AWS for M&E Blog

Arqiva introduces AWS-backed VoD solution for A+E Networks Germany

International satellite and media services provider Arqiva is in the business of connecting people, whether through television, radio, mobile, or machine to machine communications. With advanced networks, Arqiva is well-suited to stay ahead of the ever-increasing data demands from a growing pool of connected devices. Continuing this futureproof mindset, the company recently ventured into new territory, implementing a completely cloud-based solution that enables A+E Networks Germany to bring audiences an expanded library of on-demand content.

The solution builds on Arqiva’s latest hybrid on-premises/cloud offering to manage content processing, packaging, and delivery of A+E Network Germany’s existing archived content from Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Amazon S3 Glacier file storage to Amazon Prime Video for on-demand viewing. Minimizing content movement, the cloud-contained journey avoids egress into on-premises data centers and ensures significant cost-savings, while video transcoding in the cloud using AWS Elemental MediaConvert enables Arqiva to process more simultaneous jobs at a far quicker pace.

“With audiences increasingly consuming content in an on-demand capacity, the cross-platform competition for eyeballs is fiercer than ever. Being able to quickly and seamlessly deliver an even broader range of content to our Amazon Prime audience is a real strategic advantage. Arqiva’s solution should enable us to generate revenue off our existing back-catalogue, quickly, securely, and as cost-effectively as possible,” Matt Westrup, VP Operations at A+E Networks, commented.

Arqiva’s longstanding relationship with A+E Networks, the parent company of A+E Networks Germany, played a large role in the decision to implement the solution. For more than a decade, Arqiva has provided the network with services spanning playout and connectivity across Africa and the Middle East, UK DTH satellite capacity, and on-premises VoD processing services across EMEA (including the UK). A secondary motivator was the solution’s ability to integrate existing Identity and Access Management resources to ensure the security of the platform whilst allowing A+E to retain full control of its content access and operation capabilities.

Envisioning the Solution

For the service to work, it needed to support media processing from TX ready-master formats to the VoD-ready format according to Amazon Prime specifications. MediaConvert proved ideal for transcoding the content and removing unwanted clock and slate and insert-branded bumpers and logos.

A+E also chose to use Amazon S3 to store content and apply appropriate storage classes for its needs. Equally VoD schedules (VoD work order instructions) needed to be transferred to Arqiva via S3, and the VoD schedules needed to act as instructions to VoD workflows. Having built VoD services that scale into AWS services in the cloud based on the load, Arqiva had a ready-to-go solution that checked off all of these boxes.

Another important aspect of the workflow methodology was to ensure that A+E handled Amazon S3 authorization and access. To achieve this, A+E created an IAM role for Arqiva, so that it could assume the role using AWS access keys associated with its accounts. This allowed A+E to limit the operations Arqiva can perform on objects in S3.

The Workflow Examined

The life cycle of an asset starts with A+E dropping schedules in XML to the Amazon S3 environment. Arqiva’s solution continuously polls S3 for the schedules and once received and validated, will register the content item Id’s in the database. Once registered, the first step is to run an S3 Head Object command to determine whether the content is present in the bucket stated in the schedule and also to determine which storage class is applied to it. For items in Amazon S3 Glacier, the workflow confirms whether or not a restore is already in progress and if not, automatically triggers the restore. Following, the item is copied into an S3 bucket and transferred via the AWS control plane at low cost and high transfer speed.

Once in Arqiva’s storage environment, MediaConvert is then used to transcode and conform the item. Its workflow management tools then call upon MediaConvert’s API and a JSON body is supplied within calls made. The JSON is constructed from timecode values provided in the schedule and encodes variables determined by media format requirements described in the Amazon Prime specifications. Leveraging the scalability of MediaConvert reduced transcode times and enabled more rapid delivery of VoD content in advance of the required deadlines.

Alex Pannell, Commercial Director Video Channels at Arqiva, concluded, “A+E Networks Germany is the first A+E customer to use our new cloud VoD solution and feedback on both the platform and onboarding process has been fantastic. We’ve been working really hard to extend our broadcast products onto cloud infrastructure, and have built up an extensive set of skills and experience building on AWS,” Pannell added. “We see the fact that a major multi-channel broadcaster has adopted the cloud for its content archive as clear proof this was the right strategy to pursue for the future.”