MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Clouds Taking Shape For Broadcast & Cable

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 08, 2015

Clouds are a good thing. Really. They are. Especially when they bring opportunity, flexibility and innovation. 

Cloud solutions are making the news on an increasingly regular basis. The M&A activity related to cloud technology is hot as companies throughout the media lifecycle look to the cloud to drive new business models. Whether it is in post-production, the newsroom or cable head-end, cloud is the word. Cloud computing has been the talk of the IT industry for almost 20 years, but it is thanks to Google and Amazon that the terminology, and the technology, is now part of our everyday conversation. Clouds, you remember them - those white fluffy things up in the sky, are flexible and ever shifting. This is the premise behind cloud computing - on demand access to technology resources.

As the media industry increasing adopts IP and IT technology to enable media workflows, live broadcast and content distribution, cloud provides opportunities. In all cases, the consideration of cloud is driven by the need for flexibility without incurring unnecessary cost. Examples of cloud solutions changing the shape of the broadcast and cable industries:

  • Workflows - From content ingest, to transcode, edit, QC, review, and syndication, cloud solutions enable production and post-production teams to collaborate without geographic boundary. Solutions, from vendors such as NativAframe and Forscene, deliver flexibility in orchestrating tasks, resources and people. They simplify upload of footage and stories from remote locations, accelerate the editing process,and improve collaboration. They integrate with established editing solutions, while also forcing those solutions to transition to the cloud themselves.

  • Newsroom - The fast pace of live news requires solutions that allow field reporters to easily upload footage, incorporate user generated content, capture social perspectives. Established newsroom vendors such as Avid and Dalet are now using the cloud to capture real-time content, share and modify rundowns and allow reporters to do what they do best - discover and tell the story.

Distribution - It could be said that the distribution and delivery of content is the original cloud solution. Back in the 1990's content delivery networks emerged to enable digital delivery of media content across IP networks. Akamai emerged as the kind of CDNs enabling services for a variety of online video providers such as Brightcove and media companies such as NBC, MTV and Discovery. However, CDN itself is changing as vendors such as Scality bring the combination of object storage and cloud together to address the storage demands of CDN origin and edge servers. Offloading the storage demands from the CDN to the cloud provides increased storage scalability and economic flexibility as content libraries grow.

Consumption - Cable operators recognize the demand from consumers to enjoy content when, where and how they want. The set-top box has long been the hub which controlled how consumers could watch content on-demand. However, Charter is changing the game with its stake in ActiveVideo. By pushing DVR functionality into the cloud, they increase storage capacity, unify processing functions and eliminate silos of technology specific to ingest, transcode and streaming. They can simplify content discovery and personalize EPGs without concern for the STB hardware. 

Across the media supply chain, vendors are changing the strategies to capitalize upon the cloud. Ericsson is a primary example of a traditional network equipment provider recognizing the future of TV. Through acquisition and R&D, Ericsson enables cloud solutions for: media processing and contribution; delivery of TV content with MediaFirst a software-defined, media-optimized platform enabling the next generation of PAY TV operators; time-shifting and viewing on any device with cloud DVR. 

Cloud computing, for media, offers opportunities to innovate and bring great stories to market more quickly. It provides greater flexibility in serving content as consumers demand it. And, most importantly it enables innovation and flexibility in cost-effective model. Cloud reduces hardware acquisition challenges while improving scalability, turns capital expenses into operating expenses, and frees up time to create service differentiation.

What's your perspective?