As one of India’s most diversified media conglomerate, Network 18 runs the biggest news broadcast network in India through its subsidiary, TV-18 Broadcasts Limited, owning newsrooms and studios across the country, including 73 broadcast channels, as well as leading online news portals and publishing brands. Network18 operates a large mix of news and entertainment channels in addition to multiple digital products of the biggest names in media, such as News18 Network, CNBC-TV18, CNN News18, Viacom18 Colors, MTV, MoneyControl, FirstPost, and Forbes India.
We’ve been working with the company since 2013, and I had visited their previous facilities in Mumbai several years ago. We finally sat down with Abhishek Paul, Assistant General Manager in Operations Technology, who leads a software development team that makes use of a MediaLooks SDK in a range of use cases.
The first scenario is simultaneous live streaming of certain shows to social media — something that wasn’t available out of the box with the equipment already in use at the network. For this task, Abhishek’s team developed an application that encodes to different RTMP streams.
The main advantage of Medialooks in live streaming was that we could use a single output to stream to different social media digital destinations: Facebook, YouTube and Periscope at the same time.
The second use case was graphics: the CG options of the video SDK were used to create a low-cost alternative to backup Vizrt, the company’s primary graphics system. Running a copy of Vizrt for backup would have been expensive—so the team developed their own software with the use of a Medialooks SDK.
We created backup for 13 regional channels, which are being used today, and whenever there is an issue with the main we switch to backup, and this works perfectly fine.
Finally, the SDK was used to develop 24/7 video logging software, but with a special option to skip commercials:
We built a customizable recorder using MWriter, and we had a particular output from Harris ADC whenever the break was planned — so we start recording and then we pause it during the commercials and then we again restart it.
Abhishek goes on to explain that cost reduction was the primary benefit of using the Medialooks software. Instead of purchasing specific software and equipment, several applications were developed in house: the graphics engine alone has justified the cost of the Medialooks license.
We can achieve different goals, different requirements, it is very good for the media industry, we are using it for different purposes. You can substitute many applications, which is what we are using it for.
Simplicity and richness in features were two aspects that proved to be very helpful. Farzin Najmi, Vice-President, Broadcast Technology & Operations, TV18 added:
We at Network18 constantly explore and evaluate newer technologies and solutions aligned with our business objective of value leadership. Our system design has always adhered to the fundamental principles of flexibility, reliability, and versatility.
Go for this product because it is very easy to use and not that much as expensive… Also, you have many options, many plugins to play with, to explore. When we found everything in a single toolkit, we started using it.
Using the help files and samples that we provide with the SDK, the team quickly developed their basic applications, and iteratively tweaked and improved them to fit the requirements better.
We didn’t face that much difficulty because most of the things we’re doing is very well explained in the help files and with the demo applications provided.
Finally, Abhishek concludes:
Medialooks has helped us very much in different scenarios of the media industry.