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12 September 2019

Tellyo journey reflects IBC transformation as start-up adds SRT

“Four years ago, someone arrived at our tiny IBC stand and asked what we did. After listening for about 3 minutes, they declared, “You do realize this is a broadcast show?” – which set the scene for our first industry trade show,” recounted Richard Collins, CEO of live video production and editing specialist Tellyo, in a pre-IBC chat with Faultline Online Reporter.

The irony is that the now 52-year old IBC is trying desperately to diversify to anything other than a broadcast show. Long gone is any use of the full IBC acronym, but this has opened the floor – so to speak – for start-ups like Tellyo which have a heavy focus on IP production within broader broadcast and media circles.

As such, Tellyo this week added support for the Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) protocol and signed up for the SRT Alliance, which we expect to be one of the most discussed topics at IBC, following on from founder Haivision’s NAB successes. “We signed up for the low latency internet video transport advantages driven by client demands and next up we’ll probably look at Zixi,” said Collins, unfortunately unable to namedrop the specific customers. Talking of next frontiers, Tellyo has just deployed fully in North America where it is making a big push with the new addition of closed captioning, an FCC requirement, as well as going live with beta support for 4K live streaming input and output.

Tellyo emerged from the ashes of the Nokia Bridge program in 2015 where Collins’ colleague was working on a live TV project. The UK vendor has since developed a platform capable of fully automating live video clipping features, sharing to various destinations through custom RTMP (real-time messaging protocol), with visual effects and audio editing capabilities in a dashboard which doesn’t appear overly complicated – for example allowing broadcasters to spin up and publish a live sports clip rapidly.

SRT adoption, like DASH and others, is emerging as a technology that operators will need to support, highlighted by data from our research arm Rethink TV showing revenues from SRT traffic reaching almost $10 billion worldwide by 2024, surging from under $1 billion over six years. This is an impressive feat considering SRT only became available open source in March 2018, after the evolution began in infancy back in 2013 developed by Haivision.

Protocols like SRT operate at the network transport level rather than the application level, providing secure transport at lower latencies between transport stacks within an IP network, leaving it to the application to ensure security, reliability and low latency to the end user. It just so happens Haivision unveiled its SRT Hub Partner Program and availability of its Hub Software SDK this week, which was entirely coincidental.

It was time to ruffle a feather or two so we suggested that some might view Tellyo’s foray into beta for live 4K streaming as being late to the party, while addressing that there remains a lack of 4K titles. “We are definitely not late to the party for 4K live streaming and editing. Consumption of 4K content is still very small, the only output today is YouTube. We are working on reducing bandwidth and this will come out fully in around 18 months. We will also be announcing Apple ProRes encoding for 8K support and will be adding multiple other formats,” said Collins.

Inevitably, discussing data-driven highlights and automated publishing brought us around to artificial intelligence, voicing frustration about how automation is all too often falsely described as AI. Collins was refreshing in his honesty, admitting that 40-person Tellyo isn’t an AI company despite referencing the term on its website. “You are right, this is just algorithmic data production, not AI or machine learning,” he said, adding that because there is no desire for the vast majority of companies to change or fully understand AI, the abundance of gray area-inducing buzzwords will continue.

“I have to be careful here. There are very few true examples of AI in our industry. If you asked most people to explain neural networks or TensorFlow, they wouldn’t be able to, and the AI platforms around today are effectively computer vision technology, even when some machine learning is not always doing what a client wants,” added Collins.

We’ll close out on a customer case study, with Polsat providing a good example. The Polish broadcaster, owned by Cyfrowy Polsat, unified its production tools using Tellyo Pro to ingest feeds from multiple Polsat channels while its granular user protocols handle jobs like managing access rights. Tellyo worked closely with Cyfrowy Polsat to build a dedicated system for editing and integrating long-form content with its OTT platform, IPLA (the country’s largest homegrown online entertainment outfit). Tellyo enables live editing without any transcoding, delivering entire shows re-packaged for IPLA shortly after a program ends.