Optimizing Media Asset Management for Current Broadcast Environments

Today’s broadcasters face increasing challenges in the preparation and delivery of digital video in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Content now needs to be delivered across a growing number of platforms and screens. And processing such assets in multiple formats requires new workflows and tools, all of which increases operational complexity. Is there a solution? Yes.

The need to process more content, in multiple formats to numerous channels is a familiar challenge facing today’s broadcasters. Meeting this challenge requires automation and new workflows. But those solutions add expense. The proper solution is a media asset management solution that enables greater flexibility and efficiency through new technology and workflow.

This article will examine the key challenges that broadcasters currently face from a media asset management perspective, identifying how they can achieve seamless content ingest, processing, and independent platform asset delivery. By embracing a hybrid cloud/on-premises platform for the preparation of content for TV broadcasting and additional screens, content providers can streamline the delivery of media assets to various destinations across different channels.

Current MAM Challenges

Broadcasters currently face multiple MAM challenges. Beyond complying with a variety of delivery standards and video quality requirements as well as strict format specifications, audio and picture quality requirements, ancillary data in the video stream (such as closed captions) or standalone ancillary files (such as subtitles), they must also provide relevant advertisements. However, the delivery and management of media assets, sometimes including these advertisements, is often served independently for each distribution channel.

Elsewhere, the use of different systems for asset trafficking and delivery of online and traditional broadcast content is a hurdle. Broadcasters need to be fast when it comes repurposing content into bite-sized clips for an increasing number of use cases in an increasingly fragmented delivery environment, such as supporting online video advertising or for content recommandation purposes. They also need to be able to minimize the cost, time, and complexity of localizing and personalizing both live and VOD content for entrance into new markets.

The control of content has become an extremely complex issue for many broadcasters, disrupting core competencies and requiring investment to ensure that new business opportunities are not being lost.

The Solution: Converged Workflows and Cloud Infrastructure

The techniques used in traditional broadcast television are simply no longer effective in the multi-standard digital television arena. Today’s broadcasters must unify all components under one service platform, creating converged workflow management capabilities for scheduling, playout, DAM, MAM, CMS, and content processing.

A hybrid cloud/on-premises media platform provides superior internal and external collaboration, integration with third-party vendors, aggregation, and monitoring all in one place, with unified data management and reporting capabilities. It allows broadcasters to take the complexity out of managing, processing, and delivering media assets to multiple destinations across a variety of different media channels.

Furthermore, integrating the infrastructure with cloud technologies will increase resilience and scale, enabling delivery in multiple locations and a quick return on investment. It will also make the system highly adaptable to future trends and forces.

Aside from choosing a hybrid/on-premises media platform, broadcasters can deploy several methods to overcome the lack of a solution for seamlessly serving assets and associated advertisements across a plurality of different channels. These methods should comprise:

  • Determining that the media asset is to be uploaded to at least one content source node;
  • Determining a media grid or plan to be associated with the media asset that is then uploaded to at least one content source node;
  • Analyzing the media plan to determine the plurality of destinations for the media asset, wherein the plurality of destinations are served through at least two different media channels;
  • For each of the plurality of destinations, determining at least one transcoding scheme corresponding to the destination or the plurality of destinations;
  • For each of the plurality of destinations, transcoding the media asset into a format compliant with properties of at least one transcoding scheme;
  • Performing automated QC tasks before and after transcode and metadata validation including packaging if required;
  • Adding and matching ancillary assets to the package (e.g., subtitle files, images, xml’s) based on asset identification; closed caption insertion during transcode; and
  • Delivering each package with transcoded media asset to the corresponding destination.

Workflow Strategies and the Importance of a Media Grid
Of these strategies, it is setting up the media grid which is key. With this in place, each file format and destination is determined and uploaded to at least one content source server. The media grid/plan defines information regarding the form of delivery of each transcoded asset, wherein the form of delivery comprises packaging of the assets and delivery of the assets with at least one accompanying file. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The destination shown represents an electronic system configured to receive and process the transcoded assets delivered by the asset management server.

Figure 1. The destination shown represents an electronic system configured to receive and process the transcoded assets delivered by the asset management server.

Broadcasters will need to analyze the media plan to determine the various destinations for the media asset, such as a television station, a radio station, an online advertisement platform, a social media network, an internet video-on-demand service, etc.

For each of the various destinations, the broadcasters will then need to choose at least one corresponding transcoding scheme. A destination may operate in a pull state, whereby transcoded assets are saved in a content source server, or in a push state, in which case one or more assets are delivered to the destination without receiving a request for the delivery. Ideally, broadcasters will want to choose a media platform that is highly flexible and configurable, allowing users to search, classify, upload, reuse, and manage assets in the content source server.

Figure 2: Flowchart describing the operation of a method for the delivery of assets and associated advertisements across a variety of media channels.

Figure 2: Flowchart describing the operation of a method for the delivery of assets and associated advertisements across a variety of media channels.

When it comes to delivering assets and associated advertisements across channels, broadcasters will first upload an asset to a content source server. The media plan associated with the uploaded asset is also uploaded to a server and will hold pertinent information such as media channels, media types, and destinations for each asset used in the campaign. (See Figure 2.) The assets are then transcoded into the appropriate format defined in the media plan.

Conclusion

As traditional broadcasters cope with entrance of new competitors and the challenges involved with preparing and delivering video assets to various destinations across different channels, they require a robust, high-performance solution that is built to handle the complexities of consumers’ ever changing needs. Using a hybrid on-premises/cloud-based media platform for a wide range of workflow management capabilities, broadcasters can gain the flexibility, efficiency, and scalability that is essential today. Creating media grids within that platform will ensure that video assets, including advertisements, are delivered with the utmost speed and reliability. 

Ariel Nishri.

Ariel Nishri.

Author Bio

Ariel Nishri is the Vice President of Product Development at MX1. Ariel is an experienced professional and entrepreneur with extensive knowledge in digital and broadcast media. Prior to MX1, he worked at Digital Generation Inc. (DG) as the senior product manager in charge of all video products, digital asset management, media processing, workflow automation, distribution, and broadcast integration.

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