Elemental Will Process Olympic Video for Audience of 1 Billion
[Note: This sponsored interview was recorded at Streaming Media East, 2012.]
Olympics games are a prime opportunity for online video companies to show what they can do. Elemental Technologies will be working with broadcasters on multiple continents to deliver a rich experience to a global audience.
"Every day we're finding out more and more about what we're doing, to be honest," said Keith Wymbs, Elemental's vice president of marketing, speaking during a red carpet interview at the recent Streaming Media East conference. "We have announced that we are working with a lot of the hosts, well, with the broadcasters including the host broadcaster in the U.K. All of these broadcasters are looking to go beyond the TV set, beyond the traditional broadcast delivery, to have the rights to do multi-screen. And so we're putting encoders, live encoders, basically in Japan, the U.K, in Latin America, to cover all of South America with the exception of Brazil. We found out a couple weeks ago that we're doing all of Europe as well for the live multi-screening coding."
In less than two weeks' time, Elemental will be processing Olympic video for over one billion viewers.
"It's going to be a pretty interesting event, I think, in August, in terms of just the sure scale of what's going to happen," added Wymbs. "We estimate on our side that Elemental-based video processing that's going to end-users is going to touch upwards of a billion people within a couple week time frame. That type of scale in the industry, I really can't find another event that has had that type of scale. And so we're really happy to be part of it.
To view the full interview, scroll down.
Troy Dreier: Hi, this is Troy Dreier, senior associate editor for StreamingMedia.com, coming to you from the red carpet at the Streaming Media East conference in New York City. I'm sitting down today with Keith Wymbs, vice president of marketing for Elemental.
Keith Wymbs: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Troy Dreier: Thank you for joining me. Why don't we start off with the basics? What is Elemental?
Keith Wymbs: Elemental is a video processing company. We have a couple of solutions. One is a file-to-file transcoding engine, and the other is a live streaming solution. Our core technology is built on the fact that we were the first to figure out how to innovate on GPUs and do video compression on GPU processors, which were typically used for graphics processing. But we were one of the first to figure out how to do video compression on GPUs and when we augment that with CPUs we provide a level of performance and capability that's unmatched in the market right now. So we're leading a lot of the efforts around multi-screen delivery, both in the U.S. and in Europe, and now we're exploring into Asia as well.
Troy Dreier: And what are some of your target market segments?
Keith Wymbs: Yeah. We primarily had focused early on on the programmer market, so a good example of that is HBO Go. We power HBO Go in terms of their on-demand multi-screen efforts. Number of live programmers, live events programming. We do a number of the major sports. These we'll talk a little bit about, perhaps the Olympics, later. And then service providers. So cable operators, Comcast Xfinity TV, all of their on-demand programming is created for multi-screen by Elemental clusters that they've recommended in their solutions. So we kind of bridge the gap and we're a little bit of providing solutions across markets whether they be video distribution companies, like the IPTV operators and cable operators, or the programmers themselves that want to produce content for PC mobile tablet delivery.
Troy Dreier: Very good. I know just this week you had a big customer announcement, right? It was a Columbus Communications?
Keith Wymbs: Yeah. So Columbus is a cable operator. They're based in the Caribbean and they also have some assets as well in Latin America, basically the northern part of South America. They have about 300,000 subscribers. And they've decided to put together a pretty innovative multi-screen strategy where they, from our standpoint, purchase 270 channels' worth of live encoding. So they're coming in with a traditional MPEG broadcast stream and with our solutions they're converting those from multi-screen delivery to both Apple HLS platforms, so iPads and iPhones, as well as Microsoft Smooth Streaming. So they can target PC environments. And in the end they'll extend to smart devices, Roku types of boxes, as well as smart TVs. It's a very large deployment. They're doing thousands of hours of content in terms of on-demand where they use our Elemental server product to do that. But their business model is pretty interesting in that they're trying, their basic strategy, is to collapse all the different offerings that they have and all the different touch points that they have with their customers into single apps. So if the customer desires to have the iPad be the main interface to their company and to all the services they provide, you could access your e-mail and your on-demand content and your live content all on the iPad. You could access your billing information. It's all from a single application portal basically on the iPad. It's a pretty innovative company in terms of what they're doing.
Troy Dreier: Great. And why did they choose to work with Elemental?
Keith Wymbs: They looked across a number of dimensions. It was a long-term kind of buying decision process. They started out with nine vendors. Basically eliminated vendors based on technology. Quality was one of the first kind of levers that they pulled in terms of their decision-making. In the end, what they really liked was the fact that we had the flexibility of a software company, because we are pure software. But we bundle that with a hardware platform that's very powerful. The typical hardware companies that are in the compression space are usually using ASICs or DSPs that really can't innovate quickly enough in this multi-screen market, as you know. The technologies are innovating very quickly. You have a new device that comes out, you have a new streaming technology like DASH that's trying to become the new standard of the industry. And that can really stress traditional broadcasting coders that were built to do one thing really well. We're kind of a hybrid of that. So we have the performance of a hardware solution with the flexibility of a pure software solution.
Troy Dreier: Do you have any other products coming out that are targeted for this market?
Keith Wymbs: Yeah. We're actually next week going to announce a new product called Elemental Stream. So Streaming Media's the first outlet that we've even mentioned this to. It'll be announce on Monday at the Cable Show. And it's really born of a desire from our customers to either, because of logical reasons or because of network reasons, to break out the customization of the content, meaning the packaging or the DRM, things that could happen at the edge of the network, from the core compression. And so this applies to both the programmers that just want to have logical distinctions between core encoding and then maybe in the rack next to it do the packaging and segmenting and things you need to customize for different delivery devices and CDN networks. But in the service provider space, sometimes it becomes one of the logical kind of hierarchical network, where they don't want to put every stream, all 24 different versions of their content, out over the network. They want to put maybe 8 to 10 and then customize at the edge of the network. This can also apply to CDNs. So we see CDNs as a potential market for us as well.
Troy Dreier: So you teased it before in this interview. Elemental is working with the Olympics. That's pretty exciting. What are you guys going to be doing?
Keith Wymbs: Every day we're finding out more and more about what we're doing, to be honest. We have announced that we are working with a lot of the hosts, well, with the broadcasters including the host broadcaster in the U.K. All of these broadcasters are looking to go beyond the TV set, beyond the traditional broadcast delivery, to have the rights to do multi-screen. And so we're putting encoders, live encoders, basically in Japan, the U.K, in Latin America, to cover all of South America with the exception of Brazil. We found out a couple weeks ago that we're doing all of Europe as well for the live multi-screening coding. Did I mention Japan? I think I did.
Troy Dreier: Um-hum, yes.
Keith Wymbs: Canada is the one I left out.
Troy Dreier: Ah.
Keith Wymbs: Canada's another one. So a lot of it is around live. Most of these entities are going to have anywhere from 18 to 24 simultaneous live streams coming from each of the venues. It's a level of personalization for the end users, where it's all IP, you can choose the particular support that you want. If you're into some esoteric sport and don't necessarily like what a particular broadcaster is putting on the TV signal, then you can access that and get the events that you want to follow. So it's going to be a pretty interesting event, I think, in August, in terms of just the sure scale of what's going to happen. We estimate on our side that Elemental-based video processing that's going to end-users is going to touch upwards of a billion people within a couple week time frame. That type of scale in the industry, I really can't find another event that has had that type of scale. And so we're really happy to be part of it.
Troy Dreier: Yeah, the people in your office must be pretty excited to bring the Olympics to so many people.
Keith Wymbs: Think so. Yeah.
Troy Dreier: Very cool. Well, thank you for joining me, Keith.
Keith Wymbs: Thanks.
Troy Dreier: This is Troy Dreier coming to you from Streaming Media East on the red carpet.
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