News Features
Analysis

A continuing shift

17 January 2017
Dave Hedley, Sony

News consumption is changing, and changing fast.

Broadcast TV news is still one of the most trusted sources for just about all demographics but, in recent times, it is frequently the internet, and social media in particular, to which people turn when they want their news fix. Research suggests this is particularly true of women and the millennial generation.

This continuing shift is having a significant impact on how news organisations create, develop and distribute their stories and many are now taking an ‘internet first’ approach, planning a lifecycle around breaking stories initially from and for digital media and then developing them for broadcast bulletins and longer form later.

However, being ‘internet first’ is not about prioritising. To be ‘internet first’ requires access to the right content with the right tools, and for them to be available at the right time. ‘Internet first’ is really about agility and flexibility.

Digital media platforms, including broadcaster’s own sites, are also very dynamic and competitive environments. Retaining (or even re-acquiring) the audience is about the quality of the story telling and ensuring that the platforms the target audience want to use are supported.

Unfortunately, in many newsrooms around Europe, current systems and procedures are not agile or flexible enough for this ‘internet first’ approach. Typical CAPEX planning and project cycles mean that opportunities may have already been missed. Operationally, reporters and editors often have to jump from system to system to create the different packages for each different output, not always with the latest details or content. Adding any new tools, systems or ways of working can be a slow and expensive process, so change is certainly required.

If only it was that simple. While broadcasters acknowledge the need to accommodate the shifting requirements of their audience, technical and workflow alterations cannot be made at the expense of their finely tuned editorial processes or their ability to keep services on-air and online.

This fast-changing environment needs an agile prototyping: try it, measure it; expand it or kill it approach. These rapid ExpandOrKill strategies are driving a widespread requirement for more flexible commercial models based on shorter term OPEX rather than the large (and often painful) process of buying systems outright through CAPEX.

Faced with this scenario, many media organisations automatically jump to the cloud. They know that the cloud offers flexibility and scalability – which it certainly does – but does the cloud offer the breadth of technical capabilities that are required to run a fast and flexible news organisation? In many cases, the answer is no.

As such, I believe that there is another way of doing things.

To my mind, adopting a scalable, and agile unified content platform is the future. Something developed using cloud-native technologies with open APIs that offer simple integration with multi-vendor production toolsets and an elastic business model that allows broadcasters to rapidly add and develop new tools and functions to handle changing viewer habits.

Now, this agile and adaptable single platform could be hosted in the cloud, but it doesn’t have to be. The hosting location decision is primarily going to be based around the cost of bandwidth. It could equally be housed on premise, or straddle a hybrid of both.

I believe that if a broadcaster so wishes, they should be able to benefit from the same technology that the cloud uses, that gives them the same flexibility and the same level of platform functionality, but have it on premise, hosted off premise or in a hybrid configuration. Hosting location is a critical commercial choice. That’s why some operators are already using a combination of on-premise production infrastructure with massively scalable cloud-based distribution platforms.

News consumption has changed, and will no doubt change again in the future. For broadcasters to be able to keep up with this constant flux, they need to be agile and flexible in both their working practices and in the way they spend their budgets. Hive provides them with the opportunity to do both.

Dave Hedley, business head, content management and distribution at Sony Professional Solutions Europe

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