Technicolor, Turner Tout AWS Advantages at re:Invent 2016

Amazon Web Services (AWS) received plenty of praise from its media and entertainment partners at its annual re:Invent conference, but perhaps none as effuse as that from Turner.

Turner isn’t a traditional broadcaster anymore, according to Michael Koetter, VP of digital media systems for the company, who shared during a presentation how it could better be described as a “data-driven” and “consumer-facing” media company, with Turner working on a daily basis with hundreds of content suppliers, moving content (covering TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and CNN) across platforms and services. “We have to be able to get the content to all those services and devices, all of which have a different set of requirements,” he said.

And while doing it all in the cloud may not be a necessity, it sure does make it more manageable: for Turner’s supply chain management application, the company takes advantage of a host of AWS services: pay-what-you-use server-less computing service Lamda, scalable object storage service S3, the flexible NoSQL database service Dynamo DB, and other AWS-specific offerings (Elastic, Cloud Formation, Code Commit, etc.).

“We’re doing more things with … content then we ever have we before,” Koetter said. “When we look at our end-to-end media supply chain … we’re connecting content producers with content monetization platforms to drive Turner’s business across all of our brands, all of our networks, and all of our products.”

Title metadata, content rights, ordering and scheduling … all are more easily facilitated using AWS cloud services, he added. From January to November, 26,000 content items processed, and while cloud services may not be necessary, they sure make it easier to do it fast and accurately.

When an SVOD service has a deadline for assets, or a promotion agency needs every asset for a cartoon program to do their job, that’s where “peaky, elastic needs put pressure on what we used to do in the past,” Koetter said. Netflix requirements for content are far different from what a broadcaster needs. And what a broadcaster needs are night and day from what Apple’s iTunes calls for. “That means a lot of flexibility, and flexibility means agility,” he added. “In years past you could do that in six months, but now it’s coming up in weeks.”

Usman Shakeel, worldwide tech lead of media and entertainment for AWS, said his company’s partnership with Turner is less than two years old, but they’re a perfect example of how AWS has molded its M&E practice based on what it’s clients have said they need, he said. From acquisition to archiving, from the digital supply chain to distribution, “we have customers across the M&E industry segment that are doing … bits and pieces of different workflows that [we handle].”

“Media folks have to capture my attention as a consumer, and if they’re successful in doing that … they need to know who I am as a consumer, what type of content I would like to watch,” Shakeel said. “What we see is this move toward analytics, not just in the recommendation space, or in the search space, but moving all the way to production decisions, what type of content [companies] should invest in.”

And if anyone in the media and entertainment space says “we can’t move this into the cloud, don’t take no for an answer,” he laughed, using Turner as the perfect use case. “Yes, you’ll have to optimize your workflow, you’ve have to optimize your application … but it is all possible.”

Also at re:Invent Nov. 30, Technicolor announced a new partnership with AWS, which will bring AWS cloud applications to connected edge devices in the home. The deal promises to build a bridge between cloud and edge technology “that will act as a force-multiplier for building new services throughout the home,” according to Gary Gutknecht, SVP of Techicolor’s Connected Home Division.

“Some of these services are clear to us today, such as the ability to use conversational voice commands to configure network settings or diagnose technical problems,” he said. “This will improve the user experience and reduce the cost of customer service. Other services will completely surprise us, and will very likely disrupt our economic assumptions about bringing broadband content and services to the home.”

Technicolor expects to integrate Alexa Personal Assistant into its gateway products, and add Amazon’s Alpine system-on-chip into its new family of gateway offerings.