As I reflect on cloud computing and the media industry since last year’s NAB, I see two emerging trends. First, content creators and broadcasters such as Rakuten, RTL, and Al Jazeera are increasingly using the global reach, hybrid model, and elastic scale of Azure to create, manage, and distribute their content. Second, AI-powered tools for extracting insights from content are becoming an integral part of the content creation, management and distribution workflows with customers such as Endemol Shine Group, and Zone TV.
Therefore, at this year’s NAB, we are focused on helping you modernize your media workflows, so you can get the best of cloud computing and AI. We made a number of investments to enable better content production workflows in Azure, including the recent acquisition of Avere Systems. You can learn more about how Azure can help you improve your media workflows and business here.
Read on to learn more about the key advancements we’ve made – in media services, distribution and our partner ecosystem – since last year’s IBC.
Azure Media Services
Democratizing AI for Media Industry: Since its launch at NAB 2016, Azure Media Analytics has come a long way. At Build 2017, we launched Video Indexer, an application built by combining Azure Media Analytics with Cognitive services and Azure Search. Video Indexer showcases the best of what is achievable in Azure with AI technologies for video. In the past few months, Video Indexer added several new features including detection of business brands from transcripts, translation of transcripts to 54 languages, integration with custom speech, ability to customize brand detection, and several updates to player and insights widgets. Video Indexer has been used by a number of customers including Box, AVID, Endemol Shine Group, Genetec, Ooyala, and Zone TV to improve search, engagement, monetization and accessibility in their media apps. Please refer to this case study for more details on how Endemol Shine Group worked with Microsoft to implement a ground-breaking Serverless workflow solution powered by Azure Media Analytics, specifically speech-to-text, face recognition, and motion detection technology, to automate scene selection during the production of Big Brother, a TV reality show.
The Media Services platform is now deeply integrated with Microsoft’s Video Indexer capabilities to make it the first cloud video intelligence platform to enable customers to train the AI engine to meet their unique industry needs. By integrating with Custom Speech, Media Services now enables customers to improve the accuracy of video transcription. Developers can create focused vocabularies that provide a unique constrained set of words to detect for industries like finance, healthcare, academics, sciences, legal, and more. This enables customers to minimize the amount of manual labor and cleanup required today when using the default vocabulary models provided by Microsoft.
Microsoft Stream became generally available 9 months ago. Since then new features, integrations and enhancements have been added at a rapid pace to enrich video communication and collaboration across teams and organizations. For a look at recent feature announcements, read the latest blog post.
Growing partner ecosystem
Our partners continue to innovate with unique features that extend our broad platform capabilities.
One year in, the Avid and Microsoft strategic cloud partnership is accelerating with major product deliveries, joint marketing, and customer deployments – demonstrating that our companies are perfectly complementary in our mission to lead the media and entertainment industry to the cloud. At NAB 2018, Avid and Microsoft are showcasing further product deliveries coming in the second half of 2018, including a new suite of on-demand cloud services and solutions to reimagine the content supply chain of the largest media organizations, and reimagine the creative production and post production process for creative teams and independent artists everywhere.
uCast, a global Internet TV network and monetization platform, has selected Azure as its exclusive cloud platform provider for its next-generation media monetization platform. We are working together to onboard customers to this new solution.
MakeTV’s cloud-based live video acquisition and management platform, Live Video Cloud (LVC) is now available on Azure. Check out this link for details on how LVC enables AI supported curation and filtering of hundreds of live video feeds.
Wowza has developed a new Ultra low latency (ULL) live streaming solution, exclusively available in Azure for now, that can stream live to any geography with no more than 2-3 seconds latency. To achieve this ultra-low latency, Wowza leveraged the Azure Backbone network that provides high speed connectivity to all Azure Regions across the globe. For more details, please refer to this case study.
Net Insight’s ultra-low latency live OTT Streaming solution, Sye, is now available on Azure and has been deployed by two customers. Sye includes functionality to synchronize individual feeds across devices throughout the entire experience. The Sye solution brings a TV-like viewing experience to anyone on an OTT platform, including features such as instant playback, fast channel changes, seamless ad-insertion, and an exceptional viewing experience.
We worked closely with our partner Haivision to develop SRT Receiver as a Service on Azure. Now, customers can use SRT in addition to RTMP for secure and reliable ingest into the cloud. Haivision will be showing a demo at its booth and at Microsoft booth.
Irdeto’s TraceMark session-based OTT VOD watermarking solution on Azure is fully integrated with Azure Media Services and Azure CDN. Please check out the demo at the Microsoft booth at NAB.
Since November 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) has been using our partner Imagine Communications’ cloud-based playout solution running on Azure to broadcast a three-hour block of children’s programming, every morning, with a full commercial load.
Amagi is heralding a new era of cloud broadcast with artificial intelligence and machine learning-based content preparation services. It aims to improve efficiencies by nearly six times as compared to traditional, manually-intensive content preparation modules. This AI-driven approach will eventually expand into a larger cognitive playout infrastructure, which puts TV networks and content owners in a stronger position to address changing viewer dynamics. The Amagi solution is nominated for product innovation at the IABM's Broadcast and Media (BaM) Awards at NAB this year. Microsoft Azure customers now have the advantage of partnering with Amagi not just for cloud playout, but also for upstream broadcast workflow activities.
Finally, Microsoft is pleased to welcome Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS) to our booth to showcase how they are partnering with our CDN field team to use Azure for deployment and content distribution.
“We are happy to join Microsoft at NAB this year to showcase Azure and VMDS together. Our strong partnership and technologies coming together, enables flexible and highly performant ways to build, create and distribute content using a one-platform approach, something that is highly attractive to our customers.”
- Ralf Jacob, President, Verizon Digital Media Services
Stay tuned for more Azure blog posts that will dive deeper into these announcements.
Come see us at NAB 2018
If you’re attending NAB Show 2018, I encourage you to by stop by our booth SL6716. In addition to great demos and product team representatives from Azure Media Services, Azure Storage, Azure HPC, Microsoft Stream, and Microsoft Skype for Broadcast, we will also feature the following partner showcases:
- 360 Collaboration
- Nimble Collective
- Prime Focus Technologies
- Verizon Digital Media Services
Microsoft will also feature an in-booth presentation theatre with customer, partner and product presentations scheduled throughout the day – a detailed schedule of all presentations and speakers is available here.
If you are not attending the conference but would like to learn more about our media services, follow the Azure Blog to stay up to date on new announcements.
Finally, a big thank you to all our dedicated and growing community of developers, customers, and partners that continues to provide valuable and actionable feedback.