The Broadcast Industry Goes Cloud Native

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Cloud Native

The recent writer’s and actors’ union strikes in Hollywood are a clear sign that the pressure on the studios has reached a breaking point. Modern productions are complex, often requiring hundreds of multi-skilled workers to produce just a few minutes of entertainment.

Studios are exploring every possible option to control production costs, and have increasingly turned to remote or virtual production in the cloud to help. All three phases of the video content lifecycle – production, distribution, and consumption – have gone through a cloud transformation.

Media businesses are making the shift in multiple areas. Visual effects producer Wētā FX, for example, focuses on the cloud for rendering, while Netflix is building complete virtual editing stations with its own platform, NetFX.

“Modern productions are complex, often requiring hundreds of multiskilled workers to produce just a few minutes of entertainment”

François Guilleautot, Director of Cloud Solutions, Ateme

And it’s not just the movie industry. The move to the cloud is happening in live production, too. For example, the European League of Football – an American football league made up of 16 teams from nine European countries – recently announced that all 107 games of the 2023 season will be produced in the cloud.

Zeljko Karajica, managing director of the European League of Football, explains: “This means that directors, graphic designers, operators, sound engineers and other technicians no longer need to travel to the game venue. With this, we estimate that we can achieve a reduction of over 272.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions this season.”

Once content is created in the cloud, it can be distributed in that same environment at a very low cost. This offers a clear incentive to anyone downstream of a production to move into that same cloud environment, pushing the entire industry towards an end-to-end cloud-native ecosystem.

Content distribution is also going through its own transformation. As 5G expands, the transition to and from the C-band spectrum is increasingly vital for providers. However, not everyone is moving at the same speed and some countries or customers covered by an individual satellite might be forced to move toward C-band sooner than others. In this case, reliant service providers and satellite operators will need to seek an alternative distribution solution. Launching an entirely new satellite service and maintaining a reserved spectrum for early adopters, while supporting legacy customers looking to transition later, does not make financial sense. Instead, distributing the same content sent over the first 300 megahertz of the C-band, using public cloud infrastructures, is more cost effective and future-proof.

Legislators are pushing the industry toward a more internet protocol-oriented future with new standards such as ATSC 3.0, DVB-I, and TV 3.0. This forces a convergence of standards for broadcast and streaming technologies, mostly aligning with ROUTE and DASH protocols. As these new protocols gain traction, cloud processing will become even more attractive, offering a bridge to 5G broadcast and low-earth-orbit satellite broadband.

Another incentive for the media industry to go cloud-native is to keep up with consumer expectations. Viewers have come to expect all the conveniences that streaming offers, in pristine quality, especially for premium content. Content providers such as Disney and Zee Entertainment are ramping up their direct-to-consumer efforts and scaling up platforms for millions of users all over the world within a matter of a few years. This is only made possible by transitioning to an extensive cloud-native infrastructure.

In the meantime, service providers require a return on their large investments in traditional distribution networks. And they must leverage their associated customer base by offering their viewers more personalization and interactivity.

Ateme supports this convergence of content contribution, distribution, and consumption experiences by enabling operators with multiple platforms to distribute cloud-native FAST channels over traditional networks. This allows broadcasters with an OTT service to experiment with their streaming services, gather data, and broadcast their most popular OTT programs over their legacy networks at minimal cost.

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