Video: BlueFrame's Turnkey Cloud Serve Targets Sports, Worship, Enterprise
Tim: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2017. You can hear Frank Sinatra in the background. If you come down you'll get a chance to actually hear him sing today, one night only, here in New York again, doing it his way. With us, we have a non-New Yorker, somebody from Detroit, if I remember correctly.
Chris: Originally from Michigan, that's right.
Tim: Michigan, right, and then moved out to the west coast.
Chris: Right, Redmond, Washington, for the last 17 years.
Tim: You were at Microsoft and then Wowza, and you made the decision earlier this year to leave Wowza, and you've got a whole different shirt on. First of all, tell us who you are, because the audience may not know, and then tell us what the company does that you've joined here recently.
Chris: Sure. My name is Chris Knowlton, and I've been in the streaming industry since about 1999, first at NetApp, and as you said, then at Microsoft for 10 years and then at Wowza. Now I'm at a company called BlueFrame Technology.
Tim: What does BlueFrame do?
Chris: It provides an easier-to-use, cost-effective, turnkey solution that allows anyone to have multiple cameras and push those out to any screen, including OTT apps that we'll build for you, so you don't need any technical skills to use our stuff. You just hook up several cameras to a laptop, whether it be a Mac or Windows, and switch between them with a bunch of great transitions and graphics that we'll provide, whether it be for sports or enterprise or church. Then, it goes out to all those screens, including OTT apps that we'll build and submit, and customize with your logo and color.
Tim: Live is the focus?
Chris: It is.
Tim: Is there an ability to then record those? I know houses of worship like to do it live and then do recording.
Chris: Yeah, that's a great question. Not only do we take care of the switching and then encoding and then the delivery, we also archive everything, so you get an archive version online, and we have a full content management service. You can, in advance, set up a live broadcast and specify that in the content management system. When somebody then opens up the app which is called Production Truck, they actually get, based on their permissions, a list of broadcasts that they are allowed to actually push to, so they never have to even think about, "How am I connecting this to a server somewhere?"
They just choose ... Like in the example you gave, they choose 9 AM Sunday service, and it connects them automatically, and then that broadcast will be archives and in the content management system, and if it's set up in a particular way, it'll be automatically available on their website in the OTT app immediately after the broadcast is done.
Tim: Nice, so they finish up, they don't have to do any transcoding or anything like that after the fact. It's all ...
Chris: That's correct.
Tim: Okay. The entire play is a service play?
Chris: Well, there's the software part. Production Truck is a piece of software which you purchase.
Tim: You purchase the software first?
Chris: Yep. It's an annual subscription. There are two versions, a standard version and a pro version. Pro version gives you four sources, social media integration, so you can actually put social media right in your feed and you can also take instant replays and push those right into social media, so, sort of, a two way social media interaction. The standard version just has fewer sources and doesn't have instant replay or social media.
Chris: The cloud service that does the transcoding and delivery and archiving and content management, starts at $100 a month.
Tim: Interesting. Frank's pretty lively down here. We'll have to go see him in a couple minutes.
Chris: He is, I know.
Tim: Before we do that, though, what attracted you to the company? Clearly, you went to Wowza when Wowza was an early stage. They'd been around for a while. You worked with the company, the company grew really, really nicely, and now you're back at, what I assume is a startup, as well.
Chris: Yeah, right. I'm the eighth employee at this startup.
Tim: Oh, wow.
Chris: It's fairly small. It was pretty interesting to me to go and find a new startup, because I like the idea of being close to the ground floor on starting these things up. These guys had a great product. It was already running well. They had hundreds of customers. They had thousands of broadcasts under their belt. It was already a proven technology and everybody I saw who interacted with the product and with the two co-founders, just really had a very positive experience. To me, it spoke out very loudly as a really good place to go, where I'd have a good experience and where I could contribute with all that 17 years of experience to help them grow it to the next stage.
Tim: Sure, and where's the company based?
Chris: It's based in Lexington, Kentucky.
Tim: Lexington, Kentucky, okay. Interesting. They're not Silicon Gulch or Silicon Valley, they're in the heartland, so to speak.
Chris: They are.
Tim: Where has their traction been so far, in terms of market verticals?
Chris: Yeah, most of it so far has been in sports, Division II and Division III college and minor league sports. Those folks who don't yet have an ESPN contract, say, but want a presence, they want a channel on Roku and Kindle and Kindle Fire and Apple TV.
Tim: Right, so, essentially you're allowing them to go reach to their audience that would be fairly scattered if it's, say, alumni of these schools that are in multiple locations and like that.
Chris: That's right.
Tim: Is that something that you think can eventually help those schools move into getting contracts with ESPN or something like that, because they'll have under their belt that ability to have, sort of, tested the waters with Blue Frame, or would the assumption be, even as they grow in audience numbers they would stay with Blue Frame to provide the service for them?
Chris: Yeah, that's a great question. We do see more and more schools looking to have that kind of reach out to their alumni and fan base, whether it be just to keep interest in the school or whether to build donations or what have you. As more do that, they also, then, from an association level or a conference level, want to have the ability to discover content, not just from one school, but across many schools, so that if you have an interest in collegiate volleyball, now you have one place you can go and discover all the games across the conference, not just one school.
Tim: Would that allow the conference, and/or BlueFrame to package up a women's volleyball channel or something like that that then could be sold to more traditional media?
Chris: Potentially, yeah. I definitely see trends happening that way in athletics, and the fact that they can do that now at a very low cost and package it up, makes it much more compelling. We think, down the road, as more and more niche channels come up where people want the collegiate volleyball channel, we'll have lots and lots of content that are customers will be able to provide and contribute to that and build their own exposure at no cost to them.
Tim: What's interesting is if you think about something like football in those D II, D III schools, then the marching bands, as well. The marching band comes out at halftime, so you may have the marching band channel.
Chris: That's right, that's right.
Tim: That's really fascinating. What's your official title now at BlueFrame?
Chris: Partner and chief strategy officer.
Tim: Oh, wow, all right.
Chris: Really what it means is I wear multiple hats.
Tim: Right, and it's a startup. Here we've had Chris Knowlton, partner and chief strategy officer at BlueFrame Technology. I'm Tim Siglin, the media strategy principal at Reel Solver, Inc, and a contributing editor for streamingmedia.com. Thank you all for joining this interview, and we look forward to hearing really good things for us over the course of the next couple years.
Chris: Thanks, Tim.
Tim: You're welcome.
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