Inside Arc XP: Senior product manager, Evan Sundwick, talks Arc Virtual Channels and taking big swings
In our latest 1:1, senior product manager, Evan Sundwick, talks about the linear-streaming challenges solved by Arc Virtual Channels and why it’s an exciting time to be at Arc XP.
As a Senior product manager at Arc XP, self-confessed “tools nerd” Evan Sundwick is literally living the dream.
In fact, working for The Washington Post – Arc XP’s parent company – has been something the DC-area native wanted to do from around the age of eight. But for Sundwick, the impetus to join Arc XP specifically, came at a conference in the Summer of 2019 when he witnessed a demo of Arc’s live-streaming mobile app.
Later that year, Sundwick made the move to Arc where he applies his passion for creating cutting edge content creation tools to Arc’s Video Center platform, which includes the recently launched Virtual Channels solution.
Our marketing team recently sat down with Sundwick to catch up on the Virtual Channels launch and why it’s an exciting time to be at Arc XP.
Arc XP: Your team recently launched Virtual Channels. Tell us more about the product and why you’re excited.
Evan Sundwick: Virtual Channels falls under the Video Center umbrella, and what we’re basically letting you do, as a customer of Video Center, is to take all the videos that you’ve got in your Video Center and your video catalog, all the content you’ve been generating, and create a linear video experience that can run forever. We’re marrying it with optimized encoding resources, Arc’s multi-region cloud infrastructure and our digital ad insertion technology to create linear channels with video ads inserted directly into the video stream that are personalized to the individual watching. It’s been amazing seeing it all come together this year because it’s been fast. We started building Virtual Channels in March, and we were able to really take this by the horns and fully release into the market in just three months.
AXP: What challenges does Arc Virtual Channels solve for customers?
ES: For starters, Virtual Channels solves a major personnel issue. The reality is, to roll out your own linear streaming solution you’re looking at a team of at least three or four full-time, highly specialized positions to keep your streams running, make sure they’re served effectively and are not blowing up bandwidth – yours or your audience’s, your ads are working, your videos look good on all platforms, and that all your apps are updated and working with the streams.
With Virtual Channels, we’ve made creating linear streaming channels affordable and dead-simple – no need for an expensive ground encoder plus an interface that will be familiar to anyone who’s used Arc – enabling customers to reallocate their resources to what they do best – creating content and serving their audiences.
Additionally, with the SDKs we’ve built, there’s the flexibility to easily serve your linear streams simultaneously across your OTT devices, digital devices, websites, and mobile devices. Finally, it’s speed to market. We’ve made creating a linear channel a push button experience that can be done in a matter of 20 minutes and just as easy to turn off if you’re using for a specific limited time event.
AXP: Virtual Channels came together in part through collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Tell us more about that experience and what it means for the future of the product.
ES: Video Center makes heavy use of AWS Elemental. For Virtual Channels, we’re using three parts of the Elemental suite: MediaConvert to do video encoding when necessary; MediaTailor Channel Assembly to assemble the linear channel from your video-on-demand content; and MediaTailor to serve those ad streams to our individual audiences. We are going to be building features alongside Elemental as they build out their Channel Assembly tools... things like the ability to have VOD content and then flip back to live streaming. That is the plan. We have really awesome ideas for how to do that and have some interfaces already designed. That’s on our roadmap for 2022.
AXP: What’s on the horizon for Video Center and Virtual Channels?
ES: I’m pretty excited about our product roadmap. We’re going to be shipping some really unique and innovative releases basically every quarter for the foreseeable future. We have an entirely re-imagined video on demand experience coming later this year and an entirely re-imagined live events experience coming next year. We’re rethinking playlists, we’re rethinking search, we’re rethinking the way we integrate with the rest of the Arc stack and we’re starting to examine how our customers can build a player to customize it for your experiences. We’re thinking about what transcripts can do for you and how we can empower you to use machine learning to generate better transcripts or even generate transcripts in different languages potentially. Video demand continues to grow across all of our customer verticals and we are in a really good position to help our customers make the most of the medium.
AXP: Why is now a great time to be at Arc XP?
ES: Well, to start, our trajectory and our growth is making it an exciting time to be here. Earlier this year we rebranded to Arc XP and expanded into the enterprise and B2C commerce verticals. And with the solution set Arc has built, we’re delivering 21st century solutions to solve 21st century problems.
The way the world leans on digital content – in all its forms - is different now and it deserves a different way of thinking.
No one is looking at these digital content and delivery challenges, and delivering at scale, the way Arc is. And we have some pretty innovative products on our roadmap. We’re taking some big swings, which is awesome. If you’re thinking about the systems that go into the way the 21st century digital content universe operates, we’re rethinking that whole ecosystem and we’re just getting started.