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11 April 2019

SES brings MX1 to the fore at NAB as satellites slide away

A contentious impression drawn from previous conversations with video technology services vendor MX1 is wanting as little association with parent company SES as possible – yet a very different message was being delivered at NAB 2019. Hybrid technologies were hot property at the show and MX1 was not to be left out – bringing OTT, IPTV and satellite together in what it describes as a full hybrid architecture. A couple of noteworthy announcements were also made at the show which we’ll get to.

“SES is not just a satellite company anymore, and I’m saying that as someone who came from the OTT side of the industry,” said Chief Product Officer Markus Placho, speaking to Faultline Online Reporter at NAB.

Not the opening gambit we expected to say the least. Is this a message being pushed from above as satellite giant SES at long last recognizes the significance of OTT or is MX1 finding its own voice?

Anyone who was present at the SES press conference at IBC 2015 will recall the vehement defence of the withering satellite TV business and complete disregard for the threat of OTT by SES Video CEO Ferdinand Kayser. The satellite fleet operator’s approach today could hardly be more different, more than happy to share a stand with MX1 at the Las Vegas Convention Center -brushing shoulders with the very vendors enabling the proliferation of streaming and resultant hemorrhaging of satellite pay TV subscribers in the Western world.

But according to Placho, well versed in MX1 lingo for just five months in the job, SES currently carries 8,000 channels and this figure is still growing (although he didn’t comment on how the value of these channels is changing). Broadly speaking, the masterplan is to turn as many of these 8,000 linear channels into OTT channels at the flick of a button – and then pack additional services on top such as metadata enrichment. Such a process is no mean feat and yet the MX1 360 platform has come a long way since we were first introduced to the technology a few years ago.

On the announcement side, MX1 inked two partnership deals, first with ad tech company Nowtilus – a new name on our radar – and another with online video platform provider Minerva Networks. The Nowtilus deal brings server-side ad insertion (SSAI) capabilities to MX1’s global media services for broadcasters, TV networks and OTT service providers. It throws in personalized TV and targeted advertising services both to big screens and mobile devices, claiming to do so in broadcast-grade quality. The sales pitch is that a targeted DAI system allows service providers to increase ad revenues over both live TV and VoD content.

The integration of Minerva’s platform with MX1’s CMS and global delivery infrastructure, meanwhile, is all about speed. The collaboration claims to enable media companies, broadcasters, mobile service providers, ISPs, and pay TV operators worldwide to launch robust, flexible, and scalable OTT video services quickly and cost effectively.