The recent writers’ and actors’ union strikes in Hollywood are a clear sign that 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.
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. Some countries or customers covered by an individual satellite might be forced to move towards 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 towards 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 and 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 personalisation and interactivity.
Ateme supports this convergence of content contribution, distribution and consumption experiences by enabling operators with multiple platforms to distribute cloud-native free advert-supported television channels over traditional networks. This allows cable and terrestrial operators with an over-the-top (OTT) service the ability to experiment with their streaming services, gather data and broadcast their most popular OTT programmes over their legacy networks at minimal cost.
Ateme was at IBC in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in September where we showcased our future-ready end-to-end solutions.
François Guilleautot is director of cloud solutions at Ateme.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription