Microsoft and Verizon Media are transforming the media industry

Cloud computing solutions like Microsoft Azure are helping content creators and broadcasters deliver seamless customer experiences

Darren Lepke
By Darren Lepke on 24 April 2020
Microsoft and Verizon Media are transforming the media industry

Cloud computing is prompting the wholesale transformation of the media industry by empowering technology vendors to build solutions that enable fast, efficient content creation and management, and seamless delivery to consumers at scale. It provides the agility to innovate and move with changing market demands. And cloud computing’s scalable, pay-as-you-go structure enables companies to replace big capital investments with predictable operational expenditure.

Verizon Media is a leader in over-the-top (OTT) video workflow and video delivery. Our Streaming on Azure product brings together all the technology components broadcasters and content creators need to run their digital business, simplifying processes and enabling them to realise efficiencies and reduce cost. 

Our partnership with Microsoft began in 2013 with our content delivery network (CDN). The Azure CDN from Verizon quickly established itself as a leader for delivering high-quality OTT streams to all connected devices, everywhere in the world. We’re now taking advantage of Microsoft’s scale by porting our streaming product to Azure. Streaming on Azure is a cloud-native video service that has a hybrid encoding solution that avoids the need to invest in costly on-premises encoding appliances. 

Microsoft Azure is one of the largest cloud platforms in the world. It enables unprecedented levels of reach and reliability that optimise the end-user experience by delivering content from the nearest edge using fast, efficient global networks proven to outperform the open internet for TV-like viewing experiences. 

This Verizon Media and Microsoft Azure partnership provides:

Streamlined workflow: We simplify every part of OTT, from encoding to content protection to delivery, enabling brands to provide consistent, high-quality streams to users, anywhere in the world.

Ultra-personalisation: Our Smartplay technology generates unique manifests for every viewer that presses ‘play,’ making millions of concurrent decisions to deliver the most personalised experiences. And with augmented metadata captured by the Azure Video Indexer, we can deliver completely new, highly relevant content. One of Smartplay’s advantages is that it provides a host of innovative capabilities, including stream routing (multi-CDN switching), content targeting (regional blackout and content replacement) and digital rights management as well as server-side ad insertion. These capabilities enable you to increase engagement with more viewers.

Better ad experiences: Our content, programming and advertising experiences drive stronger engagement and higher cost per mille. Personalised ads are processed in advance and inserted server-side to ensure a seamless TV-like experience from content to ads. Continuous improvement of technology provides more data so customers can fine-tune their business and maximise monetisation.

Streaming on Azure’s advanced features and capabilities simplifies every phase of OTT streaming, from encoding to delivery to data, enabling consistent, high-quality streams to reach global viewers. Integrating our Streaming product with our CDN means we can exert granular control over the video workflow and player experience. This is especially necessary when tackling the complex nature of time behind live, which is an important goal for live video streaming service providers. We achieve low latency by harnessing industry-standard adaptive bitrate technologies, like Apple’s HLS and MPEG-DASH, within our video workflow. The combination of these technologies means we can easily handle millions of concurrent viewers and crowd surges that often occur during live sporting events.

The premium suite of features available to customers as part of this partnership includes utilising Azure technologies to bring richer solutions to content owners. Azure Blob Storage will bring cost-efficient, fast storage for video files, which can, in turn, be pushed to Azure’s advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning products. Azure Video Indexer unlocks video intelligence by automatically extracting metadata – such as spoken words, written text, faces, speakers, celebrities, emotions, topics, brands and scenes – from video and audio files. This combination of innovation is bringing in a new era of hyper-personalised content recommendation and relevant advertising that increases engagement and loyalty and maximises monetisation.

The integration of Verizon Media Streaming on Microsoft Azure ensures that all media enterprises can take advantage of advanced technologies like cloud computing, AI and more. Our partnership brings greater simplicity to existing workflows, improves the quality of video services, lowers latency, and enables our customers to maximise the monetisation of advertising and video content so they can quickly and efficiently build and maintain audiences. 

Darren Lepke is head of video product management at Verizon Media

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.

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