Blackbird licensing RNS

A global broadcast company has licensed the core Blackbird cloud video editing system, together with its patented video codec, directly from its developer Blackbird in a 5-year OEM deal.

This is the first OEM licensing agreement for Blackbird, worth an expected value of €2 million over the contract length. The customer is a specialist in live video for broadcast and new media productions. Through its range of products and systems, the company delivers live sports, entertainment and breaking news content from around the world to millions of viewers daily, in real-time.

The integration means that users of the customer’s live video systems can run editing workflows ‘powered by Blackbird’, with their own editor and player. Editors will be able to remotely access and edit video, and publish content at broadcast quality to multiple digital end points. Accessing professional standard editing tools in a browser on minimal bandwidth makes agile, efficient video production workflows possible for all events. Furthermore, use of Blackbird in the cloud lowers carbon output for users currently running on-premise video editing workflows.

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Blackbird CEO Ian McDonough said, “Under this first technology licensing contract, the OEM partner will use the core Blackbird video IP as the basis for their own on-premise and cloud native editing platform, extending its use into new product areas. They will sell the editing software as an integral part of their broadcast production suite to their customers around the world.

“As partnership with Blackbird is part of this licensing package, the deal gives us a global presence and tells other developers that Blackbird is open for business with other businesses. In fact, Blackbird has 16 other patents for marketing and using the IP in other ways. This customer has traditionally been a hardware company until now, and is interested in moving into the cloud-based, SaaS (software-as-a-service) market. Different to an integration, the company will incorporate the essence of Blackbird’s software as a part of their product during manufacture. The look of their product will still be completely up to them.”

For Ian, the most significant aspect of Blackbird is that movement of high-bitrate video is no longer necessary for editing. Video can be accessed remotely and published at 4K. The video, audio and graphics are only supplied to the platform through Blackbird's proprietary codec, and editors only work on low bitrate proxy frames that download from the platform almost instantly and reside on the local hardware, preventing playback or processing delays. Editors aren’t waiting for commands to reach the media, functions to complete in the cloud and results to be downloaded and displayed in the browser.

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Since the original content is only involved at the point of publishing, publishing functions are also near to real-time and highly scalable, proceeding directly from the edge server where the content is being held, not the editor's computer. The Blackbird codec is optimised to work efficiently on software as well, through Javascript, which is a scripting language for web clients.

These combined elements make a difference in the modern broadcast landscape because, conventionally, speed to market has defined how competitive a broadcast company could be, and no longer depends on expensive hardware.