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Unlocking the content treasure chest

Posted on Jul 8, 2022 by FEED Staff

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With the help of Ateliere, big content owners are using cloud-native tools to renovate valuable archives

Most people around the world are aware of the global supply chain crisis. Fuelled by regional issues and conflicts, the ongoing Covid-19 situation and a just-in-time infrastructure that’s lost its sense of rhythm, we are in a time where demand is soaring and the supply chain is still catching up. Similar pressures are simmering in the digital world.

“The demand for content is unprecedented,” explains Bill Admans, chief operating officer at cloud-native supply chain platform Ateliere. “And we have never seen this level of production before, or the utility of content sitting in people’s archives.”

The return of advertising

The surge in content demand is often attributed to the pandemic, but most media companies already had strategies in place to move into streaming as a primary means of distribution and customer engagement. Netflix and Amazon proved that streaming was a more than viable marketplace and that audiences wanted on demand. The pandemic was merely the stage to show off what was alreadyoccurring behind the scenes.

A second wave has been led by ad-supported platforms. There is only so much room in the market for subscriber-supported platforms – and as viewers are choosier about their subscriptions, that market is narrowing, along with potential revenue. New AVOD platforms offer audiences a way to enjoy a wide range of content for free, but also a very lucrative solution for content owners.

There's only so much room in the market for subscriber-supported platforms

“What’s interesting about ad-supported video on demand is that advertisers will pay a premium for slots,” says Admans. “Unlike linear broadcast, where one commercial fits all, every ad that’s served is tailored to that individual viewer’s profile, and that profile is usually very rich in data.”

Fast and furious

Alongside AVOD are FAST (free ad-supported TV) channels, which are beginning to elbow in on thespace once dominated by cable. Speciality channels of all kinds have popped up, with broadcasters and content owners scouring libraries for themes to build them around. They can have huge appeal – see the BBC’s new 24/7 Doctor Who FAST channel. Being able to target whole channels to certain types of audience is not only great for advertisers, but gives historical content and libraries new purpose.

“It’s almost a case of finding cash in the attic as some companies have looked into their archives.”

The traditional media supply chain – built around heavy storage infrastructure, and accompanying encoding and decoding hardware, operating out of a bricks-and-mortar facility – all starts to break down when asked to cope with the mass of content needing to be deployed now. Cloud processing is stepping in to help owners scale up.

“Content is being commoditised, so we have to make a difference in the margins. Jobs that used to take several weeks, and cost several thousand dollars, should now only take a few hours and cost as much as a pizza.”

Cloud transformation

Ateliere’s cloud-native, supply-chain orchestration platform Connect was designed to help media companies ingest, manage, encode, package and deliver video content to any and all endpoints. Ateliere recently assisted a major studio in an enormous digital transformation project, which included overhauling how it managed its massive film and TV archive. In the past, in common with many Hollywood institutions, most of its processes had been done manually. But the studio saw an urgent need to leverage technology, and increase its scope for producing and distributing more content.

Cloud was at the centre of this vision, with a focus on not going beyond typical cloud workflow processes, and leveraging the deep capabilities of public cloud services like AWS. Consequently, the studio was looking for more than a traditional media asset management system, and embraced Ateliere Connect’s built-in QC workbench, IMF deep analysis, and the ability to do easy, templated distribution to multiple partners.

With Ateliere as a partner, the entire epic process only took a couple of months

A stunning 15 petabytes of content were brought back under control of the company after years in the hands of external partners. Once ingested into Amazon S3 storage, it could be organised, managed, tagged with metadata and turned into useful assets. With Ateliere as a partner, the entire epic process only took a couple of months.

Leveraging IMF

Ateliere’s componentised workflow leverages the benefits of the IMF format to massively reduce a customer’s storage footprint – often by over 70%. A massive amount of duplication happens in file storage, often with very little paper trail (or sometimes a literal paper trail) to describe what files are, or even why they exist. Ateliere’s supply chain platform compares the various versions of content using AI and machine learning to identify the duplicated media. The IMF format then permits saving only the unique elements across the archive.

“The challenge is that most libraries are overburdened with duplicated media, due to the many versions of a title created,” explains Admans. “This versioning often results from localisation, to accommodate the many languages for all the countries a title will play in, along with changes for compliance and distribution channels. When you consider large studios and content owners’ libraries are often more than ten petabytes in size, savings can quickly add up to millions of dollars.”

The capacity to rapidly make large, disorganised content archives available will give content owners a head start in the race to publish. Efficiently orchestrating these workflows, and incorporating formats like IMF, turns a task no human could pull off into a practical element of a business strategy.

“We’ve taken IMF to the next level,” says Admans. “We’ve looked at how IMF enables automation throughout the entire workflow. You can potentially save content owners millions.”

Ateliere is applying its cloud expertise to easing other industry tech pain points.

“We’ve focused on building out the media supply chain for content management and distribution. Now, we are stepping into other parts of the workflow. Our vision is to bring those efficiencies to the content creation process, from concept all the way through to consumer.”

Find out more here

This article first featured in the summer 2022 issue of FEED magazine.

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