Flumotion Devises Video-Rich Interface for Cuatro

Spanish commercial broadcaster Cuatro recently launched a live and on-demand WebTV, designed by streaming software company Flumotion. StreamingMediaGlobal.com talked with the company about their unique approach.

Headquartered in Barcelona, Flumotion was founded in 2006 as a division of the Fluendo multimedia services group. It spent two years in research and development of an open source streaming platform capable of serving live and on-demand video and audio in mainstream formats (Windows Media, Silverlight, Flash, MP3, MPEG, Dirac, H264 or AAC+) from a single Linux server.

Its technology is an established presence among national media companies Antena 3, RTVE, Telecinco and Cope and last month it went live with a service devised for Cuatro, owned by media group Prisa.

“They approached us with the aim of offering an online TV service that differentiated them from the rest of the market,” explains Flumotion product director Xavier Laballós. “Given that much of their content is longform we identified a need for a more user enriched, lean back experience. Many online users connect their laptops to TV to watch in full screen mode so we needed to connect with this audience.”

The 'play cuatro' site focuses on video as the primary focal point servicing on-demand content and live streams for CNN+. A video wall provides a starting point to guide the user through the featured content. In full screen mode users can navigate content menus without going back to the playlist. A remote control for the video wall is in development.


“Each live and on-demand segment can be scheduled according to rules set by the broadcaster,” outlines WebTV product manager Michael Rohrer. “They can open and close live streams based on a calender which they can program for two days, two weeks ahead or the whole year.”

Through Flumotion’s media back office functions Cuatro has control over the content and the advertising campaigns. Within minutes a new video can be uploaded, an ad changed or any TV broadcast encoded and offered live within 'play cuatro'.

Aside from ease of use and a video rich interface, the other key issue for the broadcaster was monetisation. “The traditional approach has been to use pre-roll either with one ad per video or to split the content into parts and attach advertising to each,” says Rohrer. “The first will not typically generate enough revenue for longform and the second quickly becomes an annoying customer experience.

“Instead we have given Cuatro the flexibility to insert an array of eleven ad formats at any point in the video ranging from tickers and picture in picture to overlays and interactive options where the consumer is invited to add personal details like email addresses.

“We offer an end to end web TV solution managing all back and front end operations and with a CDN included. That clearly sets us apart from our competitors as it enables us to offer advanced features such as that require development on both the WebTV and the CDN.”

An example of such features is ‘time shifting’, which gives the user the option to go back in time during live transmissions. Also planned for this year is ‘Automatic catch up TV’, a functionality that eliminates the need to manually transfer already aired programmes from the broadcaster’s system to the WebTV back office. Any TV programme currently on air can be instantly offered on-demand online.

Its coverage is European with POPs in London, Paris, Germany, Amsterdam and Spain but Flumotion plans to expand into the US. “Before we do we want to be leaders in Europe and that depends on striking partnerships with telcos (such as those in place with Telefonica and NTT),” says Rohrer.

“The CDN competition isn’t customer oriented in the way we are. Each time we upgrade our software we’re not dependent on third parties to integrate it. Controlling the entire value chain allows us to innovate faster and offer more cost effective solutions. We were able to deliver the complete solution for 'play cuatro' in a record time of two months.”

It is working with unnamed French and British broadcast customers and plans to offer advanced features such as inserting picture in picture live streams on top of on-demand content to inform viewers that live streams are available.

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