M&E Journal: Digital Workflows: Transforming Multimedia Production

By Anil Ganjoo, EVP, HCL America, Inc.

The heightened demand for enhanced digital experiences is pushing M&E enterprises to adopt intelligent operational models—that can enhance consumer engagement and revenue generation. Modern consumers have increased access to online content through varied devices and delivery options. At every turn, the empowered digital audience is leaning towards brands, platforms, and experiences that are differentiated by the quality of their customization, curation, and easy accessibility.

As is the case with most legacy broadcasters, Univision, a Spanish-language TV network targeting the Latino audience in the U.S., had to restrategize—considering the rising popularity of online videos. This involved identifying unique broadcasting methods for its ‘breaking news’ segment. As and when news broke, the digital video team would post relevant images on the network’s social media channels; followed by a social video featuring its more popular news anchors.

Within the first nine months of 2016, these videos garnered 1.1 billion views across online platforms. The key aspect of this digital transformation was adopting an optimized workflow and suitable storytelling formats—drone footage, mini documentaries, animations, interactive videos and 360-degree videos.

Likewise, the rest of the media is now preparing for this digital disruption— with video traffic reported to make up 79 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. The expansion of digital technology, manifested through the growing number of inter-connected devices and platforms, is driving the industry to adopt new production, distribution, and monetization models. These can, in turn, help enterprises monitor performance and strategize based on real-time data on viewership and its relevance to advertisers.

Deconstructing critical workflow roadblocks

From a business point of view, media companies may need to overhaul the capabilities of their technology function to facilitate a new kind of media production workflow. This would involve:

Segregating responsibilities—by enabling non-technical editors and journalists to create and easily publish video-on-demand (VOD) assets, freeing web engineers and publishers to focus solely on platform management. This empowers IT, shifting its focus towards creating and enhancing digital offerings, processes, and models. OTT players like Netflix and Hulu have adopted a similar mindset by putting technology at the forefront for content creation and distribution across big and niche viewership segments.

Investing in live streaming technologies— for managing online live events for a larger viewership, with pay-per-view being one of the most direct revenue models. Take for instance YouTube Gaming—a dedicated site for gaming content, featuring over 25,000 games. With viewers watching more than 144 million minutes of gaming videos per month, YouTube upgraded its video capabilities—removing the need for broadcasters to schedule live events ahead of time.

Addressing rights management issues—for real-time videos and ensuring compliance to U.S. federal regulations (and other government mandates) for online videos. Replacing embargoed content with rights-approved content can be quite a task, and can generally result in compromised video quality (still images, overlapping content, black on-air, and so on). In 2016, the Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) had provided a strict deadline for video providers and distributors to add captions to their online video airs on TV.

Ensuring the right content, format and categorization—of VOD assets to maximize monetization. This requires a well-defined workflow platform that can assure all content is published in the correct destination.

Moving from ‘quality of content’—to ‘quality of experience’ and maximizing throughput across syndication sites, social media, apps, and websites. Depending on manual processes may not be feasible as the published content needs to be continuously refreshed to increase consumer engagement and interest.

Driving consumer interactivity and engagement— through editorial feedback (polling/ voting) across social media platforms. Facebook continues to be a leading platform when it comes to social media audience popularity and reach. Such platforms are critical for reaching specific audience segments, who can further (re)share and engage with the published content across all social channels.

Shifting from broad-based impression and spot advertising—to hyper-local targeting models without compromising on programming output or on-air operations. Brands can use behavioral and geo-contextual insights gleaned from their viewership to determine characteristics like demographics, locality, and so on. Accordingly, campaigns can be customized and launched across target markets.

Towards building an integrated media workflow

Core media operations, such as ingestion, storage, processing, serving, and media apps, require the support of a scalable media system. This will allow quick and secure upload (and download) of media objects, while providing a compelling user experience. Metadata from the media object can accordingly be ingested and synchronized, especially during modification or re-ingestion. By integrating metadata with application-specific domain data, enterprises can create media applications, such as social gaming and content sharing. Therefore, it is crucial to not only streamline communications across the ingestion workflow, but also ensure unlimited, globally accessible, and cost efficient storage space for all media assets.

Transition to a fully wireless cloud platform

Media companies can look to optimize network functionality, such as IP addressing, traffic management, and routing, by providing wired, wireless, and remote network access. Organizations pushing for cloud transformation can reap multiple benefits—establishing standardized processes, lowering implementation and maintenance costs, and enhancing cross-business-unit collaboration. Media processing will also require scalable computing resources for document format conversion, media transcoding, image processing and so on. This will further enable easy, quick download of media content for end users. Netflix is a notable example of how providers are shifting encoding, transcoding, and storage infrastructure to the cloud.

Similarly, when it comes to developing next-gen video tagging strategies, digital and video marketers can organize and display individual playlists, video assets, and libraries— using Video Cloud upload modules and smart playlists. Case in point, Brightcove Gallery provides users the option to upload their tagged time-lapse video, automatically organize the same in the playlist, and then publish the playlist with the exact publishing location.

Augment data management and digital governance

One of the more important technology functions that enterprises must account for is data management. If implemented correctly, it can provide broadcasters a clear vision to manage data as a strategic asset, and not simply as viewership information. Companies can therefore effectively examine content performance—enabling creative teams to assess customer reception, complementing high performing content with high revenue generating ads, and monitoring content ROI. A recent study revealed that on average, the ROI for digital video advertising is 1.27 times higher than that for television advertising.

Lastly, enterprises need a proactive IT governance approach for navigating complexities of and sustaining new business-IT partnerships. This involves implementing best practices that include establishing a single point of responsibility for implemented tools, near real-time budget monitoring, and establishing a formal request management framework. By prioritizing and reviewing business requirements and changes, companies can create efficient policies and enter partnerships to address current and future needs.

Virtualizing resources and integrating common IP-based technology as well as storage infrastructure can optimize production across the media value chain.

With agile development methodologies, enterprises can ensure faster delivery cycles and seamless deployment of products that match (and adapt) to user requirements—reducing pressure on CAPEX and OPEX considerably.

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