) not only to operators but also other media distributors for set top box and mobile device playback.

"We reduced the complexity for our customers by using only Apple HLS streaming, and created a platform that processes the content, then enables it to still play across every screen while preserving things like dynamic ad insertion and all of the associated metadata," said Alper Turgut, President and CEO at Anvato. "We've built player SDKs so that customers can play back HLS-processed content natively on Windows and Mac operating systems as well as on iOS and Android devices."

The technology is also allowing its customers to do more online than just simulcast its TV channels. Just as digital sub-channels benefit broadcast, Turgut said that by using the TV Everywhere platform, stations could also program a full day's worth of alternate live and on-demand content. The complete service, according to Anvato, saves broadcasters the money and effort required to piecemeal the technology components required to deliver, display and monetized content online properly.

And with a pay-as-you-go platform access model that begins with a low monthly fee per channel - customers lease the hardware and software as a combined service - it allows stations to shift operational costs from CapEx to OpEx, making it much more palatable to the bottom line.

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Anvato President/CEO Alper Turgut.

"There are no upfront costs," says Turgut. "This turnkey platform enables broadcasters to quickly test, launch and expand."

Indeed, as part of that cost-effective monthly access model, Anvato's platform also helps insert local and national ads that the station has sold. They also interface with the most commonly used VAST and VPAID ad delivery services—like Google's DoubleClick For Publishers and Comcast's FreeWheel.

The technology has proved so successful for NBCUniversal's O&O stations that the NBCUniversal station group has started to offer the turnkey technology to its 200 affiliates, many of whom will implement the service beginning this fall. Affiliate stations can live stream its local newscasts alongside network content to generate additional revenue by selling local ads.

"This is huge for smaller stations that will now get the opportunity to distribute and monetize network content," Turgut said. "In fact, we believe this is the model all networks and its affiliates will consider going forward."

Training is simple and the system is easy to install. The unit drop-ships to a TV station, they open the box, plug a video signal into it, and begin working within an hour or so. The platform's user interface is designed to look like a broadcast control room. A box on the left shows the incoming signal. A box on the right shows the stream output.

"Broadcasters tell us they appreciate being able to manage the entire workflow from one easy-to-use interface, said Turgut. The whole proposition of connecting and supporting different vendor pieces in one cohesive workflow has become incredibly complex, and is often outside a broadcaster's core competency. That's why we've seen more broadcasters looking to technology partners like Anvato to help drive innovation and increase operational efficiency."

The company also offers a cloud-based pay-as-you-go service called Anvato Live Cloud that provides a simple, cost-effective solution for live streaming and video clip sharing which has been used by special TV events like the 43rd Annual Northern California Emmy Awards. Live Cloud enables live streaming and social sharing of clips.

The company was founded in 2007 and employs 35 people, most of whom are software engineers. They are planning to expand into Europe and Latin America later this year.

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