Five ways the cloud is advancing the media industry

August 6, 2020 by Andreas Jacobi
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As media companies continue to battle for eyeballs across devices and platforms, traditional broadcasters are competing with newer digital outlets for reach and revenue. We’ve seen conventional media organizations innovate to stay competitive in the digital era and leverage cloud technology to evolve their workflows. Likewise, the cloud enables digital-native outlets to scale their operations without heavy investment in hardware infrastructure. Harnessing cloud technologies can help all media companies streamline and scale some key links in the value chain to ensure success.

1. Cost-effective and agile production

The broadcast landscape had previously been dominated by legacy solutions — inflexible, closed, hardware-based systems. However, we’re beginning to see some significant step-changes as more broadcasters start to transition to the cloud, in a move to streamline and enable live production, which boasts agile teams.

Configuring the hardware for live production is often a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Even a small-scale production like a live news report from a remote location can require setting up outside broadcast news gathering vans that can be expensive and time consuming.

Cloud unlocks a raft of production possibilities for traditional broadcasters and levels out the playing field for new entrants.

A cloud platform can easily connect media companies with video contributors, creating unparalleled workflow flexibility and collaboration. Cloud unlocks a raft of production possibilities for traditional broadcasters and levels out the playing field for new entrants. Content that is captured remotely and ingested into the cloud can also get produced remotely, allowing producers to operate with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

2. Improved content acquisition capabilities

There’s a huge opportunity for traditional broadcasters and digital outlets to enhance and extend their video acquisition capabilities. IHS Markit analysts have estimated that the number of citizen journalists will grow by 145% each year, from now until 2025. This growth will be driven by an increase in ultra-fast and ultra-reliable connectivity with the roll out of 5G networks and the proliferation of smartphone camera technology.

Using cloud footage ingestion, media companies can tap into video contributions to provide a fresh angle for a news program or pick up fan feeds from a sports stadium. Cloud-based footage ingestion can enhance video content acquisition by allowing producers to access unlimited concurrent live feeds from multiple sources. Feeds can include professional cameras, encoders drones, mobile phones, and online sources, including RTMP, RTSP, MPEG-TS, WebRTC, SRT, HLS, and MPEG-Dash.

Just recently, the NFL used cloud-based footage ingested with WebRTC to capture, aggregate, and manage over 500 live fan feeds for its annual Draft.

The virtual NFL Draft was a first-of-its-kind virtual production that set new viewership records. It also established a blueprint for engaging, cloud-enabled video production. Using WebRTC removes any app dependency, allowing anyone to submit video. Just recently, the NFL used cloud-based footage ingested with WebRTC to capture, aggregate, and manage over 500 live fan feeds for its annual Draft.

This feature could be used for remote interviews, call-ins and obtaining voices live from the scene by switching the program to the on-site mobile reporter. As such, remote talent, fans inside a football stadium, or even a citizen who is in the vicinity of an incident can contribute to the dialogue to add value from multiple sources.

3. Optimized content management with machine-learning applications

Imagine if the producers of the Tour de France could easily capture footage from every single video source covering the event to include in their commentary of the race? Everything from professional broadcast cameras on cars and scooters following the riders to drones capturing bird’s-eye footage to the cohort of fans with mobile phones. The live-streaming potential can even extend to retired athlete commentators, offering fans a unique added-value experience.

Content curated from sweeping perspectives can create a captivating program, but poses an overwhelming amount of video for any production team to manage. With the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), this job becomes more manageable.

Cloud applications are pioneering ways of using AI and ML to simplify content management at scale, with initial workflows automating content identification.

In live scenarios, this object recognition technology will speed producers’ ability to find the most relevant footage from a multitude of sources. They could follow a particular cyclist in a race or highlight a team-specific fan reaction, without having to filter through hundreds of inbound streams manually. Cloud applications are pioneering ways of using AI and ML to simplify content management at scale, with initial workflows automating content identification.

AI can dive into user-generated, long-tail, and niche videos to select and highlight the most relevant content based on a variety of metadata such as objects, geography, people, movement, and more. Simply put, AI can automate manual tasks in a video workflow to enable hyper-personalized viewing experiences that engage audiences.

4. Streamlined broadcast content syndication capabilities

Right now, some of the largest mass media news conglomerates in the US are using the cloud for content syndication. By moving to the cloud, these media giants can generate, share, and syndicate content seamlessly while simplifying the process for onboarding new affiliates.

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Cloud applications
provide these networks with a broad set of digital workflows in a unified system, as well as the ability to publish content to social media platforms and broadcast stations at scale. They can route, monitor, and curate content in the cloud for syndication and distribution, creating cost and time efficiencies across the board — especially compared to satellite workflows.

5. Expanded digital footprint via platform-agnostic distribution strategies

The competition for audiences’ attention is heating up. Over the last ten years, we’ve observed a drastic increase in audience fragmentation as social media and OTT digital platforms took off.

Research from Parks Associates found that three-quarters (76%) of US households have OTT video service subscriptions, versus just 62% with traditional pay-TV services in Q1 2020. Additionally, a recent Nielsen survey shows that the average time spent watching TV has decreased from the previous year. In the US, pay-TV continues to dominate the sports landscape. Still, audiences are increasingly shifting to digital video platforms as companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter are bidding for streaming rights for games.

Cloud-based workflows can help adapt a fragmented landscape.

The cloud facilitates simultaneous distribution to unlimited outlets, allowing a single program to be delivered across more channels than ever before, including linear, OTT, and social media. Cloud-based workflows can help to adapt a fragmented landscape.

Cloud technology can help media companies compete and collaborate in the digital world. It can enhance the way companies acquire content and provide the right framework to establish agile, decentralized teams. It can also advance content management and curation capabilities, as well as institute platform-agnostic distribution strategies. Ultimately, the cloud brings operational efficiencies that level the playing field for new media entrants, while extending and enhancing the workflows of traditional organizations.

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