August 17, 2021
Not quite the Olympics, but we’re excited for the streaming industry awards season
As the streaming media industry’s awards season approaches, 24i’s Chief Marketing Officer Madelon Olsthoorn considers the importance of being recognized for excellence by your peers, customers and industry experts.
The summer of 2021 has included a lot of (delayed) opportunities to crown champions - from the UEFA Euro 2020 trophy to the bronze, silver and gold medals of the Olympic Games. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one watching video footage of all those medal ceremonies and imagining how it would feel to be standing on that podium?
While my dreams of sporting glory never went much beyond an early passion for tennis, at 24i we are lucky enough to be in the running for a few trophies this summer. Our hard work is at the code-face rather than in the gym, but like being picked for the Olympics we feel the honour of these nominations because competition among the suppliers of streaming technology is as fierce as the battle for subscribers between the streaming services themselves. So let me tell you a little bit about the awards we’re up for and why they matter so much to us.
The opinions that matter most - those of our customers
Awards success means even more when the winners are decided by your customers, peers and colleagues, so we’re delighted to be nominated twice in the Streaming Media Magazine European Readers Choice Awards. Thanks to your input, the latest iteration of our Smart Video streaming backend is in the running for best OTT Video Platform, while our Smart Apps frontend product and cross-platform codebase is nominated for best Mobile Video Solution.
These are the only awards in the streaming industry that give end-users the chance to vote on the products and services they find the most valuable. The winners will be announced in the Autumn issue of the Streaming Media Magazine’s European edition.
Recognition for our integrated OTT video platform
As if individual nominations for our products weren't enough, we're also really excited to be nominated for the work we've done to bring them together as a fully-integrated streaming platform! The CSI Awards judges have shortlisted our platform in the "Best TV Everywhere or Multi-screen Video" category, with the winners due to be announced in September. This nomination is the result of a lot of hard work across our business to combine our products. So what's the rationale for it?
A unified approach
24i has been developing its front-end application capabilities and reputation for excellence in Smart TV development for over 12 years and I've been working here for seven of them. In that time, the industry has changed dramatically, particularly in 2020 with the explosion of video streaming apps in the marketplace. 24i recognized a growing need from content owners, broadcasters and even smaller Pay TV operators to not only launch quickly but also to simplify their ongoing operations. Their day-to-day needs to be “lean and mean”. They have space for fewer expensive in-house technical staff and want to expand to new connected devices and business models without adding more complexity, cost and vendor-management overheads.
To meet this need, 24i has been on a journey to fully productise its front-end experience, resulting in the launch of the Smart Apps (whitelabel, cross-platform front-end) and Backstage (content and application management interface) solutions in 2019. Since then we have enhanced and integrated these products with our Smart Video backend, making things even easier for our customers. We've brought together tasks like video ingest, transcoding, DRM protection and CDN configuration with the management of content and frontend UX in a single interface. In 2020, 24i rolled-out this fully end-to-end OTT platform for the first time, to our customer Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) enabling the rapid relaunch of their Flow Sports app. CWC generously agreed to allow us to feature their service in our submission for the CSI Awards.
About Flow Sports
CWC's consumer telecoms brand Flow offers Pay TV, broadband and telephony services to subscribers in 15 Caribbean countries, Its Flow Sports TV channel holds rights to an enviable selection of sports content including the English Premier League, Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League plus all Concacaf Competitions, the World Athletics Diamond League and various leading Cricket competitions.
Frustrated with an inefficient, multi-vendor legacy infrastructure for its streaming services that left Flow Sports staff dependent on third parties to make even the smallest changes and unable to expand to popular and desirable new devices like Roku and Apple TV, CWC planned a 2020 relaunch for the Flow Sports app. Their goal was to give consumers a top-quality user experience on multiple connected devices, but also to simplify OTT operations and give their staff control over managing both their content and the front-end user experience. However, timing was critical.The app had to be ready for the start of the new international soccer seasons.
The 24i solution
Thanks to 24i’s new end-to-end new solution, which is pre-integrated with subscriber management partner Cleeng, the updated Flow Sports app was launched on iOS, Android and web browsers within only four weeks. Flow Sports subscribers enjoy a mix of on-demand content and the all-important live sports, all in HD.
The catalogue of available content varies between territories. In addition, some VOD clips are available for free to all users, while the highest-value content requires a login using the subscriber’s existing Flow ID credentials. For the first time, the new app also enables Flow Sports to offer OTT-only subscriptions for those customers who don’t already have the Flow TV service in their homes.
A framework for growth
The flexibility of 24i’s turnkey solution means that Flow Sports is now well placed to expand to other target devices like Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV. It also has the option to explore new business models for the first time - including AVOD, TVOD and further OTT-only packages or bundles.
The CSI Awards nomination is the first we’ve received for our fully-integrated, end-to-end OTT platform, and we’re delighted to see that the industry is recognizing the benefits of our unified but flexible approach.
We’ve got more exciting news to come on our product development ahead of this year’s NAB and IBC shows, so stay tuned for details! And if you’d like to plan ahead and arrange to meet our team at NAB or IBC to discuss how 24i’s end-to-end OTT platform could support your video streaming goals, why not book a meeting.