Enterprise

Amazon debuts Elemental-based AWS Media Services for video app creation

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Image Credits: Thomas Cloer (opens in a new window) / Flickr (opens in a new window) under a CC BY-SA 2.0 (opens in a new window) license.

Video is what consumers are paying attention to these days, and Amazon’s AWS is hoping to capitalise on that with one of its latest launches. Doubling down on its video services for media companies, app publishers — and actually any other organization that has considered launching a video service — Amazon today announced a new suite of five video processing tools as part of AWS Media Services, cloud-based tools to help build, service and monetise video streams.

The new launch puts it into competition to some extent with the likes of Google’s YouTube and its efforts to work with media companies and other creators to build and host live streams and ad-based videos. Interesting timing, given all the negative press YouTube has had over the kind of content that it’s been hosting over the years.

The company also appears to refer to the product AWS Elemental Media Services. The “Elemental” in the name comes from AWS’s video business, formed largely on the back of its acquisition of Elemental Technologies for around $500 million in 2015, and supplemented with additional IP and talent by way of other purchases, including ThinkBox Software earlier this year.

The idea of AWS’s Media Services — announced on the eve of its big re:Invent conference, along with a big mixed reality push in the form of a new platform called Sumerian — is fairly disruptive for the video industry.

Up to now, building services like targeted advertising around a video stream required integrating with third-party providers. Similarly, to account for boosts in traffic, providers had to build in costly equipment to handle the capacity. Amazon’s aim is to take that out of the hands of the video providers, letting them essentially offload it to AWS, and its cloud — a vastly reducing the pricing for using such tools, as well as making it easier to use them full-stop.

“For the better part of six decades, professional-grade video workflows were limited to a few major industry players who could afford to build and maintain customized infrastructure that would be updated only once or twice each decade,” said Alex Dunlap, GM at AWS Elemental, in a statement. “These companies spent a great deal of time, money, and focus operating infrastructure with resources that could have been better spent creating great content and viewer experiences. We built AWS Elemental Media Services to let customers focus on delivering top-quality video reliably to any device, everywhere, without the undifferentiated heavy lifting of managing infrastructure. This not only helps traditional video providers innovate faster, but it also opens up new opportunities for startups, government agencies, schools, and multinational enterprises that, before today, had limited access to premium-quality video technology.”

Video, however, is a medium that any publisher working in digital cannot ignore, either, if it’s hoping to find as many ways as possible to connect with people. According to figures from Zenith, online video viewing globally will rise 20% in 2017, to an 47.4 minutes a day viewing videos. Mobile video in particular is fuelling that boost, with the most growth compared to desktop.

Amazon says that companies using the new tools include BT, Pac-12 Networks, Amazon Prime Video, Fox Sports Australia, fuboTV, Nine, Spuul, M2A Media, Cinépolis, and IMAGICA.

Notably, Netflix — a huge customer for Amazon on the video hosting front — is not mentioned.

The five services cover different aspects of creating, streaming and making money off of videos:

AWS Elemental MediaConvert will let publishers format and compress video-on-demand content “for delivery to virtually any playback device, with high-quality video transcoding and broadcast-level features.”

AWS Elemental MediaLive will let publishers encode broadcast-grade live video for TV or connected devices.

AWS Elemental MediaPackage will help producers prepare “and protect” live video streams with extra tools such as immediate playback.

AWS Elemental MediaStore is a storage service for video (how could an AWS service not have this, I ask?)

AWS Elemental MediaTailor lets you monetize the videos with targeted (personalised) advertising. It’s not clear where the advertising tech is coming from here (we’re still looking) but it’s interesting to me to see Amazon moving deeper into this area, as it upends and directly competes with Google’s YouTube and its services for video creators.

The service is launching today after running in a closed preview for a while now with the above customers. Those using it can also integrate it with other AWS services, Amazon said: “AWS Direct Connect and AWS Snowball for content ingestion; Amazon CloudFront for content delivery; Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring; and Amazon Rekognition for artificial intelligence.” Let the Hunger Games begin.

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