Wowza Media Systems is a leading streaming software, services and hardware company. It has 22,000 primary customers in over 170 countries and is growing by around 2,000 paid customers year-over-year. Wowza’s customers are wide-ranging, from SpaceX to local churches, from Boeing to Ivy League colleges. The company views itself as the foundational element for the streaming ecosystem. Wowza is currently working towards having solutions available for the latest developments in AV1 and CMAF, working to meet current and future demand from its customers.
The company has a long-standing relationship with Facebook, working closely with its Facebook Live team and is now expanding its reach to other areas of the business. Wowza’s ClearCaster appliance was initially purpose-built to serve Facebook Live, but it has undergone a series of recent updates aimed at broadening its reach, which we’ll cover in this post – along with looking at an additional set of enhancements Wowza has recently made.
Wowza ClearCaster – Updates
Today, Wowza announced the ClearCaster updates as a way of meeting the needs of professional broadcasters by providing a toolkit that allows them to extend their reach beyond the traditional channels to serve OTT content and maintain their audience numbers. The ClearCaster appliance now offers automated redundancy setup, guarantees “unparalleled reliability” on Facebook Live, and offers the potential for simulcasting streams via its Wowza Streaming Cloud service.
“From redundancy to simulcasting and new publishing tools, these latest updates are designed for professional broadcasters to deliver the best possible experience on Facebook Live and elsewhere,” said Dave Stubenvoll, CEO and co-founder at Wowza. “ClearCaster provides the only way to deliver the highest-quality 1080 streams to Facebook Live, while also powering one-click simulcasting and bulletproof reliability.”
Simulcasting – While ClearCaster was originally only intended as a Facebook Live product, it can now help broadcasters deliver to audiences beyond Facebook Live by simulcasting broadcast-quality streams through Wowza Streaming Cloud. Users pre-set a stream target in Wowza Streaming Cloud, then enter the connection code in ClearCaster Manager to select their simulcast destination. A stream target can now include Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and your own website.
Redundancy – Two or more ClearCaster appliances can now be run simultaneously, providing automatic failover if a problem is detected. You can also select a source through the ClearCaster Manager, and toggle between two or more paired machines.
Remote start/management – Broadcasters can now remotely manage their streams through the ClearCaster Manager, a web interface where users can start and stop a stream remotely, modify settings, configure redundancy, along with numerous other features. The new feature means a social media manager doesn’t have to be on-site and can cover events remotely. Also users can more precisely time when they begin streams. By minimizing dead air, Wowza expects audience engagement to rise.
ClearCaster also has a new set of native publishing features, aimed at increasing audience reach and engagement, which include:
Captioning – ClearCaster now supports 608 embedded captions, important for public broadcasters and news organizations that have a mandate to satisfy FCC closed-captioning requirements. It also allows a traditional broadcaster to implement their captioning as they normally would.
Audience Restriction – ClearCaster offers the ability to restrict viewing audiences based on location, age or gender to assist in audience targeting and when necessary, limit the viewership for posts, for example to protect territory rights.
Square Video (1:1) – Users can create a mobile-optimized delivery that resizes 16:9 video to 1:1 format in one click. The cropped feed can then be reframed. Facebook has reported higher user engagement with square videos as users can still have their full keyboards up without impeded visibility.
Cross-posting – Facebook now allows you – for pages that you own, or someone has given you administrator/editor privileges for – to post on multiple accounts so you can reach multiple audiences. This feature will be demo-ed at NAB.
1080 and 4K Versions of ClearCaster Now Available
ClearCaster 1080 is priced at $2,995 and “delivers crisp HD-quality video to Facebook, and allows for redundancy and simulcasting to multiple destinations”.
ClearCaster 4K is priced at $6,495 and “will support UHD ingest and deliver in 4K to Facebook Live when supported; it also comes with a free one-year subscription to Wowza Streaming Cloud, as well as advanced comment moderation features”.
Other Wowza Updates: Streaming Engine, Streaming Cloud and GoCoder
Wowza’s Streaming Engine server software helps enterprises build professional-grade streaming infrastructure. A set of ultra low latency enhancements have been developed in a private preview stage, and Wowza is excited to announce that they are about to commercialize them. Pricing will be dependent on the regions content is being delivered to.
Originally, Wowza found that low latency delivered best with HTML5, but they then found that if you’re looking at a livestream using certain browsers and devices, it automatically defaults to an VLS stream, which might be as much as 30 seconds behind the video. The company’s development team has now created a way for you to watch from an iOS or Android application without it defaulting to VLS playback. They have also set up low latency as a stream target.
Wowza were co-founders of the SRT alliance, which is now available for Midgress. If you’re operating across public networks, or networks with suboptimal performance, this represents a way to increase stability and throughput from server to server.
The company is also offering enhanced support of WebRTC by improving the way it supports browser-based encoding and playback, along with scalability. In addition, Wowza is launching a Websockets Preview i.e. a server to machine connection protocol. This allows you to deliver video through Websockets instead of RTP or any other means. You can now use Wowza’s protocol and still have playback through the built-in Wowza player or via delivery to the Wowza GoCoder. They are also offering DVR support for MPEG-Dash, letting overseas customers capitalize on increased functionality.
Finally, Wowza has increased the stability of Wowza Streaming Cloud, in part through building a new network operations center, and improving the way they can monitor and failover in specific regions.
Wowza will be showcasing the updates to ClearCaster during the upcoming 2018 NAB Show.