How the world’s largest media conglomerate aired this year’s Olympics to its US audience is now a case study in the global broadcasting industry. 

Gone were the large, hardware-filled studios normally used to carry out the highly complex backend operations required for live streaming. Instead, media operators at Comcast’s NBC controlled the Ultra HD feed for the world’s largest sporting event from a browser interface at their homes this time.

This revolutionary change was brought about thanks to innovations in cloud technology pioneered by a Bengaluru-based startup—Amagi Media Labs.

Amagi is well-known in the global media industry for its software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings for broadcast and streaming TV on the cloud. Its platform currently powers backend technology for content that reaches smart TVs in over 200 million households worldwide. It has more than 55% of the market share in distributing content to the FAST FAST FAST FAST stands for free, ad-supported streaming TV and refers to services like Roku’s Roku Channel and VIacom's Pluto TV, which offers programming usually available on cable television for free via internet market. 

Indeed, Amagi provided the tech backbone for the successful launch of Peacock, the American broadcaster NBC’s OTT offering, in 2020. The Olympics, Amagi told NBC, would be the biggest stress test of its tech so far. With over 7,000 hours of practically non-stop sports programming, it would demonstrate to the wider industry that cloud broadcasting has arrived.

“If the Olympics can run on the cloud, anything can run on the cloud. That was the whole thesis,” Amagi co-founder and CEO Baskar Subramanian told The Ken. It’s a thesis that clearly passed muster with investors, who opened their cheque books to back Amagi to the tune of US$100 million in September. This included investment from Accel, Avataar Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and existing investor Premji Invest. 

Investors aren’t going simply off the spectacle Amagi was able to orchestrate. Subramanian told The Ken that, over the next 12 months, the company is on track to reach US$100 million in annual recurring revenue—a significant milestone for SaaS startups. Amagi also plans to list itself publicly in the next two years, Subramanian revealed for the first time. 

The 13-year-old startup’s growth, especially in the last five years since it turned its focus to the cloud tech space, mirrors the epochal changes in the global video industry. More users are opting to watch television and on-demand content over the internet. Cable TV connections, on which broadcast empires were built, are slowly but surely going the way of the dodo. This shift, of course, is more pronounced in more developed nations.

AUTHOR

Munsif Vengattil

Munsif keeps a tab on what Big Tech has been up to in India and all things OTT. He was with Reuters previously, where he wrote investigative pieces on Facebook’s content moderation operations and WhatsApp’s troubles in the run-up to India’s national elections. If you want to talk to Munsif about journalism, tech policy or his love for seekh kebabs, write to him at his first name @the-ken.com.

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