Sundance Channel Global: A Case of Going Local in Brazil

Jun 19, 2015

Article ImageCOMPANY: Sundance Channel Global

Owned by New York-based AMC Networks, Sundance Channel describes itself as "the television destination for independent-minded viewers seeking something different." The channel offers audiences a selection of independent films, documentaries and original programs. In addition to being widely distributed throughout North America, Sundance Channel is available throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East.

BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Sundance Channel Global wanted to regionalize its offerings in Brazil, replacing selected content on its Latin American satellite feed with content that was more localized and relevant for Brazil.


Founded in 2008, Bangalore, India-based Amagi uses cloud-based technologies to create an alternative to traditional satellite TV broadcast infrastructure. Amagi offers channel origination, regionalization and ad monetization services, platforms and products for TV networks worldwide without having to set up new satellite feeds.


Sundance Channel first launched in 1996. Strictly an American cable channel for many years, the company gradually started global distribution in the late 2000s, starting with Europe in 2009. In 2014, the channel launched a Portuguese version, in Brazil--and, from the start, the company knew it wanted regional, locally relevant content, to better benefit the channel's viewers.

"Brazil is an important growth market for Sundance Channel Global and we are deeply committed to airing programs that engage and excite our viewers," Dave Alworth, vice president, operations and program administration, at AMC/Sundance Channel Global Networks, said in an April press release about the regionalization.

And Sundance knew just the company it wanted when it came to swapping in Brazilian programming.


Sundance was already familiar with Amagi - and liked what it had seen. "We heard about Amagi from one of our affiliate sales agents in Asia. He introduced us to Amagi at the 2012 NAB [National Association of Broadcasters] convention in Las Vegas," Alworth says. He adds Sundance did a "live test" with the company - and was impressed.

"The ease of use and integration into our work flow made it very appealing," Alworth says. "The Amagi solution provided a significant savings to budget compared to traditional play out, uplink and satellite delivery."

After the test, "then we deployed the Amagi solution in Turkey," Alworth says, and the Brazil launch followed in 2014.

For Sundance, Amagi used what it calls "a comprehensive edge content insertion platform" it had pioneered, called STORM.

According to Amagi, STORM allows TV networks to replace content at the headends ["a master facility for receiving television signals for processing and distribution over a cable television system"], without having to invest in a new channel feeds. How it works is this: Content that needs to be replaced is marked with an Amagi watermark--an invisible, inaudible signature that content insertion devices at the headends recognize--and pushed into a playlist. Regional content that needs to replace the watermarked content is stored in edge content insertion servers, which are managed through a cloud infrastructure. Once the insertion servers receive the channel feed, either through a satellite/fiber or a cloud infrastructure, the watermarked content is identified and replaced with predetermined appropriate regional content.

"The STORM platform deployment required no changes to existing broadcast and playout workflows for Sundance Channel Global," Baskar Subramanian, co-founder of Amagi, said in the press release.

Sundance Channel Global launched in Brazil in November 2014 - and "we have been live with the system ever since," Alworth says.

THE OUTCOME: Using the STORM platform, Sundance has been able to successfully swap in locally-relevant Brazilian programming-and it's quite the collection.

"We have an active inventory of over 150 hours of Brazilian specific film and series programming. We have over 300 individual promotional elements, approximately 50 short form programs and hundreds of on-air graphics localized in Brazilian Portuguese," Alworth says. "All of these individual elements are stored in the Amagi system and are readily available for our on air use in Brazil."

Subramanian says he thinks Sundance Channel Global is "extremely happy with our solution." Alworth confirms this opinion--and adds he plans to work with Amagi again.

"We are extremely satisfied," Alworth says of Amagi's work. "This is an elegant solution. Amagi provides great support and the commercials terms are quite favorable compared to the alternative. We have warehoused several of their IRD units and plan to deploy them in new markets when our sales team confirms that we have new business to support. I personally would work with Amagi in all similar situations."

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)