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5 September 2019

Synamedia throws Velocix under the bus with CDN-crushing update

Synamedia has complemented a slew of pre-IBC press releases with a handful of high profile recruitments in recent weeks. While rival company MediaKind continues its unnervingly quiet stretch, Synamedia’s latest announcement signals disruption for another key competitor in the form of Velocix – the Nokia spin-off formed around the same time which has previously preached immunity from the threat of Synamedia’s dominant position due to its distinctly CDN-focused business. Not anymore.

A particular focus area from Synamedia in Amsterdam next week will be how media firms and sports rights holders can deliver new D2C services centered around live assets. Through consistent refinement of the Infinite Video platform, Synamedia is aiming and claiming to reduce latencies at every stage of the workflow. Specifically, its Smart Rate Control algorithms have gone under the knife and resurfaced with intelligent encoding algorithms capable of minimizing bandwidth requirements to the extent of significantly reducing the required dependency on pricey third-party CDNs.

That is a pretty serious claim from Synamedia. It’s well known that CDNs are not a necessity in the media landscape, but for companies involved with large amounts of video content, it’s no secret that employing a CDN allows you to deliver significantly more video traffic.

Smart Rate Control was first flaunted at NAB in April, as part of Synamedia’s wider Virtual Digital Content Manager (vDCM), when it promised up to 50% bandwidth and storage saving costs. This is achieved using Synamedia’s machine learning and Stream Video Quality patented metric technology for automatically scaling based on bandwidth requirements to minimize costs without impacting the encoding computational complexity. Stream Video Quality was absent from this week’s press release, but the claims are much bigger – jumping from 50% savings to removing the need for more expensive CDNs. We asked Synamedia to elaborate on which specific expensive CDNs its technology is referring to, implying this was a direct shot at Velocix, but unfortunately the vendor was not willing to comment.

“Standard ABR solutions leverage output profiles that are set to constant bit rates with varying picture quality. This can often result in more bandwidth usage than is required due to varying quality level targets, such as switching from a high impact football game to a more static interview. Synamedia’s Virtual DCM with Smart Rate Control and Automation sets target quality levels and bitrate caps per the ABR bitrate profile for each channel in a network. It also automatically makes adjustments when needed, thus eliminating deployment time, increasing bitrate efficiency, and uncovering new routes to cost savings. It also supports both H.264 and H.265 coding and is future-proofed for future codecs,” states Synamedia.

Flexing muscles in the run up to a major trade event is all well and good, but without the clearance from major customers to shout it from the rooftops, it is often tricky to back up big claims. Synamedia isn’t short of a few tier 1 contracts and but we have only observed its Smart Rate Control algorithms crop up at WarnerMedia Asia Pacific, deploying the full vDCM. At the time of this deal towards the end of July, we proposed through rose-tinted spectacles that it could be a precursor to powering the new WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max to launch next year in the US – itself in anticipation of a major international rollout.

Synamedia’s Smart Rate Control techniques appear to draw similarities from Content Adaptive Encoding, pioneered by the likes of Beamr, MediaMelon and eyeIO.

“The D2C streaming market is in a massive state of flux. Big names are entering the fray, intensifying competition for eyeballs. And premium live streaming services are growing in importance, inevitably attracting the attention of pirates set on stealing these assets. There is also financial pressure to nurture profitable streaming business models that have longevity. At IBC we will showcase how we can help customers build a profitable streaming business that scales effortlessly across borders and devices – and will outlast the competition,” said Jean-Marc Racine, chief product officer, Synamedia.