While in-person events have been curtailed by Covid-19, innovation continues to advance in both tech and media and entertainment. Our co-founder and SVP of Products, Fredrik Andersson, sat down (virtually) with our long-standing partner AWS to talk about how cloud-based services can grow with emerging M&E companies as well as what he sees for the future of the industry.
Q: Can you give us a quick overview of what Accedo offers?
Accedo designs, builds, and manages video services for media companies and pay-tv providers. We’re a global company; we have offices in 16 locations. We have both a professional services arm and a product-based solution called Accedo One.
Q: Tell us more about Accedo One.
Let’s say you are a media company—but you’re not Netflix, so you don’t have a huge budget and, like, 2,000 Silicon Valley engineers. But you need to get your content out into the marketplace, to all the different devices, so you can make your customers happy. That’s quite a challenge! If you’re in that situation, you can use Accedo One to launch and grow your service.
What’s unique about Accedo One is that it’s SaaS service — designed so you can grow with the platform. One of the challenges for OTT providers is they go through different maturity stages as they grow, and they have to rip out and replace different technology partners as they grow. But with Accedo One, you can integrate different partners whenever you like, because we have an open API frameset.
Q: Yes, open API, scaling—you’re leveraging the power of the cloud. How did you get involved in the AWS cloud space?
We’ve been a cloud provider for more than ten years. We started out in 2004, and we made a bet that media distribution would go to any kind of device. It wasn’t as sexy back then because there was essentially only one separate box (STBs). But after some time, we had game consoles, then smartphones came along, and now we have smart TVs and a plethora of devices.
That’s created a big demand for our cloud solutions, and we needed to scale with that demand. We never thought that we were especially good at managing that part of the tech fight—we’d rather focus on the things we were good at and building the software on top of that platform.
Q: Looking forward, what do you think the impact of the cloud will be on business over the next three years?
I think it will have a huge impact. We are in the middle of a perfect storm of disruption at the moment. You and I have been in the industry for quite some time (I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve been going to IBC for 20 years) and not much has changed. That’s because the classic broadcast industry consists of many fragmented ecosystems. You have lots of “islands” of solutions, and we’ve all innovated in isolation.
The key thing that cloud technology will enable is horizontal innovation—innovating across those islands. That’s really the big thing over time; we’ll all be innovating together, and that will make things move faster.
Q: Tell me more about the opportunities you see in horizontal evolution. Is there anything specific that you’re thinking of?
Well, AWS is a good example. With their acquisition of Elemental, they put a lot of features as table stakes inside the cloud platform. So why would companies compete and innovate on those table stakes when they could innovate on new technology? AWS has laid the groundwork, and all the companies in the ecosystem can innovate on top of that, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
Q: Not having to reinvent the wheel is a huge theme for the cloud. You mentioned Elemental—are there any cloud technologies, other than yours, that you’ve read about or heard about that you find particularly interesting?
Yes, there are many cool companies out there. Especially if you look at the production space, there are lots of companies trying to innovate there now where you can view and edit and publish everything in the cloud. For example, companies like Blackbird and Grabyo are really trying to revolutionize the production space and that part of the business.
Another part of the business that’s really interesting is AI, which is a big trend at the moment. The cloud is not the only enabler for AI, but it makes things simpler and cheaper. One example is another Swedish company, Signality; they’re doing some cool things with AI and sports analytics, which allows them to track things in real-time.
Q: That’s one thing I wanted to ask you about—why do you think there are so many Swedish companies innovating in the cloud and video?
Well, for one thing, Ericsson has always been a huge company here, so there’s a good base of engineers. Also, in terms of technology, IPTV happened very early in Sweden, so we had loads of companies working on IPTV solutions, both from a software perspective and also a hardware perspective. We had Kreatel, and they were bought by Motorola from the set-top box perspective. We had Amino, and they acquired another Swedish set-top box manufacturer. We also have middleware companies, and so forth, so there have been quite a few companies that originated in Sweden.
Q: It’s interesting to see the downstream impacts of that decades later. So a final question—and because it’s so topical, we can’t avoid talking about the coronavirus. What do you think the impact is going to be on the entertainment industry and the cloud industry over the next 12 months?
Obviously, these are difficult times, and what we see in the marketplace is that it’s affecting companies differently depending on what type of player you are. Corona means that people are mostly staying home, which is good for SVOD services, so they’re flowering at the moment. The situation has been less good for sports, of course, because there are no sporting events right now. And one part of the market that we might forget is that many video services are driven by an ad economy. Since the coronavirus will affect the economy, it will also affect companies that use advertising to monetize their service. So the players in the best position are the SVOD providers, sports are obviously struggling a bit, and we’ll see about advertising and how long it will take for the economy to pick up.
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