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May 06, 2020

Blog

Putting the customer first with Customer Centric product development

By Ramon Duivenvoorden, Chief Commercial Officer at 24i

The key to producing consumer products cost-effectively is mass-customization. We’ve certainly come a long way since you could have a Ford in any colour as long as it’s black, but a modern car manufacturer will not give you a huge number of product variables – yes, you can choose a colour other than black, and you’ll be able to buy a sports pack, or upgrade the in-car entertainment system, but the car OEM will probably decide whether the model you want has a spoiler!

In many ways, software development has followed a similar path – the developer has decided what the solution set should be for a given problem, built a product around that solution set and allowed some level of customization around that.

Over time, additional features are required that go beyond the level of customization allowed in the original product specification. Pretty quickly under this development paradigm, the client has a system that’s no longer based on a solid code-base, so it cannot benefit from roadmap upgrades, shared innovation and maintenance. At the same time, they also have a system that lacks the benefits of custom development such as full control over code and feature set.

This is how media entertainment apps have traditionally been developed, and we think it’s broken. Fortunately, there’s another way. 

Over the last 2 or 3 years, we’ve striven to base 24i product development on what we call Customer Centric principles. 

As you might guess the overarching philosophy is to put the customer first, but in reality, what does this actually mean?

We’ve boiled this down to a number of principles that we adhere to in how we think about s/w development and build products, as follows:

Don’t get too obsessed by one particular technology or toolset, it may be the best solution right now, but there will be another technology out there one day that will deliver a significant increase in functionality, power, flexibility and speed of development.Customization is good – but it requires a fully productized process and architecture to work at scale. Imagine how flexible a trainer factory has to be able to create personalized shoes. And what the cost of that flexibility might be.Deliver this customization through building apps as a collection of customizable micro-services.Code branching creates an exponential increase in complexity. Remove this by minimizing the inter-component complexity and dependencies between the micro-services.

So, how does this work in practice? As an example, one of our clients wanted to move from a profit to a non-profit model. The consumers using their app could move from a subscription model to a ‘single charitable donation for life’ model. There are complex rules that have to be adhered to when you’re accepting charitable donations – if this customer had been with a traditional developer, the switch would have needed a lot of new code, too much time and money, and potentially compromise the architectural integrity of the application. This is assuming they did not select an out-of-the-box vendor that would simply decline the request for the new flows. 

Because our app was built on micro-services, with a minimum of dependency between the services, we were able to replace the components that needed to change and make the switch in weeks. More importantly, we enabled this change without a branch in the client’s code, so that moving forward they continue to gain from future 24i product roadmap developments.  

I believe that sooner or later virtually every client has specific needs that are critical for their business. Yet, at the same time, most requirements are common between all streaming media businesses. Our Customer Centric approach based upon micro-services means that we can deliver scale, innovation and stability on these common needs, while offering the freedom to break free for that custom 5% that enables our customers to set themselves apart from the competition or fulfill unique business needs.

We know that customer-centric development based upon micro-services is the way to go – but it’s not necessarily obvious to potential customers how great an advantage this is, until they need to make a key pivot in business model, or another customized change is the one that breaks this particular camel’s back. Which is why I’m writing this blog!

If you would like to know more about our approach to Customer Centric development, please get in touch - and look out for upcoming blogs from 24i CTO Pavel Jacko who will discuss the technical principles in more depth.

Contact us today to find out 24i can help you scale and extend your OTT streaming services

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Apr 07, 2020

NewsPress

Topic Streaming With 24i

First Look Media launches new OTT streaming video service for ‘culture cravers’ on topic.com, Apple TV and iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - 7 April 2020 – 24i, the industry-leading video experience company, today announced that Topic, the new entertainment streaming service from First Look Media, has chosen 24i to power its new streaming video experience across topic.com, Apple TV and iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Roku. 

24i provides Topic with a brand-new suite of subscription and ad-supported video applications each with a consistent, intuitive video experience irrespective of viewing platform or device. The next-generation 24i Smart OTT productised solution, integrated with specialist partner technologies from Bitmovin, CenturyLink, Cleeng, EZDRM and JUMP enables Topic to extend, manage and monetize its programming to a fast-growing audience of ‘culture cravers.’

“We’re committed to providing our audiences with compelling and thought-provoking programming that reflects their values and interests, wherever they wish to access it,” said, Ryan Chanatry, Topic’s General Manager. “The smart products and solutions provided by 24i enable the Topic team to dynamically create next-generation video experiences, customize the presentation of titles by platform, and to differentiate Topic in an increasingly competitive direct-to-consumer video market”.

Topic, which officially launched November 21 2019, is a new streaming service offering North American premieres of global favourites along with original programming that includes a variety of scripted dramas, comedies, discussion shows, documentaries, and non-scripted programming which highlight human-focused stories from creators with a passionate point of view.

“The quality and variety of Topic’s programming make it extremely attractive to their growing audience,” said Martijn van Horssen, Joint-CEO of 24i. “By being able to support Topic’s platform-agnostic delivery strategy, we are delighted to deliver their next-generation video experiences and super-charge their growth to new platforms and audiences.” 

Topic aims to push the art of storytelling to new heights by exploring different genres and media formats to develop and showcase impactful and engaging programming. The new service sources programming from leading global media companies, acquiring the rights to titles premiering at the world’s most prestigious film festivals as well as streaming original programming produced in-house by Topic or in partnership with some of today’s most prolific creators. Topic’s parent company is First Look Media, a company that was launched in 2013 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. 

Within the 24i Smart OTT product, Topic can readily launch and manage its new, next-generation OTT service and extend its reach to multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku and the web. In addition, the 24i SMART BACKSTAGE management and insight manager ensures Topic delivers a consistently high-quality and personalised streaming service to every subscriber on their choice of device.

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Apr 06, 2020

Blog

Adapting to a COVID-19 Way of Working

In just a few weeks, all our lives have needed to adapt to a new way of working - in the broadest sense of the word. The focus of our work has had to shift several times already and is sure to change again as the needs of our customers and their subscribers change.

We are all adapting to working at home, each having our own very individual environments and complications. From finding space for additional TVs for development and testing, to combining conference calls with home schooling, or even simply adjusting our situation after the workday ends. We need to work on staying connected with each other while practicing social distancing and, most of all, we must stay safe.

These circumstances can bring out the 'Darwinian' in all of us. Since founding 24i over 10 years ago, our team has always used shifts in consumer behaviour to accelerate, adapt and innovate. Little did we know that change would take on such a dramatically new perspective in 2020.

I could not be more proud of how the entire Amino and 24i family is showing strength and solidarity during this new kind of disruption. Not only are we helping each other to stay connected but also providing extra support to our customers and communities while keeping ourselves and our families safe at home. It is not a surprise, but certainly inspiring, that some of our team have put technology to work to help their local communities tackle the COVID-19 virus where they can. In many countries, there is a problem with a shortage of protective tools, especially in the medical field. In our Brno office, in the Czech Republic, we have a team working together with Industra Lab to 3D print protective face shields for hospital medical staff, dentists and paediatricians. We have already printed over 60 shields and we are looking to find ways to accelerate the process so we can get more into the field.

While we may not be on the frontline fighting this terrible virus, we are doing what we can within our communities and by helping our customers provide streaming video services. Through these efforts, we hope to make the lives of the people now staying home a little bit more comfortable.

Finally, I look forward to when we can meet in person and look back on how this truly testing time has brought us together, made us take greater care of each other, and inspired us to use technology and creativity to innovate for a better future.

Until then, thank you and stay safe.

Martijn van Horssen, Joint-CEO, 24i

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Mar 10, 2020

News

T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom deploy 24i Smart Operator to power video services in Czech Republic and Slovakia

24i Smart Operator enables T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom to efficiently launch best-in-class branded IPTV and TV Anywhere experiences on a wide range of mobiles, tablets, Smart TVs and STBs

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – 10 March 2020 – 24i, the industry-leading, global video experience company, today announced that its next-generation 24i Smart Operator product has been deployed by T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom to provide IPTV and TV Anywhere video experiences to T-Mobile TV GO, Magio GO and Digi GO customers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The deployment has now gone live on iOS, Android, Android TV, web and Smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Linux and Android IPTV set-top-boxes (STBs). 24i has provided a single code base approach across all three of the T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom services and includes data-driven content optimisation, discovery and engagement tools including recommendations, analytics, targeted content and audience measurement. The 24i-powered services are proving to be highly popular throughout the Czech Republic and Slovakia and, together with 24i, have been nominated for a Connected TV Award in Advancing the TV Experience.

Key deployment achievements include:

A customisable UX which provides next-generation experiences for the T-Mobile TV GO, Magio GO and Digi GO brands A single code base, enabling T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom to deploy rapidly across both territories, to all devices including STBs, Smart TVs and Android TVs Advanced features such as Timeshift TV Player, Cloud and STB PVR functionality, view showtimes and an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) including ‘channel filtering’ 24i's Smart Operator product unifies IPTV and TV Everywhere, reducing CAPEX and OPEX costs and increasing flexibility.

“24i Smart Operator provides us with a productized solution that provides a next-generation, personalised video experience for each subscriber.“ said Marcel Šatánek, Head of PM Connected Home & Terminal Management, Slovak Telekom. “A key motivation for choosing the solution is it's unique ability to enable a ‘develop once, deploy everywhere' content workflow, effortlessly handle device proliferation, legacy and third-party integrations, while providing instant access to new technologies and platform capabilities. Furthermore, Smart Operator has the ability to manage the linear and on-demand content services for all three brands via a single centralised back-end system. By combining the functionality to provide IPTV and TV Everywhere, 24i saves us time and effort managing our services and the power and flexibility of their solution enables us to provide our customers with an incredible video experience on all devices, both now and in the future.”

I am thrilled that Slovak Telekom is the first, large-scale multinational to deploy our new, next-generation Smart Operator product,” said Martijn van Horssen, Joint-CEO of 24i. “We worked very closely with the Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic project teams to ensure that our platform provides all the functionality they need, as well new features that really excite customers such as continue watching (cross-platform), binge viewing, view showtimes and recordings to a STB or the cloud. Before creating our solution for operators, providing a unified experience across territories and so many devices would have required a massive engineering effort. Both operators are already seeing the benefits of combining IPTV and TV Everywhere in one platform with powerful branding capabilities. We’re looking forward to ensuring that the T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom video experiences we are powering continue to excite and attract consumers throughout the region.”

Smart Operator is a turn-key streaming video app development product that enables operators to deliver live, linear and on-demand video services via an intuitive user interface on to any and all devices.

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Jan 13, 2020

Blog

CES 2020: The World of Television

By: Matthijs Langendijk, Lead Smart TV Developer, 24i.

The beginning of each year is always a joy, as we get to see the latest developments in the world of television. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), many companies showcase their latest and greatest. It is also an opportune moment to look at the year ahead — which televisions we can expect, what technologies are pushing the boundaries and if anything is clearly standing high above the others. In the blog we take a look at the TV announcements and demonstrations we’ve seen during CES 2020.

Image: LG The war on 8K continues

This time last year, we saw the first 8K televisions getting announced by LG, Samsung and others. Well, they are back with more. But before we dive into them, maybe it’s good to evaluate what 8K televisions actually can offer.

The amount of 8K content is still virtually non-existent. So that’s not what you should be getting it for. SmartTV apps are generally also still running in Full HD, so what is the benefit there? In terms of pricing it also definitely isn’t mainstream yet. With 4K televisions starting around the €1000 mark, don’t expect 8K televisions to be cheap, yet.

Maybe it is still a bit too soon for 8K. But that doesn’t mean the progress on 8K television isn’t good. 4K started out the very same way, with there being virtually no content for it. The 8K association did announce a certification program at the end of last year, which will hopefully accelerate the adoption of the technology. Manufacturers are also definitely on board, so let’s take a look at their TVs.

LG

You could say that LG and Samsung have been in a bit of a battle when it comes to 8K. With LG claiming to offer a ‘Real 8K’ experience, they are definitely betting big on 8K televisions. They announced a whopping 8 models featuring an 8K screen. Two of them are OLED screens, coming at 77 and 88 inch. Next to this, there are 6 LCD models sporting LG’s NanoCell technology. That’s a lot of 8K. But are they more than just a screen with a high resolution?

Image: LG

Well, yes and no. The televisions are supporting most of the codecs you would expect; AVC1, HEVC and VP9, and you can also expect the relevant HDR technologies you’ve seen before. But that doesn’t make it interesting. What does however make it interesting, is their insanely thin television. As demonstrated in the image above, it is basically just a frame (ring any bells?) you put on a wall. If they manage to put all this technology into such a small television, I would be very much impressed.

Samsung

Samsung obviously can not stay behind in this warfare. And they definitely don’t, with their demonstration of the 8K QLED Q950-series. It is to most extent a pretty ‘normal’ 8K television. Supporting the AVC1 codec for 8K video, a custom SOC called ‘AI Quantum 8K’, so it basically hits the marks you would expect.

There is however a really interesting feature that makes it stand out: there are almost no bezels. The screen to bezel ratio is a whopping 99%, where you typically see a ratio of 94%. So you get more screen for the TV that you have, which is definitely standing out among the 8K televisions announced.

Image: Samsung
Sony, TCL and… Skyworth?

LG and Samsung are obviously not the only manufacturers showing their 8K goods at CES. We’ve seen 8K televisions many of the manufacturers you know and love. Sony has joined the party with a single 8K model, that sadly still features the same processor as last years’, which is a bit disappointing. TCL demonstrated their 8K models sporting their new so-called Vidrian Mini-Led technology, which seem promising.

The odd one in the bunch, is a to me previously unknown manufacturer: Skyworth. This Chinese company, last evaluated at 19 billion dollars, has made a big effort to make their debut on the US market known. They had previously been selling budget televisions in the US already, but their name hasn’t been big. Until now, perhaps. With their announcement of various 8K and OLED televisions, it is yet another party trying to take a chunk of the television market. Which means yet another brand to get your apps on.

TV Tech

Nice resolutions are great and everything, but what about the technology behind them? I’ve already mentioned some of the video codecs supported to get 8K content going, like AVC1. But besides this, what more can we expect that content owners should be wary of?

Operating Systems

I have to admit, I am a bit pleased by this fact: there is no new operating system announced! As a Smart TV developer, we already have to deal with a lot of operating systems and their variants. The operating systems we all know and love will continue as expected: Samsung still puts all bets on their own Tizen, and LG following the same with their WebOS platform.

On the other hand, we have Roku and Android TV which both are doing very well in gathering more support. Roku boasts many partners using Roku on their TV, with TCL, Hisense and others announcing multiple TVs this year. Oddly enough, the same brands also have announced televisions with AndroidTV. Philips is another manufacturer betting on two horses, having both televisions with Saphi, their own operating system, and others with AndroidTV.

Image: Roku

At CES last year, we have seen the same thing as we have this year. A version-up with minimal changes here, another TV with AndroidTV or Roku there. Given these limited changes and additions, I don’t expect any issues for current-gen applications. Most will continue to work with minimal effort on the new televisions announced.

ATSC 3.0

The new kid on the block has to be ATSC 3.0. In short: ATSC 3.0 is the latest version of a standard, describing how television signals should be broadcasted and interpreted. Dubbed as ‘NextGen TV’, the standard is a big step towards getting a clear interface for bringing 4K TV, HDR and other new technologies into your home. Many TVs announced at CES, support the standard, opening up the way for a broad adoption of the standard.

So we will have a nice new standard, that will hopefully unite the way broadcasting is done. But that is not all it defines. ATSC 3.0 specifies so-called ‘Interactive Content’, a way of developing and presenting applications on televisions. Now, this may be going against my claim of not having other operating systems for application support. But the ATSC 3.0 standard is actually really good. It defines clear ways of developing applications with web-technologies like HTML, JavaScript and CSS, similar to what HbbTV does.

Given that many manufacturers have opted to support the standard in their new product lines, this can potentially make app-development for SmartTVs a lot easier. If the standard is properly implemented on all brands, the possibility opens to develop an application once, and deploy everywhere. Now, we’ve seen this before with HbbTV, where the application standard was ‘loosely implemented’, so time will have to tell if the application standard is going to work well. But it is definitely worth investing into, as many brands have started supporting the standard in their new line-up.

Noteworthy mentions

Like last years, most manufacturers showcased their new line-up sporting 4K, OLED, QLED, HDR and other technologies. Panasonic is one of them. And their new 4K OLED flagship is definitely very beautiful, which will definitely be favoured by many. Philips also announced a bunch of televisions in sizes ranging from 43 to 75 inch, catering to basically everybody, including gamers. Vizio, third highest selling manufacturer in the US, is finally adding OLED models to their line-up, making OLED yet a bit more accessible.

Image: Panasonic

Last year we also saw LG showcase their upwards-rolling television. It was expected that they would launch last year already, but they sadly haven’t yet. At CES this year, they showcased more rollable televisions. And now they can also roll downwards from the ceiling. LG expects to have some of these models up for sale somewhere this year, starting around €60.000. Given their price, they are sadly not for the masses yet, but hopefully the technology will develop further over the next few years.

So LG has the rolling televisions. Well, now Samsung has rotating ones. Yes, rotating. It still boggles my mind that this is now a thing. I am not sure if there is even a use case for it, but it is definitely interesting. Samsung showcased their rotating ‘Sero’ series. More details regarding the price and release date are still uncertain, but the feature is definitely an eye-catcher.

Image: Samsung

OLED is also finally getting smaller. Previously, the smallest OLED screen was 55 inch, which for many homes was too big and too expensive. However, both LG and Sony announced 48 inch 4K OLED televisions. With the smaller size, the entry price for OLED televisions will hopefully decrease as well. This could decrease the barrier a lot for people to finally move over to OLED televisions, and might have some interesting effects on sales, as Samsung still bets on QLED.

Appwise, there is also some news from CES. Apple has announced that their streaming service AppleTV+ is coming to LG, Sony and Vizio SmartTVs in the near future. Demonstrating Apple’s growing intent to reach more users with their service, regardless of which device is used.

Conclusion

Yet another year where many manufacturers are betting big on 8K. I doubt we’ll see the prices drop much though, so 8K will definitely be one bridge too far for the big public. 4K however will become a lot more mainstream with the addition of cheaper 48 inch models.

ATSC 3.0 could cause a shift in application development, as many brands have opted to already support the standard in their new line-up. However, Roku and AndroidTV are still big and used by a lot of manufacturers. LG, Samsung and Philips also still put a lot of focus on their own operating systems (WebOS, Tizen, Saphi). So don’t expect to be able to develop only one app for the foreseeable future.

In short, many developments could have an impact on the world of television. We will just have to wait and see what the upcoming year has to offer, when the TVs announced make their way to market. If you would like to know more about SmartTV, ATSC 3.0, HbbTV or anything else television, feel free to reach out through email or LinkedIn. Thank you for reading!

Also published on MEDIUM

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Apr 23, 2020

Blog

The world is watching: As the lockdown impacts viewing behaviour

It’s probably not a great surprise that most stats published recently show that video viewing is up overall in countries enduring a COVID-19 induced lockdown. But if you look more closely at the stats three distinct patterns emerge:
● Daytime viewing is performing really well - primarily powered by large upticks in news and kid’s programming
● Live video growth is outperforming the growth in VoD and streaming - primarily driven by news
● Operators and content owners are trying new business models, such as ‘straight to streaming’ for new movies.

Daytime video viewing

While overall viewing has increased, one of the biggest trends has been a resurgence in daytime viewing. Because the effects of the global pandemic are having far-reaching impacts across the economic and political spectrums, news channels are seeing a major increase in viewership figures. Meanwhile, with social restrictions forcing schools to close down, kids have been turning to their favourite channels to pass the time. Streaming platforms are seeing increased viewership.

AT&T highlighted that CNN daytime viewership increased 150% in the week commencing 16 March compared to last year, meanwhile, on Monday, March 16 (the first full weekday following actions taken by many local and state governments to begin enforcing social distancing measures across the US) Fox News, MSNBC and Fox Business all experienced significant double-digit increases. A Nielsen analysis report also showed that consumers are increasingly gravitating to local news outlets to stay informed about the impact of the pandemic on their communities.

As governments are continuing to give daily updates on their efforts to address the virus and advise their citizens on the next course of action, it is likely that we will continue to see a rise in news consumption as people tune into their trusted channels for ongoing information about the world around them. And it’s not just news that’s enjoying a surge in popularity, with family-oriented programming channels also enjoying strong audience growth, with reports of TeenNick almost tripling and total time spent watching the network increasing 171%, DisneyXD and Nicktoons daytime viewing up over 60% with Nick Jr. and the Disney Channel up around 30%.

Live video viewing is rising fast

The Havas Media Group COVID-19 Media Behaviours Report found that in the UK 48% of people are watching more live TV than they did before lockdown, with around 40% watching more video on demand and streaming services. The report also showed that Live TV has a 40%+ upswing in all age groups, whereas streaming and VOD growth was concentrated in the younger age groups. Havas also reported strong TV growth for TV viewing in the other regions monitored, including France, Germany Italy and China.  

In the USA, reports are showing total viewing hours up for live TV, driven upwards through an increase in total news viewing by over 70%.

New business models

Operators and content distributors are once again finding the truth of necessity being the mother of invention, with changes to schedules and business models.

Discussing the challenge of lockdown viewing, Ryan Chanatry, general manager of Topic, a popular  OTT streaming service powered by 24i, told us that he is producing a limited series comedy special, to lighten people’s spirits and has been able to rearrange its programming schedule to launch a few high-profile and most binge-worthy dramas and comedies earlier than initially planned. 

Another interesting trend is looking afresh at movie windows, with some studios trying ‘straight to streaming’ release windows. Reporting on this trend, Colin Dixon of nScreen Media discussing NBCU pressing ahead with PVOD, wrote: It (NBCU) released Trolls World Tour direct to digital on April 10, and the move seems to have paid off. The $20 rental generated $2-$3 million on the first day of release in the U.S. and could be headed to outstrip Avengers: Endgame first week of digital availability.”

In summary

Our customers are enjoying viewing uplifts, in some cases much higher than the figures reported above. At Amino and 24i we continue to work hard to support our broadcast clients to work as effectively and efficiently as possible and that our OTT and streaming customers can readily scale in line with demand. 

I’m looking forward to watching how these trends will play-out and if they will permanently affect business models as well as enabling us all to view what we want, when we want,  at home, at work or on the move; long after the COVID-19 lockdown is over.

Contact us today to find out 24i can help you scale and extend your OTT streaming services

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Apr 07, 2020

Blog

Taking Storytelling to New Heights and Platforms

By Ryan Chanatry, General Manager. Topic

Following today's news on the launch of Topic, a new streaming video service for ‘culture cravers', Ryan Chanatry, General Manager shares his insights on the service, what makes it unique and what he and the team are providing a unique source of entertainment for people at home during what is an extremely challenging time He also shares some great tips for content owners looking to go direct-to-consumer with their own OTT video service.

1.What is Topic and how does it compete against Netflix and other popular video streaming services?

Topic is a new streaming service that launched in the US and Canada on November 21st. We’re a part of First Look Media’s entertainment division, which also includes Topic Studios. We are a curated selection of drama, comedy, discussion, narrative, documentary, and doc-shorts. We’re available on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android, and Amazon Prime Channels. A monthly subscription starts at $5.99 and you can save with a yearly for only $59.99.

We are not aiming to “compete” with other mainstream services but instead are looking to appeal to a particular frame of mind among consumers who are looking for a compliment to their typical entertainment options.

Most of the non-major streaming services program to a particular genre niche (horror, British, etc), but our vision is that Topic will appeal to a frame of mind or specific sensibility instead.

Our programming sits at the intersection of entertaining, provocative, meaningful, elevated, and smart, and we see ourselves as a compliment to the major streaming players and definitely not in direct competition.

We feel that there is room in our audience’s lives for a service they want to actively associate themselves with, that reflects their values, and says something specific to them with its programming.

2. What are your ambitions for the service over the next year or two? Do you intend to extend to new markets? 

We have many exciting projects in the works for 2020. We’ve recently premiered French drama Vernon Subtext, Shane Meadow’s incredible drama series, The Virtues (starring Stephen Graham), as well as episodes of our discussion shows Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, What’s Your Ailment?! with Maria Bamford, and coming on April 30th, Soul City, a three-part Topic Original set in New Orleans.

In addition to many more drama and comedy series premieres, we’ll be releasing narrative and documentary films throughout the year, highlighting engaging and critically acclaimed films from around the world, as well as lesser known titles that might not have had a previous presence on streaming services.

Beyond that, we aim to super serve our intended audience by providing them with a curated selection of programming that appeals to their desire to experience stories and creators that aren’t represented significantly within mainstream North American entertainment choices. We also look to provide a distribution option for series and narrative & documentary film that deserves to be seen without having to attend festivals or awards shows.

If there’s a demand for Topic in markets outside the US and Canada, we’re certainly open to exploring that in the future!

3. How does working with 24i help you meet your mission to push the art of storytelling to new heights?

24i enables us to present Topic consistently across all of the major app platforms in a compelling and simple way. They allow us to focus on our programming and marketing, while knowing that our product experience is in solid hands. Backstage, 24i’s CMS, lets us make adjustments to how titles on Topic are presented in seconds.

Additionally 24i keeps each app up to date and best in class, allowing us to take advantage of new features and bring those quickly to our audience. Their experience working across so many different types of streaming services also benefits the overall product roadmap.

4. There has been a boom of streaming video services over the past few years and competition is fierce. What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own, direct to consumer service?

Zeroing in on the service’s niche is most critical. Audiences will support and make room in their lives for brands and services that speak to them directly and that they wish to identify with. Finding that audience connection is the key first step. From there, creating relationships with many of the established and emerging providers specializing in the streaming video space, such as 24i, enables you to get up and running at a fraction of the cost of a few years ago, while leveraging their scale and technology. Given the competition, one of the biggest challenges is creating awareness for your service among the intended audience. Experimenting with a variety of marketing and press levers is essential to figuring out how to break through the noise and ensure your programming is seen and understood by those who are most likely to subscribe. Testing and iterating across product, programming, and promotion to optimize your funnel can then kick in.

5. Since people started having to stay home because of the COVID-19 virus, demand for streaming services has never been so great. How is Topic managing this increased demand and are you doing anything special for your subscribers hungry for good programming?

We are grateful to be able to provide audiences with a unique source of entertainment during what is an extremely challenging time on so many levels. Working closely with our teams on the 24i side, we’ve increased server capacity to handle the additional subscribers and streaming time that we’re seeing. Additionally, we’re excited to imminently announce a limited series comedy special, that will include some extra special guests, taking place over April/May. It’s bound to lighten up people’s spirits. We have also rearranged our overall programming schedule to launch a few of our high-profile and most binge worth dramas and comedies earlier than initially planned.

We’ve also launched a special 30 day free trial that leads to a 50% annual subscription ($29.99), available here. Read the press release HERE

Contact us today to find out 24i can help you take your content to new heights.

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