How to Select an Online Video/Audio Platform: A Perspective From an International Broadcaster

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I’m Randy Abramson, Director of Products and Operations here at the Office of Digital and Design Innovation at BBG.

Digital audio and video delivery couldn’t be more important to our organization. The BBG creates over 1500 hours of audio content alone in over 40 languages each week and delivers it to a worldwide audience. Selecting a new online video/audio platform (OVAP) was a great challenge (and fantastic opportunity) that presented itself to our group over the summer. We needed to find a best-in-class platform that would integrate with our existing content management systems and leverage the performance from the content delivery network that we are currently working with.

When selecting a new platform, we judged providers on the following criteria and how they would best serve our organization:

1. (Improve) File Performance and Quality + Services
How could a potential OVAP provider help us deliver audio and video content to our users quickly and in the best quality possible? Being an international provider, we have a wide array of devices being used and bandwidth capabilities. We carefully looked at OVAP player ‘click-to-start’ speeds in order to ensure that clips played quickly and that player downloads were lightweight and speedy. We also wanted to make sure that the providers played well with our partnered content delivery network and provided an intuitive content management system for our multimedia editors to upload their content into, create playlists and manage metadata. API access was also key for us in order to create a workflow that was seamless for our editors. For that group, only one log-on and interface experience should be present. It will take some time to integrate these systems, but having the capabilities and flexibility via APIs was a paramount concern for us.

2. (Extend) Access/Reach
We were also very interested in the OVAP’s ability to reach more people, again focusing on the challenge we have with varying technical limitations within specific devices. Does the player offer HTML 5 players for iOS devices and also provide Flash fallback for browsers that are not HTML 5 compliant? How would our audio and video files render on lower end phones? And can we get our content and metadata out of the OVAP environment and into syndication destinations that were perhaps not being blocked in closed societies? Drilling further on that point, we were looking for providers that would help us syndicate our content to key strategic media portals quickly. We understand that there are always diverse requirements that syndication partners require, but finding a provider that offered connectors for the bigger syndication partners out of the gate would save us time and get us to market quickly.

3. (More) Innovation
Being the Office of Digital and Design Innovation, we have great respect for those who focus on moving beyond their current product offerings. We were looking for providers that had robust road maps, full of concepts that would help us deliver audio and video storytelling experiences that went beyond clicking play and leaning back. Providers would need to help us think beyond the audio and video player. How can other elements be synched with a timeline to create a new experience? How can a vendor help us deliver true HD experiences from devices that range in size from a smartphone to a wall sized TV? How does your company interact with the development community? Does your technology have sharing tools that exploit the explosive engagement around social media platforms? These are the questions that we asked around innovation and were looking for when assessing providers.

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4. (Richer) Data Analysis
Lastly, we analyzed capabilities around delivering audio and video metrics. As we drive to be more metrics driven, we needed easily exportable data that would inform play count, play duration, file format played, browser and device used, as well as analytics around what part of the world the clip was played back in and sharing. Ultimately, we want to know more about what platform the media was played on. Did a user view or hear the clip on BBG language service site? Was the player ‘snagged’ and then embedded into a personal blog or played back on a Facebook page? These are all data points that will help us understand our audience and continue to develop content and services that best fit their particular needs.

We are very excited about helping to distribute the great BBG content that is created each and every day. Partnering with the right OVAP technology group can help us make sure that our users have an experience that matches the quality of the content that our organization provides.

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Randy Abramson

Randy Abramson

Randy Abramson is the Director of Product Management and Operations for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow him on Twitter: @randyabramson.

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