Inlet Promises ‘No Excuses Video’

Inlet Technologies is on the NAB floor with two primary goals: targeted ads for live streaming and further expansion into the world of mobile streaming, especially for Apple iPad.

“We offer ‘no excuses video’ for sports,” says John Bishop III, co-founder/SVP of business development and strategy. “This is not a sandbox experiment anymore; Web and mobile have grown up. The iPad and iPhone have changed the expectations. Web TV and mobile TV can’t just be television on a smaller screen. It has to be something different, and that’s where the interactive aspect and targeted ads come in.”

Automated Ad Insertion
Highlighting Inlet’s booth is a fully automated ad-insertion solution for live video streaming. The solution allows broadcasters to automate the insertion of video-based ads into live video streams, rather than simply using the basic ad from the television feed. Inlet’s Spinnaker Management Console recognizes a SCTE-35 cue message (the signal for a TV ad break) and translates it into a marker for Flash, Silverlight or iPhone. At that point, it optionally inserts a slate. The player then makes a call to an ad server to insert a targeted ad, minimizing latency and manual intervention.

“The challenge of live streaming video in the past has been monetizing it through advertising,” says Bishop. “We haven’t seen a Hulu-type model for live video yet. With us, broadcasters don’t need to come up with a different production path for mobile distribution and Web distribution and iPad distribution, etc. It should all be based on the TV-production path, and then we just take that, without being disruptive, and create a way to supply targeted ads to consumers.”

The iPad and an Expanded Mobile Reach
MLB Advanced Media was one of the few content partners given pre-release access to iPad to create an app for the device. Inlet worked closely along with MLBAM in the development of At Bat 2010 for iPad. However, given Apple’s demand that the tablet be kept under strict lock and key before its release, Inlet was often flying blind during the project.

“It’s kind of like playing darts in the dark,” says Bishop. “[MLBAM] was extremely helpful throughout the project, but it was tough at times. You know that you’re going to a target device, but you don’t have exact specs.

Although Inlet was not give full-fledged access to the highly anticipated device, the company was able to cater to MLBAM’s needs in developing one of the first video-based apps available for the iPad.

“You get these abstract requests asking to do this or that but not explaining why. That’s one of the value props of our solutions: being able to go out and have all these little knobs that you can tune and turn to fit your needs,” says Bishop. “We didn’t know why they were doing it, but at the end of the day we had to make it happen. It’s kind of like working with the Secret Service or black ops. It was a great experience, and I think the iPad is a huge step forward.”

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