This article first appeared in the Winter issue of The Record.
Traditional media companies have huge repositories of content, but all too often are held back by linear distribution models. But, at a time when consumers expect to be able to devour this content anywhere and on any device, these companies need to up their game or risk excluding an entire generation who demand flexibility in their consumption.
What is required is for media companies to digitally repurpose their assets and deliver over a digital network (commonly called over the top television or OTT). But they need to go about it the right way. Moving to this kind of service means that there are 10,000 or more channels – a virtual minefield in which key content can easily get lost. So search and discoverability are key, as is personalisation and recommendation functions.
What’s clear is that, if traditional players don’t act fast, then someone else will. Smaller new entrants don’t have the baggage that the industry mainstays have – they’re more agile and therefore able to go to market quickly and effectively.
Sling TV is a great example. In its infancy, the company delivered your satellite signal to you, wherever you were, over the internet. Today it’s a skinny bundle of broadcast channels – including ESPN – delivered over the internet for US$20 a month. The company is now enhancing its packages with more choices and channels and has grown to a million subscribers in just a year and a half. Sony and AT&T are quickly trying to follow suit, but there’s no question that Sling TV has disrupted the market.
This huge shift in the way media companies need to deliver content requires a reliable platform, and this is where Microsoft comes into play. Its rich media on demand solution is already enabling players like Fuji TV to grow at unprecedented rates and the fact that it is highly scalable means that as these companies grow, so does the platform.
Users can create end-to-end media workflows with flexible encoding, packaging and distribution services using Microsoft Azure Media Services. They can very securely upload, store, encode and package video or audio content for on-demand delivery to a wide array of TV, PC and mobile device endpoints.
This type of solution will equip media companies long into the future – a future which more than likely will be made up of apps. A future where data about what consumers are watching is key. And a future where user experience is absolutely critical.
Tony Emerson is worldwide managing director for Microsoft’s media and cable division