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Imagine takes to the cloud with Aviator

“This is a fully cloud based platform that covers the entire scope of planning, making and monetising any form of video content,” Imagine president Steve Reynolds tells TVBEurope

Imagine Communications is launching what it describes as the first truly cloud-native platform that enables broadcasters, MVPDs and digital-first providers to plan, make and monetise premium-quality linear and OTT content from a single, unified platform.

Imagine Aviator enables media companies to optimise ad delivery, which Imagine says will significantly improve the revenue of otherwise under-monetised OTT content.

The platform combines scheduling, rights management, channel origination, live events, VoD, ad sales, ad placement, ad serving, campaign management, and more.

According to Imagine, it creates a converged solution that delivers linear programming and video-on-demand content with ads and triggers for local and dynamic ad insertion, making it easier for media companies to successfully monetise broadcast, OTT, FAST, pop-up and VoD content.

Users can access the platform from a web browser in order to access and operate all of its different functionalities.

“This is a fully cloud based platform that covers the entire scope of planning, making and monetising any form of video content,” Imagine president Steve Reynolds tells TVBEurope.

“It is intended to be a platform that allows our customers to have access to to the advanced technologies that Imagine brings to the table for planning their schedules and utilisation of their media. This is not just for linear channel playout, it’s intended to cover a full range of services and so we expect it to be able to support everything from broadcast through to FAST channels into video on demand and time shifting applications.”

Imagine Aviator Control, single pane of glass for operation and monitoring, with customisable dashboards to manually interact with cloud channels and support live events

Reynolds adds that Imagine intends for Aviator to be able to handle any use case someone may have for a video channel. “That includes things like live origination, the ability to do live master control in cloud, the ability to handle complex sports, news and the live scenarios, using a cloud based platform and all of the advanced capabilities that you would expect from an Imagine playout platform,” he explains.

“Part of the reason that we’re moving in this direction is because that’s the direction that we see the industry moving in and maybe even staying in is a better way to characterise that,” Reynolds continues. “Over the course of the last two years since really March 2020, our entire industry has had to learn how to work differently with things like remote production, and the ability for operators on the the master control side and monitoring side of things to be able to work remotely when they may not be able to get into their facilities.

“Everything is available through a browser. On top of that, we had to build in a lot of security, we had to build the platform from the ground up in order to say that it is broadcast grade in the sense of the security of the content, security of the operations and the resiliency to be able to make sure that the system is playing out 24/7 365 and there are no interruptions in service.”

The platform is available both via subscription and SaaS. Reynolds says the team at Imagine spent a lot of time talking to people in the marketplace and looking at other offerings. “The answer is there’s no one way that people want to buy,” he says, “and so we’re going to sell it both ways.

“We’re going to offer a subscription service that people can sign up for and if they want to, they can even run Aviator in their own cloud space. This is another thing that’s really differentiating about what Imagine is bringing to the market. You can come to us and you can buy it as a SaaS and effectively have that on a pay-as-you-go basis. In that sort of an arrangement, we’ll actually run it in our cloud space. If the customer wants to run it in their own cloud space, they’ll be allowed to do that too, and we’ll sell it to them essentially on a subscription basis. We believe the platform’s flexibility is one of the things that’s going to be unique when we bring this to market.”

Another key strength of Aviator, says Reynolds, is that face that it will treat material is uncompressed when it’s in the cloud. “A lot of other systems compress material to get it up into the cloud and then they handle it as a compressed stream, which means you’re always decoding and then encoding and then decoding and then encoding as you’re moving through the cloud processing,” he adds.

“That’s where Imagine is bringing our expertise to the table. You’re going to hear us say the phrase broadcast grade, over and over and over again. When we say broadcast grade what we mean is using all of that intellectual property that we have from 50 years of actually doing broadcast production and broadcast playout, bringing that into these newer applications to make the content look as high quality as it can so even though it’s coming out of the cloud. It’s going to look just like the broadcast grade quality that you would get from a BBC or another tier one player.”