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15 September 2022

Video analytics opportunities sprout from consolidation at IBC

Returning to IBC after three years on ice was a reminder that one cannot breeze through a hall without seeing the word ‘analytics’ vaguely brandished on stand-side product portfolios.

The pure video analytics and network analytics outfits will claim most of these are rudimentary analytics systems pulling and analyzing data to enhance a company’s core technology, whether that be encoders, CDNs, ad insertion systems, hardware, you name it.

The analytics world has experienced colossal consolidation in recent years as the likes of Telestream (IneoQuest, Tektronix) wrap up the quality control and performance monitoring side, while the specialized suppliers of QoE video analytics are left plugging gaps, reselling tools to larger vendors and worrying where the next paycheck is coming from.

For a supplier like MediaMelon, increasing market share against this backdrop is tough. Proving it can bring value to the equation in a fast-changing space has drawn MediaMelon towards developing both subscription and advertising revenue metrics, for example. “We want a perspective other than bitrate,” MediaMelon’s CEO, Kumar Subramanian, tells Faultline at IBC 2022.

You can see why. According to Bitmovin’s Video Developer Report from last year, Google Analytics is the overwhelming market favorite, used by 51% of respondents for video analytics tools, while Conviva trails in second place with a 16% share, followed by Bitmovin Analytics 13%, NPAW 11%, Mux 6%, and finally MediaMelon with a 3% share. Those in 2nd to 6th place will all tell you that Google Analytics is a basic toolset.

Streaming intelligence is what MediaMelon is calling this advancement in basic analytics systems – with its SmartSight platform addressing higher-level business problems like OTT churn, ad revenue loss, and service cost optimization.

The company is looking at latency measurement and perceptual quality too, but Subramanian insists it is not about to become a competitor to SSIMwave over night.

Advertising analytics are high on the agenda, working with ad tech vendors to synchronize ad placement in sports streams. A+E Networks is a strong example of a current customer working on ad-driven analytics.

“There is a lot of value in component technologies, which is how AWS works,” explains Subramanian. “You plug in an API and bring your own value to the equation. It’s not that we are totally relying on resellers, we’re still getting D2C business too.”

We catch wind of MediaMelon picking up a recent win with satellite fleet operator SES and Dish Mexico, which sounds like a major deal for which hopefully we will be able to comment more on soon.

Shifting gear now over to Telestream, which has a heavy presence on the IBC show floor this year, where we are updated on the firm’s newly-released Argus technology, framed as the next step in centralized management.

“We have probes throughout the network chain now,” addresses Telestream’s Joel Daly, VP of Product Management. “All data is captured by our probes, and we add a layer of management on top to identify root causes of problems.”

It quickly becomes clear that Telestream’s aggressive M&A strategy is taking shape from a product perspective.

“Buying network probes is expensive these days and they are not cloud-friendly. We can help customers go ABR, and we have architected all the software, turned this into streaming architecture and migrated it to the new platform,” explains Daly.

Faultline has a probe of its own, one about customers, and we are told that at least five “big ones” have already migrated to the new Argus centralized management platform. One benefit for operators with large siloed operations spread out across multiple regions, is that the siloes are now microservices-based, with all the data funneling into the same platform to be aggregated in the cloud.

The technology isn’t exclusive for pay TV operators either, as having probes in the cloud helps appeal to a new set of OTT video providers. “Argus is different under the covers. In the past, we might have lost a small customer as they see themselves buying into a system that is too big. Now they can pay as they grow,” continues Daly.

Users can instantly see problems with Argus, triggering alarms when there are compression issues, for instance, or CDN issues. You can click straight in to see this from a CDN viewpoint and can drill right down into the details – which engineering teams can access within just three clicks, we are shown. It’s about accessibility as much as anything.

Telestream is also showcasing the fruits of, just four months on from the acquisition. Just before IBC, Telestream claimed that the combination of the platform with the Telestream Media Framework, the underlying technology stack for nearly all Telestream products including Vantage, creates “the most mature and scalable cloud-based media processing service.”

We attest that some might contest this statement – AWS Elemental for instance. Daly defends that Vantage is the “leader” in VoD transcoding – not live – which is why Telestream can confidently crown Vantage the “most complete and unparalleled processing service in the market.”

We are reminded that Telestream IQ, the video monitoring suite combining Tektronix and IneoQuest is used by all the big-hitters – Comcast, Verizon, Sky, Vodafone on the operator side; Hulu, YouTube TV, fubo for OTT; and Fox, NBC, Starz, Paramount Global on the content owner side.

Cloud-native is a term Faultline hears frequently while flitting between stands. Our visit to Telestream is no different, as we are told that came from a genuinely cloud-native place. It has a single API and on top of that Telestream is adding the QC and CMS capabilities, with Argus equipped with a new cloud-friendly architecture.

We look around the hall and ponder who Telestream might acquire next. Something of the MediaMelon video analytics variety, perhaps?

Daly admits it is probably above his paygrade to comment on acquisition prospects, but suggests Telestream has little interest in acquiring into the QoE side of things, particularly given that Telestream has been there, done that, got the t-shirt. After exiting the pure QoE video analytics space years ago, Telestream prefers to leave that down to the specialist partners, which is where much business is coming from these days for video analytics tools, to reemphasize our earlier point about adding additional layers of intelligence.