Making (radio) waves in the field of multimedia content delivery
A riddle for you … And a bit of history
When is radio not radio? Well, firstly, when there aren’t any radio waves involved.
It’s easy to say that ‘we all know’ that radio once constituted an audio service associated with huge masts broadcasting the station’s offering to everywhere around over various FM and AM frequencies. And this was not always with great success: constant buzz and crackle were a norm in the listening experience, and unfortunate dead spots existed just as you were getting to the exciting climax of a new radio play. Everybody had their own trick for trying to pick up more reliable signal with their antenna; complex constructions of old wire coat-hangers and tin foil, or getting your brother to stand and touch the tip so that he could become a giant, living signal receptor.
But indeed, the idea radio over the internet is now so established – with IP facilitating studio ingest, contribution, distribution and playout – that indeed many people might not actually be familiar with the old, iconic image of a triangular radio mast with jagged electric bolts, or the grand image of the BBC’s World Service.
No all-data transfer is born equal
But this raises an interesting question. The paragraph above said that once, audio was easier to transport than video across radio waves, but indicated that now, today, it’s all much of a muchness. If you can transport a byte of audio, you can transport a byte of video, right!?
Well yes, and no.
Video and ‘multimedia radio’ put very specific demands on a network – different to those associated with simply loading a webpage. But the problem is, not everybody recognizes this, and as such there is still a surprising amount of reliance on transport streams which make use of outdated, legacy systems that are not geared specifically towards the efficient, reliable transport of IP video and audio. Smaller companies particularly – who constitute a high proportion of the modern ‘radio station’ market – may not have the market awareness or resources to fully explore the options they have in terms of backbone network provision.
The impact of that can be huge. Without an optimized delivery network, small player, on-demand, IP-based radio stations and providers are limited in the extent to which they can innovate and provide new, immersive experiences for their listeners. Indeed, even in the straight-up provision of audio-based services, a failure to use an optimized content delivery network can result in a loss of quality for the listener; with buffering and low-quality audio particularly frustrating for listeners. Indeed, there has been a fair amount of market research which suggests that whilst audiences can sometimes be slightly more forgiving of video disruption, they operate an almost zero-tolerance policy to disrupted audio; people will forgive a slightly hazy image, but compromised sound is an absolute no-go.
More than this, there are significant operational costs associated with delivering content across the globe, and so selecting the right delivery partner can have a huge impact on bottom line costs and ROI. Of course, these business concerns are important for any broadcast business, but particularly for small and niche providers in the audio market who are operating on tight margins.
The answer? MainStreaming, of course
It’s here that MainStreaming comes in. Our iMDP was designed specifically to accommodate the needs of media providers who are trying to innovate and bring new levels of service and experience to their viewers and listeners.
Covering the full streaming workflow, from ingest to delivery, the platform uses AI to make intelligent decisions, whilst still granting content owners full transparency and control over the streaming process – something vital for new-wave radio stations who are experimenting with new ways of offering the highest quality of experience to their listeners, and offer the kind of innovations that keep audiences in increasingly competitive times.
Moreover, because MainStreaming’s iMDP is capable of being implemented as either a global, dedicated or hybrid private network based on viewer location, the proprietary iMDP technology allows for more efficient accommodation of fluctuating low-volume to peak distribution demands – making for an optimised, cost-effective content delivery process that maximizes broadcaster ROI.
It is also particularly capable of accommodating scalability concerns; content providers don’t have to dive in with an overwhelming investment, nor do they have to worry that their current investment will prove to be shortsighted, limiting or quickly redundant; with Mainstreaming, they can be sure that the ability of their network will grow with their demand.
As a result of that, an increasing number of smaller sized radio and interactive/multimedia audio providers are recognizing the benefits of MainStreaming as the mechanism for delivering an optimum level of service to their listeners, and allowing them to innovate and grow at a pace that works for them.
So whether your radio station takes a ‘pure’ approach to the audio experience, or is experimenting at the boundaries of what it means to deliver radio, MainStreaming is ready to support you in delivering the very best to your audience.