The past two years have demonstrated that the future of live media distribution is shaped by agility, elasticity, and speed. The media industry is becoming more competitive, pushing media companies across the value chain to change their workflows and enable new and richer viewing experiences. Consumers demand personalised and immersive viewing experiences across platforms and devices, and delivering content in multi-platform rich formats has become a key competitive differentiator. This means more content to be captured from Tier 1 events and delivered in formats that boost audience engagement. Tier 2 and 3 sports production is also changing to deliver more content and capture more eyeballs.
Cloud workflows play a key role in achieving all of the above by offering flexibility, on-demand scalability, production streamlining, and cost efficiencies. Over the past 24 months, the cloud-enabled media infrastructure has proven to work and deliver highly efficient live production with accuracy and low latency. Media organisations continue to embrace cloud-based innovation, such as remote cloud production and other cloud media services, to achieve flexibility and new capabilities.
However, while the cloud transition is well underway, there are still some challenges that media companies need to address to ensure they move to the cloud confidently and on their terms. Here’s what they need to consider.
Getting to the crux of cloud transition
Cloud offers an appealing proposition for managing, transporting, and delivering content. However, overhauling workflows is a huge step for many broadcasters and media companies as skillsets and workflows need to change radically. Multiple areas need to be addressed to unlock the cloud potential and ensure media organisations benefit from innovation.
The cost of cloud transition is the most highly-debated parameter when it comes to cloud transformation. While leveraging public cloud options for permanent services running with very high resource utilisation can be costly, there are ways for media organisations to work around this. To minimise costs and benefit from the economics of the cloud, media organisations need the right cloud-based delivery solution that is open and compatible with any cloud provider. This solution should be compliant with their existing infrastructure so that media companies can shift to the cloud on their terms without discarding their existing investments.
Change of control
Shifting a large volume of high-value content from on-premise data centres to data centres and cloud facilities outside of the broadcaster’s direct control is challenging. It requires a shift in the organisational culture, alongside cultivating trust in the new technology and workflows.
Securing content when getting into and out of the cloud and maintaining control inside the cloud is fundamental, while ensuring media trust boundaries between the different IP domains is critical. It requires reliable tracking and monitoring workflows that deliver visibility and risk management capabilities.
Consistency in management, orchestration, and control are crucial for both on-prem and cloud infrastructures. This includes managing different protocols and different appliances in a consistent manner.
Preparing talent for the transition to cloud workflows and ensuring the teams have the right skill set can make or break cloud transformation for an organisation. Often, the talent pool knows how to manage on-prem equipment but going into Dockers, K8s, certificates, REST API, auto-scaling, real-time dashboards, and IP configuration of virtual private networks in data centres is challenging. Attracting cloud-literate talent takes time and investment, same as training the cloud-native population about the media-specific requirements and strict SLAs for time-critical applications. These are considerations that media organisations need to plan for ahead of embarking on their cloud transformation journey.
Quality, availability, and scalability
The cloud infrastructure needs to ensure 24/7 availability and redundancy. Media companies require resilient, high-quality workflows for critical content that can be scaled as and when required. The right cloud production solution should enable broadcasting industry players to transition from capex to opex by scaling capacity up and down depending on demand and only paying for the resources they need when they need them. This flexibility is increasingly valuable when it comes to, for example, major events where there is a short peak of usage. A transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing structure enables media companies to reduce costs by only adding technology as needed, managing investments over time.
Driving new monetisation opportunities
The previous section discussed the parameters media organisations need to consider and strategise for when pivoting to the cloud. However, the cloud brings a host of benefits for media industry players — not only in terms of cost efficiencies but also in new monetisation opportunities.
The media industry is defined by a growing demand for immersive, engaging, and personalised streaming experiences. Cloud technology enables content owners to enhance the user experience and drive higher fan engagement with game statistics, behind-the-scenes content, game highlights, unique or multiple viewpoints of the game, and a growing set of fan interaction tools such as watch together, polls, and chats.
For example, virtual watch parties allow fans to show their support while interacting with other fans and athletes. This boosts fan engagement and loyalty while opening the doors to monetisation through advertising and sponsorships. It is also becoming common to stream multiple games in parallel during sports events such as tennis or golf tournaments, giving the option to viewers to select which camera feed and commentator they want to watch. Streaming enables personalisation which attracts and retains eyeballs. This, in turn, enables monetisation that leverages the relationship between fans and their favourite game or team.
Making the cloud revolution work for you
Cloud workflows are a key driver for the innovation and transformation of the media industry. Long are the days when media companies solely relied on on-site hardware and the technical teams that managed it to produce a live event. The media world has moved on to embrace the flexible remote workflows and scalable cloud production models that it needs to succeed in the new broadcasting landscape.
Cloud technology brings a paradigm shift. Media companies need to prepare to address any challenges along the journey to reap the benefits of cloud innovation. The right cloud infrastructure enables media organisations to transition to the cloud seamlessly and on their terms. They can increase efficiencies and minimise costs by leveraging open and interoperable solutions that allow them to leverage existing investments. This is the time for industry players to set up for success and ensure they leverage the power of the cloud their way.