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Media supply chains in the cloud – the content factory?

The challenges of agility, scalability and speed to market are key concerns for any business – most notably within the media and entertainment sector, news and sports where ‘time is money’ and runners up have already lost out on maximising digital content monetisation, and losing loyal viewers.

Five years ago Deloitte predicted audio and video content demand would generate 89.3% of all consumer internet data traffic by 2018. A 60% increase from 29.3% in 2013. The news, media and entertainment (NME) industry has evolved over the last decade from traditionally involving couriers, physical tapes and reels of film, and bespoke technologies to complete the full production cycle through to delivery. Complex management overheads and a lack of visibility on the full process, made understanding the state of play very difficult to determine. In addition to this – the very specialised skills involved in each stage of the workflow.

Advancements in file-based workflows across content capture, production, processing, and delivery have continued to involve a high degree of technical and operational complexity. Managing systems and operations whilst providing ‘seamless’ integration of each workflow stage is typically controlled by tightly orchestrated media asset management (MAM) solutions.

As the industry continues to evolve, the same challenges remain. In many cases, there are still struggles in attempting to address the ever-growing and evolving consumer demands. However, cloud adoption is on the rise following increased awareness of key benefits including scalability across the complete media supply chain. Scalability is a major concern stemming from the speed of growth and fragmentation of consumers across multiple delivery platforms – each of the platforms with their own requirements that have the potential to stretch existing workflows beyond capacity.

If you can imagine a factory working at capacity with the same amount of raw materials going in, but expectations of the quantity of completed product at the end of the production line increasing continuously. An end-to-end process can involve many people, teams, equipment, and infrastructure, all of which are limiting factors to the scales of economy and would need to continually adapt to spiraling delivery requirements- this is the fundamental challenge facing any ‘content factory’.

Many cloud migration strategies are based around moving existing technologies from traditional on-premises deployments to run partially or wholly on cloud infrastructure. Cloud infrastructure (private and public) can offer great flexibility and scalability but to go back to our concept of a ‘content factory’ – for greater scale or flexibility would you really just move your factory to another location on a larger site, or partially move to a new factory and then have all the challenges of continually moving raw materials, thereby potentially introducing additional delays in the end-to-end process?

With Blackbird, we already have the factory, a proven cloud video platform – and the supply chain capabilities to remove many of the content interchange stages of semi-automated traditional workflows. Raw materials – video, audio, graphics, and stills, are delivered to the platform using our lightweight Blackbird codec – our customers don’t need to worry about transporting or transferring all the original content to us, just a low bitrate, bandwidth efficient and high-performance representation. We manage the infrastructure and enable workflows for taking this content, enriching it, manipulating it and allow you to deliver it using a highly scalable publishing feature set which includes broadcast, social media, online and OTT.

The real benefit Blackbird brings is to provide additive workflow capabilities that don’t rely upon heavy lifting of high bitrate files. We provide the production and delivery tools to allow our customers to truly scale and adopt a cloud infrastructure without additional expertise or adding complexity.

The recent announcement of the expansion of Blackbird usage for multiple news organisations in the US is a great example of a shared infrastructure being used effectively. Incredibly fast end-to-end media supply chain from live source to destination delivery through the content management system (CMS) to online consumers enable a differentiated offering to their customers without changing their existing workflows and without the worry of logistics or integration complexity.

Adding cloud capabilities provides an opportunity to exploit common platforms and remove the constraints of a fixed facility workflow. Blackbird is the perfect companion to revolutionise media supply chains today.

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