Amazon’s game-changing again with introduction of new broadcast tools, AWS Elemental
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Amazon’s game-changing again with introduction of new broadcast tools, AWS Elemental

With the consumption of online video up by a fifth this year, driven by a 35 per cent increase in viewing on mobile devices to an average of almost half an hour per day, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has introduced an integrated suite of new processing tools for video publishers that puts pressure on traditional service providers in a major way.


In creating these products for any organisation with a video service, Amazon could once more be about to disrupt an entire industry.

One of the tools, for example, MediaTailor, is a game-changer in itself. Incorporating personalised advertising within a video stream has generally required third-party providers but Amazon aims, with this service, to make the process cheaper and more efficient.

What are the new AWS Elemental tools, and what do they do?

  • MediaConvert

Formats and compresses VOD content for delivery to virtually any playback device, with high-quality video transcoding and broadcast-level features

  • MediaLive

Encodes broadcast-grade live video for televisions or connected devices. Quickly stands up broadcast channels or live events and delivers them reliably to viewers

  • MediaPackage

Prepares and protects live video streams for delivery to internet devices with rich playback experience features such as start-again TV

  • MediaStore

Delivers video from high-performance storage optimised for media

  • MediaTailor

Inserts targeted advertising into video without sacrificing quality to increase viewer engagement and boost revenues

These new tools effectively eliminate the need for expensive kit (and to update old technology), automate complex and laborious procedures and enable video providers to generate additional revenue with their content.

Put simply, the five Elemental Media Services, say Amazon, “make it easy for video providers of all kinds to create reliable, flexible, and scalable video offerings in the cloud”.

The name ‘Elemental’ comes from AWS’s video business, formed following its acquisition of Elemental Technologies in 2015, a pioneer in helping broadcasters adapt their programming for online streaming.

AWS explained

Launched in July 2002, Amazon Web Services now includes more than 100 products covering storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, mobile and security.

The BBC iPlayer relies on AWS technology, as do Turner, Disney, Netflix, Airbnb, Adobe and the Ministry of Justice.

The new suite of tools, not surprisingly, integrate with established AWS products, for example:

  • AWS Direct Connect and AWS Snowball for content ingestion
  • Amazon CloudFront for content delivery
  • Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring
  • Amazon Rekognition for artificial intelligence

Broadcasters already using the new AWS Elemental tools

The new services are already being used by Amazon Prime Video as part of its commitment to live-stream 11 NFL games this season. Other broadcasters using the new tools include:

  • BT
  • Pac-12 Networks
  • Fox Sports Australia
  • fuboTV
  • Nine
  • Spuul
  • M2A Media
  • Cinépolis

What effect will this have on service providers?

Alex Dunlap, general manager at AWS Elemental:

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 customised infrastructure that would be updated only once or twice each decade.

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.

Ian Parr, Director TV and Broadband Infrastructure for BT, had this to say:

The new AWS Elemental Media Services are a natural extension of media workflows to the cloud.

The ease of use of these AWS console-based services for end-to-end workflows will provide a level of flexibility and efficiency that will be a game-changer for our industry while providing a flexible option that can coexist with legacy on-premises live and on-demand infrastructures deployments.

The game may not be up for incumbent service providers but it looks highly likely that it’ll change.