Rickard Lönneborg, CEO, Codemill
Media and entertainment is a well-established industry, with a heritage to be proud of. But maintaining a pivotal role in the consumer landscape for several decades comes with a unique set of challenges. As media and broadcast has evolved from a handful of linear channels through to a multi-platform ecosystem, more content needs to be reformatted and repurposed to reach an increasingly fragmented audience.
The Deloitte 2023 M&E Industry Outlook noted that streaming video-on-demand services are “trying to find profits in a less profitable business”. Competing not only with each other, but also with social media and online gaming services. The former leverages endless free content from an army of creators, while the latter has arguably been better at implementing monetisation strategies in the early stages of its popularity. This now leaves VOD providers playing catch-up. Deloitte also notes that social media platforms are “leaning into user-generated video content (UGC), that emphasises users’ interests more than their connections”. So this could become a “kind of personalised TV” to rival the latest FAST channels that broadcasters are pushing.
A blended landscape of entertainment
Whether it’s an original production or the latest acquisition, delivering quality content is an expensive and time-consuming business. As the demand for entertainment diversifies, media organisations need to keep pace with competition – in all its forms. VOD providers and broadcasters are no longer just competing with each other, but also with newer types of UGC and experiential online content. The boundaries between how we consume media are blurring. This means the complexity and definition of entertainment will rapidly evolve in the coming years – especially as the adoption of extended reality becomes more prevalent and the creator economy matures. We are, once again, on the cusp of an entertainment revolution.
The overall direction that media consumption moves in, and the popularity of individual platforms, will be defined by availability. With individual consumers’ attention more fragmented than ever (especially in mature markets) companies will need to cast a wider net to secure a loyal audience. For established global brands, it’s heritage that lends them the gravitas to secure potential viewers. But they’ll still be vying for attention in a market with much-loved regional platforms, which means there is a need to localise effectively.
Maintaining standards whilst managing costs
The cost of media production, and the associated resources needed for post-production, must be carefully managed by media platforms and broadcasters, especially as we move into an uncertain future. One of the biggest challenges that companies face in a culture of fast-turnaround UGC competition is consumer expectations. A lo-fi aesthetic and DIY attitude might be acceptable in feeds loaded with short-form video, but for big brands it’s a totally different story. Mistakes and human error are lauded on social media as authentic, but in the world of premium entertainment providers, they can significantly damage a media platform’s reputation.
Organisations are faced with a Catch-22 situation. They need to ramp up the pace of content production to compete with emerging entertainment trends. But they will be held to much higher standards. Diversifying their footprint and targeting new regions with existing content is a logical way of achieving growth. But expanding distribution to multiple territories and repurposing archive content must be undertaken with care. The content needs to meet both regional compliance standards, and the viewers’ expectations of quality. So, the QC and validation must be rigorous, and the localisation must be undertaken sensitively to ensure success.
Infrastructure evolution and revolution
In this competitive landscape, another challenge that media organisations face is keeping up with technological developments. The bigger and more established a media brand is, the more difficult it becomes to implement radical change. Companies need to stay on top of next-gen solutions, to help speed up workflows and keep the content offering relevant. But there is often no space, with fast-turnaround workflows and assets piling up, to change how things are done. While managing tight content processing schedules, media companies can’t afford workflow disruption. However, there are ways to mitigate this.
Traditional media workflows rely on physical hardware, so any changes made to underlying systems can impact daily operations and take a long time. With SaaS solutions, new browser-based workflows reduce the need to move or download content. They bring content validation, QC, and compliance features directly to the user without significant disruption. Easier integration allows these solutions to be slotted into existing workflows, and instantly start speeding up content processing with more advanced toolsets. Then the bigger projects that need to be undertaken, such as mass cloud migration of assets or running content archives through AI services, can be worked on in incremental stages.
The perfect combination
By combining staggered changes to infrastructure, with faster turnaround solutions that integrate seamlessly into existing workflows, media companies can strike a balance between evolution and revolution. Technology changes rapidly, so it’s important to be realistic. But there are lots of quick workflow wins that can make a dramatic difference. Leveraging time-based metadata will improve the speed that content can be processed and take some of the pressure off media operators. Essential edits can now be made much faster with new toolsets, and multiple clips can be rapidly extracted and combined for promotional purposes – helping platforms stay top of mind with social media users.
Light-weight browser-based applications can be easily bolted on at various points in the chain. This means that companies can upgrade the media machine while the wheels are still turning. By making gains in day-to-day content processing, organisations can then turn their attention to the bigger projects that need to be implemented. Solutions that manage content at scale can be rolled out, gradually transitioning assets to cloud or hybrid storage and linking those islands of content to next-gen media asset management. Companies can then integrate the latest SaaS content processing tools. This will ultimately deliver a fully interconnected system, that joins everything from ingest, through to asset and metadata management, ready for media distribution. But all this needs to be done with minimal disruption to content processing, across a manageable transition period. By ensuring the mix is right, organisations can speed-up workflows without cutting corners, and ensure they deliver to new regions with confidence.
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