Ateme Study Finds Virtual Channels Help Broadcasters Compete

If broadcasters are going to successfully compete with OTT providers in delivering relevant content to viewers, they have to find new ways of quickly and efficiently accessing, formatting and delivering it to multiple platforms. A new study by Ateme, a provider of video compression solutions for the broadcast, cable, DTH, IPTV and OTT industries, finds that the answer could be in deploying “virtual channels,” which could be a 24/7 linear TV channel launched quickly or pop-up channels for short-term events or personalized programming.

Creating these virtual channels—which could be cloud-based or originate from on-premise servers—would allow broadcasters to take advantage of topical and cultural events, such as award season, during which they could repurpose their back catalogue to quickly develop one-off channels to celebrate winners as they are announced.

“With a continuous influx of competition from all angles, broadcasters must begin to do more with their content libraries,” said Remi Beaudouin, Chief Strategy Officer at Ateme.

To help its customers take advantage of channel virtualization, Ateme offers a software-based system called Titan Playout that supports playout, dynamic channel creation and automatic scheduling. Titan Playout includes a suite of encoding/muxing/packaging tools for creating and manipulating channels in a very flexible way. The system makes it possible for each channel to originate and automatically choose the operations it requires, such as file playback, live playback, graphic overlays and signal processing.

“Virtual broadcasting can be highly beneficial for broadcasters as it allows them to create tailored channels in just a few hours and use their catalogue to better effect,” said Beaudouin. “This will allow them to offer content that is different from that shown on their main channels and appeal to a wider audience.”

Ateme’s software-based Titan Playout system supports playout, dynamic channel creation and automatic scheduling.

Ateme’s software-based Titan Playout system supports playout, dynamic channel creation and automatic scheduling.

According to Ateme’s internal research, while almost all (98%) of the broadcasters they surveyed use their content library to create new channels for particular events or occasions, the majority (82%) can't do it quickly. Almost half (44%) said it takes them up to three days to create a new channel, while over a third (38%) say it takes up to a week. This not only hinders their ability to capitalize on events but could also result in lost revenue.

As broadcasters explore ways to use technology to maximize their content, almost two-thirds (60%) of broadcasters are utilizing virtual broadcasting to create one-off channels, while of the broadcasters not currently doing virtual broadcasting 70% said they will do so within a year.

“For over half (52%) of broadcasters this ability to capitalize on unexpected or timely events without disrupting usual viewing schedule is seen as the biggest benefit of creating one-off channels. This approach also allows broadcasters to widen their appeal and cater to niche audiences with targeted or local content which 46% of broadcasters think virtual broadcasting would help them achieve,” said Beaudouin.

While currently very few broadcasters are able to create new channels quickly, the use of cloud technology, which 66% of broadcasters would consider moving to, could allow them to adopt a more proactive approach to creating virtual programming.

“As traditional broadcasters continue to face opposition from streaming platforms, adopting virtual broadcasting is an ideal way to compete with their services as 50% of broadcasters see one of the biggest advantages of its use as the ability to offer a package other broadcasters currently aren't,” said Beaudouin. “It will also enable them to cater to the increased variety the modern TV viewer has come to expect.”

The Ateme Titan Playout module supports any production file format including all MXF flavors, and transcode them into any format. TITAN Playout can output in TS, as well as SDI and SMPTE 2022-5/6. In addition, leveraging ATEME’s AI-based OTT processing and dynamic ad insertion manipulation, ATEME believes TITAN Playout paves the way to stream personalized TV with enhanced monetization.

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