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Inside Track

How Mobii is Reframing Broadcasting for Fans and Professionals

Mobii is rewriting the broadcasting playbook for fans and professionals.

With a global presence in Cape Town, South Africa, and Toronto, Canada, the company originally started working in sports analytics, but a chance discovery during the pandemic helped propel it into a new, exciting direction. Tasked with providing live video to game officials and media teams, Mobii discovered their first foray into synchronized streams—a rather tricky challenge in broadcasting that led to a patent filing.

Last year, Mobii tackled the Rugby World Cup, helping deliver live play-by-play content to athletes and coaches. Even though the team was focused on synchronization, they were hitting latency of around three to four seconds – an exceptional benchmark to hit, even by today’s standards. The team continued to perfect lowering latency numbers even more. Eventually, they got it down to 50 milliseconds.

Mobii’s quest for zero latency has fueled new ways for broadcasters to encode and distribute video while allowing fans to orchestrate and select their viewing experiences.
Mobii’s development philosophy is to build everything from the ground up, making it easy to shape the direction of their work and solve any challenges that perplex broadcasters.

We recently spoke with Greg Schultz, CEO, and Roderick Barrett, Chief Operating Officer, about how Mobii changes how fans and broadcasters interact with media.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
Let’s dive right in. Please give me a high-level introduction and a little about each of you.

Greg Schultz – Mobii
Sure. My name is Greg Schultz. I am the Group CEO for Mobii. I’m based out of Toronto, Canada. My background is not sports tech, broadcast, or media; I come from a FinTech background. Before joining Mobii three years ago, I spent 20 years in a corporate environment, building fintech solutions and go-to-market strategies for a public company out of South Africa. Before that, I was very much in the startup world. I got into the corporate world by building and selling a couple of businesses. Mobii was an investment the group had made through a venture capital arm of their business in 2019 before the pandemic hit. I spent six years in Mexico and was introduced to Rod and the team. We hit it right off the bat. Bringing my expertise around corporate governance and go-to-market strategies together with Mobii’s technical and operational capabilities was a good match for how we can take this business to the global stage. My responsibility is taking this business out of South Africa and putting it onto the global market.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
That’s great. How about you, Roderick?

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
My name is Roderick, and I am currently the Chief Operating Officer based in Cape Town, South Africa. This is where the development takes place, supporting Greg and the rest of the team in Canada, where our headquarters are. I’m that link between what happens in the development world here and the bridge between commercial and technical.

I’ve been with Mobii for quite a few years now. We’ve got a core group of people – like family – we’ve been together through many different projects over the years, from sports analytics platforms working a lot with data and video to building electronic hardware. Over that time, we’ve been able to learn a lot about each other and where our strengths are. When we look to solve a problem, we generally have a lot of background knowledge on different spheres and can join together and solve things. Around the time we met Greg, we were starting to look a lot more into video technologies. We come from a background with sports analytics, where there’s a play on video but focusing a lot more on the live video aspects, and at that time, we met with Greg and hit it off from the get-go. We both understood the new vision to take Mobii out of South Africa, establish a headquarters in Canada, and get our tech onto a global stage. That was just over three years ago, and it’s been an incredible journey.

Getting into the live streaming space from an analytics background, we can bring knowledge of working with data and combining it with video. Those kinds of end-user experiences are very difficult to achieve today.

Real-time latency is very interesting for many organizations we deal with, but it’s not just about latency. It’s about synchronizing video and data to build new experiences at that real-time edge. Knowing the team around you working with data and video and having a pipeline we can control with leadership has been key to Mobii’s early success.

Deep down, we’re all passionate about what we do. We like to do things our way, and we love solving challenges. Everyone at Mobii is here because everybody is part of the team, and we enjoy seeing that what we are building is used by others.

Realizing that value with partners and organizations we’re working with is really exciting and what drives us. It’s that excitement of doing things that are different.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
You’ve talked about the transition from analytics in sports to this new streaming and broadcasting world. Was there a lightbulb moment that ushered this in, whether it was a product you’re building or a challenge you immediately tried to solve that made that transition happen?

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
We work a lot with sports teams and analytics. We work with the Springboks, one of the core rugby teams here in South Africa – they’re world champions. We’ve been working with them on our analytics and data platform for a number of years, and with that, there’s a lot of video that ties in with analytics, you know, when you want to review and make decisions very quickly.

During COVID, we were asked to build a television match official platform (or a VAR platform) for use inside the stadiums in South Africa. That was our first taste of working with live video, and the goal was to ingest video from broadcast with all the different camera angles and deliver that to a television match official, basically a supported referee, and medical teams to everybody that needs to have access to this video but on-site in the stadium. We built that, and it was our first foray into synchronizing the streams – it’s quite difficult. We ended up filing a patent based on how we achieved that.

It evolved from there, and we now have access to all these videos.

Video is a big challenge for teams because after a game has ended, everybody wants access to all the camera angles. Before, teams would upload the video into our platform to share it internally. Because we were accessing all this video, we decided to figure out a way to stream this content into the cloud to store it and make it easier to receive video in the right way. We realized we could do it quite quickly as we started doing it. That whole conversation evolved, and we ended up streaming video content from all these different camera angles so teams could begin to use it in real-time during actual competitions.

For example, during the Rugby World Cup last year in France, we started building out these real-time video workflows for sports—for analysts, coaches, and players who needed to access livestreams for a sports-specific workflow. But it was focused on synchronization. It wasn’t really an ‘aha moment’—that came later on when we started focusing more on the latency side.

When we first started, our latency was around three to four seconds, which we didn’t know at the time was exceptional. Even by today’s standards, that’s an incredible benchmark to achieve. But we weren’t even focused on the broadcast and streaming side where we are now. We were purely focused on sport. With Greg’s direction, as we started getting into the media and broadcast vertical, we realized that we had solved all of these internally as Mobii.

We identified something on our platform that will allow us to reduce latency. We started chipping away at that, and we got from three to four seconds down to one and a half seconds, then down to one second – 0.8, 0.5, and then we got down to 250 milliseconds. Our internal record is about 130 milliseconds, glass-to-glass latency, and that’s across the globe.

We didn’t set out to achieve low-latency. We were trying to solve other workflows around synchronization. What’s important today is that when you can synchronize not just video but data streams to the video, you can still deliver it at this real-time latency—that changes the whole dynamic in terms of what kind of interactive experiences you can provide and workflows you can solve.

Because we built everything from the ground up, it’s easy for us to shape the direction of the technology and apply the technology and workflows we’ve been involved with. It’s been a journey!

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
Greg, you’ve had this accidental solution to an incredible challenge. You’re working on this product to help teams with tools to improve their teams and coaches, and then suddenly, you stumble on this tool that’s solving broadcast challenges that have been inherent for the last, you know, 20 years. So, how do you position that? What are the implications that you’re seeing, and how can you build out Mobii?

Greg Schultz – Mobii
Yeah, it’s an exciting challenge, right? When you solve this problem and understand the market around low-latency video, you’re solving for a very broad market that goes into medical use cases, auctions, and E-commerce. When we started this journey, we tried to solve problems that were very specific to our customers.

We created this platform that became more of a marketplace instead of Mobii having to build out very specific solutions for specific use cases.

We built this toolbox that allows all these industries to build out the solutions, leveraging the two components we solve for latency and synchronization. When we position that with customers and we allow them through open APIs to build out these solutions themselves, we don’t restrict them in terms of what we think could be the solution rather than them saying, “Well, this is how we would apply that technology for the solution that we need to build for.”

That was a fundamental pivot in how we position our technology. Not that we have two solutions that we can build out the end-user experience for you, but rather, take these two solutions that we solve for. Our media services platform is cloud agnostic, so go build out the solution you want in the player of your choice. We’re very industry-standard. That was a key component in terms of a differentiator against our competitors.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
You’ve built this free marketplace of tools that allows you to step away from the development and hand-holding of a specific client and open that up, agnostic to what they do and allowing them to tap into that success however they deem fit.

Greg Schultz – Mobii
Exactly! And it goes to another level, right?

One is allowing customers the tools to build out their experience, but as you move further backward in the pipeline, we’re actually opening up and allowing other contribution companies to build out and implement our technology on their contribution devices.

We’re an end-to-end media services pipeline. We manage encoding to distribution, the player and distribution through CDN. We’re CDN and player agnostic, and we’re building out the SDKs and APIs that will allow other contribution companies (OEMs) to enable their solutions with microblock technology to solve for latency and synchronization.

We’re opening that side of the marketplace up to the top layer. We bring betting companies or E-commerce and open that up for the end delivery, so the toolbox continues growing.

You have the contribution side, the marketplace of third parties integrated into the platform, and how that translates into a shopping cart for the rightsholder, broadcaster, or OTT platform.

We want to give them a shopping list of options to go and build their experience. Or work with us to build a professional services engagement.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
I’m curious about what you both think about watching sports and the second-screen phenomenon. I’ll have a game on my primary screen, a laptop where I do work, and a mobile phone to check Twitter. How do you look at this multi-screen environment, and how does that play into what you’re building with Mobii?

Greg Schultz – Mobii
We have two trains of thought when it comes to that. I’m very much for Mobii, complementing your first-screen experience through second-screen engagement. I never believe that you ever want to detract away from that. All that effort that goes into delivering a broadcast stream, whether it be into an OTT platform or cable, there is a lot of value in having that dedicated stream. The second screen needs to complement that and allow you to do a whole bunch of other stuff. That’s what Mobii does. That second screen loses its value if it’s not synchronized to that first screen; if it’s late, you’ve got a second screen experience that is 30 to 40 seconds delayed where your first screen is running at about eight seconds from live, right?

There is a 30 to 60-second latency disparity between the first and second screens. Mobii brings that second screen experience perfectly synchronized to the first screen experience. If you can achieve that, you start to unlock all these other capabilities of data integrations, interactive overlays, and multi-camera angle experiences on the second screen that complement what I’m looking at on the first.

I think there is a lot of merit in the idea that digital platforms will complement cable and not necessarily encourage cord cutting, as is happening today.

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
Mobii can solve both of these experiences. I believe you have two scenarios where you can implement this kind of technology.

The first is going to be a second-screen environment where you interact directly with the stream itself. For example, I am choosing to view this camera angle or the specific data overlay that presents a different type of data.

If I am a new user coming into a sport and maybe don’t understand the sport very well, I could choose to have a dynamic overlay graphic. Another user could choose to have a more in-depth view of data because they’re looking at other aspects of a game, like being able to change camera angles by clicking and interacting with that stream itself.

Now, all of the same capabilities you could automate in data triggers in a first-screen world. For example, if I’m watching sports and leaning back and watching on my television, I want to avoid going and clicking and engaging with everything. I want to have that “lean-back” experience but still want the benefit of customizing and personalizing the experience.

Our thinking is that by using the elements that we put together, where you have data streams, different video streams, or camera angles available, you can use data triggers to drive that experience and preset your way of viewing a specific sport and have that experience and maybe have two or three different experience modes that I as an end user can choose to engage with.

If I’m a certain type of fan persona, maybe learning about a sport for the first time, I could bring up specific overlays at different times when a goal is scored or when it’s halftime. I might want the camera feed to automatically change to follow a specific player or team because I might not see that player in the world feed.

Those experiences can drive the end-user experience and automate in the background using triggers.

Another user could want a different set of experiences. A penalty kick, for example, could bring in a betting experience to interact with the stream or drive a second-screen experience.

You can also choose different sets of data overlays to view or replay highlights. A key thing is not just sneaking back into video to replay a highlight – we’re joining different camera angles to build a personalized highlight.

If you join a game during halftime, you may want to see a specific team or three specific players, which can all be created and curated automatically using the synchronization between data and video.

We’re just the toolbox providing the capabilities. It’s up to the organization to decide what kind of experiences to enable for the end users. Do you want to have a second screen experience where you engage in a dynamic way for younger fans, or do you want a lean-back experience? l

You can have the best of both worlds with our platform – it’s a matter of choice. The main thing is we can bring that choice to end viewers.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
You’re allowing me to orchestrate my sports viewing experience, which puts me in the control room or the production truck, right?

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
Exactly. The idea is to let the user direct their experience and define how they want to view it. You can cater to different kinds of segmented viewers, fan personas, and geographic locations based on preferences. You can bring so many things to end users by letting them choose how they want to consume content.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
Could you give me one example in the real world where that is in play?

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
One of them we can talk about is Liv Golf. They’re using our technology to build out what they call the ASAT Program – “Any Shot, Any Time.” In this relationship, we’re the toolbox. We’re creating the ability to stream 40-plus video feeds perfectly framed, synchronized, and delivered at real-time latency across the globe. And we are integrating into their existing OTT provider.

That allows an end user to follow a team or a player because many things are happening simultaneously. Different camera angles exist, so you can’t fit it all into a world feed. Somebody is going to miss something. If I want to watch a specific player or group of players, I can choose that, and it’ll switch video feeds in perfect synchronization with the overlays I want to view.

If I missed a shot, I can go back and see what that looked like. I can join the camera feeds around a player for a specific hole or join them together as a real-time highlight with its own advertising and monetization elements.

To present that to an end user dynamically in real-time without having to wait for highlights that may come out on social media or post-tournament wrap-up is something we’re doing today.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
I’m watching the Masters tournament right now. How do you, as consumers, think about these events when you watch them? How do you feel about them from a product perspective? Or are you enjoying it as a fan?

Greg Schultz – Mobii
We certainly watch these events. I’m a golf fanatic, so I’m familiar with the Masters and the UX surrounding it. We always look at these new innovations and appreciate them, but we also see where they’re failing in terms of synchronization, latency, and user experience.

We know the challenges they face using legacy technologies and solutions, and Mobii could make that much easier and more seamless for them.

That helps us frame new solutions that we also want to bring across to the toolbox and to customers to help them understand the capabilities of this technology. We always watch what sports are doing. I’m new to baseball and have been following it for three years. It’s my pet hate – I’m a Blue Jays fan, and Blue Jays and playoffs are not synonymous. So frustration and then

I’ve gotten better at understanding baseball from an analytics perspective. When I’m watching baseball at Rogers Stadium, the biggest pain I have is that the data feed in the MLB application is 30 seconds behind live. Now, in 30 seconds of baseball, two or three pitches may have already taken place before I get to see the data feed of the pitch that I’m interested in watching.

You never get to see the highlights of that pitch at the stadium. The big screen or the jumbotron isn’t driving an in-stadium review experience of what happened unless it’s something unique. You’re not getting a play-by-play review.

If you’re watching on a second screen, you’re a minute behind live, and a lot happens in a baseball game in a minute. There are 30 seconds of data to see, and then you’re getting video another 30 seconds later and

Can you imagine if you reduced that to one second, perfectly synchronized the data in the video, and allowed people to experience this from the ten cameras at a baseball game? You could give them a different tool.

A bucket list of our target customers is where we see a need for more innovation. That’s where we think the toolbox can be really useful for them.

Another one is motorsports. We know the challenges they face around synchronization and giving people a real-time view of perfectly synchronized streams so they don’t feel disconnected.

We absolutely follow what others are doing to see if there are things we haven’t thought of that allow us to unlock new opportunities.

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
Every sport has its little nuances. You pick up certain things as you start getting familiarized with a sport, and you can identify use cases for the tech within that experience that you want to bring to end users.

Greg understands golf really well. I came in not knowing anything about golf—I had never played golf. But when you understand how everything pieces together, you start to understand experiences you know are possible with the technology, and you can help support the team and that vision of what can be delivered.

Every sport has the core essentials of synchronization and what you can do to combine all of it, but how you implement it with learnings specific to every game or sport is always interesting.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
How do you define success? Is it engagement? What KPIs are you working with?

Greg Schultz – Mobii
Commercial implementation is always a key metric for success. Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen many discovery engagements that have yet to result in commercial engagement and much of it involves convincing people that we do what we say we do.

As we move forward, we filter engagements and conversations more with people in the industry looking to solve those two components, specifically latency and synchronization. We land on latency, but we expand on synchronization, and that’s the strategy that we have now.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
Rod, what’s your secret sauce regarding development and the ethos you put your flag in for your development side? What makes you unique compared to other tech companies?

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
We didn’t set out from day one to solve latency. We were solving something else. It was synchronization and trying to solve these workflows that were unique to us in sports. Our team is generally good at figuring out things that are within our control.

We build everything ourselves from the ground up. We seldom bring in external technology that we don’t understand the nuts and bolts of. That’s been the ethos behind Mobii from day one. When we build systems that have electronics, we’ll do electronic design, and we’ll get the PC board designed and put it into a real product. Once you know and understand that whole pipeline, you can figure out where to optimize things. In this case, we built that pipeline for synchronization to deliver videos in sync for team sports. When we got to the latency side, we identified something key at the beginning of our pipeline that allowed us to start unlocking some of this latency gain early on, but unlocking several pieces of this pipeline through to playback that all kinds of work together in unison.

It’s very hard for a company that doesn’t have control or a deep understanding of this whole pipeline to achieve the same performance because you need to know what happens with video when it comes to a contribution encoder. You need to know what you can manipulate to unlock something.

It’s a core team of people with experience and an understanding of how we work together and our strengths and weaknesses. That got us through solving the first piece of the puzzle and then identifying this challenge in a different vertical we started moving into a few years ago. That allowed us to understand how we could tweak and change these pieces to solve that latency issue that we do today.

Greg Schultz – Mobii
One key component around scaling up from a resource perspective regarding finding the right resource is not necessarily qualification but culture.

There is a particular culture that’s driven within Mobii. Collectively, everybody works together as a team. Often, we bring in resources that don’t fit that mold specifically, and they end up being the ones who leave sooner. The big challenge that we have, and this comes as we move forward in scale, is how do we continue to find the right culture fit.

It’s not necessarily technical skill because there seems to be enough out there. However, cultural fit,, having that out-of-the-box thinking,, and being aligned with the team around that thinking will continue to be a challenge for us as we scale this business.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
Mobii is a deep company from a technology perspective that is solving audaciously meaty challenges in this space. I’m curious why a company of your current stature and output is interested in aligning with Comcast sports tech. What are your aspirations and vision for the program, and what do you hope to get out of it?

Greg Schultz – Mobii
It was a big debate for us as we went through the selection process. What we went through just to be selected was an incredibly rigorous technical due diligence from the team, even before we were selected. Because of the complexity of our technology and because we are a meaty platform, as you call it, the decision was really simple for us. Comcast as a business is at the core of what Mobii offers as a platform because of what they do around live video and live video distribution.

That’s what we solve for, and when we get to show them what we’re able to do—not behind a PowerPoint and having all the right technical engagements, conversations, and answers—but actually letting them play with the toolbox, that’s when the real value for them is going to come.

The decision to be part of Comcast wasn’t about the investment; it wasn’t about the equity. It wasn’t about any of that. It was about the opportunity to have an enterprise Class A customer experience our technology and adopt it, and that’s what we’re focused on.

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
We spoke to some of the alumni who have been part of the program before, and we got the belief that this wasn’t just like any other accelerator program.

There are so many different accelerators and programs out there but once you join them, you have very limited actual engagement, and you don’t always get value out from those accelerators. Speaking to people or organizations that have been part of the Comcast SportsTech program, the confidence was there that this wasn’t going to be your typical accelerator. We’ve seen that already from the engagement we had with the team going through the due diligence.

At the first Startup Week, we met the other startups and were exposed to the different elements within Comcast. There were regular engagements and meaningful discussions that were really centered around how we get Mobii growing within this Comcast family. It felt like you were part of their family even though we were the newborns.

The benefit of this program is that it becomes easier to have conversations internally with other partners within Comcast because you have the support within sight. You’re not coming from the outside as a separate technology provider. It was a big decision to join this program because of that perceived support, which is real. And that’s a big one for us.

Greg Schultz – Mobii
The Comcast team has been amazing. They’ve been so respectful of everything that we do and so supportive. Every day, they learn more about Mobii’s capabilities, and that just helps unlock new conversations. And that’s what’s happening at the moment. New conversations are happening all the time about what potential engagement with Mobii could look like. We’re incredibly grateful and very happy we made the decision.

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
Do you have a prediction for sports tech or any technology shifts or changes you’re both predicting in the future that you’d have your eyes on?

Greg Schultz – Mobii
AI is interesting to us. We’re still trying to determine how and when would be the right time to start building that into our technology to support what we’re doing. Not just from stream management and stream monitoring, but also the user experience. We’re always cautious around things like AI when we solve problems. I think AI will be interesting as we move forward and as it progresses and adoption around solutions driven by AI becomes more relevant.

Roderick Barrett – Mobii
I think Greg summed up exactly what I would have said: the focus of AI and how it drives augmented experiences and helps further personalize those experiences with the content you’re delivering at this real-time latency. I think there’s a lot that’s going to be interesting in this landscape going forward.

Greg Schultz – Mobii
Thank you, Taylor. I really appreciate it. Thanks for that. Thanks for making some time to chat!

Taylor Pipes – Boomtown
Of course. It’s fascinating. I love what you guys are doing. Thank you so much. Thank you!

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