CES 2024 reflections: Navigating new video distribution frontiers

February 1, 2024 by Chris Myers, EVP, Chief Revenue Officer

Major industry events accelerate discussions around emerging trends, technologies and shifting consumer expectations. In many ways, CES in Las Vegas defines the agenda for the year ahead across many media and technology verticals. As traditional broadcasting and digital media worlds continue to converge, CES is growing in importance for major media businesses, content owners, and the technology providers that support them.

Last month at CES 2024, I had plenty of conversations with key customers and partners that delved deeper into the business implications around new technology innovation in video distribution. It’s what I enjoy most about the show — real-world discussions about how technology can drive business outcomes to align with new consumer trends.

At the heart of our discussions at CES 2024 was the concept of "channel creation" and the distribution of content, particularly live content. This focus reflects an acute understanding of the need to create, curate and monetize more versions of content across a vast ecosystem of digital platforms available to content owners and rights holders. In a world where consumers have far more control over how and on which platform they watch content, how are media organizations enabling this level of customization at scale? Here are several shifts that are reshaping video distribution in 2024:

Scaling your video distribution with content versioning innovation

Customization has never been as important as it is today. At the same time, content owners are facing pressures on resources and growing competition. Today, media businesses need cost-efficient, easy-to-use tools to help spin up new channels and customize live sports, news, and entertainment events. Content needs to be marked with all the necessary metadata, SCTE triggers, and watermarking to ensure maximum downstream monetization, then delivered to many digital platforms worldwide. Doing this all in real time for valuable live content is incredibly demanding. The simple truth is that a lot of media companies don’t have the resources to make it happen on a global scale.

Content versioning is playing a crucial role in 2024, especially in live sports broadcasting. Sports rights investments have increased massively, making efficient video distribution more important than ever to maximizing ROI on significant rights deals. SportBusiness' Global Media Report 2023 projected that the global value of sports media rights will exceed $60 billion for the first time this year. This trend isn't only limited to top-tier sports leagues. A broader variety of leagues and sports tiers are now gaining attention and making their way onto digital viewing platforms, fueled by growing streaming consumption and more affordable access to content creation and distribution technologies.

Media brands and sports organizations need to scale their video distribution strategies by customizing live sports content to suit different regional markets and platform-specific requirements. For instance, a soccer match produced in one corner of the globe needs to be effectively tailored with region-specific commentary, custom graphics, and localized advertising to drive global distribution opportunities. While the concept of regionalization is nothing new, managing this level of customization at scale and in real-time requires next-generation technologies like LTN Arc. By harnessing automation and scalable, cloud-enabled workflows, broadcasters can efficiently manage numerous live events and add customized graphics, local language announcers, and SCTE triggers to enable targeted ad insertion. This ensures that content feeds are seamlessly prepared and tailored specifically for each rights holder and distributor. The business outcome is that content owners increase the monetization potential of any live event while automating complex content versioning processes.

Channel creation made easy with automation

Broadcasters are increasingly looking for ways to launch new channels to engage digital audiences across OTT, FAST, and other digital platforms. However, content owners don’t have the time or money to invest the same amount of resources they did in creating and managing their primary channels the first time around. But what if you could use a cloud-enabled playout solution to automate the channel creation process, spinning up derivative channels out of core linear channels and then distribute and monetize them across new digital platforms?

The business benefits of using a solution like LTN Lift are multifaceted. Firstly, it significantly reduces the operational costs associated with channel creation. Traditional methods often require substantial capital expenditure on hardware and infrastructure. In contrast, cloud-based solutions minimize these costs, offering a more cost-predictable, transparent approach via an OpEx-driven model. In a market where consumers move faster than many of us would like to admit, media businesses need to reduce their time-to-market and bring new, tailored content experiences to audiences across digital platforms.

Driving value with FAST channels

FAST remains a major talking point among media companies as they look for ways to meet audience demand for affordable, lean-back content experiences by offering more ad-supported streaming options. As the FAST market matures and channel options become more saturated, expectations are growing from consumers. Audiences are looking for fresh and, more importantly, live programming on those channels. Channel and content creators that can differentiate their proposition by integrating higher value live and localized programming such as news and sports into FAST services will gain a competitive edge and develop more engaged, and more valuable audiences.

Delivering live programming to any platform worldwide requires highly reliable video transport. Nobody should be willing to sacrifice on quality, even for their secondary and tertiary digital channels. Businesses that harness automated channel versioning and scalable, fully-managed IP-based transmission can bring their new digital channels to any destination required with maximum reliability and optimal monetization.

All roads lead to IP-based video distribution

Evolving your video distribution strategy to capture new and emerging revenue streams requires customization at scale. Businesses need to maximize monetization across a huge array of digital platforms. In a constantly changing media market, automation-powered tools and a flexible, IP-centric approach are vital for organizations to navigate these shifts while staying on budget.

IP-based video distribution solutions like LTN Wave have been proven in high value scenarios by Tier 1 broadcasters for full-time channels and live events. The technology has also matured rapidly to incorporate next-generation levels of business intelligence, automation, and value-added content creation, customization, and versioning services directly within the network. Today, media companies are tackling all the intricacies of video distribution via intelligent IP-based transmission, including channel creation, ad signaling, and metadata insertion, and complex business rules such as blackout and rights management agreements. Content owners are seeing the game-changing benefits of moving away from disparate and siloed business systems towards a future-ready and efficient IP-based ecosystem approach.

The media world is becoming more consumer-centric; major organizations need to prioritize content to stay ahead. Taking a fresh, IP-centric approach to video distribution allows you to focus on audience experiences while simplifying a fragmented digital landscape. Discover how LTN Wave can help you get started by scheduling a demo today.

Image: Consumer Technology Association