Fun Roads Media has built its business around a TV network delivering programming to entertain, educate and inform viewers about taking trips of all kinds – on the road driving a classic car or an RV or riding a motorcycle, or off the roads going ziplining or sailing a boat. Their 24 hour programming is carried over the air on more than a dozen local channels across the US, on connected TVs including Roku and Amazon Fire, and via cable and satellite carriers like Cable One and DirectTV.
When Fun Roads Media was finalising a distribution deal with a cable TV operator, they found that the onboarding and program delivery requirements for one of the operator’s transport platforms, streaming video service MobiTV, were challenging to satisfy.
Meeting the Standards
“MobiTV was extremely specific in terms of signal quality, signal consistency and the ability to apply forward error correction (FEC) to the signal,” said Ashley Gracile, President and CEO of Fun Roads. “In short, it had to be a high-grade signal.” MobiTV is a customisable, cloud-enabled streaming video service that operators use to launch branded, compliant pay TV services reaching their clients on iOS and Android mobile and TV devices, cable operators and local channels.
However, MobiTV needs to be able to ingest content once and deliver it to multiple operators, which means that content providers like Fun Roads have to take responsibility for their signal quality. MobiTV also needs to devote effort to supplying such functionality as personalisation, network DVR and searches, plus analytics, app development and dynamic ad insertion. Therefore, the company recommends Zixi to companies to make sure their signals meet the criteria set for all of MobiTV’s clients.
Ashley said, “Zixi was able to take our content and feed it to MobiTV as a strong, solid stream that they could accept and then deliver, in original video quality, not only to our cable client but to hundreds of their clients as well.”
Regarding the FEC requirement, Zixi has its own proprietary Forward Error Correction method, unique to the Zixi protocol. FEC adds redundant information to a data stream that enables a receiver to identify and correct errors without needing retransmission. The Zixi protocol combines FEC, retransmission and congestion avoidance in an optimized and efficient way for error-free video transport over IP with up to 45% packet loss recovery, helping to make the internet practical for professional video.
Zixi’s first step was setting up multiple trial licenses for the Zixi software, which they used to test the Fun Roads Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) feed and make sure MobiTV was confident and receiving it in the way they wanted. With the Once MobiTV gave the green light, everything would be ready to go.
Ricardo Mella at Masterplay served as play-out provider and worked with Zixi throughout the project. He said, “The goal was to give the Fun Roads stream the robustness that wasn’t guaranteed if the signal had simply been broadcast on the open internet. We would have suffered a great deal of packet loss leading to more disconnects, more pixellation and a less favorable user experience.
“Any challenges we experienced were not on the Fun Roads or Zixi side. In fact, initially, we were not able to establish a link with MobiTV, mostly due to their firewall configuration. Then we redirected my output from MobiTV to Zixi’s test server and that took us through right away. With Zixi’s support we were then able to establish a link between Fun Roads and MobiTV and from that moment on, the stream was 100 percent reliable.”
A Competitive Advantage
Seeing more content move to the internet and more consumers shift their viewing experiences to online and mobile platforms, Ashley noted that his company’s relationship with Zixi and the support necessary to guarantee solid IP transport will also become more valuable. “Zixi had a dedicated team available to us whenever we needed it,” Ashley said. “The IP video capabilities Zixi delivered will be essential for signing new business with more operators as well as for increasing our company’s competitive advantage.”
The Zixi Software-Defined Video Platform integrates four elements that support broadcast-quality workflows for live video provisioning, deployment, management and monitoring using software and integrated devices, leading to high-quality, reliable video distribution over IP.
ZEN Master is a cloud-based interface for controlling large networks. Its visual tools configure, orchestrate and monitor live broadcast channels at scale and in line with industry protocols. The Video Solutions Stack carries out core media processing that enable transport of live video over IP and hybrid IP networks, correcting for packet loss and jitter.
Zixi also develops a congestion and network-aware protocol that dynamically adjusts to varying network conditions and employs error correction techniques for robust video transport over IP. Zixi accepts 17 different integrated protocols and containers including NDI, RIST, HLS, CMAF, DASH, SRT and many others. Finally, the Zixi Enabled Network gives operators a global network of integrated systems and service provider partners.
Ashley considered, “Without Zixi and their help to secure MobiTV, getting our contract signed with this cable carrier would have been much more difficult. They would have had little confidence in our ability to deliver the signal. Zixi can scale my operation efficiently, within budget, and meanwhile when we talk to another cable operator, being able to offer a Zixi feed and MobiTV transport makes it easier for them to consider us.”
Since adding this cable carrier to their network, Fun Roads have entered into a further master carriage agreement with NCTC (National Cable Television Cooperative) that makes the network available to more than 750 NCTC member cable operators. zixi.com