Amidst a flurry of technology releases and a return-to-form post-pandemic, the prevailing message from NAB was a need to identify and implement new business models. For example, making the most of consumers’ appetite for free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) content by making sure that content can be delivered, fast.
There are many reasons for this, but it comes down to a hunger for increased content monetization opportunities and the need for supporting technology. To move into these next-generation business models, companies need to adopt a next-generation mindset when considering new solutions and workflows. Based on conversations from the show, there are a few key trends that will help us get there.
1. Versioned Content Inventories Over Content Libraries
Streaming services aren't a novelty anymore – for neither Wall Street nor users. After lavish spending in the early days, the share prices of the biggest names have tumbled, and the message from investors is clear. The only thing that matters now is the bottom line.
Audiences are facing a similar dilemma. As the economy contracts and households are economizing, people are wondering if they really need six or eight paid streaming services.
Consumers certainly won't abandon streaming any time soon, but they'll choose a select few services to pay for based on just one thing: good, targeted content that aligns with their interests and preferences.
Organizing content libraries is an important step that is crucial for ensuring businesses can deliver content to their audiences quickly and efficiently. However, there needs to be a solid foundation of management to start with. Content owners need to eliminate duplication, identify distribution endpoints, and determine what content is most important. In doing so, we see the “content library” evolve into the “content inventory.”
By creating a well-ordered inventory, businesses can move away from the traditional "junk drawer" approach to MAM (media asset management). This approach might have been suitable for storing media content in the past, but it's not enough anymore. It’s critical that content owners are able to identify what's unique and what's most usable, then organize titles accordingly.
We found that many content owners at NAB 2023 were shopping for solutions that could leverage content quickly and efficiently, regardless of location. More and more studios and broadcasters are in need of a stronger understanding of their inventory for the global marketplace.
For example, today's news cycle has a merger or bundle announcement in the headlines daily and the technology challenges that come with these business maneuvers can make or break the outcome.
If you are a media company with a streaming service and you suddenly find yourself with a new library of content to merge with your own after an acquisition, understanding and monetizing what content you have quickly is critical, and today's media technology landscape offers no easy way to do so.
Imagine just a single example. Let's say you acquire the global rights to an episodic series and need to make it available on your platform in multiple territories.
You'll need local language versions- that can include localized video, dubbed audio and/or subtitles- delivery specification standards matching the delivery technology available in each region and version control so your content adheres to varying regional localization standards.
Suddenly one media asset becomes dozens - a task that can take weeks or months to process using a legacy process. Even then, you still might have no real insight into how profitable the licensing deal for the content will be by the time you're ready to launch or broadcast. Modern technology can eliminate this pain point in a matter of hours or days, opening up new opportunities for revenue and monetization – driving down that bottom line.
But then comes the increased data processing needs that result from implementing modern solutions. How will you manage the costs and gather data about your operational efficiency?
2. The New MAM Isn’t a MAM
The cloud, while powerful, isn't a set-and-forget solution any more than legacy data silo systems are when dealing with large media assets. The costs of storage and content management can rise rapidly and leave businesses behind the curve of monetization unless they can interrogate performance at every step with comprehensive data analytics.
Media and Entertainment players are confronting that challenge, and one of the trends that we saw at NAB is technology leaders appointing dedicated teams to oversee cloud spending and forecasting future costs.
Traditional MAMs were never built to handle multiple (sometimes thousands of) versions to satisfy compliance, language and accessibility standards all over the world. They can also lack advanced automation to address the above and reduce resource costs while enhancing efficiency.
The business of maintaining media asset silos needed teams of engineers programming constantly, performing most asset delivery tasks (like updating delivery standards or maximizing storage space) manually according to their own in-house, bespoke processes.
The current supply chain is fragmented, disconnected and in need of modernization to meet the demands of today and the future. Managing assets and controlling content between studios and broadcasters with a monolith MAM worked well enough for the state of the industry at one time. However, the extent to which we need to do so today costs more and takes longer than operators can afford.
The result is that too many media companies have libraries that contain too much data with significant duplication, all of them adhering too strictly to out-of-date file/folder naming, filing and management methods. It’s too cumbersome to effectively migrate to a cloud platform.
Most importantly, it's blocking media organizations’ means to generate the maximum revenue from their assets; they can't scale to meet the changing demands of the market fast enough.
3. Cloud-Native is Key
Although we saw lots of solutions advertised as running in the cloud when walking the show floor, the answer to our most pressing challenges isn't in the cloud per se. It's in using the cloud in the best, most cost-effective way.
Businesses need to look for cloud-native solutions, built to take advantage of the rapid scale and interconnected workflows the cloud can offer. If you're a long way down the path of a legacy system, there's no single mouse click to migrate it all to a cloud efficient service intact.
When you're cloud-native, everything from storage environment to app management is deployed to your platform and immediately available. Provisioning, scaling and service continuity is all part of your agreement.
Not only does the speed of service and right-sizing your operation save money in itself, but it also lets you go to market faster, using insight about your operations straight from the data to make products even smoother.
4. Where Does Ateliere Fit in?
The media industry is undergoing a historic reconfiguration of players, libraries and content assets driven by the continued evolution of consumer behaviors. It's happening between some of the largest corporate entities on Earth – organizations not known for the ability to pivot rapidly.
To make the most of their evolving libraries, they need a cloud-native Saas platform that encompasses content inventory, mastering and distribution, reducing the number of pieced-together vendors in the overall workflow.
That platform needs to be easy and intuitive to use and integrate with. That's where technology partners like us come in – we provide agility and robustness for content owners through:
- Low-code/No-code, tag-based templates that automate microservices such as transcoding, metadata transformation, asset collection (including artwork and documents) QC, and delivery.
- Pre-built package templates for over 100 of the most common global over-the-top (OTT), broadcast and cable delivery destinations, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Peacock, Sky, Starz and more.
- Flexible, No-code metadata schemas that allow content providers the ability to manage all of the inputs required for package templates and workflow automation.
- Automated AI/ML-based video file deduplication with proprietary FrameDNA AI/ML to automatically detect identical video frames in media files and frames that differ or are unique.
- Multiple derived deliverables from a componentized asset package, natively using IMF or our assets tags, to easily package and distribute different versions of a title to multiple endpoints.
- Cloud-native, scalable processing accelerates content clean-up and title preparation: automate packaging for multiple timelines, resolutions, aspect ratios & languages.
- And so much more!
Because the cloud's true beauty is elasticity, smaller players get to enjoy the same scale as larger competitors, keeping overall costs low while still having the ability to ramp operations up when the market demands it.
Where Do We Go from Here?
If anything, acquisitions, divestments, and shifting consumer habits are going to be even more tumultuous in the future. Media assets are going to be delivered to more partners at more times in more versions than ever. It all comes back to a hunger for increased content monetization opportunities.
From our standpoint, data analytics and artificial intelligence, while not new concepts, will become even more essential for business management and forecasting. We know from experience that once you have an ordered content inventory and are tracking all available data, you can leverage that information back into your business to answer important questions about your bottom line and make better decisions.
For Ateliere, this will take shape as better insights into the content itself, such as using analysis to better understand how to sell and market materials. It also includes understanding how people are consuming the content, which can help us manage our content better and provide more informed recommendations to our customers.
Since we have a ways to go until NAB 2024, let’s continue the conversation now. Ask us about how to build your next-generation media supply chain in the cloud, fast.
Ateliere Creative Technologies is a leading cloud-native media supply chain company that empowers media companies and content creators to reach consumers on a global scale. The Ateliere suite of SaaS solutions incorporates cutting-edge workflows and formats to make the vision for a studio in the cloud a reality. The nucleus of the Ateliere platform, Ateliere Connect™, delivers core competencies in IMF, parallel scaling, and geographically distributed workflows. Ateliere is built by a team of experts with decades of combined experience at companies such as Amazon, HBO, Netflix, and Microsoft.