FAST Innovation with zone·tv


Jeff Weber, CEO of zone·tv, outlined how the company is looking to deliver the next generation of FAST with its AI-informed technology solutions.

The session, moderated by World Screen’s Kristin Brzoznowski, can be viewed here. It began with Weber discussing zone·tv’s evolution as the FAST business matures.

“We were focused on short-form content,” Weber noted, “bringing 50,000, 60,000 short-format assets in. It required us to build curation tools and focus on how we tell stories with short-form video. From a technical and tools perspective, it’s been a positive thing. The market wanted more than short-form, so we have evolved into bringing in streaming channels, movies and episodic television.”

Zone·ify is an innovation from the company, powered by AI, to deliver the next generation of FAST. “We started thinking about how we do more than just stream a channel. What do customers want, and how can we differentiate in the marketplace? There are a few things we tried to do. One: broad categories, breadth of content. So yes, movies, episodic, streaming channels. We are also bringing in an interactive capability. We’re incorporating that into our service. How is the product better and more personal? Using machine learning to personalize is how we curate. If you’re a customer that’s watching a show, and you’re loving it and you want more like it, you zone·ify, and then we use our machine learning, take the enhanced metadata that we’ve created and start to personalize a channel specifically for you.”

Weber discussed the advantages of short-form dynamic channels, which “allow customers to get to some specific types of content. Combined with our specific curation tools, you can put together whole stories around that theme. It’s not just watching a short-form, then watching another short-form and hope it’s something you’re interested in. With the zone·ify feature, you’re curating that as the end user and creating a channel for yourself specific to your mood, your need.”

He then drilled deeper into how the company enables more personalized experiences for the viewer. “Part of personalization is being able to address whatever you’re in the mood for. Lean back, lean forward, more interactivity, I just want a stream. That breadth of content allows us, along with a mix of machine learning and user control, to get the right experience at the right time.”

Other innovations to improve the user experience include uninterrupted movies with ads loaded before the film starts, delivering more of a “theater-like experience,” he said.

Zone·tv is partnering with platforms in a variety of ways. In addition to integrating with CTVs, “we can take the experience of zone·ify and make that work in the operator set-top box world. We’re bringing the FAST world to operators in a much cleaner way.”

On growth opportunities ahead, beyond continuing integrations with key platforms, Weber highlighted plans to “continue to improve and broaden our content. We’re very active in acquiring more content. From there, it’s looking at the data and understanding the feedback we’re getting from a content-targeting perspective. Our roadmap will follow that data.”

Discussing the content acquisition, curation and aggregation approach, Weber said: “We’re looking at operators to partner with us in terms of using their rights or their ability to get additional content and bring it into the service. Because it’s our technology, we can do some unique things in terms of channel creation for content partners. We don’t compete with Wurl and Amagi directly. That’s not the business we want to be in, but we have a lot of that same capability. As we’re talking about acquiring a library, etc., we can do some things for them regarding channel creation and taking them to platforms. That gives us an opportunity to start to address and continue to grow the content that we’re looking for.”