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Protecting valuable content using a dedicated video distribution platform

Imagen's Kerry Freeman weighs in on the company's latest white paper, 'The Future of Premium Video Distribution'

Small fortunes are sunk in production costs for TV series, blockbuster films and glossy ads – and yet they are often circulated for review using DVDs, or low cost (or even free)file transfer tools which leave them open to piracy, reflect badly on brand and provide a poor user experience.

Imagen’s latest white paper, ‘The Future of Premium Video Distribution’, looks at how current ‘screeners’ solutions are damaging reputations, profit, and reveals how media production companies and film studios can appeal to clients and reviewers while protecting their valuable content, using a dedicated video distribution platform.

Media businesses invest considerable time, effort and money to create high resolution video content – sharing it securely should be a no brainer.

Imagen sales executive Kerry Freeman believes it is important to look at the reasons why screeners are being shared. She tells TVBEurope: “Content owners share screeners to create business opportunities, increase their brand awareness, and give their key stakeholders access to their material for various purposes. They need to share, promote and distribute what they are creating. Quickly, efficiently but securely.”

In this regard, a variety of methods are being widely used across the industry:

  • Physical formats – DVDs and tapes
  • Physical methods of delivering digital files – USB sticks, hard drives
  • Online delivery methods – WeTransfer, Signiant, Media Shuttle
  • Online viewing portals – YouTube, Vimeo
  • Professional solutions – whereby content is easily previewed online before a download is required

Freeman explains that many of these methods fall into the category of what we call ‘freemium’ – a free or inexpensive solution that provides a quick fix. They are a temporary solution that is easy to adopt but quite difficult to manage, and ultimately they provide a poor experience for the recipient, which reflects badly on brand and can leave valuable content open to piracy.

But why are screeners being shared in such a variety of formats?

  • Traditional methods have always been used and are not being questioned
  • The format can be restricted by existing workflow or budgets
  • They are also often requested by the recipient, whether out of habit, or due to availability of resources or constraints on their side

Freeman adds that being able to preview material is paramount, “because having to download large quantities of media is time-consuming and strenuous on bandwidth” she says, “The end client doesn’t even know if they want to take all the content that is being sent to them”. Moreover, content owners are sharing their material with broadcasters, commissioners etc. who are very busy individuals and therefore want to be able to view something as quickly and seamlessly as possible.”

Security and version control are another well-known challenge for content owners. Indeed, “once you have shared a copy of your screener using a DVD or a simple file transfer platform, you don’t know where that copy goes. It could be stored in an unsecure location, other people may have access to it, etc… and when it finally gets to your end user, it could no longer be the latest version!”

“The benefit of using a solution like ours is that we are providing an end-to-end service,” continues Freeman. “That’s why people choose to put all their content into Imagen and keep it there; having physical methods and all these smaller individual workflows is very hard to manage, poses a potential security risk, and can become a nightmare from an administrative and billing perspective. Using Imagen, our customers have a secure and easy-to-use solution, with multiple features, all together on a branded portal”. Making sure that promotion of their brand is maintained throughout the user journey is also a key concern, especially for smaller media companies. “A lot of our users tend to opt for a watermarked version to be automatically created on ingest, adding another security layer”.

Beyond sharing screeners, cloud-based video management platforms like Imagen allow media companies to do more with their material, from live-streaming, to clipping and sharing snippets on social media, as well as granting different permission levels to different categories of end users. “You always keep full control on who accesses your content, and what they can do with it”.

It is difficult to predict how long it will take for media companies to stop using physical methods and switch to online video management and distribution platforms instead. However, Kerry Freeman reveals “We are definitely seeing more adoption year on year. Less and less people are asking us about security, because the standards are so high these days and we have the necessary accreditations that ensure we meet with clients’ security policies. This allows us to provide solutions for some of the world’s most valuable content, in the Premier League, IMG and BBC Studios for example.”

Curious to find out more? Download Imagen’s latest white paper here.