Axonista Introduces Object-Based Broadcasting Platform
Second screen applications developer Axonistais launching what may be the first commercially available object-based broadcasting (OBB) platform.
The cloud-based software as a service enables broadcasters to offer interactive web-enabled graphics over the top of a live broadcast to mobile devices, set-top boxes, and VR headsets.
For example, according to CEO and co-founder Claire McHugh, "If a Twitter hashtag or voting button appears somewhere in a magazine show or reality TV show then, when those same graphics appear on their mobile, people nowadays expect to interact with it. But up to now, the graphics have always been 'baked in' to the picture. With object-based broadcasting these elements are liberated to give consumers the richer experience they expect, and giving broadcasters more engaging content."
Object-based broadcasting has been heralded by the BBC as the next phase in video delivery, but where its concentration is on enabling greater personalisation and access to BBC content, Axonista has found a way for clients to monetize it.
Another example: When someone watches the QVC shopping channel on a mobile, then Axionista's solution turns the "buy" button into a interactive link.
QVC, AOL, and Irish broadcasters RTE and TV3 are customers of the company, although the first to deploy the OBB function is online video short-form outfit The QYOU.
The technology behind this is an enterprise video platform dubbed Ediflo that the Dublin-based developer is now offering for licence via an SDK. Ediflo contains three modules. First is an asset management layer or library which can be pre-populated with information from a broadcaster such as show statistics or presenter profiles that permit the creation of content on the fly. There's a scheduling and playout function called Ediflo Live and Remoco, its video player.
"Ediflo is intended as an enhancement rather than replacement for linear broadcast technology," stresses McHugh.
Ediflo Pro with the OBB functionality will be available from Q3 2016 although Axonista is offering a limited number of trial subscriptions ahead of the general release date. The workflow allows the broadcaster to configure the look, feel, and interactive nature of graphics to mobile platforms, or the user can set their own preferences.
"For decades, TV has used graphics systems to enhance the primary broadcast with captions, tickers, stats tables, charts, photos, additional video footage, you name it," McHugh says. "This is fine on the big screen in the living room, but it's a big disconnect for viewers, especially millennials and those using touchscreen devices, where the expectation is that graphics are tappable and interactive. Ediflo helps broadcasters move away from broken TV experiences on mobile and instead create intuitive experiences which are more personalised."
The BBC continues to investigate OBB's potential. As part of a £4 million ($5.7m) investment from the EU's Horizon 2020 innovation fund, it is trialling the way a drama and a live broadcast can be consumed in a school and a home environment (where a group of people might have different devies and preferences).
BT Sport is another recipient of the EU fund and wants to produce further trials around the mobile broadcast of data-rich motorsport MotoGP.
While Axonista’s approach is limited to graphics, it does envisage expanding the workflow to include more audio and visual elements. "There is lots on the roadmap," McHugh hints. "Sports fans will be able to pick the commentary of which experts they want to listen to, for example."
She adds, "Our solution is a proven technology which allows video companies and new digital natives to develop interactive experiences for viewers without altering the editorial of the show or impacting existing workflows."
In a statement, Scott Ehrlich, CEO of The QYOU, said: "Ediflo is a sophisticated and powerful platform which allows us to develop interactive, mobile programming in tandem with linear content without having to completely rebuild our workflows."
Axionista was founded by McHugh and Daragh Ward, CTO, in 2010. In 2013 it developed ShowPal for TV3, a second screen app using Civolution content recognition to synch with the broadcaster's entire linear schedule.
What custom content does each viewer want to see? As broadcast and broadband converge, object-based media is showing the way to the future, and the BBC is taking the lead.