Airtel launches video streaming solution for traditional cos to offer web content

Airtel launches video streaming solution for traditional cos to offer web content
Photo Credit: Reuters
19 Oct, 2021

Telecom giant Bharti Airtel said on Tuesday it has launched a solution that can help traditional broadcasters and video companies digitise their businesses and thus offer over-the-top (OTT) streaming content.

Called Airtel IQ Video, this Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) solution is part of the Airtel IQ cloud platform that enables companies to add voice, video and messaging to their existing business applications with the help of application program interfaces (APIs). Airtel IQ Video will work across Airtel’s data center offerings, but is also interoperable with Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services.

Airtel has already worked with three partners during the beta phase, it said in a statement. These include Chennai-based Tamil general entertainment channel Raj Television Network (Raj TV), OTT platform Eros Now and CG Telecom of Nepal. The company has another 50 customers who have shown interest in the service, 50% of whom are from international markets, Airtel claimed in its statement.

Raj Television Network's, for instance, had a content library that included over 30,000 hours of South Indian films, most of which were on tapes and analog formats, according to its managing director, M. Raajhendhran. The Airtel IQ Video service allows platforms such as these, digitize their businesses and do OTT streaming. OTT streaming is the practice of offering content to customers directly over the web.

Airtel said it will provide advisory services for converting the content to digital where traditional companies do not have digital video formats. But “if you’re a technology company doing video, you probably don’t need us,” said Adarsh Nair, CEO of Airtel Digital. Nair added that content companies that do not have a tech stack; broadcasters running traditional independent television businesses; and any other company that wants to do an OTT play, could use the Airtel service.

Airtel will also allow enterprises to white label this service and use it with their banner. The telecom company also has plans to include video calling services to use the platform in future, but is limited to on-demand video streaming, live streaming etc. at the moment. The service is also region-agnostic, meaning an app can be made available in all markets across the world using the service as long as they have registered accounts in that market.

Nair said Airtel Digital wants to be part of any technology play that is at the adjacency of a telco going forward. “In the next two to three years, the expectation is that this unit will become substantial enough to have a conversation separately,” he said.

Video streaming is a very lucrative market. India’s OTT streaming industry is expected to hit $15 billion over the next nine years, according to a report by independent advisory firm RBSA Advisors in July. The company said that this will include $12.5 billion for the video market and $2.5 billion for audio. The OTT market stood at an estimated $1.7 billion at the end of FY20.