Published September 10th, 2020
Launching a new product, or platform of products is always challenging, so why did we, 24i choose to launch our new Video Experience Platform during a pandemic? Pim Verbij, VP of Product at 24i, explains in the next episode of IBC On Location.
If anything, the pandemic has made the need for cloud-based solutions even more evident. Everything has changed – from the way we live, work and keep entertained.
As we are forced to connect and create remotely, smart software is making online collaboration possible from pretty much anywhere in the world. This shift, coupled with the sharp increase in consumer demand for streaming video, has resulted in a substantial increase of new subscriptions and traffic for many of 24i’s customers.
The strength and flexibility of the 24i Video Experience Platform has therefore come into its own as it enables operators, broadcasters and content owners to rapidly scale and adapt their video services to attract and keep subscribers engaged. As Florian, our VP Design explained in a previous episode of IBC On Location, much of the control and fast time-to-market we provide to our customers, is powered by the underlying design system with the Video Experience Platform.
The pandemic has also forced streaming services to get creative. Good examples include Dutch broadcaster NPO, and the popular theatre streaming service BroadwayHD, which with their Watch Together events have enabled people to connect and share viewing experiences while they need to keep apart.
Looking ahead, the 24i product roadmap will focus on enriching our customer and the end-consumer viewing experience any way we can. This includes greater collaboration with partners across our Smart Ecosystem and providing new tools around areas such as data analytics, AB testing and other cutting edge second-screen functionality.
On our last day On Location at IBC, Kjeld Beijer, 24i's Partnerships Manager takes the opportunity to catch up with Unified Streaming's Rochelle Morrison and Anne Zant down by the Amsterdam waterfront.
From providing streaming solutions in the cloud or on-premise, Unified Streaming is a key partner within 24i's Smart Ecosystem and prides itself on enabling video service providers with encoding and real-time packaging to reach any device.
When talking to Kjeld on the effects the pandemic has had on the TV and video industry, Rochelle and Anne both cite examples of how some companies, including a few sports brands, are getting creative on how they produce live events while keeping within the new restrictions, and how others are offering new SVOD and AVOD content packages to entertainment-hungry audiences around the world.
Finally, Anne shares a tip on how to stay cool when you come to Amsterdam next time!
Apr 06, 2020
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
Apr 07, 2020
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.
Jul 01, 2020
There is much debate around the future of
TV, from both a production and consumption perspective. One thing is clear,
however, that while we mostly take the User Interface of our TV and video
services for granted, it is often a key deciding factor when the time comes to
renew our subscription(s).
In a recent interview published for International Women's Day, hosted by Women in Streaming Media, Peggy Dau, Founder & Managing Partner, MAD Perspectives, and Yujin Joung, UI Designer at 24i, discuss the often hidden importance of UI design for TV and streaming services. The lively and informative discussion covers:
1: UI/UX is gaining a lot of attention with the increased number of OTT services. Why is UI/UX important to pay-TV and OTT Providers?
As we already know, today the market is very competitive and fast-growing. Service providers need to build their own clear strategy for UI/UX in order to retain their customers. We can help them by creating distinguished features that users love to have. We look at the market trends and see if they are relevant to our clients based on their users and their own content. For example, let’s look at autoplay. This is when the video service automatically starts playing the next episode when you are watching a TV series. There is no need to manually select the next episode. If all services don’t have this same feature, subscribers will get annoyed by the services that don’t have it. This is a good example where the UI/UX anticipates the user’s needs. This small feature improves the general perception of the product.
Why has the UI/UX design with rows of images become the "standard"
for video services?
I think the rows of images started from the experience at the movie theatre when you see posters next to each other on the wall. We wanted to provide a similar experience which was the start of a trend that has become the standard.
We are more attracted to visual images than text. Images are easy to consume because they require less cognitive effort. Big images are more eye-catching than long boring texts. I believe the same to be true for video services. TV is a visual platform, not made for reading text. Instead, TV is mostly made for consuming media. Therefore, we need to make an easier and more usable product for the content.
3: What's new in UI/UX design?
There is a lot of focus on personalizing
the user experience. Artificial Intelligence helps to understand your profile
and what you like to watch. You see relevant content directly from the
homepage, instead of using the menu to find what you’re looking for. The
content comes to you, instead of you going to the content. The product can
understand how you use it, and adapts its interface.
One of my colleagues gave me an amazing example of this. He has a video app and uses the same channel every Monday. This app collects the data about what and when he watches. The app now shows the same channel every Monday for him. That’s really impressive. Just imagine how this will evolve in the future.
Why is UI/UX important to consumers?
I think I can explain this with my personal experience. Recently I wanted to get more fit and I was looking for a fitness app which allows me to choose any kind of gym. So, I decided to download a few of them and just compare which one I want to use.
In one app, it was hard to understand what’s what; in general, it was just too difficult to use. I tried to use the map function which would allow me to see the nearest gym, but the result was just a chaos of data and images. Also, the look and feel of the app felt old, which made me wonder if the information provided by the app would be trustworthy. The content of an app is very important, but how we present it is also crucial. UI/UX helps consumers to experience the app in the best possible way. This is why UI/UX is important.
5: What's important as we move ahead?
Users all behave differently and experience
products in their own way. We need to keep looking for new solutions and
technologies to improve the experience.
There must be a "wow" experience when they start to use the product. We need to make the user instantly fall in love with the services we create. Beautiful graphic design, playful animations, and easy interaction are examples of ways to impress the users.