Atmosphere scales streaming service for businesses, unlocks new revenue potential with AWS
Where audiences dwell, advertisers follow. From restaurants and bars to gyms, medical offices, airports and beyond, ample opportunities exist for brands to reach consumers as they move through the day. Atmosphere is broadening access to these audiences in the US and internationally with its free ad-supported streaming service, built on cloud-based technologies from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to support video encoding through server-side ad insertion and delivery. The company curates licensed news, entertainment, and sports video highlights that its team cuts into suitable live and video-on-demand (VOD) content for viewing in business environments. Atmosphere offers more than 50 unique channels and reaches a monthly audience of more than 120 million people across 50,000 venues.
Spun off from ChiveTV, the first TV channel built specifically for businesses, Atmosphere has seen large growth since its founding in 2019, almost doubling its reach year over year. Integral to its success is a team of editors who create custom content for their customers, avoiding television’s typical talking heads and text that don’t translate well into business environments. Its content is made available via the Atmosphere streaming service, accessed via a free device that plugs into in-venue displays. Businesses simply order the device, plug it in, and select a channel to stream. The number of ads shown depends upon the channel, although 14 minutes per hour is typical.
At initial launch, Atmosphere only supported VOD channels, but as it began to grow, the company wanted to provide live content, requiring a more robust video and ad insertion pipeline. At the time, channel rendering, ad insertion, and ad delivery were largely handled manually using dedicated spreadsheets, which proved unreliable and unsustainable with continued growth. The team consistently ran into bottlenecks like repeating screens or ticker features breaking but had no way to track the origin of the issues to troubleshoot.
Looking for a more consistent, dependable solution, Atmosphere engaged AWS to assist with the development of new tools to automate ad-supported live content delivery for news and sports channels. The resulting solution harnesses AWS Elemental MediaLive for video processing and motion overlay rendering, AWS Elemental MediaPackage for just-in-time packaging, AWS Elemental MediaTailor for server-side ad insertion and ad delivery tracking, and Amazon CloudFront for content distribution and caching at the edge. Additionally, an updated web UI playout solution allows Atmosphere’s editors to select content coming up in the queue, and assign accompanying graphics, whether a ticker, L bar, or other dynamic templates to the content.
The AWS-backed implementation supports HTML5 graphics overlays, making it easy to create professional quality video channels. All content is generated by Atmosphere’s HMTL5 overlay, then rendered by AWS Elemental Media Live. At the same time, HTML5 can populate the graphics from data sources, whether a ticker for news headlines, temperatures, or other information. In assembling live channel content, Atmosphere’s editors evaluate trending stories and select the main headlines to highlight. They then use MediaLive to schedule one- to three- minute breaks by inserting SCTE-35 markers. AWS Elemental MediaTailor handles the ad insertion process. Atmosphere’s VOD channels are supported by client-side ad insertion, configurable per channel.
Both the client- and server-side ad insertion workflows run through Atmosphere’s ad proxy, a mediation layer on top of or between the client. AWS Elemental MediaTailor then communicates with Atmosphere’s various ad servers, providing them with more immediate control. The workflow ensures every ad server request requires a three-second response, allowing the ad proxy to perform other tasks, gather the data, and provide a proper response.
“Working with the AWS team was so straightforward,” shared Jeff DiTullio, SVP of Engineering, Atmosphere. “We had access to everything we needed from hands-on engineering support to help navigating pricing. Together, we’ve been able to automate a large portion of our channel rendering and ad insertion workflow, which will be essential as we continue to grow the business and invest in new features to innovate the audience experience and controls.”
As Atmosphere continues to advance the platform and its monetization strategy, the company is looking at how it can bolster the content it offers and improve screen and content management across venues. DiTullio concluded, “In the last few years, we’ve built an audience that advertisers want to reach, and the growth potential is exponential if we can procure unique content and make the viewer experience more interactive. We also have our sights set on building more enterprise-level features that give businesses greater control, as well as how we might support programmatic ad triggers that let advertisers trigger buys based on real-time data like local weather or stock market conditions. The foundation we’ve built with AWS minimizes our troubleshooting, opening up more time for us to focus on evolving the platform to meet customer and viewer demands and, in turn, grow more revenue.”