As numerous linear TV schedules shudder to a halt with the cancellation of live sport, or postponement of production on continuing dramas, broadcasters are looking to alternative programming to fill the sizeable void left behind.
TVBEurope asks three experts how modern archive systems can help media companies make the most of their legacy content.
“If broadcasters already have them in place right now filled with the relevant metadata, this allows them instantly to call up content and build new schedules around themes or topics to captivate the audience,” explains Jan Weigner, CEO at Cinegy.
“Better yet, if archive systems were also used during the production, new programming can be created out of the existing raw material. This is perfectly illustrated by BBC NHU’s Planet Earth series archived raw footage, which was ‘gold mined’ for dozens of other projects. The same can be done for documentaries in general, but also educational content, training, reality TV, other unscripted formats as well as news and sports.
“This of course requires keeping more material in the archive than only just what went into the first aired programme,” Weigner continues. “As storage is getting increasingly cheaper and video compression better, while the range of formats and platforms that need to be served increases, it is a wasted opportunity to not keep as much of the original raw footage as possible. Or to vary a popular phrase: One man’s B-roll is another man’s new programme!”
With many members of staff now working from home, how easy is it for production teams to access digitised archive content? According to Jeff Braunstein, director of product management at Spectra Logic, this is where the Cloud can shine: “The use of Cloud is becoming more and more a part of the storage and workflow landscape,” he explains. “Storage management software supports movement of files to popular Cloud platforms, be it for Cloud-based workflows or disaster recovery purposes.
“Broadcasting organisations can leverage this software to create a multi-tier private Cloud to store a copy of frequently accessed assets on online disk, and archive infrequently or rarely accessed assets indefinitely on the Perpetual Storage Tier (which can consist of Cloud, object storage disk, and tape). This enables sharing content globally by utilising the public Cloud’s inherent infrastructure to make content available to disparate users and sites worldwide.”
But what if a broadcaster doesn’t have content stored in the Cloud? Are there fast turnaround options/solutions for providers sitting on a hoard of legacy content but who lack, perhaps, a fit-for-purpose archive or MAM system?
“It depends on the type of content and where that content sits, but there are many fast turnaround options based on content discovery and media indexing tools,” says Julian Fernandez-Campon, CTO at Tedial. “These are modern MAM solutions that allow a quick scan and bulk ingest of content into the MAM without moving it while generating some basic information. It can also create a proxy to provide first access to content, which can be enriched later with AI or any other automatic analysis tools.”
“There are no miracles especially if the content is still on tape,” adds Weigner. “File-based material can be imported with the speed being largely scalable. Tapes on the other hand are normally ingested in real-time, but this can also be scaled to some extent. The bigger problem is that if the content is still on video tape then you are fighting a losing battle against technology extinction and availability of playback equipment to make this happen at all. In this regard celluloid-based content is the lesser problem, but of course needs to be telecined as well (and maybe in UHD this time around).”
Of course, any drastic changes to profitable scheduling will have a financial impact for the providers. What are the monetisation options for the distribution of archive content through linear and OTT channels to help media companies maintain revenue?
“There are many and they will depend on the target audience,” says Fernandez-Campon. “With new OTT platforms, it’s possible to monetise media by creating focused channels or a series of content for specific target audiences, that cannot find what they want on other platforms. We have seen this in some productions on platforms like Netflix where series or documentaries are published to engage a specific sector.”
“The monetisation options are almost binary. If you don’t know what you have and can’t access it in real-time you stand to make no money at all,” says Weigner. “If you have real-time access to all your content and it is all digital already, you can slice and dice and package and sell it in dozens of different ways immediately. If it just sits on some shelves, no matter whether is on video tape, celluloid, data tape, or so on, it is just dead data.”