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How the cloud is shaking up modern media supply chains

SDVI's Geoff Stedman explains how the cloud is interconnecting players across the supply chain in ways previously thought impossible while also optimising processes and providing unprecedented agility to scale and innovate

Creating, managing, and delivering content for audience distribution has grown increasingly complex in the last decade between the myriad of OTT platforms, emerging formats, and the content boom. At the same time, content value has expanded beyond its original markets, and more media companies are striking distribution deals with new geographies and, in some cases, former competitors. This has created an explosion of versioning work to process and prepare content for hundreds of international markets, distribution platforms, and media consumption devices. Keeping pace with this demand requires a reinvention of the supply chain and a greater shift to the cloud.

A work in progress

Modern media workflows are complex, difficult to scale, and there’s often an unnecessary duplication of efforts. On-premises tools and applications don’t always integrate seamlessly, leading to workflow bottlenecks, and a lack of cost visibility can make monetisation tricky. These challenges are compounded by the growing demand for content from consumers. For media companies, this can mean packaging a whole season to launch all at once in the various flavours that viewers demand while also making the content readily available, searchable, and personalised.

Unlocking newfound agility

As an alternative to on-premises technology for media supply chains, the cloud offers a tool for completely redesigning dated approaches rather than simply replicating them. In the case of public media organisations, the cloud provides flexibility and responsiveness gains that can accelerate the time it takes to deliver high-quality content to audiences, keeping viewers tuned in. 

A desire to improve operational efficiency is often a common motivating factor behind cloud exploration. Still, as companies move further into their migration, they uncover newfound agility far more valuable than any efficiency gains. Unlimited scalability means that the size of your on-premises infrastructure doesn’t limit potential deals. A+E Networks, for instance, recently explained at an SDVI roadshow event in New York that they’re able to consider far more licensing deals than in the past because the cloud has removed infrastructure constraints. 

Changing the face of business deals 

When opportunities knock, media companies are also finding that a well-managed, cloud-based supply chain better positions them to seize these opportunities. Moving to a virtualised infrastructure allows companies to maximise their resources; they can spin them up and down without concern about idle equipment. A transformed, cloud-based supply chain allows companies to bring new ideas to the table because they can scale up quickly – enabling business deals to go through that never would have before.

Realising implementations 

Technology developers like SDVI and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are working to make the supply chain transformation much more seamless. SDVI customers rely on the Rally media supply chain management platform to help orchestrate, monitor, and optimise activities running in AWS, such as processing, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), and to run content through supply chains involving many different third-party applications. For instance, a supply chain might include Telestream Transform for encoding, and Interra Systems Baton for QC and validation, alongside a host of other tools for various other tasks. SDVI Rally spins those tools up and runs them in AWS to become consumable resources; companies only pay for what they use and don’t have to worry about managing resources or provisioning infrastructure. 

Real-world applications 

When A+E Networks was asked to push a large amount of content to Discovery for the Discovery+ streaming platform under a tight deadline, it was simple because both companies used SDVI and AWS for their supply chains. The two could quickly share materials across their Amazon S3 buckets. Connecting their supply chains in the cloud allowed them to transfer a large volume of content in just under 20 hours (a process that would have taken up to 90 days previously). Five months later, A+E completed another even larger transfer to a different partner in a similar timeframe. At an SDVI event in London, Sky publicly noted that having a more scalable supply chain using the cloud has allowed it to launch new products like Sky Glass, a TV with Sky services built-in, and ensure that content is ready to support those launches.

The cloud is interconnecting players across the supply chain in ways previously thought impossible while also optimising processes and providing unprecedented agility to scale and innovate. It’s enabling media companies to fundamentally reimagine the M&E supply chain and setting the stage for a future where media companies can continue to elevate the audience experience. The transformation is already unfolding before our eyes and will only continue to progress with continued technological evolution.