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IBC '19: Telestream Says High-Quality Streaming Is Table Stakes

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Delivering on consumer expectations of video quality may give service providers the edge as the battle for audience share intensifies.

“The days when you could win purely on content or launching a new VOD business model are over,” contends Telestream CEO Scott Puopolo. “Consumer’s expect OTT to be better than linear. Very high quality is now table stakes."

That's why Telestream, whose historic competency has been in media processing, bought IneoQuest a couple years back, moved for cloud-encoding company PandaStream in March 2018 (resulting in launch of its Telestream Cloud solution), and recently added legacy AV test and measurement brand Tektronix.

“We want to be the defacto standard for video processing, workflow automation, and quality management,” declared Puopolo. “In order to do that we need to make sure we have the best portfolios in those areas through acquisition and organic development.”

The lofty goals and strategy recall past mission statements by the likes of Imagine Communications.

Puopolo is wary of comparisons. “One of the things that [companies like Imagine] did was make predominantly hardware acquisitions at a point in time when hardware was giving way to software. What I am trying to do is purchase beyond the curve.”

While Tektronix has its fair share of "iron," Telestream has its eye on the firm’s intellectual property in software and IP.

“Tek’s Sentry and Aurora product lines give us more complete solutions in compliance, QC, and upstream monitoring. Its investment in virtualized platforms for OTT monitoring is something we can leverage.”

In addition, Puopolo commended Tektronix for its work in monitoring uncompressed ST 2110, which it believes will become increasingly popular for contribution and applications in remote production.

Telestream’s buying spree is far from over. It is targeting companies with assets in video supply chain management—“technologies that help us play a stronger role in workflow orchestration,” Puopolo confirms.

“There are lots of cool players out there that have very relevant assets…if I can figure out a way to justify the purchase price that some are asking for."

He continued, “A few years back we had a fragmented portfolio. We’ve since revamped our approach to product investment.”

Telestream diverted its engineering resource to bring Vantage 8 and Cloud Port (software-enabled processing) to market faster. It brought out an ABR monitoring solution (iQ) and accelerated development of OptiQ.

“Those are all significant growth areas which from an internal perspective are the big bets we are making. We augment that with strategic M&A.”

This bullish go-to market strategy is the result of how Telestream views constantly evolving customer requirements.

“The plethora of video alternatives for consumers means that competition for their attention is increasing. Therefore, the best thing we can do is enable our customers to do what they do better, faster, and, frankly, cheaper.”

In essence, that means marrying media processing on the one side with tools to measure quality of service and quality of experience all along the video chain.

“We believe video processing and quality management have significant degrees of interdependence. To our ability in media processing—whether file-based file or live—we add data (probes) so that metrics can be measured for analysis and reference points for QoS and QoE. We can analyze data from the camera all the way into the access network, incorporating all end client devices, and bring analytics back into our platform. Providers have a single pane of glass on the whole video chain.”

OptiQ Channel, a virtualized approach to "ultra-rapid" channel creation, remains in the proof-of-concept stage at several “major” undisclosed customers.

“OptiQ has been a play for us as we move further into orchestration. Encoding, packaging, and origin can all be interspersed with our monitoring solutions to give customers the ability to spin up and manage dynamic channels easily and effectively.

"By definition, you can’t do what we’re doing in terms of efficient channel management without integration of monitoring solutions as a way of simplifying the complexity of traditional network channel launches.”

An OptiQ monitoring-as-a-service offering will be commercially launched later this year. “It’s the first step for those doing some aspect of dynamic channel spin-up. Not a lot of folks are able to offer monitoring as a service to the degree we can.”

Among customer testimonials Telestream fielded at the event was Fox Sports explaining how it deployed a "live at home" workflow for the production of the FIFA Women’s World Cup from France this summer using solutions from Telestream, Aspera, and Levels Beyond.

“We want to take this whole remote workflow mainstream,” said Kevin Callahan, vice president of technical operations for the World Cup at Fox Sports. “Live at home makes economic sense for large scale events like a World Cup but we want to get the economics and solutions to a point where any remote is applicable for any event.”

James Unitt representing BT explained that the British telco is developing an IP-based platform to enable content sharing between BT TV and Sky’s TV Now using Telestream’s monitoring technology.

The transformation of waveform monitoring from SDI to IP is being trailblazed at Bloomberg and the BBC.

“Customers want to transition to IP without having to forklift out their existing technology stacks,” Puopolo said. “With PRISM [technology from the Tek acquisition] they keep a foot in both camps. It de-risks that transformation.”

The terms of the deal for Tektronix have not been revealed, but in 2007 Danaher Corp bought the company for $2.85 billion. In 2016, Danaher spun off a separate company, Fortive, which took with it the Tektronix assets. Fortive and Telestream are described as forming a partnership to merge Tektronic Video into Telestream.

Telestream itself has been owned by private equity firm Genstar Capital since 2015.

Photo: Telestream partners talk about their projects at IBC 2019 (credit: Adrian Pennington)

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