Software Infrastructure Global Viewpoint – June 2016

Why Media Logistics Matters

The increased demand for custom video viewing and OTT has resulted in a proliferation of video content. Consumers expect more content available on all of their devices. The result is production companies, studios and broadcasters are forced to rapidly create and manage more content in order to keep their viewers. As a consequence, integrating legacy and modern systems  into an integrated solution has become a core challenge.

This strain to constantly upgrade hardware and buy new creative software leads to higher programming costs. Consequently, many companies are experiencing a downward pressure on revenues and profits.

In addition, many new content delivery systems are rapidly transitioning from traditional television to digital over-the-top (OTT) platforms. A report from Digital TV Research revealed that global OTT TV and video revenues are expected to surpass $51 billion by 2020, almost double the $26 billion forecast for 2015.

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Producing video has never been more fraught with risk as content costs and volume have skyrocketed, distribution has decentralized, and consumption has fragmented across the mobile device landscape. Meanwhile, production workflows have shifted to digital, non-linear software methods. The result is engineering support teams and content creators face a set of new problems and need help to:

  • Get to market faster to meet a tight film release schedule
  • Produce a new daily series for TV, web and mobile devices all at once
  • Prep content for legal and compliance review while maintaining security
  • Plan multiple versions of sports highlights in multiple different languages
  • Produce and release content in a variety of output formats; from streaming to UHD 4K
  • Do all of this while staying within the post-production budget

  • Put differently, content creators are now faced with a core challenge: How to efficiently produce and distribute personalized, multi-screen video experiences–optimized for divergent audiences, in multiple screen formats--while relying on a variety of incompatible internal processes and business models?

    Media Logistics

    That’s why video supply chain management―or in more modern terms, media logistics–is such an essential component to resolving these issues. Media logistics begins upstream of the traditional online video platform (OVP) ingest point and takes that new video from conception to consumption as quickly and profitably as possible. Media logistics includes the optimal planning, introduction, control and analysis of each video asset and its data throughout sequential production and distribution workflows. A good media logistics platform is the workhorse of a content provider’s entire video ecosystem.

    The old linear workflows were never designed for today's non-linear OTT world. Siloed approaches to content creation, editing and distribution without collaboration and modularity are history. Today’s production solutions must be sufficiently flexible to meet ever-changing consumer demand for personally-delivered video content. And, these solutions have to do all of this while trying to integrate legacy systems that don’t fit well in a digital-first world.

    The solution is a cloud-enabled, collaborative, automated and open approach to building united video workflows that begin with content commissioning and continue to syndication. The control, visibility, efficiency, and agility that media logistics provides is the modern solution.

    Inside media logistics

    Media logistics offers several core attributes that meet today's production, distribution and business needs throughout a piece of content's lifecycle. They include.

    • End to end (E2) workflow design [commissioning through syndication]
    • Production integration throughout the full workflow
    • API integration
    • Enterprise asset ingest and management
    • System modularity to fit any operational structure
    • Automation and flexibility of controls
    • Cloud-enabled infrastructure
    • Team and process collaboration
    • Content distribution
    • Data continuity, integrity and analytics

    First some good news. A media logistics platform should sit underneath existing systems and not replace them with a more complex, costly and time-consuming operation. This enables a low risk platform to rapidly and efficiently begin orchestrating assets and finding places to optimize the entire workflow. This is true whether those solutions are tape-based or digital, on-site or in the cloud. It is also true whether a facility uses media logistics to support one production workflow component or their entire, E2E content creation and distribution cycle.

    Such an integrated approach creates scalability, adaptability and order across existing disparate and legacy systems. A staff is seldom able to identify system bottlenecks and repetition across both machine and human tasks. In addition, familiarity and comfort with existing solutions will play into a person’s decisions. A media logistics solution will eliminate such biases.

    Different entities and solutions can create massive discontinuity. Existing systems may represent different technologies and therefore address media and codecs in many ways. A media logistics approach helps optimize the best solution that is already in place and currently available to do the job in a best of breed fashion.

    More than asset management

    Asset management is often top-of-mind with technical and production staff. But, media logistics is more than asset management. Many behind-the scenes tasks like script revisioning or gaining production releases remain manual tasks, requiring staff to query multiple systems to identify at which stage in the production process a particular piece of content currently stands.

    Media logistics platforms can provide enterprise-level asset support with customized dashboards that enable staff to visualize information in real time. Team members can receive alerts at every mission-critical process point instead of finding out too late that an item is not ready for playout or quality control or syndication because someone or something failed.

    Another key task is finding and cataloging assets across media systems. Without an overriding management solution, transparency across projects is reduced. Multiple media systems, renditions, and formats open the door to mistakes, version control loss, and major disconnects between the mezzanine file and its derivatives. By connecting disparate systems, media logistics enables real-time searches and permissions-based asset controls. Manual operations also can be automated.

    Data continuity and tracking

    Data is an essential component of video–not only in tracking how content is consumed or monetized but in how it is created. Media logistics promotes the continual capture and flow of metadata on every asset and allows for increased visibility and timely reporting–at every stage of production and distribution.

    In addition, time-coded data applied to assets enables easier clip searches. New promotional bumpers, teasers and other content will require less time and effort to produce.

    The bottom line

    The costs and complexities of video content creation, management and delivery demand new ways of thinking. Media logistics platforms represent such innovation. Benefits include:

    • Lower costs and higher efficiency
    • Support for existing systems
    • More automated and transparent processes
    • Extensibility, agility and elasticity for growth
    • Better asset management and control
    • Stronger collaboration
    • Faster time to market
    • Deeper analysis
    • Broader reach and scalability

    Today’s successful video platform begins with media logistics for optimal video asset workflow and ends with higher profits and more engaged viewers.

    Editor note: This article is based on the white paper, “Why Media Logistics Matters,” by Ooyala. The complete white paper can be obtained here.

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