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Bringing the media and entertainment sector to the edge

Dhaval Ponda, global head of media and entertainment services, Tata Communications, looks at how media organisations can prepare for a new era of entertainment

The pandemic forced those within the media and entertainment sector (M&E), particularly sports players and broadcasters to work remotely, meaning sports federations were faced with a significant challenge around how to engage with fans. Technologies like edge computing have provided a lifeline for many, giving them the ability to deliver better quality live events and engage with fans in a more seamless way.

Sports organisations are bringing themselves closer to the ‘edge’, pioneering their use of the technology to revolutionise how we deliver quality content for fans going forward. 

Meeting fan demands

It’s no surprise that the pandemic had a major impact on the sports industry. While many industries were able to pivot to a work from home model and continue operations in the ‘new normal’, the sports sector had some unique challenges. The likes of Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics were both pushed back by a year. However, these major events have only become a catalyst for innovation in sporting events and as fans have demanded more, organisations need to deliver. 

As a result of this, we’ve seen major enhancements around creating and delivering this content. With broadcasting teams now spread across a region, they have had to embark on a new hybrid working model for live sports, with the majority looking to adopt remote production capabilities and continue investing in their digital transformation journey.

As broadcasters adjust to a hybrid working model, producing events to meet the demands of fans has become more resource intensive than ever. To deliver high quality, live equivalent experiences at home, broadcasters have the challenge of being properly equipped with the right digital broadcast infrastructure and connectivity capabilities. This is where technology – such as edge computing – has been plugging the gap and revolutionising how content and events are produced and streamed for all audiences. 

Bringing M&E to the edge

Tata Communications has been working with media and entertainment company De Tune to support making video workflows for esports content on the edge, with low latency. To do this, we helped them deploy media cloud infrastructure on the edge, which made it possible for the business to deliver content to all parties involved in production in a matter of seconds. What’s more, all editing and production was done in the cloud, at an increased speed. This agility in workflow has meant that De Tune has been able to keep up with the changing demands within the sector. With these demands only set to continue to evolve over the coming years – especially in a post-pandemic world – this level of speed and agility will be important in the future.  

Edge computing technology has a number of other benefits for both video professionals and sports fans. For one, it’s cost-effective for production teams on smaller budgets, as it removes the added expense required to move video content and data to the same physical location. Additionally, edge computing can support with simplifying video production and distribution, making it easier for sports teams to broaden their online presence and ultimately reach a global audience with a lower cost digital strategy.

Edge-based deployments on 5G 

With more broadcasters considering the adoption of edge computing technology, they have the ability to spend more time adapting their services for fans and expanding their coverage of sporting events. That’s because edge computing technology can help to level the playing field for new-age digital native companies against the bigger broadcasters. What’s more, the insights derived from edge computing’s implementation allows broadcasters to gain greater insights into their fans, such as who they are and what it is they want, making this crucial data for broadcasters. 

Within sports more broadly, we’re seeing the rise of new digital solutions that leverage 5G to provide a unique set of benefits to the industry. For example, high throughput for high quality video and network slicing means businesses can now dedicate bandwidth for specific applications.

Looking ahead, the adoption of edge-based deployments on 5G will be paramount in ensuring enhanced experiences for fans who want to enjoy the game remotely. Fans want the ultimate viewing experience without concerns of technical glitches causing time delays and low latency video streaming across digital platforms. The convergence and availability of these bleeding edge digital solutions should also usher in several new and innovative services that had not been possible earlier, predominantly due to inadequate bandwidth for devices on the move, as well as portable devices that required high computing resources but could not leverage cloud computing due to latency issues.

A new era of entertainment

The M&E industry has been given a rare opportunity to reflect on the last few years and use key learnings from it to adapt their business models for a new era in entertainment. In this new era, the industry understands the need to revolutionise approaches to customer experience management, demand planning and revenue generation. Whilst the pandemic has made clear how uncertain the future can be, there are new and evolving technologies that M&E organisations are able to adopt in order to be more flexible, agile and prepared for a new era of entertainment.