Working at the Speed of Social

If you’re a programmer without a social-media strategy, you’re definitely in the minority. And if you do have one, speed is the name of the game.

Thanks to the consumer growth of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, networks must find new ways to engage with their audiences on those social networking platforms, and likewise assemble videos into snack-sized pieces and clips that can be sent out at a rapid pace — sometimes soon after they appear live on the air.

In addition to getting a digital team focused on that, the technical challenge has been the creation of an underlying workflow that makes it easy to ingest TV content and then package and send those on-demand snippets, as well as digital live feeds for offerings such as Facebook Live and Periscope, to various social media channels.

A company that’s been keying on this need and trend is Grabyo, which is already working with some programmers and digital-focused services and brands such as Univision, Buzzfeed, Universal Music, Major League Soccer, beIN sports, Big Ten Network, USA Rugby, BT Sport, the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga, as well as top-flight soccer clubs FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC.

Related: Univision, Facebook Partner on Soccer Streaming

Though many networks and stations already deliver video to their own apps and websites, there can still be a disconnect between the TV and digital side of the house. Grabyo tries to solve this with a cloud-based platform that can work between those operational silos.

“This gives [our partners] a pure digital workflow … for social channels and even their own websites and apps,” Mike Kelley, president of Grabyo Americas, said. “This gives that power to create digital-first broadcasts for the digital team and their own workflow that works in high-speed digital time.”

Grabyo is already integrated with Facebook and Facebook Live and Twitter’s video offerings, as well as with YouTube. Grabyo said its system can also be used to edit video content in square and vertical formats to optimize that content for Instagram or Snapchat. For Instagram, clients can publish directly via the Grabyo Mobile app; for Snapchat, users can download from Grabyo and publish that content, as there is currently no third-party integration available on that platform yet.

Much of Grabyo’s recent handiwork has been happening with Univision, which leveraged Facebook Live following the Mexico City earthquake, and did the same for its coverage of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Univision is also working with Grabyo to generate news clips that, they claim, have been generating more than 50 million views per month, and reaching more than 300 million users on Facebook.

Making It Snappy
Though Grabyo isn’t alone in the market, M&A action in that sector has apparently worked to its advantage. A startup called SnappyTV used a cloud-based platform to support similar kinds of services, and was acquired by Twitter in 2014. TechCrunch and others reported over the summer that Twitter was winding down SnappyTV and integrating some of SnappyTV’s features into a service called Media Studio. In fact, Univision had worked with SnappyTV for projects that included video highlights from the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Kelley said such shifts in the market are making the phone ring at Grabyo. “People are realizing how complex this space is and how challenging it is,” he said, noting that many content companies aren’t interested in taking on the technical challenge of creating video-focused workflows for critical social media distribution on their own.

While 2D digital video has been the big focus in recent years, Kelley said the next frontier for Grabyo’s platform and its content partners is virtual reality and 360-degree video, noting the embrace of those formats by Facebook and YouTube.