Evertz will show Ease Live, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) interactive graphics platform, among its Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) systems at NAB. Evertz will demonstrate the use of edge-rendered graphics from cloud-based Ease Live to engage audiences and create new revenue streams by adding interactive experiences to existing OTT services and Apps.
Suitable for sports leagues, broadcasters and many other types of content providers, the Ease Live platform creates and builds overlays, distributing to end users on connected devices in real time.
Interactive Graphics Experience
A subsidiary of Evertz Technologies, Ease Live generates engagement and monetisation opportunities through gamification of the viewer and fan experience – that is, adding interactive gamelike elements to encourage participation. Simpler than a ground-up broadcast graphics package, Ease Live overlays graphical content onto live streams in real time, which gives the viewer a way to interact with in-game live statistics, watch parties, polls and trivia, and sponsored betting and wagers without having to leave the event.
Interactive graphics are also a way for content and rights owners to customise the user experience to increase both the level of user engagement and the length of time of engagement. This creates opportunities for monetisation and new ad revenues that have not previously been available. “As the cost of being a content rights holder becomes more expensive and the competition for audiences grows, our customers are looking for new ways to drive fan engagement and monetise their content,” said Kjetil Horneland, CEO of Ease Live.
“At NAB we will show how Ease Live makes it possible for content providers to engage with interactive fans and launch extra layers of value added content that can help offset costs.” As well as supplying tools to quickly design, build and deploy HTML5-based overlays in the cloud, the Ease Live platform also allows new versions to be published in real time, without going to the app stores. This minimises the need to make application-level changes and shortens time to market.
One adopter of Ease Live that is having success with this format is the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES Network). In 2021, YES Edge - an optional interactive graphic overlay within its YES App – was launched to create an immersive ecosystem directly in the App.
A critical feature of the Ease Live platform is the Ease Live Data Service, which customers like YES Network use to synchronise their live broadcasts with interactive graphics in a frame accurate manner. The Service uses Evertz’ experience in timing and synchronisation to bridge the production timing and the OTT delivery platform, ensuring frame accurate placement of interactive graphics on top of the customer’s video player. The Ease Live Data Service achieves reliable, redundant synchronisation using the PTP (Precision Time Protocol) from the production and injects timing information into the streams, which is then read by YES Network’s Bitmovin player and the Ease Live overlays.
This accurate timing is also crucial for realising the commercial potential of interactive live streaming, because it allows interactive content to be placed in relation to the game action. Furthermore, since edge graphics are rendered directly on the user’s own devices, the experience can be tailored for each user. Achieving that relies on consistently accurate timing, from the graphics events themselves to the metadata in the cloud -- everything relates to the game time, which resides in ID3 metadata tags in the video streams.
For viewers entering the live stream of a Yankees telecast, clicking on the YES Edge icon activates the overlay. Ease Live also connects to any stats provider and can include data from APIs. Content and graphical elements are gathered and stored in the cloud, then delivered to users in real time so that live updates are synchronised with the broadcast and sent out at the correct time as the game progresses. This means users only see relevant data without spoilers, at the point of entering the stream.
Direct from Viewers
Ease Live is also able to collect data directly from viewers, and analytics generated from cloud-based data tools. Knowledge gathered about user behaviours can be used to inform broadcasters on what content is resonating with audiences and can be used to identify and target specific audience demographics with paid content or advertisements.
AS well as the existing support for mobile and web-based touch devices, Ease Live will launch new interactive experiences at NAB developed for Connected TV devices that allow the viewer to engage with content using their television’s remote control device.
“Customers who are using Ease Live have discovered that interactive overlays provided by the platform has helped separate their product from the competition simply by making their live experiences better and more engaging,” said Kjetil. “Ease Live graphics not only adds excitement to the viewing experience, but it also helps establish a positive reputation for the product.” evertz.com