Sony Targets Cloud Collaboration and Virtualized Automation By Creating A New Solutions Business

Sony has announced a new Media Solutions business unit that aggregates multiple existing software-centric businesses to support customers wanting to deploy next-generation media production and playout facilities to create and deliver content across multiple consumer platforms.

Sony said the consolidation of its technologies and solutions capabilities into one organization allows the company to work effectively with all types of customers, helping them anticipate, address and overcome their workflow challenges. Interested customers will pay a monthly service charge, depending upon how many services they require.

The new Media Solutions Division is comprised of professional marketing staff and product developers, most located in North America. Depending upon the desired project, the needed resources will be pulled from Sony’s XDCAM air, Media Backbone Hive, Media Backbone Navigator X, Memnon digitization and the Ci cloud platform services. Other Sony resources include Crispin Corporation, which was acquired last April. This brings master control automation and asset management to the solution mix. Then there is the recent addition of Ven.ue, which develops OTT and cloud-based content distribution and management solutions. All or some of these services can be combined and leveraged for a small project or an entire facility wide system integration.

Changing Marketplace Demands

“We have these purpose-built groups that Sony has been developing over the past several years and we saw a need among our customers to meet that opportunity with the combined strengths of all of our people.” said John Studdert, who will lead the new business as vice president of Media Solutions. “All of those business were started to address specific needs at Sony Pictures. A lot of these new software-based tools are very applicable to other areas of the industry, so we began talking to our broadcast and production customers and got a very positive response.”

Studdert said over the past 18 months the marketplace has shown a willingness to embrace remotely located services as a way to scale up operational capacity. Indeed, before that traditional broadcasters and other established businesses wanted nothing to do with the cloud, due to safety and content access concerns. The demand has since “skyrocketed”, as virtually every major media company is now engaged in using the public cloud for their content.

John Studdert, vice president of the Media Solutions business, said customers now understand the importance of a flexible architecture that can serve many different distribution platforms.

John Studdert, vice president of the Media Solutions business, said customers now understand the importance of a flexible architecture that can serve many different distribution platforms.

He said the new Media Solutions group recognizes that even the definition of “media customer” has changed, expanding to include not only traditional broadcasters or production companies, but also multi-channel networks, OTT producers and VOD services and telecommunication brands.

“Customers now understand the importance of a flexible architecture that can serve many different distribution platforms, but still need an organization that can navigate the process with them,” he said. “We’re bringing all of our resources to bear and think we bring an unique perspective—from the camera to the consumer—to help our customers achieve their goals.”

The Sony Media Solutions group will develop custom media workflows based on an individual customer's need. The goal is to help media companies maximize and monetize content distribution while driving efficiencies at every stage of the media production lifecycle -- from initial content acquisition to distribution to archive. That could mean supporting a single channel OTT playout or an end-to-end content creation workflow. For example, if a customer wanted to connect their asset management system to a collaborative cloud-based system in order to be more efficient, The Sony group could help design and oversee that implementation. If a company wants to move their equipment from on-premise to remote, Sony now has the ability to offer the already established business units as a single entity in order to develop a  customized solution for them.

Studdert said Sony has been quietly talking with its loyal customers over the past several months about the new business unit and has received positive response. In a vision of what might be, the company has, since 2014, been running 24/7 master control for PBS station WGBH through its Public Media Management (PMM) cloud-based service. The PMM service addresses unique needs of local stations such as archiving content to the cloud with localized branding, and continues to add more customers.

In addition, Sony’s Ven.ue business is being used by Funimation Entertainment as a complete end-to-end managed service solution. Sony operates Funimation's full OTT Video-on-Demand service that includes avails-based ordering, ingest, processing, delivery, native app development, subscription management, digital and physical commerce transactions, analytics and reporting.

Sony products and services including Media Backbone NavigatorX and Hive and the Ci cloud platform, are used by broadcasters, sports networks, financial services companies and universities throughout the country.

Studdert said Sony has built APIs for more than 100 on-premise and cloud-based devices and actively distributes to more than 1400 platforms globally; all while connecting those APIs back into its cloud distribution service. Its application solutions are designed to optimize the power of cloud processing and distribution.

Based on a customer's unique needs, one or several Sony products can be used to help streamline and automate workflows, which can free media professionals to focus on creating and monetizing compelling content. These solutions can also deliver budgetary relief by enabling the launch of new services that might otherwise require up front capital or result in additional operating expenses.

“In the end, our customers are changing their operations and business models and Sony is changing right along with them,” Studdert said. “More than ever before, customers are looking for global distribution of their content, which is a complex task. Our challenge is how can we bring these business units together to provide the most value.”

The new Media Solutions business falls under Sony’s Professional Solutions Americas (PSA) group.

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