Globo, Google Cloud and Bitmovin: Taking Quality to New Heights

Andy Francis
. 5 min read
encoding on google cloud - Bitmovin

Globo’s content and reach

When it comes to content scale and audience reach, Globo is on par with Hollywood and the big US broadcasters with over 3,000 hours of entertainment content being produced each year. The viewership numbers are equally impressive with forty-nine million Brazilians watching the daily, one-hour newscast and Globo’s Digital Hub attracting eight out of ten Brazilians with internet access. The Digital Hub hosts a variety of content categories, from news, sports, and entertainment to live events such as the Olympics, Carnival, and the FIFA World Cup. Globo also runs a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service called Globoplay that streams live sports, licensed content, as well as movies and television series produced by Estúdios Globo, the largest content production studio in Latin America.

Globo standard of quality

Globo has worked hard to build and become known for the “Globo Standard of Quality”. This included creating the optimal viewing experience together with award-winning content, delivered in stunning visual quality. To develop that reputation, Globo became one of the first mainstream broadcasters outside of the US to offer content in 4K, adopting it as a new standard across its platforms and devices. It has already produced hundreds of hours of 4K content (including HDR) with over a thousand hours of encoding output with its telenovelas and original series. The early adoption of 4K is even more impressive for Globo as Brazil is ranking 79th on the list of countries by Internet connection speed. In order to deliver high-quality video, operators cannot just work with higher bitrates but rather have to find the optimal encoder that achieves both quality, speed, and cost-efficiency at the same time. In the past, 4K encoding was accomplished with on-premises hardware encoders. As the next update cycle of the appliances was fast approaching, Igor Macaubas, Head of Online Video Platform, and Lucas Stephanou, Video Platform Product Owner at Globo, decided to conduct a thorough evaluation of vendors, and ultimately chose Bitmovin.

“We are not willing to compromise the visual integrity of our content and we hold ourselves to strict perception-quality standards. Bitmovin’s renowned 3-Pass Encoding exceeded our expectations and ensures that high perceptual quality can still be delivered while streaming at optimal bandwidth levels.”

– Lucas Stephanou (Video Platform Product Owner, Globo)

Globoplay, powered by Bitmovin VOD Encoding on Google Cloud

Globo handles a massive VOD library of over a million titles, and with 12 variants in their HEVC bitrate stack — encoding demands are high. Bitmovin’s VOD encoding service running on Google Cloud gave Globo the capability to encode a 90-minute video asset in 14 minutes across the entire HEVC ladder. This is a realtime factor of 6.4 times, which resulted in a quantifiable impact on time-to-market. Globo saw the business need for fast turnaround time in encodes and chose Bitmovin as the clear front runner in this regard. 

Bitmovin VOD Encoding on Google Cloud is an easy-to-use, fully-managed video transcoding software-as-a-service (SaaS). Bitmovin VOD Encoding allows customers to efficiently stream any type of on-demand content to any viewing device. Customers use Bitmovin VOD Encoding for a wide range of on-demand streaming use cases, including Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD), Transactional VOD (TVOD), and Ad-supported VOD (AVOD) services, online training, and other use cases. Bitmovin’s Emmy Award® winning multi-codec outputs and per-scene and per-title content-aware transcoding produce higher visual quality video outputs at lower bit rates than other file-based transcoding SaaS to optimize content delivery and reduce streaming cost. Bitmovin VOD Encoding is available for purchase on Google Cloud Marketplace.

Bitmovin’s 3-Pass Encoding algorithm uses machine learning and AI to examine the video on a scene-by-scene basis. It analyzes the content’s complexity multiple times to optimize intra-frame and inter-frame compression. This helps determine the ideal resolution and bitrate combinations that maximize the quality and efficiency. All together, this ensures the visual elements of the video are not degraded in the encoding process and prevents unnecessary overhead data that might impact the viewing experience. 

Processing HD and 4K video with Globo’s volume requires computing resources that would exceed the CapEx budgets of most companies. This is where the Google Cloud’s flexibility and on-demand compute power really shine. Together with Bitmovin’s split-and-stitch technology, single encoding jobs run significantly faster with parallel processing and spikes in demand are handled with ease and throughput that is just not possible with on-premises encoding. Customers also have the option to deploy Bitmovin VOD Encoding as a managed service running in the Bitmovin account or as a single tenancy running in the customer’s Google Cloud account. This allows encoding costs to be applied toward any annual spending commitments.

“Globo is known to set quality standards. We want our viewers to experience our great content in stunning video quality. Our 4K workflows have been relying on hardware encoders, but we wanted to test the power of the cloud and conducted a thorough vendor evaluation based on video quality. Bitmovin’s encoding quality and speed convinced us across the board. And, since using Bitmovin’s encoding service running on Google Cloud, we are spending a fraction of the cost by bringing our capital cost down without spending more on operational cost.”

– Igor Macaubas (Head of Online Video Platform, Globo)

Olympics in 8K

One prime example of this collaboration innovating and pushing the boundaries of video quality is from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where 8K VOD content from the Olympics was delivered to viewers at home via Globoplay. This marked the first time that the Olympics were viewable in 8K resolution outside of Japan. 8K video has 16x the resolution of HD and 4x that of 4K, so it requires an enormous amount of processing power and advanced compression to lower the data rates for delivery to end users. 4K and 8K content is also referred to as Ultra High Definition (UHD) and is usually mastered in a High Dynamic Range (HDR) format that allows for brighter highlights, more contrast and a wider color palette. Hybrid-Log Gamma (HLG) is an HDR format that was developed for broadcast applications and backward compatibility with Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) television sets.    

After receiving the HLG mastered content from Intel in Japan, Globo utilized Bitmovin VOD Encoding on Google Cloud’s compute instances for efficient parallel processing with Bitmovin’s VOD Encoding API. 8K/60p transcoding was performed using the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) codec, creating an optimized adaptive bitrate ladder. At this stage, Bitmovin’s 3-pass encoding was key for transforming the content into a compatible size for transport over broadband internet connections, without sacrificing the stunning 8K visual quality. The 8K content was then delivered via Globo’s own Content Delivery Network (CDN) infrastructure to subscribers of Globoplay with 8K Samsung TVs.

encoding on google cloud - Bitmovin

“Our 3-Pass Encoding proved to be the right encoding mode. It ensured high perceptual quality could still be delivered while streaming at optimal bandwidth levels. With our split-and-stitch technology running on Google Cloud’s scalable infrastructure, we were able to deliver both speed and quality for this time-sensitive content.”

– Stefan Lederer (CEO, Bitmovin)

Learn more about Bitmovin’s VOD Encoding SaaS here.

Related Links

Google Cloud Media & Entertainment Blog

Bitmovin on Google Cloud Marketplace

Globo – Bitmovin Customer Showcase and Case Study

Andy Francis

Andy Francis

Technical Content Lead

Andy Francis is an A/V nerd at heart who has spent the last 15+ years sending audio and video over the internet. He has extensive experience working with everything from video conferencing to live event streaming to large-scale OTT platforms and is passionate about spreading knowledge and access to streaming technologies.

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