Cloud and virtualisation technologies have the potential to entirely reshape the local broadcast industry – changing how broadcasters create, distribute and monetise their video content.
“In recent years, cloud computing architectures have shown clear value in so many other industries and we’re now approaching a time when the broadcast industry can start to benefit in similar ways. We are seeing better operational efficiencies, more collaborative workflows and accelerated levels of innovation,” says Paul Divall, MD of Jasco Intelligent Technologies.
According to Divall, it’s only a matter of time before the broadcast industry starts embracing the advantages of the cloud.
In fact, a number of ‘digital-era’ broadcasters – the likes of Netflix for example – have firmly embraced cloud platforms to scale limitlessly and reach users on any kind of device, anywhere in the world.
Locally, Divall sees a number of clear advantages for South African broadcasters adopting cloud services:
Seamless integration between services – Our broadcasting landscape is traditionally very fragmented and lacking in overarching standardisation. Within different broadcasters, workflows and technologies are different and inefficiency often permeates the broadcast value chain. Cloud applications can help to simplify, abstract or unify these legacy systems – creating cleaner workflows and ultimately a more efficient broadcast operation.
Enhanced collaboration – Teams can be geographically-dispersed or co-located; they can be working on the same raw footage together; or tackling different aspects of the same activity. With cloud applications it becomes easier for teams to collaborate. So, for example, from a single raw stream of cricket footage one person can be working on the 60-minute highlights package, another on the 30-minute version and another on the five-minute version.
Reduced costs – Because the teams can now collaborate from anywhere in the world, not everyone needs to travel to a single location (such as travelling to Rio for the Olympics last year). This can dramatically reduce the total costs of creating broadcast content.
Increased use of data analytics – By being able to collect, store and analyse data with powerful cloud-enabled Big Data tools, broadcasters can comb through vast volumes of data. These insights can be used to fuel greater levels of personalisation, new customer experiences and services and more tailored advertising opportunities.
Scale capacity up and down as required – For the likes of high-profile sporting events or surges in seasonal demand, broadcasters can leverage cloud computing to access capacity as and when it is required – paying only for what they use – and avoiding the problem of having unused capacity in their data centres.
Access to new applications – A wide variety of new applications – for editing, post-production, effects and other tools – becomes instantly available as a broadcaster moves their workflows into the cloud.
Accessing outsourced talent – By shifting to public Cloud environments, broadcasters can more easily pull in outsourced or crowdsourced creative talent – allowing them to infuse new creative approaches into their work and flexibility onboard resources as and when they are needed, minimising their salary and overhead bills. Divall notes that for many local broadcasters, the cloud has remained a far-away dream, particularly when one considers that just one minute of pro-resolution 4K Ultra HD video comes in at a weighty 5,3Gb, and that streaming this content through workflows requires an eye-watering 880Mbps of dedicated bandwidth.
But while the public internet may not be viable, using dedicated private links and hybrid or private cloud environments, some of these benefits start to become a reality.
As broadcasters overcome some of the bandwidth concerns and better understand the security considerations, we could well see a new cloud-enabled broadcast era descend … sometime in the not-too-distant future.