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SaaS is here, but is the industry ready to turn and face the strange?

Paul Segre, CEO at Synamedia, considers how SaaS can help the media industry during its golden years

Are you breathing a sigh of relief thinking that you have survived the advent of streaming services and the pressures of a pandemic? Think again.

We are once again on the cusp of great change. And just as Darwin predicted in his Theory of Evolution, serious market competition for dwindling resources dictates that the nimble who can adapt quickly will survive. 

With consumers tightening their belts, they will look closely at their subscriptions for TV and video services. So how do you make sure you can evolve and make the cut?


We believe the answer lies in a change in technology mindset. 

In his seminal 1970s song Changes, David Bowie said ‘turn and face the strange’, a rallying cry to encourage the listener to get a better life by going out of their comfort zone. Now it’s time for TV and video service providers to face the music and take their cue from Bowie – clearly he was ahead of his time.

Some early adopters have already started. They are turning their backs on monolithic, bespoke technology deployments and instead embracing multi-tenant SaaS solutions. Interestingly, we are finding these are not just those born-in-the cloud streaming services that might first spring to mind but also more traditional pay-TV providers and telcos. 

Under pressure

Their impetus for change is that the SaaS model helps them address many of their biggest headaches: launching and updating streaming services quickly, fighting streaming piracy, more efficient and lower carbon video delivery, and the ability to take advantage of new monetisation techniques and revenue models. All of this is underpinned by SaaS’s superior feature velocity, ease of integration, on-demand scalability, and simplified opex budgeting model.

One particular factor driving SaaS is the increased appetite for advertising, led by the announcement of Disney Plus’ lower cost ad-based service, scheduled to launch later in 2022. Where once the focus was on subscriber acquisition and market share, broadcasters and other service providers are now demanding the flexibility to create new AVoD and FAST services that help counter the cost of content. 

Until now, service providers have had little alternative to customised, complex deployments involving heavy SDKs and slow waterfall testing. It sometimes takes many months for acceptance testing to support the launch of a single feature or a new device. In today’s rapidly evolving business and technology environment, that’s simply unsustainable. 

That’s why it is time to embrace SaaS and take advantage of the flexibility, agility and opex models that come with public cloud, service-based delivery and DevOps. With SaaS, a content owner or broadcaster can start small, move fast and experiment – for example, launching a streaming service in a new market – confident in the software’s agility, ease of integration and low total cost of ownership.

With a modular suite of solutions, you don’t have to bet the house on one roll of the dice. You can start small, only paying for what you need, then easily add more packs or services as your needs evolve. 

And SaaS isn’t just for the big monolithic players. Its effects are disruptive because the entry barrier to these new levels of experimentation and creativity has been lowered and its modular nature opens up opportunities for smaller and non-conventional businesses.


Feature velocity is the most noticeable change. With SaaS, new features are added virtually every day whereas hosted cloud environments with waterfall acceptance are often updated semi-annually or even annually. Taking a leaf out of Bowie’s songbook, you can keep constantly reinventing yourself to stand out from the rest of the pack.

At Synamedia, we are living and breathing multi-tenant SaaS internally and we are witnessing its power first-hand. As just one example, we made 130 discreet feature drops into production in our Synamedia Iris addressable advertising solution in just the first six weeks of 2022. In the previous generation software-based solution, we had releases every six months and our customers typically added two or three months of testing on top of that.  

In a rapidly changing world, this velocity and also the agility it provides is game changing for us and more importantly for our customers. SaaS has impacted every department in our company including the way we sell, support, and contract with customers. Where once our Video Platform deployments were bespoke for each customer, with the SaaS model any customisation now only needs to happens at the edges.

The result is that our pace of change of product delivery has increased an order of magnitude over the last year. Importantly, we have also evolved our development approach to one that considers the complete customer experience. As a result, we have become far more disciplined about releasing new features because we are no longer building for a blue-sky future. Instead, everything is delivered with built-in market validation. 


Our industry is a late adopter of SaaS and one of the main reasons is that it requires changes not just within the vendor community but also within the user community.  Put simply, users cannot realize the benefits of SaaS without changing their operating model to accommodate a high velocity and multi-tenanted approach, most notably acceptance testing.  

Those that don’t change will be out-competed by more agile competitors, maybe not in the short run, but inevitably over time. Those that adopt SaaS will give their customers a better service and will benefit from a much lower cost of ownership. 

Importantly, the product won’t just be better from a user experience and feature functionality perspective, releasing software in small chunks that can be easily verified and backed out as necessary dramatically increases quality as well.  And, finally, well-designed cloud-based APIs support a new levels of openness that gives users the option of integrating point solutions or procuring suites of solutions from their preferred software suppliers.  This openness is something that Synamedia has embraced strongly for its own solutions. 

Back to the genius of Bowie’s lyrics, changes are certainly ‘taking the pace Synamedia is going through’. Delivery the SaaS way has shifted our cultural mindset and our internal teams have had to reorganise to support different priorities and responsibilities. In this golden age of content, where consumers want to change what and how they watch in the blink of an eye, it’s time to be fascinated by the fascinating. So put yourself in the driving seat, face the music and make sure you’re changing fast enough to meet the test.