What is a Webhook & Its Video Application

What is a Webhook & Its Video Application

Want to speed up notifications around a live broadcast? Do you need to reduce manual efforts involved to maintaining additions to your video library? Looking to do some tricked out things with your smart device around an executive town hall?

Live channel and video webhooks let you know when events happen, so you can build automated processes around them to reduce workloads and improve end user experiences. In this article, discover what is a webhook, why you should be using them, use cases and how they work with IBM’s video streaming services.

What is a webhook?

A webhook, sometimes capitalized as “WebHooks”, is an HTTP callback that is intended to notify when an event happens. This is done via a simple event-notification through a sent HTTP POST to a URL. The intent of webhooks are getting a faster turnaround on an action related to an event along with starting to automate processes related to these events as well.

As they relate to IBM’s video streaming services, these webhooks can make two services, such as a website and your channel on an IBM video streaming or enterprise video streaming account, communicate with each other once a manual or automatic event has been triggered.


Why are webhooks important for video applications?

Live video content is a highly engaging medium. However, some of that value is obtained from it being in the moment. Either from the excitement knowing that anything can happen while the viewer is watching, or just being among the first to be able to watch the content as it’s broadcast, live content thrives from the real time energy produced.

As a result, webhooks have an immediate value in being able to simplify methods to notify through a website or other applications when a live stream is… well, live. This can be a great way to quickly rally an audience when your broadcast begins to stream.

For on-demand content, webhooks are a great way to start to automate processes around managing these assets. This is becoming increasingly important as the amount of video being created continues to ramp up. In fact, almost one in five organizations is already adding at least 25 hours of video to their corporate library each month. This is up from 12% a few years ago. This data was compiled from surveying 1,801 executives for a 2017 Wainhouse Research report, which documents the growing presence of video inside organizations.


Channel webhook use cases

Webhooks offer a lot of potential for ideas to be carved around events on your IBM video streaming or enterprise video streaming channel. These can be as simple as pushing a notification on the front of a website when a channel is live, to creating a notification log whenever a new video has been made available. Below are some more intricate use cases for how to use these API (application program interface) calls:

Countdown to live
A content owner has a website, possible a very dynamic home page or a sub page within that website. On that page is an IBM Watson Media embedded player. However, the desire is not to have the player be displayed before the event goes live. Instead, the page offers copy, imagery and a countdown relating how much time is left before the live broadcast begins. Once the stream starts, though, you want the player to immediately be visible. This can be achieved through a webhook, which will send a notification when the stream goes live. The website could then be programmed to change layout, hiding earlier elements like the countdown and instead displaying the embedded video player with the live stream.

Automate VOD archive sync
Organizations might have a Digital Asset Management (DAM) tool that they use to archive their video content. Keeping this synced with new VOD (video on-demand) content can be manual struggle for organizations that create regular content. Over IBM Watson Media, this could be both files uploaded but also an auto archive of previously live content as well. Thankfully, this process can start to be automated through subscribing to the video webhook, getting a notification every time there’s a new video. From this you can then program your DAM to go the IBM Watson Media API, ask for the video source file, and then archive it automatically. This will not only speed up the process of keeping the archive in sync, but also alleviate some of the manual work involved.

Getting creative: setting the town hall mood
A company that does regular executive town halls and has some sort of smart device, like a control system by Crestron, might be looking to take advantage of some of the functionality of this device. In particular, letting the smart device set the mood while making it easier to promote others to watch it. This can be done while also minimizing the manual effort involved. Through subscribing to a webhook, the Crestron can control elements around a central viewing area. For example, manage a meeting room to dim the lights, start the big screen TV and begin projecting the live broadcast there once the event triggers to notify that the town hall stream has begun.

Automate “on air”
On air and webhooksContinuing off the idea of smart devices, an organization might also use a Philips Hue to control “now broadcasting” or “on air” lighting outside a studio. This would inform others that are nearby to keep noise down or not interrupt the broadcast in session. Managing this light could be then synced with a webhook, having an event notification push through when the broadcast goes live to enable the light on. Similarly, a webhook can push an event notification when the broadcast is over as well, turning off the light at this point. Do note, though, that live streaming is not instantaneous. As a result, this setup might lead to a situation where the light is not on for around 30 seconds while the live broadcast is first going.


What events can webhooks at IBM notify on?

Webhooks can be used to relate information regarding four different functions of a channel, as a result these are sometimes called “Channel hooks”. These events include:

  • When a channel goes live and begins to broadcast video
  • When a live channel goes off air
  • When a new video has been added to a channel, either through being uploaded, manually recorded or through the auto archive function of live streams
  • When a previously recorded video has been removed from a channel


Setting up channel webhooks

Setting up event notifications from channel webhooks is managed through the APIs listed among the IBM video streaming Developer tools. These tools will help you do basic actions, like get channel details, but also setup the channel webhooks. For example, establish what URL the webhook will send the event notification to. Additional actions, like deleting a webhook after it’s created, are specified as well. It also details how to activate a newly registered webhook, which are inactive by default.

Here is a direct link to the channel webhooks developer tools.



Webhooks are a great way to automate processes around events related to your live and on-demand video content. They open a wealth of opportunities to reduce manual work surrounding content curation, while also speeding up accessibility and producing new experiences. It can feel very rewarding, for example, to upload a new video and have it immediately get syndicated across experiences, or have automated processes kick in to better promote a recently live broadcast.

Looking to take these webhooks for a test spin? Sign up for a free trial and start testing them now for external audiences, or get a demo of IBM’s enterprise video streaming offering and test webhooks to improve your internal video communications.

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