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Akili Kids enjoys successful launch with Playbox

Akili Kids enjoys successful launch with Playbox

Akili Kids enjoys successful launch with Playbox

Kenya:

Having launched in March 2020 just weeks into the pandemic, Akili Kids! quickly became the most watched children’s channel in Nairobi. Having recently been recognised at the annual Kuza Broadcasting Awards ceremony with the Great Patriot Awards for airing educational TV content during the pandemic, the channel credits a large portion of its success to its Playbox Neo playout system.

The organisation officially started operations in September 2019 and with a plan to begin broadcasting in March 2020. The Akili Network team had to quickly learn to build playlist logs, schedule promos, manage traffic and billing and upload video content using the new PlayBox Neo Cloud2TV system. The platform’s ease of use allows the team to get up to speed in a matter of days, broadcasting as soon as they understood the basics of the system.

Using the PlayBox Neo Cloud2TV virtual channel playout system, Akili Kids! has two PlayBox Neo servers located at a data centre in Nairobi with secure Internet access, which feed over-the-air transmitters throughout the country. PlayBox Neo Cloud2TV is a cloud-based software-as-a-service system that lets broadcasters operate their playout channels from any location via an easy-to-use web interface. Content is uploaded to the playout server from Nairobi and New York over the Internet.

According to Akili Network’s CTO, Vincent Grosso: “We initiated virtual operations almost from launch. Cloud2TV allows employees to work from home while keeping a first-rate look on the air.”

With the pandemic creating a countrywide lockdown, Akili Network’s scheduling and traffic teams had to access the system from home, using low bandwidth connections to build broadcast playlists. Commercials, promos and content were uploaded by editors and program coordinators using local, often highly trafficked Internet connections. Content files, command and control, and QC came from New York.

One of the most important factors in the technical success of this virtual workflow, according to Grosso, is the ability for employees to make critical last-minute changes to programming and operations using the Internet they have available at home.

“Cloud2TV allows me to select high-bandwidth files over low bandwidth connections,” said Anne Sato, Akili Network’s programming manager. “I can change the broadcast playlist remotely when there is a last-minute schedule change.”



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