Champions League Final caps a fantastic season for DAI

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Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final was the premier sporting event of the year.  It marked the culmination of a football season in which Yospace’s Dynamic Ad Insertion platform enabled monetisation across the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

As a football fan it doesn’t come any bigger than the final of the Champions League.  It’s one of those events that viewers tune into no matter who they support, and the match rarely lets viewers down. Two giants of the game, in Real Madrid and Juventus, going head-to-head: one showing off the talents of the best player in the world; the other going on to score one of the all-time great team goals.

It’s easy to see why live sport is so important to a lot of broadcaster’s plans and, with the increasing number of viewers watching online, why a reliable, user-friendly online monetisation method is essential.

Come half time at a major event like the Champions League Final, we see national TV audiences go to an ad break at exactly the same moment, with a separate ad call being made on behalf of each streaming session. It’s fantastic to be able to prove the scalability of addressable DAI across multiple platforms so emphatically. I’m delighted that all our hard work is paying off.

Yospace has come a long way since our first major sports event (the Winter Olympics in 2014) and in a very short period. It’s an exciting time for the company, and I’m delighted to have so many major broadcasters across the globe on board. We’re already looking forward to next season – one in which our platform is to be used on an even larger scale.  More on that to come!

Live Streaming Gathers Momentum

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Akamai has announced that online coverage of Friday’s Presidential Inauguration broke its live streaming records, with peak live video streaming consumption registered at a mammoth 8.7 Tbps. This is the latest in a run of similar announcements over the last six months that show the growth of live streaming has really picked up momentum.

It’s a very different picture to just a few years ago, when many were predicting the ultimate demise of live television.  There’s no denying that sport and news are the main drivers behind the recent surge, but what stands out is just how much major event television is available online now.

An obvious example is football coverage. Major domestic and European matches are streamed across the UK week in, week out.  The range of online-only subscription packages available has opened the door to a new audience that wouldn’t otherwise commit to subscription TV.  Ever-improving streaming quality is a big factor, too, as is the huge range of content available.  For example, BT Sport streams every single Champions League match, opening up a huge amount of action that was previously unavailable to watch live.

Underpinning these developments is the broadcasters’ ability to monetise online channels – it’s no coincidence that the use of Dynamic Ad Insertion technology has also risen sharply over the last twelve months or so. BT Sport would find it a lot harder to justify the cost of securing Champions League football if they weren’t able to apply advertising.

Looking forward, there are many events coming up that will see live streaming audiences continue to grow.  The 6 Nations rugby kicks off across Europe next month, followed almost straight away by the culmination of the football season.  In the news there are two major European elections to come, plus, of course, the never-ending news cycle that swarms around the newly appointed President Trump. I expect Akamai will see its live streaming record broken again fairly soon.

*http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/inauguration-sets-record-for-live-video-streaming-of-news-event-on-akamai-300394284.html

Server-Side Stitching and Ad Blockers

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There’s been an awful lot of talk about the threat of ad blockers over the past twelve months, with estimates that they could cost advertisers $27bn before the decade is out.

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Yospace was first to market with server-side ad insertion back in 2011 and haven’t been exposed to the threat of ad blockers in the way that many other ad insertion technologies have.

The reason for our approach was not to avoid ad blockers, though.  If you want ad insertion for live simulcast, with the best possible user experience, then you have to go with SSAI.  The buffering and unreliability of client-side means it is unpractical for live, and, as we’ve seen since, providing an excellent user experience has a positive impact on ad views.

This has been proved out as some of our broadcast customers are reporting view-through rates in the region of 98.7%.

Following the success of our server-side ad insertion platform for live, many broadcasters are revisiting their VOD workflows and looking to apply SSAI there, too.  One of the motives for doing so is to address the threat of ad blockers, but more than that the improvement to user experience and ability to apply a single, multi-platform workflow make server-side a logical step.

Visit Yospace at IBC: stand 14.C18 in Content Everywhere hall
Click here to schedule a meeting. 

NAB16: Another Bumper Year

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With NAB16 nearly upon us, here’s a review of Yospace’s activity since the last show and a glimpse of what’s to come.

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Is it really time for NAB again?  The head says surely not, but a glance at my Inbox and the broadcast media makes it clear NAB season is well and truly upon us.

Yospace’s presence at the event has grown year-on-year since our first appearance in 2011, but this one sees our largest presence yet – more space, more people – and it comes on the back of our busiest and most exciting year to date.

In the last 12 months Yospace has launched with 15 customers, including Sky, DIRECTV, Channel 4, ITV and firsts in France (BFMTV) and Chile (Canal 13).  We now operate over 300 live channels across 4 continents – a figure that’s set to grow significantly with 5 more launches scheduled in Q2.

So what’s been the main the factor in the rise of server-side ad insertion since NAB15?

The answer lay in the realisation that huge untapped audience exists for live television.  Many live streaming projects, though by no means all, have been driven by major sporting events, such as the Copa América soccer tournament or Rugby World Cup, and these deployments, of course, have required an effective monetisation solution.

Yospace was very well placed to capitalise with our leading personalised ad replacement system, and the results of these deployments have been fantastic for broadcasters.

Not only has an appetite for live television been discovered that many thought was on the wane, but view-through rates of ad breaks consistently passed 98% – a figure higher than the network average.  Not only are huge audiences ready and waiting for live streaming, but when it comes to advertising it’s an incredibly valuable audience too.

“Live TV is precisely what Netflix, Amazon and YouTube cannot offer,” said Kelly Williams, Commercial Managing Director of ITV, in a statement that reveals the true extent of broadcaster enthusiasm.  Live streaming is not just another form of consuming content, it is the lifeblood of broadcasting, and Yospace is helping mould a future in which it thrives.

Put in that context, it’s no surprise that Yospace has experienced a bumper twelve months since NAB15.  We’re already set to cover major events in 2016 including UEFA EURO 2016 and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but if NAB has anywhere near the impact it had last time then we’re set for our biggest year yet again.

Visit our booth and find out more: we’re at SU5803 in the South Upper hall.

How it works: Server-Side Ad Replacement

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In what promises to be a groundbreaking year for live streaming, server-side advertisement replacement holds the key to monetisation for major broadcasters and rights-holders.

Major events such as the RBS 6 Nations, Copa América Centenario, UEFA EURO 2016 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will drive online viewing figures to record highs. Needless to say, it is imperative that effective advertisement strategies are applied in a way that puts the viewing experience first.

Dynamic, server-side ad replacement is the overwhelming preference of broadcasters, especially for live broadcasting, and in this article I’ll explain why.

User Experience

Steve Jobs once said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” So, bearing that well-informed mantra in mind, what does the viewer expect in live simulcast?

Primarily, they want to see the game, uninterrupted (hence the unpopularity of pre-rolls). When play stops at half-time, an advertisement break is widely accepted – indeed expected – from a commercial broadcaster. The challenge in replacing these advertisements is to ensure frame-accurate, seamless transitions to maintain the viewer’s trust.

A big strength of server-side is that transitions are seamless by nature, especially when you are able to encode advertisement assets ahead of time to exactly match the source profile of the underlying stream. Frame-accuracy is achieved by integrating with the broadcaster’s automation system and conditioning the stream at source, resulting in an experience where the viewer does not even notice the replacement take place.

Engagement

Online streaming benefits from the level of personalisation that can be achieved, which is a potent tool when applied to advertising. By investing in building user profiles and developing knowledge of their audience, broadcasters enable ad breaks to be catered to the interests of the individual viewer.

User engagement is driven further by implementing clickthrough and overlay functionality that corresponds to the advertisement that is being viewed at the time.   Player-side interactivity is triggered by server-side ad calls, meaning the advertiser experiences the best of both worlds – seamless, server-side ad insertions with player-side functionality.

With such a seamless and engaging proposition for the viewer, combined with reliability at the scale required for major audiences, and the fact the business case proves itself time and time again, it’s easy to see why broadcasters were keen to implement server-side advertisement replacement for live sporting events.

Analytics

The principle of combining server-side insertions with player-based benefits can be applied to analytics too – an area that has traditionally been considered a weakness of server-side.

By deploying an analytics SDK in the player, ad views are tracked to the same level of intricacy that has previously been seen solely in client-side solutions. The result is the most compelling approach to monetising live simulcast yet seen.

Most compelling of all to the viewer, who experiences a true broadcast-quality stream without any of the buffering or disruptions that have become so disruptive in online video. Such reliability, combined with personally engaging advertising, resulted in view-through rates of up to 98.7% during last year’s Copa América – an incredible figure, and a genuinely new source of digital revenue for the broadcaster.

I almost forgot to mention ad blockers. So much debate is raging at the moment that I feel I should mention it, if nothing else just to improve the searchability of this post. Let me finish then with another statistic: we know view-through rates during the Copa América reached 98.7%, but do you know how many ads were blocked?

0%.