SME 2018: SeaChange's Kurt Michel Talks Content Management and Metadata Enrichment
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Read the complete transcript of this interview:
Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2018. I'm Tim Siglin and contributing editor with Streaming Media magazine and today I have with me Kurt Michel from SeaChange. Kurt what's your title at SeaChange?
Kurt Michel: Hey Tim. I'm the Vice President of marketing.
Tim Siglin: Oh, very good. So how's the show been for you so far?
Kurt Michel: It's been really interesting. So we haven't been focused in the streaming space and we've been doing multiscreen, but it's been primarily focused on cable operators.
Tim Siglin: MSOs.
Kurt Michel: And we think there's an opportunity for our technologies as we evolve them into cloud-based platforms to make them available to operators in the virtual space.
Tim Siglin: And for you, I've of course run across SeaChange multiple times at NAB and IBC and those types of shows. Is this the first time you're actually here at the Streaming Media show or have you-
Kurt Michel: So SeaChange may have been here in the past. I don't believe in the recent past.
Tim Siglin: Right.
Kurt Michel: I joined as the Vice President of Marketing in October.
Tim Siglin: Okay.
Kurt Michel: And SeaChange is going through a pretty significant metamorphosis. I don't know if you've been watching it. We're actually in our 25th year. And in this 25th year there's so much disruption in the video space and we recognize that in some cases, the way products are packaged and presented to market, they need to change but the basic technologies and innovations that are in them. They're still relevant. So what we're trying to do is reposition ourselves and rebrand ourselves for a fresh new market. So I like to think of us as a pretty well-funded start up right now with great technology.
Tim Siglin: And it's interesting that you say that about the core technologies, because if I remember correctly SeaChange in the early days competed against Pinnacle with their media servers, competed against AVID, with Trillium and a number of those other broadcast media asset management solutions. So out of that learning, what do you bring to the streaming space?
Kurt Michel: So what we actually do ... If I look around at the various companies in the streaming space, a large array of them are really focused on the data plane. They're focused on the specifics of the trans coding, the packaging, the DRM, content delivery, that kind of thing. Where SeaChange really lives is in the control management and service creation layer.
Tim Siglin: Okay.
Kurt Michel: And so we do the content management. We do the metadata enrichment. We direct the workflow on the transcoding, and the packaging, and the various other things. We see and opportunity in the space for being that service creation layer that people can, operators, video providers, can provide services with a rapid ability to do service creation, since we have software at the endpoint. We have offer management capabilities. Back in the cable industry they would call it the back office. What I would call it is session management and offer management and offer creation. So we have these different pieces that understand not just the workflow, not just how the physical layer works, but also about the importance of creating offer, creating value. And the presentation of that offer of the content to the user in very specific ways. One of the things I talked about here was the need for a personalization pipeline. Effectively, because everybody's talking about personalization which actually means something very personal for each individual.
So what you really need is very complicated and capable session management tools and the ability to take content metadata and viewer metadata and be able to merge those together to extract out exactly what it is that a personalized experience looks like for any one individual.
Tim Siglin: This sort of goes to another trend in the industry where we're looking at perceptual quality optimization, video optimization that's context-aware but essentially you're saying making the channel itself context aware to both the end viewer as well as to the platform that that end viewer is consuming on?
Kurt Michel: I think what I'm trying to say is if we look at a management platform, that management platform has to be flexible and have the ability to integrate new technologies. When we look at AI today, for example I've seen some amazing talks and demonstrations about AI, but what they really look to me like is they're tools. To actually turn those into service that customers are gonna pay for.
What you need is a platform that allows the video provider to use those tools, but make them part of an overall system. Maybe there's different AI plugins and when I look back at the evolution of the PC industry, it went through what I think is a very similar trend that we're looking at here today which is the PC industry started as sort of home hobbyists and they built systems from the ground up. Then we go out to the place ... So each one of those was a stovepipe. You wrote a program on this machine, it wouldn't work over here. Then we moved into a world where there were really two or three platforms. One was closed, so Mac was a very closed, Linux was fully open. Windows was somewhere in the middle. But Windows was actually like a lightning rod for lots of people to come in and add not only at the physical layer underneath it, but also at the application layer above it.
But what Windows does is it provided a common place or a common market if you will, which created a lot of competition and innovation and so if today I look at for example, the equivalent capability PC versus Macintosh. I'm probably gonna pay less for the PC just because the market dynamics there forced the competition and the pricing pressure so that the market evolved into what it is today.
Tim Siglin: And interestingly, if you come forward on the analogy to mobile devices Apple had a very closed solution with iOS but then decided to open it up. Learned their lesson there and obviously have a very strong ecosystem at this point that uses, as you say, some of those core essentials repackaged in different ways at the application level to provide different services to different consumers.
Kurt Michel: Right. I think what SeaChange thinks is we have an opportunity here.
Tim Siglin: To do that?
Kurt Michel: To play in an ecosystem where there are, I guess, reference platforms and we'll work with integration partners to come up with platform-based solutions.
Tim Siglin: Sure. That makes sense.
Kurt Michel: But not exclusive.
Tim Siglin: Okay.
Kurt Michel: In a way that things will work together in a more fluid way.
Tim Siglin: From a modular standpoint. Got it. Great. Kurt, thank you for being here and we'll be right back with our next guest.
The Copenhagen-based Xstream, which generated $6.6 million in SaaS revenues in 2018, sold to SeaChange in a cash and common stock deal valued at $5.5 million.
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