Tell us about the company – when it was founded, by whom and with what objective?
VisualOn was founded in 2003 by Dr. Yang Cai and Dr. Bill Lin in Silicon Valley to bring low-cost, high-quality, multimedia experience to more consumer devices through supporting the new video compression standard H.264 in software. It has since become the leading streaming media player solution provider most trusted by the top service providers in the world.
Fill us in with how the company has developed and grown to the present day
VisualOn has grown from a software codec developer, to a multimedia software stack provider for the world’s major OEMs, to a cross-platform media player solution provider to leading streaming services companies in 6 continents, including many of the world’s top mobile carriers.
VisualOn has both a fully customizable proprietary player that delivers consistent user experience across different platform as well as fully compatible native players with advanced features and backed by our dedicated support. Our players enable real-time applications, content protection (DRM, Watermarking, etc.), monetization through advanced AdFlow functionalities. Our players deliver content seamlessly across multiple platforms, including Android (mobile, Android TV, Chromecast), iOS, tvOS, Windows (PC, Xbox) and MacOS, Linux, etc. To improve video playback experience, our analytic tool, the VisualOn User Experience Monitor, provides timely in-depth player information and insight for customer service and troubleshooting to reduce churn. Together with our real-time, full frame-rate Remote Lab debugging tool, our customers have an effective set of tools for ensuring the quality of their services.
Going back to our codec root, we have recently announce our Optimizer product in this year’s IBC. VisualOn Optimizer offers a server-side software solution to optimize the bitrate of Live and VOD video content, without reducing video quality. In performance tests, the solution enabled more than 30% bitrate reduction on average while maintaining the quality of H.265/HEVC and H.264/AVC media for video delivery. VisualOn Optimizer efficiently analyzes the content and to determine the best transcoder settings for achieving the target quality. VisualOn Optimizer can be integrated with existing delivery systems in a matter of days without the need to change transcoders or delivery workflows
Today, VisualOn has a motivate, experienced worldwide team of multimedia experts located in US, France, Spain, Finland, Serbia, Malta and major cities in Asia – Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. The many years of experience accumulated over many years through working closely with our customer enable us to provide the best customer support and service in the industry. To our many happy customers, we are not just a software provider, we are also a partner and trusted advisor in helping them bring their services with shortest time-to-market and widest possible reach to different devices without compatibility issues, as well as continue optimizing their services.
What are the challenges service providers face with using native players alone?
Native players support basic playback on their target platforms. The most common OTT native video players today are AVPlayer for iOS and ExoPlayer for Android on mobile devices, and open-source HTML5 players for a browsers. Native players generally lack cross-platform functionalities and are not able to support advanced viewing features, analytics, ad tracking and insertion.. They are controlled by the platform owners with arbitrary constrained placed with their own interest in mind. They leave little room for differentiation and are not future proof. And their lack of guaranteed support prevent customers from ensuring the quality of their services or achieving their business objectives in a timely manner.
VisualOn’s solution provide compelling benefits over native players in all of the following 5 aspects: Customer Experience, Customization and Cost, Control, Customer Service, Easy to Migrate.
What are the key factors that affect the viewing experience from the video player perspective? And are there any challenges based on your experiences helping build streaming services?
With streaming video becoming mainstream and over taking broadcast TV, consumers have raised their expectation of viewing experience and quick to jump ship in this hypercompetitive market. Playback should be reliable – consistent starts without failure with low latency, stable – without errors and with minimal buffering and smooth transitions to accommodate changing network status through ABR technology, uniform and synchronized across different devices, and of course with high-quality audio / video and offer immersive experiences through VR/AR.
It is also important to keep viewers engaged through ease of finding contents, relevant recommendation, incorporation of social interaction through WatchParty, second screen applications and interactivities such as allowing viewers to select what they want to see through synchronized multi-stream, multi-camera angle playback.
It’s very challenging to offer a consistent, scalable high-quality viewing experience on all different platforms, supporting all types of contents through varying network conditions while supporting effective monetization mechanism with reliable content protection. The player plays a key role in managing the conflicting priorities such as high-quality, low-latency and reducing buffering, as well as improving user experience under different viewing environments.
What are the major trends and disruptors in video that you see coming?
Nowadays, the way viewer engage with content has changed and operators are looking for new ways to increase the viewers’ interactivities with video content. Solutions such as MultiStream Sync, WatchParty, fast channel switching, Adaptive Nightvision, etc., are designed to match the demands.
Monetization through advertising is becoming more and more important. Our Advanced AdFlow product provides a smooth playback experience for transition between content and advertisement, support cutting-edge technology such as Open Measurement, reports accurate tracking information and enforce versatile business logics.
Delivering immersive video experience requires high-resolution, high-framerate that consume a lot of bandwidth, storage and energy. Our Optimizer product effectively address this challenge by significantly reducing video bitrate without sacrificing quality and without a revamping the existing workflow.