Managed OTT playout and distribution for WeTV

WeTV Arabia partners with Red Bee Media in launching a 24/7 educational channel via the Abu Dhabi broadcast hub.
Houssam Al Khaled, Head of Operations and Sales for Middle East., Red Bee Media
Houssam Al Khaled, Head of Operations and Sales for Middle East., Red Bee Media

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Launching their new 24/7 educational, current affairs and documentary film channel ‘WeTV’ - World Education Television, WeTV Arabia partnered with Red Bee Media for distribution and playout. The project includes a two-phase roll-out plan, starting with United Arab Emirates and expanding further into Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kenya, and other countries.

In choosing Red Bee Media, WeTV Arabia was able to access to a fully outsourced end-to-end managed service with the needed market reach and secure delivery on vast number of platforms.

“The theme of WeTV World Educational channel is “Educational News, Knowledge & Information” and the plan is to provide high quality educational content with a focus on the future,” says Adil Matin, the President & Chief Editor of WeTV Arabia who is heading the launch of the new educational channel.

“The vision and mission of WeTV Arabia is education 4.0. WeTV World Educational Channel will include these themes and focus on the future of education. We will provide insightful perspectives from top educational leaders, helping students and educators in their everyday. There is a big interest and our website [wetvarabia.com] got more than 1 million pageviews within 4 months of its launch in January 2018,” says Matin.

Multi market delivery

Speaking to Digital Studio, Matin elaborated on plans for future expansion of the channel: “The first phase included a launch in UAE and Abu Dhabi. From there our plans include distribution with Ooredoo in Qatar, MyHD in Saudi Arabia, Astro in Malaysia and Kenya in Africa. In the coming months, there will be further expansion plans into both Asia and Africa. It is an ambitious expansion plan and we partnered up with Red Bee Media who gave us access to a solid distribution network and a secure delivery with their end-to-end managed service.”

Matin talked about the key considerations in selecting a solution provider to manage the launch of WeTV World Educational Television. “First, we needed a single service provider that could provide the reach that we were looking for in the region. With Red Bee Media’s global presence including the Middle East, Africa and Asia, we could be sure that we would reach the markets we are aiming at. We were also looking for a partner who could supply a managed service, where we could rely on them to ensure everything runs smoothly and without any glitches. All in all, we wanted a fast and reliable service provider that would give us the ability to focus on our viewers and provide high quality content to them and Red Bee Media could deliver on this.”

Speaking about the difficulties in executing such a project, Matin says, “the project timeline was a big initial challenge, but working with Red Bee Media we got access to a professional team with a streamlined and reliable workflow. They delivered fast and we could be up and running within a few days.

Another challenge is quality consistency over a vast geographical area with varying bandwidth and internet connections. In conditions like this, it is vital that we have the proper solutions in place to make sure that our audiences can stay tuned without interruptions.”

Reducing Technology Risk

Facilitating the partnership from Red Bee Media’s side, is Houssam Al Khaled, Head of Operations and sales at the company’s Middle East office in Abu Dhabi. Red Bee Media is a global media services provider employing more than 2500 media service and broadcast experts, primarily based out of 11 main service hubs around the globe. The Managed OTT service serves more than 340 channels and over 20 000 hours of live programming every week.

Al Khaled spoke to Digital Studio about how Red Bee ensured a smooth launch and operations for the client:

DS: How did Red Bee ensure the project went smoothly, and the playout was as per WeTV Arabia’s requirements?

“Our technology is built to handle all kinds of difficult conditions, so that our customers can make sure that their viewers won’t miss a single frame. Our solution includes both standard unmanaged internet as well as managed IP networks, with a network aware, codec-agnostic, UDP-based protocol that optimizes the bandwidth conditions no matter the level of network degradation. With multiple physical and virtual security measures in place and 24/7 monitoring, we make sure that nothing goes wrong,” says Al Khaled.

What were the main takeaways for Red Bee Media? what are the key success factors for launching a multi-market channel like WeTV?

Having a global market reach, local know-how and established processes is a very good first step in making sure you can deliver consistently on this scale. With Abu-Dhabi as one of our 10 global broadcast and media hubs, we already had a local presence with tried and tested technology and streamlined workflows in place that could be optimized to meet WeTV Arabia’s needs in the region. As previously mentioned, the ability to ensure output consistency in an environment where there are large variations in bandwidth and connection quality is also a high priority when launching a project like this, says Houssam Al Khaled.

DS: What other benefits can broadcast- and media companies get from working with a managed services provider like Red Bee Media?

One of the main advantages is reduced technology risk, since the customer is not buying a technical solution, but rather a business outcome. The risk stays with us and we provide the framework and solutions necessary for the client to succeed. By avoiding heavy technical investments, the client also can reduce cost, straight off the bottom line. All in all, it is about creating conditions where a client like WeTV Arabia can focus on content creation, rather than spending time and resources on managing technology.

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