Published September 11th, 2020
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!
In the last episode of our IBC On Location series, Florian Laroye, 24i's VP Design shares the journey the 24i brand is taking and the design principles that he and 24i Brand Designer, Katya Rassadina, are using to guide them along the way.
While 24i has developed enormously during its 11-year history, however, our brand has only had one update in all that time. About a year ago we decided it was time to apply the same creativity and innovation we bring to our industry to our own brand and give it a serious refresh.
To do this Katya and I have followed a few key principles:
Firstly, we removed the slash from the 24i logo to simplify it to the extreme. The numbers 24 and the letter 'i' are enough and say it all: 24i = 24 Innovation.
Secondly, we replaced our letter fonts with modern alternatives. This helps us stand out in an ecosystem where companies are mostly fairly conservative in their branding.
The third principle is the introduction of two, new, primary colors - Crimson (pink?) and Peacock. Crimson evolves us from our previous dark red color pallet, brightening up our brand and representing our passion for what we do. Peacock represents 24i's professionalism and offers a darker more stable complement to the bright and fiery Crimson color.
We have already rolled out our new branding across our social channels, marketing campaigns, and materials and we look forward to it taking centerstage in our new 24i website which is coming soon.
May 06, 2020
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:
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
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 29, 2020
This week we are celebrating the launch of our all-new Video Experience Platform. In the latest episode of the ‘In Conversation With…’ video series, Pim Verbij, VP Product at 24i, explains the ins and outs of the new platform.
The Video Experience Platform in short, is the latest evolution in the 10+ years 24i has spent innovating the video experience. Over the past years, 24i has developed and released applications on many devices, including, but not limited to: web; mobile; SmartTV, consoles and Set Top Boxes. The Video Experience platform is the logical successor to all that experience amassed over the years.
Being able to deliver apps at a quick pace (fast time to market/revenue), while still being highly configurable and scalable, lies at the heart of what the Video Experience Platform offers. It is a combination of technology, a way of thinking and a way of working, all in order to accelerate how we develop and publish video applications to market. But what exactly does that mean? Let’s break it down.
When you read the subtitle above, you might begin to wonder what I mean with this. Why the Three Musketeers? That’s exactly what the Video Experience Platform is: a combination of three products, that combined, make the ultimate video experience.
Going top to bottom, you obviously need a website and apps, that will be used by your users. That’s where the Smart Apps product comes in. Comprised of a single code base for all types of devices, and heavily relying on microservices and ready-to-use components; we leverage the Smart Apps product to quickly setup and create applications.
So now you have your app. But what does the app look like, how do you position and display content in such a way that it attracts users and keeps them on your platform? That’s where the second musketeer comes into play: Backstage. Simply put: Backstage is a CMS and integration manager that allows you to configure almost every aspect of your application. You can adjust the branding, determine the content shown, and even leverage partner-integrations in order to get the most out of your application.
Finally, you obviously need to make sure that there is actual video content making their way to your apps. That’s the third musketeer: Smart Video. Whether you need Video on Demand, Live Video, Catchup and many more; Smart Video is there to handle any type of content.
Which brings us to the D’Artagnan of this story: the actual video content. The series and movies that your customers have grown to love and adore. The goal of the Video Experience Platform is in that sense also very simple. We don’t want you to worry about setting up apps, branding, or delivery of that video content. That’s what we do for you. Allowing you to fully focus on making sure that your users are getting the content they deserve.
The Video Experience Platform is not done, and it never will be. Like technology in general, we are continually evolving and adapting to the changes in the market. This allows our customers to continiously leverage the latest and greatest features offered by the platform.
People usually say that change isn’t always easy. That is however a key thought behind this platform. We want to change, we want to evolve and adapt. And that’s where the key architecture behind the platform comes into play. Everything is setup to be interchangeable, through the use of microservices.
As an example, the platform comes with recommendations built-in. We take user data, make some calculations and recommended content comes rolling out. There are however companies specialised in only that: recommendations. Our microservices architecture allows us to quickly switch between various recommendation engines. The input will still be used data, and the output will still be recommended content. In between is however a different microservice, that calculates the recommendations in a different way, leveraging the partner implementation. By switching between these microservices, the entire platform still continues to work as expected, but you are now using a completely different recommendation engine. Simple as that.
24i has always been at the forefront of the field. Over the past decade we have created many applications, where the focus has always been on delivering the best app-experience for the end-users. That remains unchanged. The Video Experience Platform only aims to accelerate that behaviour.
The experience from the past decade has shown us what is exactly needed from things like the backend, that we know are working well in the front-end apps. By having complete control over the entire video chain (from content ingestion to front-end application), we are able to deliver a seemless experience across all platforms. Each aspect of the Video Experience Platform is developed in such a way, that end users get the best experience.
We do however still want to offer maximum configurability. Apps should look exactly how you want them to look, and should present content in such a way that we know is working for your end-users. That’s why the platform caters to both aspects of the field. We make sure that end-users get the content in the best way possible, meanwhile enabling you to configure the apps in every way you see fit.
Short time to market, offering the entire video chain in a single package, end-user focused and with maximum configurability options; the Video Experience Platform aims to make things easy for you. We don’t want you to have to worry about getting your apps live on time, or having to resubmit applications only to change a little image. That’s what the platform handles for you. And it’s all ready for use. Right now.
If the video, or this accompanying blog, has interested you in the platform and are you keen to learn more? Feel free to get in contact so we can have a chat about the possibilities available to you or download the 24i Video Experience Platform brochure for more details.
This blog is also published on Medium by Matthijs Langendijk