NDI: How This Company’s Technology Is Helping Facilitate Virtual Broadcasting Studios In A Multi-Billion TAM

By Amit Chowdhry • Dec 29, 2023

NDI originally started out as a proprietary technology invented and used within NewTek (a company acquired by Vizrt Group). Today NewTek is no longer, but NDI and Vizrt operates as standalone companies within the Vizrt Group. Pulse 2.0 interviewed NDI Head of Strategy Miguel Coutinho to learn more. 

Miguel Coutinho’s Background

Before joining NDI in October of 2022, Coutinho spent the majority of his career in strategy consulting, both in the definition and in the execution of projects. Previously, Miguel led innovation projects for private corporations, public institutions, and startups in Europe, having worked on service and product design, new business development, policy design, and technological implementation. He also spent five years teaching innovation strategies in Portugal. 

His strategy and product lead background continue to serve the growth of NDI as new updates, systems, and programs continue to develop. Coutinho said: 

“What ultimately inspired me to join NDI was to be a part of building a company that could grow the adoption of this revolutionary technology and put NDI inside every multimedia device on earth.”   

“NDI started as a proprietary technology invented and used within NewTek, a company acquired by Vizrt Group. Once we understood the true potential of this technology, our top priority became clear: to establish NDI as an autonomous company, a business on its own with a perfected business plan. This ongoing work includes identifying the users’ and licensees’ needs, scoping revenue potential, defining product and technology roadmaps, and building the team with a strong company culture. What started as a 5-person team has grown to nearly 30 internal and external hires.”  

“We’ve also mapped out a 5-year projection plan that expands beyond media, entertainment, and Pro AV markets as adoption grows in these sectors and organically in other industries like communication and video conferencing, security, and healthcare. With our free SDK and suite of NDI Tools that anyone can download, more users adopt NDI every day. The feedback from these end-users fuels our innovation, so we’ll continue to identify new categories worth stepping into and ensure we continue creating tools that meet everyone’s needs.” 

Favorite Memory

What has been your favorite memory working for the company so far? Coutinho shared:

“While attending my first trade show with NDI at CABSAT 2023 in Dubai. I spent a lot of time preparing for questions from new and existing users. It amazed me that at a trade show in a region where NDI still has a lot of room to grow, the community of existing users answered any new user’s questions. There were a couple of times where I would share more of the company’s perspective, but for the most part, the end users were well-versed in how to address the questions. As they speak each other’s language as the end users without needing to speak in ‘company’ or ‘technical’ terms.'”

“That was also the first time I saw how flexible NDI is. Within 30 mins of being on the show floor, I was told by a user that they were able to help a client build a smart home infrastructure with NDI as the connectivity technology which is something that we had never heard of. That’s the magic of NDI. We want NDI to be this almost LEGO piece that users can do several things in a highly flexible way. Cases like this pop up every week.” 

Challenges Faced

What challenges have you faced in building the company? Coutinho acknowledged:

“NDI is now used by millions of customers worldwide, and this number is expanding; the demand is there, and it’s not slowing down. The challenge right now is to keep perfecting a universal standard to meet everyone’s needs, which vary by industry and user. Broadcasters are asking for higher quality as they can afford high bandwidth streams, while security companies are asking for even lower bandwidth formats. That’s what we strive to improve daily: answering all these different requests while maintaining interoperability and compatibility between all NDI-enabled hardware and software.” 

Core Products

What are the core features of your technology? Coutinho explained:

“We’re a platform for connectivity. The best way to describe NDI is to think of this technology as the invisible glue of a rapidly growing ecosystem of products, devices, and users.” 

“Today, you only need to power your device and connect it to an NDI network, and you’re up and running. From this point, any new device that joins the same network will be able to discover and be discovered by other devices. Users within the network can start sharing and exchanging video, audio, metadata, and control, even using products from different brands or other ecosystems. This instant discoverability and registration, and how plug-and-play it can be, is a differentiated feature.”  

“Another key feature is the control of multiple devices. For example, suppose you have a camera in Germany, but a producer working from his studio in Los Angeles can’t zoom in and out and control the camera in Germany. With NDI-enabled devices, a remote setup will never limit creative control again. The producer can control the camera – and multiple cameras – remotely in real-time.”  

Evolution Of NDI’s Technology

How has the company’s technology evolved since launching? Coutinho noted:

“We have been continuously evolving in two vectors. Firstly, we are reducing complexity and becoming more seamless. In the beginning, the most significant value of NDI was replacing multiple cables with one single ethernet cable that could even power your device. Of course, this could only happen in an ideal scenario that was harder to find a few years ago. Typically, there was a need to convert signals and add more layers of complexity to the connection. Today, we have developed our core tech to a point where NDI is no longer about just replacing multiple cables with one but eventually replacing them with no cables at all.”  

“Secondly, we are expanding possibilities. The support of multiple video formats started to take off, beginning with our proprietary Speed HQ codec, the basis for the NDI High Bandwidth format. Later, we introduced the support of the widely adopted H264 and H265 codecs, which you can find in our NDI HX and NDI HX3 formats, and we keep investing in R&D to support even more codecs and formats.” 

“We know that our tech needs to evolve even faster than the users demand. With the recently announced NDI 6, we are releasing an update to our core tech platform that allows NDI to support video quality that caters to high-end applications that require better image and color depth. We are also taking an exciting first step in building our vision of true large-scale IP connectivity by removing the complexity of how our users connect NDI devices over the internet, starting with cameras.” 

Significant Milestones

What have been some of the company’s most significant milestones? Coutinho cited:

“When we started, the primary factor driving adoption was solving problems for live production and video delivery. Some years in, our technology gained an organic following from users in different industries as they saw the value in the ease of use of NDI. A significant milestone was unlocked when the corporate and video conferencing industry started implementing NDI in their systems and conference software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype.”

“Crestron and Maxhub also integrated NDI into their video conferencing products. We’ve started to see implementations in the security, monitoring, and surveillance sectors. We are also working with a few prosumer and consumer electronics vendors to implement NDI into some of their products used in AV conferencing, gaming, and general AV installations. We hit a milestone every time someone realizes the potential of NDI and uses our tech to connect something in a way that never happened before.”

“NDI can be found on the hardware and software products of over 200 OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and ISVs (Independent Software Vendors). NDI has been added to more than 600 different hardware SKUs, with an installed base approaching a million devices.”

Customer Success Stories

Can you share any specific customer success stories? After asking Coutinho about customer success stories, he highlighted:

“The fact that we are witnessing so many new successful use cases developed by our partners, installers, organizations, and content creators who use NDI for their specific video needs showcases the flexibility of NDI. Our tech can be the solution for professional broadcasting studios, like Blinx, a next-gen media hub in Dubai; or for large-scale AV installations, like when the cruise company MSC implemented an NDI infrastructure to connect hundreds of video streams aboard two ships.”

“We’ve also had several universities, like Harvard, integrate NDI for hybrid learning or to broadcast sports and host major esports events. Through our partner Kiloview, NDI was used to set up a remote medical monitoring system in a Hospital in Bangkok, and that’s just one of the use cases within the healthcare space. There is also a large retail store in the Bay Area; that uses NDI for their entire AV network, connecting all their in-store screens, cameras, and media servers over a single Ethernet network. Or sports stadiums and cruise ships connecting their entertainment systems, courtrooms, and senates setting up streaming workflows, and even amateur YouTubers enhancing their home setups.”

Total Addressable Market

What total addressable market (TAM) size is the company pursuing? Coutinho assessed:

“As video becomes ubiquitous, so does the need for a video connectivity solution that unifies the entire universe of video devices and software we use every day. We believe NDI is the company and technology best positioned to achieve this unification, so our TAM goes from professional to consumer markets, encompassing everything in between. NDI is targeting a multi-billion TAM.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates the company from its competition? Coutinho affirmed:

“In the broadcast industry, some rely on SMPTE 2110 and IPMX for uncompressed workflows; Airplay works seamlessly within the Apple ecosystem. Some technologies deliver audio/video from point A to point B. However, users will encounter issues once they do multi-cast, with multi ‘A’s and’ Bs,’ or even want to connect two ecosystems. NDI is set apart because it solves an entire spectrum of challenges for a broad range of use cases and cross-ecosystems with just one unifying protocol.”

“We’re industry-agnostic, platform-agnostic, use case-agnostic, brand and product-agnostic. We’re truly building a unifying video connectivity platform for the world. And with every update, NDI becomes better at interoperating with other technologies. They are not a competition; they’re another video network we connect with, and invite them to connect to our network. Of course, we are imperfect, but we keep innovating and fine-tuning to improve latency, security, and video optimization. We come to work for one reason: to serve users’ needs.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of the company’s future goals? Coutinho pointed out:

“In addition to NDI 6, our most recent core technology update, we will release new updates aimed at these sectors that were once the exception but are now filled with installers and users demanding our tech, like remote monitoring, AV installation, gaming, video conferencing, or education.”

“We’re listening closely to those users and are innovating to empower them with more efficient workflows. Over the next two quarters, we will make NDI more seamless and stable over WAN and the public internet. We’re working with major cloud providers to enable support for NDI connectivity and workflows. It won’t matter if your devices, sources, and receivers are on the same local network or thousands of miles away; we will break down the barriers between LAN and WAN.”

Additional Thoughts

Any other topics to discuss? Coutinho concluded:

“One can look at the value of NDI from the perspective of technological innovation. But our role as a unifying standard reaches wider. As the NDI ecosystem of products grows, we are making true video connectivity more equally accessible to all content creators, users, and consumers, independently of brands, products, technical knowledge, and contexts. We’re building this platform from within, inviting more stakeholders to take an active part in defining the next steps of a world connected by video.”