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UpLynk Emerges from Stealth Mode; Disney/ABC Is First Customer
Premium adaptive streaming doesn't have to be complicated, says UpLink, which offers easy encoding, delivery, and pricing.

UpLynk has been in stealth mode for the past year, and it's ready for its grand unveiling. One way to get attention is to announce that Disney/ABC is already a customer.

The company provides HD adaptive streaming for premium partners, and does so in a way designed to be far simpler - both technologically and financially - than the competition. Rather than streaming and storing multiple formats for different platforms and devices, UpLynk stores and streams only one. That means storage and encoding costs are less, says CMO and founder Ken Brueck, since the video workflow doesn't need to be duplicated multiple times.

The way that UpLynk covers all distribution bases is that its single stream is H.264/AAC. When needed, as when streaming to Flash browsers, it supplies a code library that can be compiled right in the player. UpLynk streams HLS to iOS devices, but streams to Flash on the desktop, as HTML5 lacks content protection. It also streams to Android, Windows 8, Roku, and more.

That single format allows for more comprehensive and useful analytics, says Brueck, since the results are grouped together, not broken apart by platform.

By simplifying the encoding and storage process, Brueck says his company makes it easy to add new formats and platforms when needed. The company only needs to create a code library once, and then all customers benefit.

UpLynk, a software-as-a-service company, is also streamlining billing, only charging for the hours of content encoded, stored, and streamed. Features such as ad replacement, analytics, and georestrictions are included in the price, as is 1080p streaming. The platform can stream live video, which is immediately available as video-on-demand files. Brueck promises that UpLynk's server-based ad replacement offers a delay-free, TV-like experience.

While Brueck explained the UpLynk backend to Streaming Media during a meeting at International CES, he emphasized that he wants to keep the conversation simple for customers, avoiding talk of formats or gigabytes. They only need to think about hours of video encoded, stored, and streamed, and to know that they'll reach all platforms. The company website includes a pricing calculator.

To get around the time delay of uploading premium content for cloud encoding, UpLynk uses a locally stored application that segments content on-site and uploads encrypted smaller pieces separately. The platform is built on Amazon Web Services and uses EC2 (elastic compute cloud) for encoding instances. The CDN is Amazon CloudFront. The customer doesn't need a relationship with a CDN, Brueck emphasizes. Also, using an outside CDN isn't an option, as the UpLynk platform is sold as a complete package.

If anyone has doubts about UpLynk's service, Brueck says that Disney/ABC is a customer and has been using several releases of UpLynk throughout 2012. UpLynk has streamed 130 million hours of content for Disney since March, 2012. UpLynk waited until the service was issue-free before bringing it to market.

UpLynk is based in Los Angeles, with an engineering team in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company has about a dozen employees, is self-funded (and isn't looking for additional funding), and is already profitable.

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