Rushed re-merger of MX1 into SES Video risks customer confusion

Multiple news outlets picked up and ran with our scoop regarding the gradual phasing out of the MX1 video streaming technology division, to the extent that parent company SES hurried the process along and went about ushering MX1 back into SES Video in double time. While long-expected, rushing ahead with the merger might not be the best course of action and if anything has probably triggered disorder within the vendors’ respective customer bases.

During Faultline’s post-IBC break, SES announced the official merger of SES Video and MX1 to “handle every aspect of delivering your content to audiences around the globe, including content management, channel playout, content distribution and content monetization.”

SES has been talking about integrating the two arms for a while now but the revelation about killing off the MX1 brand imminently was new knowledge, as revealed by Deepak Mathur, EVP of Global Sales for SES Video, at IBC.

In a sense, this is more a reversal of a merger – unravelling what arose from the initial combination of RR Media with SES Platform Services in July 2016 which birthed MX1, following the acquisition of RR Media by SES for $242 million. SES can dress this up any way it wants but it cannot escape the fact it has caused a whole lot of confusion. In truth, the cloud technology clout of RR Media was the first public sign of SES actively embracing OTT video.

Nevertheless, MX1 has evolved from its early days as a global media services company jostling for acceptance in a streaming video world, to a vendor which has continued to impress. And so it was fitting that the first fruits of this latest MX1-SES Video unification saw the company launch the OTT video product simply called Satellite and OTT in Sync which we were treated to a demo of at IBC for the first time. MX1 started out targeting the live sports space and looks set to continue this back under the SES Video wing, although the demo at IBC showed only a live feed from the entrance to the Amsterdam RAI, so not exactly giving us an idea of what the technology is capable of.

It works by removing the source signal traveling to the satellite and distributes it via IP together with satellite, then by applying low-latency encoding and tuning to the IP stream at the source, the system can apparently deliver content to OTT platforms in sync with the satellite signal. Live sports is the core focus, aiming to reduce the pain of hearing a neighbor’s reaction to a match before it appears on your own screen

As we said last week, the amalgamated vendor delivers more than 8,400 hours of online video streaming, including over 620 hours of premium sports and live events a day, as well as managing some 525 channels. But in more than three years, these numbers have barely changed. When we met with MX1 for the very first time at IBC 2016, the company boasted distribution of 2,500 TV channels, managing playout of 500 channels, delivering content to 120 SVoD platforms, handling 8,000 hours of online video streaming and 500 hours of sports and live events. Growth is growth, yet in such a high stakes market where SES’s traditional TV satellite revenues are on the decline, the unpopular opinion is that the vendor has underachieved.

SES wouldn’t comment any further on the matter, only pointing us in the direction of press releases which talk loosely about “unifying” SES Video and MX1. We don’t believe in coincidences here and still SES continues to base its business decisions on things we have written to almost creepy levels of continuity.