MediaKind – Is the cloud a no-brainer for broadcasters today? It’s not as simple as that…

MediaKind – Is the cloud a no-brainer for broadcasters today? It’s not as simple as that…

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MediaKind – Is the cloud a no-brainer for broadcasters today? It’s not as simple as that…

Tue 19, 12 2023

MediaKind – Is the cloud a no-brainer for broadcasters today? It’s not as simple as that…

Tony Jones, Principal Technologist, MediaKind

Broadcasters and telecommunications companies are facing a seismic shift. The traditional powerhouses of Pay-TV services and over-the-air broadcast television are witnessing a change in viewing as consumers increasingly gravitate towards subscription and ad-supported streaming video. This progressively changes the balance of the importance between traditional and streaming services, even from the same provider. The shift demands a re-evaluation of media supply chains and infrastructures, leading many broadcasters to contemplate a move to the cloud.

The video consumption paradigm shift

The advent of streaming platforms has reshaped how audiences consume video content, adding on-demand, personalization experiences and the ability to choose when and where to watch. This has created a compelling case for broadcasters to reassess their priorities. In today’s world, almost all traditional services also have a streaming service equivalent, and there is a definite, often slow, migration of viewers from one to the other.

Key drivers of cloud migration for broadcasters

In many media organizations, the emphasis has moved over recent years towards operational and business effectiveness: technology is used to achieve business goals. There is an expectation that operational, revenue, or cost benefits result from any change.

According to a 2022 Nevion study of senior technology decision-makers within the broadcast industry, nearly 90% of broadcasting companies are actively considering or planning to incorporate cloud-based workflows into their existing systems. This includes leveraging cloud technologies for post-production tasks (63%), video playout and distribution (58%), and enhancing video recording and playback with cloud-based tools (45%).

Challenges in the cloud transition

While the cloud presents many benefits, the journey towards cloud migration is complex. A lift-and-shift approach to the move to cloud is unlikely to result in the expected benefits, nor is a partial move because both sets of costs will be incurred. The move must be substantial to achieve the benefits that the public cloud can offer, meaning it is more likely to require significant changes to workflows and operational patterns. This can be a good thing: traditional media architectures and operational practices have evolved step-by-step over many years without radically re-evaluating the whole picture. The move to public cloud is sufficiently disruptive that it causes that re-evaluation to take place, often resulting in much more streamlined operations and more automation.

Modern cloud-based broadcast workflows have fewer components and far more inbuilt monitoring and reporting. At the same time, it comes with some compromises: the traditional best-of-breed approach with the system built from discrete components from many vendors does not translate well to the public cloud because of the complexity of integration in public cloud. Instead, there is a move towards larger sub-systems, each from a single vendor (or two vendors), more horizontally pre-integrated. To some extent, this does reduce the choice, but the reality is much of the need for choice is not supported by the underlying differences in the needs of the organizations; history has a lot to answer for.

One of the key challenges often faced with this transition relates to skillsets and organizational structures. There are many cases where different teams handle the streaming and broadcast services from the same organization because of the need for specific skills. The most successful organizations have either combined IT and video engineering or created an environment where each can benefit from the skills of the other. The increasing importance of streaming means that broadcast-level reliability is needed – something the video engineering teams are very good at. Equally, traditional broadcast’s move to join streaming in the public cloud needs skills more likely in the IT group: each needs the other.

It is possible to take a fully SaaS approach: outsourcing the entire processing chain and even potentially the operation of that chain. However, given the service’s huge associated value for top-tier broadcasters, many are likely to prefer cloud functionality that can be deployed either in a vendor’s or their own cloud account. In either case, the vendor would perform software lifecycle management and maintenance, but operations would remain in-house.

The future market outlook

Looking ahead, broadcasters are not just adopting cloud technology for its own sake but as a strategic move to secure their future in a rapidly changing industry. The future market outlook requires broadcasters to actively diversify revenue streams, and streaming brings the ability to monetize better through targeted advertising. Relying solely on traditional models is no longer sustainable, but equally, an “internet best effort” quality and reliability is simply not good enough for today’s streaming services.

The changes in video consumption propel broadcasters towards the cloud because of streaming. The transformation demands a proactive stance, where broadcasters adapt to the current shift and actively shape their trajectory. The cloud is not just a technological choice; it’s a strategic imperative for broadcasters looking to secure their relevance and profitability in the years to come.


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