VOD2Live - Creating linear streams from VOD, with Ashley Horne

How do you create linear streams from VOD for various apps and monetisation methods? We interviewed our Technical Director. Ashley Horne, to discuss our product VOD2Live

Simplestream is pleased to announce the launch of its latest product, VOD2Live. Quickly and cost-effectively repurpose existing video-on-demand assets into linear live streams, with optional Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) to monetise your content. We sat down with our Technical Director, Ashley Horne, to discuss how broadcasters, content owners, and media brands can increase audience engagement with higher live viewing figures while repurposing existing backlogs of video-on-demand content. Read on.

How does VOD2Live work?

"We take VOD content and create a ‘playlist’ with these assets, through which the ‘live’ stream is created. To create these ‘playlists’, a SMIL file is used to store an entry of the on demand files as aHLS manifest, as well as any break points. SCTE-35 markers are placed to indicate any breaks, where optional adverts can be inserted. The markers can be placed at the start and end of the video, or throughout the duration of it, according to any mid-roll rules previously set up.

"Once the VOD2Live playlist has been assembled, it’s then submitted to be turned into a channel, by using Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) solution, MediaTailor. Simplestream provides the SMIL file with the schedule and references to the video assets. MediaTailor then normalises the content and turns it into a linear stream, using channel assembly."

How is VOD2Live innovative, and why should I be excited about it?

"There are three key areas in which VOD2Live is innovative and exciting as a product. Firstly, VOD2Live increases the reusability of your existing on-demand content, meaning that you can continue using the same content but presenting it in a linear ‘live’ format. This, in turn, increases engagement for all of your on-demand content so it’s a win-win situation.

"Secondly, you have greater flexibility in advertising to monetise your content which provides you with significant scope. You can utilise pre and mid-rolls, SSAI, or we can provide you with the SCTE-35 markers so that you can control the advertising yourself.

"Finally, the scheduler for VOD2Live provides a simple and easy-to-use UI and offers a variety of scheduling options. Whether you want to loop your channel from 1 to 24 hours or schedule it, it’s simple and achievable."

How simple is it to get set up with VOD2Live?

"The workflow is very simple, at Simplestream we can integrate with your existing Content Management System (CMS) or you can utilise Media Manager, which is our modular backend to manage content for distribution. We can get you set up in a matter of weeks, with our cost-effective ‘live’ channel solution."

What possible applications does VOD2Live have?

"One of the hottest topics in the industry currently is FAST channels, which VOD2Live can be used to create. However, the scope of our product goes beyond just being a software facilitator for FAST. VOD2Live can be used to create thematic channels in app – think of a Christmas-themed channel for children's content that is solely focused on festive episodes or films at that time of the year. Pop-up channels also have a similar appeal in that they could be used periodically to showcase trending or popular content that is relevant to your audience."

What does the future hold for development in this segment of the OTT industry?

"I think the most exciting development could be the integration of actual live events alongside the on demand content used to power the ‘live’ channels. Similarly to how a traditional broadcast channel operates, but at a fraction of the cost. Imagine the benefits of getting your live event on a channel with SSAI, generating much more ad revenue in the same timeframe as a traditional linear broadcast channel."