This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of The Record.
The broadcasting industry is in the midst of significant change. “While the move from analogue to digital presents huge opportunities for broadcasting companies, there are also many challenges,” explains Tony Emerson, Microsoft’s worldwide managing director for Media and Cable. “The biggest challenge is a cultural shift – workflow is much more interconnected and requires different people to be working on different projects at the same time.”
Broadcasting schedules also need to be more fluid. “As binge watching streamed content becomes more of a trend, broadcasters are increasingly finding that they need to broadcast more content immediately,” Emerson says.
And then there’s the challenge of security. “Just recently, the online hacking group ‘The Dark Overlord’ stole all ten episodes of the yet-to-be-broadcast season five of Orange is the New Black. It wanted a ransom to prevent it from releasing the episodes online. This is the sort of threat that the digital world presents – it’s absolutely imperative that broadcasters implement appropriate security measures.”
Recognising these challenges, Microsoft is there to help. “Unlike other cloud service providers, we fully embrace a hybrid approach, helping broadcasters to migrate to a cloud-based content and delivery model in a way and at a pace that works for them,” says Emerson. “This offers the agility and efficiency benefits of the cloud, without forcing broadcasters to relinquish control and write off investments in existing on-premise infrastructure.”
The rate of adoption speaks for itself. Since the beginning of 2017, Microsoft has announced partnerships with three of the biggest independent software vendors operating in the space.
In March, Adobe and Microsoft announced availability of their first set of joint solutions built using Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Power BI. “Business leaders in every industry are focused on how to better engage their digital customers, wherever they are,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Together, Adobe and Microsoft are bringing the most advanced marketing capabilities on the most powerful and intelligent cloud to help companies digitally transform and engage customers in new ways.”
And later that month Imagine Communications announced that its playout, live encoding and dynamic ad insertion solutions are now available on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. “Microsoft and Imagine Communications share the same vision of revitalising media operations through the flexibility, scale and operational efficiency of cloud-based services,” said Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and chief evangelist. “Together, we are accelerating solutions for the media industry by providing broadcasters, content distributors and others with the ability to reduce time-to-market while moving from a capital-intensive business to a pay-as-needed operational model.”
In April the global media technology provider Avid, whose platform has been used to edit several multi-award winning TV series and feature films including the BBC/PBS co-production of Sherlock, formed a strategic alliance with Microsoft to cooperatively develop and market cloud-based solutions and services. As part of the agreement, Avid has chosen Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud hosting platform, and will develop and launch a range of software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service offerings powered by the Avid MediaCentral Platform (read more in the interview with Avid on page 57).
“With the industry’s preeminent global community of media enterprises and creative professionals that make up Avid’s client base, the company’s unique platform approach and its extensive domain knowledge, combined with our own powerful Azure cloud platform, we believe that this unique alliance is well-positioned to lead the media industry into the cloud,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group. “Microsoft is pleased to collaborate with such a market leader in media and entertainment, and feels strongly that together our companies will produce something powerful for the industry – creating an intelligent, media-savvy cloud solution.”
Emerson says that these three partnerships will help Microsoft to grow its business and create a secure, yet neutral home for media solution providers for years ahead. “Microsoft is the safer place to be, both now and in the future,” he concludes.