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Immersive video content is the future, says Switch Media CEO Mark Johns

MEDIA RELEASE
Source: MEDIAWEEK, 12 September 2018
Written by Kruti Joshi

 

Switch Media is the silent partner of some of the biggest broadcasters in Australia.

The Sydney-based streaming media tech company has been around for 12 years and one of its first clients was ABC iview. The company doesn’t provide the technology for the platform any more, but it still works with Foxtel, SBS, Ten and Seven.

Mark Johns, CEO Switch Media

Switch Media CEO Mark Johns was with the company when it initially launched and was operating out of an apartment in Pyrmont. After a gap of about five years, Johns rejoined the company in his current role in September 2017.

“The company started off by accident,” he told Mediaweek. “The founders, Christopher Stenhouse and Luke Durham, were working on a website, around the same time as YouTube launched, for curated content that people wanted to see.

“One of the people they pitched the idea to said, ‘I hate the content but I love your technology.’ From that point the skew was the technology.”

The founder and CEO of Switch Media came from a broadcast engineering background. This helped the company understand how to build a digital streaming and catch-up platforms in a way that would set it apart from linear television.

“When we started, we were not an internet company but at the core we were a broadcast engineering company. Now we are both,” Johns said.

“Coming from that broadcast engineering background we could really help networks understand what they could do with this new technology.”

Australian households have warmed up to streaming. According to recent research by Roy Morgan, 13 million Australians have access to some form of subscription TV or pay TV service such as Foxtel, Fetch TV, Stan and Netflix. Nearly 10 million Australians have access to a Netflix subscription. Meanwhile, two million are able to view content on Stan.

What is next for streaming in Australia?

“A lot of people are interested in immersive experience for content like sports. This is a very personal experience,” Johns said. “There is also a big drive for content being consumed on connected television. More families are getting around TVs in the lounge room. So it’s going two ways.”

A new study from Switch Media of 1,000 consumers showed that 70% of the respondents would be interested in streaming content in either 360-degree view, virtual reality or an augmented reality environment.

Broadcasters and streaming services have started to test these technologies already. Recently, Optus Sport launched the FIFA Virtual Reality app for the World Cup. However, it wasn’t marketed very well, according to Johns.

While companies have started trialling this new technology, it is still expensive and uses a lot of bandwidth. There is still much work to be done to optimise video quality and bandwidth, Johns said.

“There are also challenges around buffering and ad insertions,” he said.

There is work to be done to make them cost-effect. Locally, it won’t become a norm in the immediate future, Johns predicted

Speaking about Switch Media’s biggest growth opportunities, Johns looked at breaking outside the Australia and New Zealand, saying it would provide a good opportunity for the company to learn about the implementation of immersive technologies.

[ARTICLE END]

Link to article: https://mediaweek.com.au/morning-report-archive/september-17-2018/

Keep an eye out for our detailed whitepaper, OTT Insights: uptake, perceptions and the worldwide evolution, COMING SOON!

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Global Ad Industry Urged To Adapt TVCs For Streaming Or Lose Millions

Luke Durham, CTO of Switch Media shares his insights on TVC adaption for online streaming. READ PRESS RELEASE BELOW.

Source: Global Ad Industry Urged To Adapt TVCs For Streaming Or Lose Millions, B&T, 29 JUNE, 2017

Advertising creatives must produce TVCs specifically for the burgeoning content streaming audiences around the world to deliver maximum return on investment, according to the chief technology officer (CTO) of an Aussie-based over-the-top (OTT) content company.

Luke Durham, CTO of Switch Media, has warned that to achieve this will require all stakeholders, from platform and content owners to advertisers and their agencies, to collaborate.

“To be blunt, conventional TVCs aren’t high quality or smart enough to engage streaming audiences in an increasingly demanding and competitive content and entertainment market,” he said.

“It’s clear there needs to be a greater understanding and cooperation between industry sectors to ensure uniformities and efficiencies are improved on both the creative/production side and the technical delivery side.

Luke Durham, CTO Switch Media

“There has been too much focus on keeping costs low to support the bottom line rather than producing the right type of creative for the appropriate channel and audience to grow the top line.

“But standard 30-second ads produced for broadcast television do not cut it. In fact, the use of TVCs online is one of the key drivers behind the growth of ad-blocking technologies.”

Switch Media has delivered millions of hours of OTT content over the past decade for Australian clients including Foxtel, SBS, Seven, Network Ten and Freeview.

Durham said that from Switch Media’s experience, content and ads need to be tailored specifically for digital devices.

“There are two sides to the problems that we all need to solve,” he said.

“Firstly, the advertising creatives and producers must consistently produce clever, engaging, original ads with shorter timeframes.

“Studies have shown that six to seven seconds is the optimal length of video for the average user attention span, with 10 seconds being the maximum to not only maintain viewer attention but to engage them.”

Durham said the second major problem is the speed and accuracy of the back-end technology responding to millions of constant content searches literally every second of the day.

“The ongoing challenge for agencies and OTT companies is managing the rapidly escalating volume of content that’s becoming available – literally tens of thousands of programs being accessed by millions of end users simultaneously from multiple sources,” he said.

“The accuracy of metadata provided by the content owners and ad agencies is imperative for each OTT transmission source to identify the content being sought by the viewer, and delivering them simultaneously to millions of devices across the country.”

Proud service provider for Foxtel’s new streaming service Foxtel Now

Switch Media is thrilled to have assisted Foxtel to deliver its new streaming service Foxtel Now which will give viewers low-priced and flexible subscriptions to their favourite programs.

An evolution of Foxtel Play, the key additions to the service are High Definition streaming and Chromecast access. Foxtel Now is available on PC & Mac via Google Chrome browser, Telstra TV, iOS and Android devices while a range of other devices like PlayStation and Xbox and Smart TVs will be updated to include HD over the coming months.

 

READ PRESS RELEASE BELOW (source: Foxtel unveils its new streaming service Foxtel Now from $10 a month, Holly Byrnes, news.com.au, 07 June 2017).

Foxtel unveils its new streaming service Foxtel Now from $10 a month

FOXTEL will take the fight for online audiences up to its TV rivals, announcing bold new plans for a budget streaming service.

At an all-star gala party in Sydney, the pioneering pay-TV company unveiled a new look logo and on-demand platform, Foxtel Now, which will give viewers low-priced and flexible subscriptions to their favourite lifestyle, drama, sport and movie programming.

An evolution of the existing Foxtel Play package, Foxtel Now will ensure subscribers have greater freedom and access to Foxtel’s content, from as little as $10 a month.

Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh said: “Foxtel Now represents our most flexible and affordable entertainment service and brings with it HD streaming, a great new look and feel and the freedom to jump in and out based on your viewing preferences.”

Foxtel Now will feature five entry level packs to match viewers’ interests, including drama and pop packs ($15 each or $25 for both); or lifestyle, documentaries or kids packs for just $10 each.

The drama and pop packs are expected to be the most popular, allowing access to Foxel’s award-winning HBO  slate including WestworldVEEPBig Little Lies and the upcoming season seven of Game Of Thrones for only $15 a month; as well as the stunning local dramas including A Place To Call Home (starring Abby Earl), Wentworth and new productions including Picnic At Hanging Rock.

Foxtel Now’s movies pack is available for $20 per month in addition to an entry level pack; while the sports pack is available for an extra $29 per month, meaning sports fans can now get access to Foxtel’s extensive sports programming from $39 per month.

Mr Tonagh said: “We believe everyone deserves to experience the world’s best entertainment.

“Foxtel is already famous for offering award-winning homegrown drama, plus unrivalled live sport, new movies, new shows and more complete seasons than anyone else in Australia.

Unfortunately, not enough Australians are able to enjoy this incredible programming. “We think it’s time to change that, so we’ve taken some big steps to diversify our service to offer the biggest, most affordable, range of options for everyone.

“From tomorrow, all Australians can watch what they want, when they want and where they want at a price that suits them best, from low-price, no-commitment, HD streaming up to a state-of the art viewing experience via our cable and satellite iQ3 set top box.”

Australia’s premier pay-TV service has invested more than $100m each year on local programming (outside of news and sport), with its Foxtel Original productions garnering numerous industry awards in recent years.

Foxtel Now, which launches tomorrow, will be available on PC/Mac via the Google Chrome browser, Telstra TV, iOS and Android mobiles and tablets, and Chromecast.

Additional devices will be updated in the coming months, until then, other devices, including PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox One and select Smart TVs are able to stream Foxtel content in SD via the Foxtel Play app.

Broadening its Foxtel On Demand library, Foxtel will now offer a selection of more than 16,000 titles of on demand TV and movie programming with over 1,200 of the hottest movies available, including 98 of the top 100 box office movies of 2016.

Foxtel’s 20th Century Fox recent-release titles arrive 12 months before Netflix and Stan, including blockbuster movies Eddie The Eagle, X-Men: Apocalypse, Independence Day: Resurgence and Ice Age: Collision Course.

News Corp, publisher of this website, owns 50 per cent of Foxtel.

For more information, or to try out a free two-week trial, see Foxtel Now’s website.