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TV Studio Reaches New Devices and Markets with Cloud-Based Streaming Solution
Leading independent TV studio all3media wanted to embrace new distribution channels and devices, delivering content direct to consumers through tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. Through Easel TV’s multiscreen digital distribution platform, which is based on Windows Azure, all3media is now able to stream its content on-demand. This is cost-effectively opening up new platforms, providing opportunities for significant revenue growth.
“Launching direct to US consumers across multiple devices would have been unaffordable, but ... Windows Azure helps unlock access to the vast American market without requiring high up-front funding.”
all3media is one of the UK’s leading creators of outstanding film and TV content, having produced hit TV series such as Inspector George Gently, Midsomer Murders, and The Only Way is Essex. The company is composed of 17 leading production companies and has won 33 Emmys and more than 30 BAFTAS for its programs. In addition to producing shows for major broadcasters, it also syndicates its content through online channels such as Netflix, YouTube, and iTunes.
The broadcast landscape is changing quickly, with consumers increasingly watching content through new devices, such as tablets and smartphones, and in new formats, such as video on-demand and catch-up TV. all3media is committed to responding to this shift in viewing patterns, and is investing heavily to innovate across the group.
In particular, the increase in the number of viewers consuming content through smart TVs and gaming devices such as Xbox presents a major opportunity for the company’s distribution arm, all3media International, to expand into new markets such as the United States—and to provide content directly to consumers rather than solely via broadcasters.
“New technology offers us an enormous opportunity to get closer to our viewers, generating revenue from direct-to-consumer relationships by delivering our programs in a range of ways across multiple devices,” says Gary Woolf, SVP Digital and Business Development, all3media International. “However, we are program creators, not technologists, so we needed a trusted partner that could handle the complexity of this arena and could provide us with a scalable platform that is ready for expansion. We required a solution that was cost-effective but still provided the same rich experience as watching a TV channel, and one able to support our future growth as our business evolves.”
all3media researched the market, looking for a solution that would deliver the high-quality televisual experience it required and could scale to meet its future needs. After extensive analysis, it selected Microsoft partner Easel TV and its Suggested TV multiscreen platform.
Built on Windows Azure, the cloud-based solution delivers the same linear experience as conventional TV, but with on-demand access to a wide range of content across multiple devices. This is combined with powerful editorial technology that provides the most relevant content to the viewer.
“Easel TV shared our vision of what on-demand TV should look like and demonstrated the technical capabilities that we were looking for. As this is very much a new but fast-growing area for us, the involvement of Microsoft and its proven technology strengthened our confidence that we had made the right partner choice, both for now and into the future,” says Woolf.
Easel TV chose to work with Microsoft technologies as they provide complete solutions that grow to accommodate expanding needs. Through Windows Azure Media Services, all3media offers 350 hours of content from 15 program brands—content which can be quickly converted to multiple formats, allowing it be streamed to a wide range of devices, from Smart TVs and tablets to smartphones and Xbox.
“Streaming content is immensely complex, with each device requiring TV shows in a different format. As this is an emerging market, predicting demand is difficult, so it is vital that we have a platform that is scalable and that we pay only for the services that we use. Windows Azure provides the cloud-based resources, technical capabilities, close working relationship with the Microsoft technical team, and commercial flexibility to deliver the seamless, high-quality experience that all3media requires and which consumers love,” says Bill Scott, COO, Easel TV.
all3media’s new Windows Azure-based solution has already gone live on Samsung Smart TVs and iOS devices, and will be available shortly on further Smart TVs and Xbox. The company is using its solution to realize multiple benefits:
- Enables new business models. For the first time, all3media is interacting with consumers directly, rather than through broadcasters. This is opening up completely new business opportunities and markets. “While the majority of our content delivery will always be via broadcasters and established digital services, the new Windows Azure-based solution allows us to experiment and trial completely new business models, providing programs on-demand and helping us better understand the digital supply chain,” says Woolf.
- Provides a cost-effective solution. Windows Azure gives all3media commercial flexibility, as the company only pays for the services that it uses. This means that it can scale up as necessary, allowing the company to launch streaming with minimal investment.
- Establishes a platform for growth. Expanding the solution, to enter new countries for example, adding devices, or increasing content is simple. This means that all3media has the right platform in place, however the business develops.
- Delivers to multiple devices. Consumers want to watch streaming content on a growing number of devices. Through Windows Azure Media Services, all3media’s platform has the technical capability to encode and stream all popular formats, and it is supported by a close technical partnership that means new formats can quickly be added.
- Enters new markets. The primary target for the new solution is the United States, where all3media will deliver content to consumers, particularly through Xbox. “Previously, launching direct to US consumers across multiple devices would have been unaffordable, but the combination of Easel TV and Windows Azure helps unlock access to the vast American market without requiring high up-front funding,” says Woolf.
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