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28 April 2022

All systems SaaS at NAB 2022

A surprising proportion of the vendor community were relishing the triumphant return of NAB Show 2022 purely as a medium for reconnecting with the media and entertainment ecosystem – becoming reacquainted not just with people but also with the logistical processes of a major trade event. Others preferred to fully grab NAB by the horns, releasing some of the most significant technology updates in years.

Wowza Video, for instance, ruffled a few feathers at the show. “We are trying to avoid the tyranny of choice,” CEO Dave Stubenvoll tells us, with little care for any disruption the new platform might cause the partner ecosystem.

As we described in our pre-NAB coverage last week, the new integrated video platform comprises a CMS, built-in CDN, and HTML video player, with live and VoD streaming powered by cloud-based transcoding and packaging, supported by real-time analytics and a comprehensive set of APIs. Wowza wants to be a one-stop shop, and doesn’t care who it annoys to get there.

While the Wowza Streaming Engine is a prevailing technology in the media and entertainment world, there has always been an edge of honesty to Wowza, that if it doesn’t want to do something for a video customer, then it won’t pretend to try.

We learn that Wowza Video has already closed a few deals – early justification for the API-first pivot in the direction that Wowza has longed for. In the SaaS cloud-based space, having easily navigable APIs is a must – covering encoding, transcoding, CMS and playback, while the enhanced user experience with the platform dashboards promises an intuitive experience and improved ease of use.

Stubenvoll admits that Wowza toyed with the idea of M&A to enter the CMS space, but concluded that writing its own would be quicker and cheaper. Analytics have been added, and the team is defensive when we say these seem rudimentary, preferring to describe the platform as “approachable.”

Elsewhere in video SaaS, it’s all go, go, go at Synamedia as the company has finally released the polished Synamedia Go suite that we were promised would arrive before the end of 2021. This multi-tenant SaaS restructuring at Synamedia has not been an easy ride, with the strategy itself causing delays, as Faultline learned after joining the queue for a live demo at this week’s NAB Show 2022.

Immediately, we spot a problem. Go.Experiment is missing from the list of modules on display – something that was spoken about extensively when Synamedia Go went out prematurely last year. We discover that Go.Experiment has been migrated into Synamedia’s Clarissa video analytics suite, and we sense a feeling of relief from the team about the amputation of this toolkit for allowing non-technical teams to actively contribute to product changes, such as playing around with UI tweaks or adjusting live event promotions via intuitive dashboards that can be segmented into sub-groups.

There is an entry-level service called Go.Foundation, while Go.Aggregate is the flagship module of the suite, as a toolkit for operators to present content from multiple sources in a curated view that supports metadata aggregation, recommendations, and unified search. This is complemented by a suite of new packs, including Go.Monetize, Go.Personalize and Go.Recommend.

Core to the offering is an open design to provide customers a choice of using pre-integrated third-party services from providers in the Synamedia Partner Network, including Dotscreen, TTN and Wiztivi on the front-end; Cleeng, InPlayer, and Evergent for monetization and identity; while Gracenote, Teravolt, and Utelly are on hand for metadata, recommendations and aggregation. It also allows customers to predict costs and manage total cost of ownership, using a simple bundled pricing model based on the number of subscribers and add-on packs.

Synamedia emphasizes that customers can develop their own applications or use preferred providers for common components such as metadata, CRM, and billing systems, but can also choose to use Synamedia for security, addressable advertising, business insights, and video network offerings which are pre-integrated with Synamedia Go.

The bigger story is how this signifies Synamedia’s rebirth since being spun out of Cisco in 2018. This is something we have written plenty about, remembering our burrito analogy, but finally the vendor has something more to show for it outside of security, advertising, and encoding, which all had time in the spotlight at NAB.

Being platform and client software agnostic, Synamedia Go can be fully integrated with Android TV, RDK, Apple TV, iOS, WebOS and Tizen applications.