TokBox Video Broadcast Platform Fosters Social Media Fan Engagement

In their unending desire to bring viewers closer to the action and engage them in live interactive social media conversation, sports programming producers are always looking for new ways to leverage everyday (in some cases consumer-level) technology to achieve their goals. This includes inviting star players to join fans in an impromptu video conversation using the viewer’s smart phone or other portable device.

A company in San Francisco called TokBox has launched the TokBox Interactive Broadcast Solution that lets users create and host their own video-enabled talk shows on mobile and web with broadcast quality scale and reach. It allows users to embed live communications directly into their web and mobile applications.

“For the first time in the industry, broadcasters can push content directly to web and mobile, and the audience can actually participate from those same devices, in real-time,” said Scott Lomond, CEO of TokBox.

The company puts a web client application in the studio that publishes the converted video to the live session. This is done for the presenter and the celebrity audio/video. There is another TokBox application that runs in the studio, connected to the fan audio/video feed, which is then ingested by the broadcaster into a router.

The system is now in use by several major sports networks, including Fox Sports and MLB Advanced Media.

“The TokBox media platform will enable producers to deliver experiences that have previously been unavailable,” Lomond said. “The value of true video call-in chat functions for live and web video producers delivers a powerful experience that produces the kind of engagement that brands and advertisers have sought for years.”

The TokBox Solution is currently used by MLBAM, for its live online video talk show, “Chatting Cage,” that connects players, commentators and fans — a la a video conference call—for a weekly interactive live video broadcast on MLB.com. Fans can both watch and participate in the discussion from any IP connected device and they can also record the show for later playback. The TokBox system is also used by Fox Sports to power its interactive web video show “Huddle.”

The company is offering the software as a fully customizable white label platform, allowing producers to embed live video talk shows onto their existing web or mobile sites using OpenTok Platform APIs and SDKs for web, iOS and Android. This will help developers build their own individual broadcasting experiences and applications.

TokBox also offers green room functionality and a producer control panel. The software can be integrated with existing studio production equipment or can be used with off-the-shelf PC and smartphone technology. TokBox’s Lomond said each talk show is delivered in real-time with zero latency.

“TokBox technology merges first, second, third screen in a way that gives producers and developers total control, with unprecedented levels of audience engagement,” Lomond said. “The intelligence that enables mass online and mobile audiences to participate in a live broadcast, with real-time switching from viewer to participant, in broadcast quality, has not previously been done. “

TokBox leverages Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), which enables live video in browsers without the use of plug-ins, and enables real-time multicast capabilities for high quality of service for mobile content delivery, ensuring a broadcast-quality experience for producers and fans alike.

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