Delivering on the potential of the cloud to transform media delivery

Toronto-based Firstlight Media is a leading OTT (as in “over the top” of the cable box) technology provider that is driving the shift in video streaming to flexible, agile, cloud-native platforms. The company’s launch, occurring at the onset of the global pandemic, faced some unanticipated challenges, but it also created opportunities, as demand for direct-to-consumer (D2C) entertainment and sports content led to explosive growth in the streaming space.

The pandemic accelerated the D2C trend as consumers spent more time at home. Now, viewers expect broadcast quality streaming and reliability, personalized content offerings, generous feature sets, and cross-platform footprints across their many devices. Firstlight Media was poised to respond, and they needed a public cloud provider to help them bring their next-generation platform to life.

With the help of Microsoft Azure, the company right out of the gate won business with some of today’s biggest players including Struum, an aggregated SVOD service, and Rogers Sports & Media’s Sportsnet, home of the NHL in Canada.. Customers understood that Firstlight Media technology, built on Azure, could deliver scale, agility, and compelling viewing experiences that would distinguish their services when it mattered most.

They needed a cloud provider partner that could keep up 

Firstlight Media is led by former AT&T and Disney executives well versed in media and entertainment. In need of a cloud provider that would enable them to expand their reach globally and scale at the pace of their ambition and ingenuity, they turned to Microsoft Azure for help in realizing their vision.

Firstlight Media completely reimagined and rearchitected conventional OTT approaches to create the Gen5 streaming platform. Designed to run scalable applications entirely in the cloud, this next-gen platform delivers significantly better performance and enables sports, entertainment, and telecommunications providers to respond to customer needs quickly and cost-effectively.

Gen5 is a future-forward platform that meets the demands of high concurrency and resiliency that are expected of OTT video streaming, while delivering 40 percent TCO savings compared with legacy on-premises architecture. With the support of Microsoft Azure, Firstlight Media is delivering on its promise of fast feature expansion and iteration, built-in scalability, and industry-leading security.

As a digital-native company, digital optimism is in Firstlight Media’s DNA

Firstlight Media delivers an end-to-end Tier 1 OTT solution fully in the cloud. This allows them to scale quickly in order to keep pace with customer and consumer demand, which gives them a real competitive advantage.

“We win deals when we focus on our customers’ consumers and address the innovation challenges of our buyers. Microsoft comes to the table with the same mindset and with credible solutions to scale to our customers’ greatest ambitions. Together we are setting the pace in the market and drawing the attention of others as they look to replicate our success.” Paul Pastor, Chief Business Officer, Firstlight Media

It’s critically important for streaming providers to stay ahead of the curve and continuously experiment to drive greater engagement among consumers and fans. Using legacy on-premises

platforms makes it difficult to deploy new features rapidly due to lengthy development and delivery times. Working with Azure, Firstlight Media has reduced cycle times for new feature releases to just two weeks with virtual deployments, compared with the months it might take to get new features out on-premises.

Now, Firstlight Media is looking to leverage Azure Cognitive Services to push more AI-driven experiences. Cognitive Services has the potential to drive more data into the pipeline. This will feed a content management system that ultimately fuels search, AI-driven personalization tools, and enhanced, contextualized advertising—all of which drive greater engagement and monetization opportunities for customers.

Embodying the true meaning of digital optimism, Firstlight Media inspires real excitement around what digital technologies can make possible for their customers.

“Over the course of our first year, we’ve seen a number of customers that have either struggled to scale with demand or felt locked into a stack that isn’t agile enough to pivot as new business and engagement models emerge – or both. Firstlight Media meets their needs by offering a platform that provides the high quality and reliability that consumers expect of television, and the agility to move their businesses in completely new directions.” Eric Goldstein, Head of Business Development, Firstlight Media

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