The Silicon Review
In the digital world we live in, the number of streaming video networks has increased drastically, and tremendous growth was achieved with viewership rapidly going past other conventional video content channels like satellite television and cable. Video solutions are now powerful enough to upload, design, host, and search content online. These solutions are ideal for entertainment, communication, and teaching, thus allowing for quick display, control, and recording of video content. A variety of options are available on the platform for on-demand videos, and along with that, group broadcast and live videos are also picking up pace.
Globally there are various companies delivering excellent distribution services for online video platforms (OVP) and over-the-top (OTT), but Lightcast.com stands out from the rest. Lightcast.com has been a pioneer in multi-platform distribution and end-to-end OTT solutions since 2010, enabling publishers to create and manage TV Apps, Mobile Apps, Web Apps, and Social Accounts in real-time. The company’s award-winning CMS, Media Cloud, allows publishers to upload, transcode, and store and manage all on-demand contents, live-streams, gallery thumbnails and image files, metadata, language versions, subtitle files, and other sidecar files for real-time publishing across websites, mobile apps, web apps, TV apps and social media platforms.
In conversation with Andreas Kisslinger, CEO of Lightcast.com
Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years? And what can your peers learn from them?
We did not accept external capital – no venture capital, no outside investments. I funded the startup entirely by myself, and we reinvested every dollar that came in. This challenged us to be extra smart with budgeting and expense control during our startup years. We did not have the capital to burn but had to stretch every dollar to go as far as possible. This made us better in many ways, and it is a mindset of resourcefulness we do not want to lose but carry forward even today and tomorrow. The startup years were also a lot of fun: being creative and focusing on product development entirely, with the ambitious goal to build the best multi-platform OVP and Media Management System for the mid-market. The passion for developing great software and the freedom to do it without investor pressure greatly enjoyed the startup years.
Q. What is the contemporary landscape of content creation and how does your CMS contribute to the growth of content creators?
Only a decade ago, content creators merely had a handful of publishing opportunities. Everyone was focused on one or two social media platforms and their own website to publish to. Today, there are many publishing opportunities, platforms, and devices, enabling publishers to acquire and monetize new audiences through new channels. Lightast.com exists to make this process as easy as possible: to discover and harness new device platforms, app stores, publishing channels, and monetization opportunities, all via Media Cloud, an intuitive Media Management System, which does not require an engineering degree to utilize.
Q. How do you make your service user-friendly because most of the CMS often has limitations for editing, file types, graphics, etc.?
The Lightcast Media Cloud allows content producers, content managers, and publishers to easily upload, manage, and distribute their graphics, sidecar files, language versions, subtitles, on-demand libraries, audio libraries, live events, and linear streams with ease. Everything is in one place, including all viewership statistics for all content types across all publishing properties – from OTT, the web to mobile and social. The advanced, premium, and fully integrated transcoding service, allows publishers to upload any file type, while our automated transcoding process encodes and optimizes each uploaded file for instant publishing across all platforms and devices, ensuring maximum device compatibility and bitrate-adaptive delivery.
One example of how Lightcast.com makes media publishing very user-friendly is the drag-and-drop scheduler for linear 24/7 streams, allowing publishers to drop any content piece from their on-demand libraries into a broadcast schedule, which plays out a 24/7 stream in the cloud and auto-publishes it to all websites, mobile apps, TV apps and social media sites of the publisher. In addition, the Lightcast Academy provides training and educational materials on everything streaming and allows publishers to gain proficiency very quickly, both with Media Cloud and with media streaming and distribution in general.
Q. Do you manage the entire range of content related processes for a global audience?
Yes, our Media Cloud platform has over one thousand functionalities for professional media publishers, ranging from DRM to geo control, to social sharing settings, real-time app control, app builder, player builder, and more. Workflows like upload, watermark rendering, content settings, and publishing can be automated entirely by using programmable workflow presets, allowing publishers to save as many workflows and setting preference profiles as they like and choose them for individual uploads or for bulk uploads. While Media Cloud allows publishers to restrict viewing permissions and build secure intranet applications for corporate use, most of our customers seek to address audiences worldwide and maximize exposure across as many platforms as possible.
Q. How was it working through the pandemic? How challenging was it for you?
The pandemic was actually a wonderful challenge for us to keep ourselves flexible and agile and not take anything for granted: our tech, our employees, and our customers. It increased our appreciation for every single person. We greatly enjoyed that. Managing small offices and teams in different parts of the world for almost 10 years had prepared us for remote-working and remote-management all along. It was easy for us to adapt to the new normal. We also saw a strong increase in interest from a new type of customer, especially in the vertical of independent content creators and media startups. It felt as if many media professionals finally found the time to start working on their dream to build publishing properties, a recognizable brand, new distribution channels, and leverage their access to content. This new type of customer challenged us to adapt our services and provide access to a more entry-level growth market. It is greatly rewarding to see new media entrepreneurs who launched their streaming services during the pandemic, or in the aftermath, succeeding and building flourishing businesses. At the same time, it filled us with great pleasure to know how well established all our existing customers were and how well prepared they were with their streaming and media distribution setup going into the pandemic. This season allowed us to enable news publishers to accomplish new goals and strengthen the relationships with existing customers.
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
We always do—lots of them. We can’t give too much away, but of course, we are focusing on constantly expanding our innovative Media Cloud functionalities, such as the App Builder, Monetization Toolbox, Analytics Suite, Platforms Manager, and many more, by launching new features almost every week. Our development pipeline is packed with releases that will further deepen the tech of Media Cloud, and many of them are highly innovative OVP functionalities. In addition, updates to app templates for Smart TV platforms, including Samsung Tizen and others, will be released this year, as well as a new payment processing system and additional analytics data metrics, including “devices,” “plays,” and more, as well as extended multi-currency processing for pay-per-view ticket sales, and multi-platform subscriber authentication as part of the turnkey monetization tools our publishers can utilize across all of their properties and channels. The best way to experience the new innovative features and stay tuned on new releases is to subscribe to our newsletter and to get a Media Cloud account. In this place, new releases are announced and automatically deployed.
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?
Our honest wish would be to see Lightcast.com enable tens of thousands of independent producers, vloggers, publishers, media departments in organizations to grow enormous viewership, and as a result, build new revenue streams for themselves. We would simply like to know that Lightcast.com played a significant role in moving the OTT space forward, stimulating the markets of media producers worldwide, and developing one of the most user-friendly media management systems for multi-platform and OTT distribution. On a structural level, we would like to open offices in South America and Asia, release the hundreds of new features, services, and product updates already in the pipeline all the way into 2023. And further increase values and returns for our founding employees, management and stakeholders. The industry, internet development, device, and connection capabilities among consumers certainly build a stage on which Lightcast.com can grow, shine, and contribute.
Meet the leader behind the success of Lightcast.com
Founding his first company at the age of 19, Andreas Kisslinger has over two decades of business experience as a serial entrepreneur, having launched eight companies in the verticals of advertising, app development, and streaming technologies. Andreas founded Lightcast.com in 2010 and still serves as CEO of its parent company Cross Media Group with offices in Charlotte, NC; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Vienna, Austria. He has a Master’s Degree in Media and Political Science and has served as a TV host for CBN’s music television show “One Cubed,” with over 250 episodes aired across numerous television networks, including ABC Family and Main TV in Europe. In addition to working with media producers and brands to develop over 3000 TV Apps and own one of the largest portfolios of special interest channels on Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, and AndroidTV, Andreas has worked with Amazon on the development of the FireTV platform and its first APKs.
Lightcast.com, with its Media Cloud PaaS product, specializes in multi-platform media distribution and end-to-end OTT solutions, providing media publishers all the tools and technology they need in order to grow and monetize viewership locally nationwide, cost-effectively, and globally.
Andreas Kisslinger is passionate about sailing, water sports, skiing, and real estate. Having discovered his interest in real estate in 2007, Andreas started to invest and build out office space and medical suites in Vienna, Austria, and Charlotte, North Carolina, with a portfolio of over 30 properties and a total appreciation of over 300 percent within the past 10 years.