Cloud-Based Playout Keeps Most-Watched Kenyan Kids Network On-Air and Glitch-Free for Four Years

  • 10 June, 2024

 

Over 1 Million Video Files Broadcast Via PlayBox Neo’s Cloud2TV Virtual Playout System.


Akili Kids! staff in the company's Nairobi headquarters.

USA/KEN: Launched during a pandemic in 2020, Akili Kids! has risen to become the most-watched youth network in Kenya. Since its start on March 30, 2020, over one million video files have been broadcast via the PlayBox Neo’s Cloud2TV virtual channel playout system. Cloud2TV is a cloud-based software-as-a service solution that lets broadcasters operate their playout channels from any location via an easy-to-use web interface.

Akili Kids! is a fast-paced entertainment and educational TV network. Approximately 1.2M kids watch every 30 minutes. Cloud2TV seamlessly delivers a mix of over 650 video files every day for Akili Kids!.

“Kids like things to move fast,” said Vincent Grosso, CTO, Akili Networks. “With our schedule of fast-paced promotions, educational TV clips, marketing messages, and commercials, sometimes video files are switched every 12 to 30 seconds.” Akili uploads targeted promos every day commemorating local holidays and events. Customized clips are also edited daily. An original series called “Birthday Blast” mentions by name hundreds of kids each week celebrating their birthday.

Files come through in an array of formats that are encoded for playback on the fly for transmission throughout the country via Kenya's over-the-air 50 Hz PALDVB-T2 based terrestrial broadcasting system. Akili Network receives programming in NTSC (American), PAL (European and other regions);
multiple frame rates; and in various video file formats (i.e., MP4 and MOV).

“We’ve reduced our costs considerably because we don’t need to transcode before playout,” explains Grosso. “Our PlayBox server plays out multiple video and audio formats into a single, seamless PAL 50 frame per second stream to the transmitters. That’s been a huge benefit for Akili these last four years.”

A sophisticated transcoder on the PlayBox server supports multiple containers and file formats, including: MPG PS/TS, MXF, QT, AVI, MP4, GXF, MPG2, H.264, ProRes, DNX HD, and MJPEG.

Using Cloud2TV, Akili Kids! has two PlayBox Neo servers located at a data center in Nairobi with secure Internet access, which feed over-the-air transmitters throughout the country. Content is uploaded to the playout server from Nairobi and New York over the Internet.

Cloud2TV's remote upload and management capabilities allowed employees to work from home and keep the network on the air. During the pandemic, Akili Network’s scheduling and traffic teams had to access the system from home, using low bandwidth connections to build broadcast playlists. Commercials, promos, and content were uploaded by editors and program coordinators using local, often highly trafficked Internet connections. Big content files, command and control, and QC came from New York. Today, Cloud2TV's remote upload and management capabilities continue to pay dividends for efficiency and flexibility.

“This is really an awe-inspiring achievement that Akili Network and PlayBox Neo accomplished as a team,” says Van Duke, Director of U.S. Operations, PlayBox Neo.
“Their launch was at the at the beginning of the pandemic, many of their operations staff was new to broadcast tv, and the country’s IP infrastructure is less than ideal in spots.
And they are now the number one kids’ station in Kenya with a unique blend of dynamic programming. We look forward to seeing what the next four years will bring.”

PlayBox Neo solutions are based on modular products and services which can be easily customized to provide the exact capability needed for any scale of channel playout management - from ingest and scheduling right through to transmission. At the heart of the PlayBox Neo line up is AirBox Neo-20,
a universal playout and IP streaming solution.


PlayBox Neo, building on over 24 years of successful innovation, pioneered the development of high-efficiency server-based and cloud-based playout to support every scale and type of one-to-many communication. PlayBox Neo broadcast products and solutions today power over 19,500 TV and branding channels in more than 120 countries. Users include national and international broadcasters, start-up TV channels, webcasters, interactive TV and music channels, film channels, remote TV channels, corporate information channels and disaster recovery channels.

Available for all PlayBox Neo systems, the optional ASM&TS (Annual Software Maintenance & Technical Support) subscription offers extended 24/7 support and software upgrades, ensuring maximum
operational reliability and futureproofing. With its commercial HQ in Europe, PlayBox Neo has offices in
USA (PlayBox Neo LLC), in Singapore (PlayBox Neo Asia Pacific), in India (PlayBox Neo India) and the UK.

playboxneo.com


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Cloud-Based Playout Keeps Most-Watched Kenyan Kids Network On-Air and Glitch-Free for Four Years