In a rapidly changing media landscape, exacerbated by demanding consumer viewing habits, “fixed” SDI-based facilities find themselves limited in who they can reach and how. For content owners and exclusive rights holders looking to monetize their vast (and growing) content libraries, IP workflows based on microservices in the cloud are helping solve this problem, making it relatively painless to launch new channels, adjust existing ones, and turn off ones that are not generating revenue.
Due to this marketplace uncertainty, a cloud-based IP infrastructure, with its inherent flexibility, is also enabling users to adapt with demand and change or grow their business models accordingly with minimal effort – remembering that providing a good advertiser experience is as important as keeping the viewer happy and coming back for more.
To date the migration to IP, which includes elastic cloud channel playout and real-time signal monitoring, has been a slow and calculated one. Looking to move to the next step in distributing media, without breaking their budgets, many facilities are now in the process of developing “hybrid” workflows that could include locating content libraries on premise – along with physical production gear like cameras, switchers, etc. – while ad insertion, digital switching, transcoding and channel playout happens in the cloud.
So, how do make the hybrid model efficient enough to be cost-effective? You can start by ensuring that the software running in the cloud is the same or at least very similar to what’s running on premise. There has to be a common interface that works for both workflows. Therefore, operationally, no one will know the difference. That’s important. The operator should not have a different process or user interface between the two workflows.
By synchronizing the two workflows, via a software orchestration layer, you can make content and ad materials easier to handle, and maintain operations that are familiar to the staff. This integrated system design needs to be as painless as possible for the operator. The less pain there is, the less issues there will be when a problem occurs. When something needs to be fixed, it can be identified and addressed quickly.
The benefits of operating in the cloud really make a difference I how content is managed, because there is a lot of analytics and telemetry nformation that isn’t available in SDI and can be very useful to keep operations running smoothly. This can be used to trigger playout times (for both ads and program content) as well as turn on or off channels. This analytic information can also be leveraged to monitor channels in real time, giving the staff more control (via more granularity) and a better understanding of what they have to work with. It also enables them to be proactive and diagnose problems before they happen. Downtime means lost revenue, so it has to be a concern.
This extra metadata allows media companies to sell inventory by audience, by context, or by spot-regardless of the platform or delivery mechanism. Media companies can maximize revenue by accurately targeting commercials to specific audiences. It can also ease monetizing scenarios that are difficult to plan in advance, such as extra time in sporting events and breaking news programming.
With remote monitoring and control capability, where channels can be supervised from anywhere there is an Internet connection, the operator can fire up a Chrome browser, push a few buttons and lunch a new channel, take one down, or adjust the bitrate to improve image quality. A better viewing experience reduces churn.
The cloud also brings the ability to turn channels or processing services things on and off really easily with no upfront costs. People now realize that they need flexible infrastructure that can adapt with the times. This is how a facility can change operations with little effort as viewing habits change. It also facilitates experimenting with new ways to market products and advertise to consumers on a one-to-one basis. What if I want to go international? Hyper-localized? It’s all possible with an IP infrastructure supported by the cloud.
Launching a channel in the cloud is also relatively easy. If a business is based in the U.S. and they want to launch a channel in Europe, an IP dashboard with access to a suite of features allows them to configure a template for the type of channel they want, at what resolution, by simply click a few boxes to initiate a menu of configuration changes.
With this template or microservices, which can be launched and recalled in minutes, you can pick how your channel will operate lie ordering off a restaurant menu. Once finished, you simple click “launch” and a few minutes later the channel will show up for the consumer to use. You can also set up a redundancy stack (up to five channels per stack) to ensure reliability – another critical factor for 24/7 media delivery success.
Redundancy is also assured by spreading channels across multiple availability zones, so you never have a main and backup channel on the same availability zone. You can also do multi-region locations as well. You also have to secure the different parts to get from A to B. Many will use a CDN to reach different parts of the world.
Broadcasters and content owners looking to migrate with the times understand that deploying an IP infrastructure is the best way to control the flow of content and get immediate feedback on how it’s performing. Software is critical for managing and controlling what happens. It’s also important to focus on value for your customer (advertisers), ensuring that you get the right ad to the right viewer at the right time.
Moving to IP in the cloud is a necessary first step to bringing financial ROI to everyone involved in the content and advertising chain.