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SMNYC 2024: Grabyo's Clare Butler Talks Cloud Streaming Services and Pricing Models

At Streaming Media NYC 2024, Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director, Help Me Stream Research Foundation, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, interviews Clare Butler, SVP Marketing, Grabyo. Butler highlights that Grabyo is not geographically bound and caters to anyone working in the live space, including news broadcasters, sports clubs, and entertainment producers. She also emphasizes the cost-effectiveness of cloud solutions, noting that cloud technology is now at parity with on-prem solutions, offering features like instant replay and SCTE-35 ad insertions.

What is Grabyo?

Siglin asks Butler to describe Grabyo and her role there.

Butler says that Grabo is 100% cloud-native and 100% built in the cloud. It is a live production, distribution, and video monetization platform, and she is the SVP of Marketing.

“When you say 100% in the cloud for production, is the focus of it primarily Europe, or the US? Where do you get your potential customers from?” Siglin asks.

“It's all over,” Butler says. “There is no geographic boundary. It is anyone that works in the live space. So we could be talking to news broadcasters, entertainment and/or sports, through to anyone else that produces live content. So it could be sports rights holders, it could be sports clubs and teams. It could be anybody in that space.”

Build, buy, or go hybrid?

Siglin asks Butler to talk about the Streaming Media NYC panel she was just on (“Lining The Cloud For Live & VOD”).

“It was fantastic actually,” Butler says. “It was basically [focused on] build versus buy your own cloud production. The focus of content was around on-prem infrastructure versus cloud-based infrastructure.”

“Versus some hybrid in the middle as well?” Siglin says.

“Exactly,” Butler says. “It was really interesting and fascinating. Of course, I sit very much in the cloud space, so it was important to put across the variance of tech choices that people have these days. Cloud services are very easily integrated into existing on-prem infrastructure. So there's a hybrid approach there versus those who want to build their own, and then they have tech choices as well.”

Butler further breaks down the idea of “build vs. buy.” “I like to talk about the cloud from one end of the spectrum to the other,” she says. “So the ‘build your own’ very much sits on one side of the spectrum, where your organization may have a lot of heavy resources such as engineering. There's a lot of maintenance involved in building your own versus the other end of the spectrum, which is a SaaS modern version for live production [and] fully managed service, which makes it more accessible for a lot more people that don't necessarily have that access to the big budgets for engineering and resources like that.”

Siglin says that in his 26 years working within the industry, he has seen the pendulum swing back and forth between on-prem versus cloud. “Hybrid is sort of a relatively new concept,” he says, “but one of the pushbacks that sometimes happens with cloud is your CAPEX cost is lower, but your OPEX cost is higher from the standpoint of continuing using somebody else's solution, [with] the premium that gets charged. We do twice annual surveys for Streaming Media Magazine, and we began to see people say, ‘My cloud bill's too high.’ So where does that economics model fit in from an OPEX standpoint?”

Butler says Grabyo has an Enterprise Discount Program (EDP) as a volume pricing discount model. “The people that we speak to that sit in the broadcast engineering side, or the production side, might not necessarily know that there is an EDP commitment that their organization has,” she says. “So that allows them to procure our service, for example, through AWS marketplace, where they can take advantage of the discounted services that they've already committed to. And then, of course, it also helps them eat away at their committed volumes. So not only are they taking advantage of a better discount pricing, but they're also making sure that their financial colleagues are kept happier by consuming the amount of services they've committed to.”

The new parities of cloud and on-prem

Siglin says, “You clearly sit in the cloud camp, but what do you see from a parity standpoint between on-prem and cloud systems?”

“I would say if you asked me that question about a year ago, it would be a very different answer, only because we've very much pushed that technology to areas that we haven't really seen before,” Butler says. “In terms of parity, let's take an OB truck for example. It's got a hundred features, of which you'd only maybe use 15 to 20. Now, in the cloud, we've focused on building those features that are [mainly] used. So, now more than ever, cloud technology is on at parity to on-prem. For example, we've introduced some of the features over the last year or so, [such as] instant replay…[for that you need an] EVS-certified operator, whereas now we've built that feature in the cloud. So you can see the obvious benefits there, through to SCTE-35 ad in insertions to help monetize live content. That's another big thing that's come out.

"In our partnership with Magnify, we've launched AI for our live clipping platform, which allows automated clipping and highlights at scale. You can also curate the content as well by choosing to really craft the stories as they unfold from the events themselves, knowing that you'll never miss a beat. So, from a fan engagement perspective, spitting out that content at high volume and at scale, the human lens that you'd put on that as afforded by the combination of Grabyo and Magnify allows for much better quality content at scale. Your fans are consuming a lot more content that they'll be happy to engage with.”

Siglin says, “And obviously, large language models fit better in a cloud scenario than they do on an on-prem anyway, from a compute standpoint.”

“From an integration perspective as well,” Butler says. “It's very easy to test out these solutions in the cloud versus on-prem. With the hardware situation that you have on-prem, the capacity of that is only limited to its lifespan. The big advantage of that from an OPEX and CAPEX perspective, is that you are going to benefit from all the upgrades the next time you open your browser. So you're not limited to the capacity of the hardware and basically the cloud services just get better and better.”

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