By Damien Montessuit, SVP Global Sales, MediaKind
The consumer shift to streaming media is driving an incredible transformation within the operator and multichannel distributor (MVPD) landscape, with fruitful rewards for those that get it right. While the streaming market is becoming massively congested as consumers become accustomed to over-the-top (OTT) content consumption, operators and MVPDs are positioning to shift their media offerings towards streaming TV and embrace the role of ‘super aggregators.’
Like all TV service providers, operators and MVPDs must address several challenges to deliver a successful, revenue-generating service. These challenges include reliability, low latency, video quality, scalability, monetization, delivering to multiple viewing devices, and shifting to the cloud. The expectation of their customers to access media content of all types on any device, at broadcast quality, poses the most significant barrier to them launching a successful and revenue-generating aggregated service.
Despite these challenges, this change in the market naturally brings a far closer alignment with internet-based technologies, with enormous potential to enable faster innovation and the introduction of enticing new consumer experiences. The shift to streaming goes hand-in-hand with cloud-native technologies, enabling the decoupling from legacy dedicated infrastructure approaches while providing flexibility for hybrid deployments.
Who are Multichannel Distributors?
Multichannel distributors aggregate and distribute procured content – and sometimes create content of their own – for final delivery to the consumer. What sets them apart from other players in the media ecosystem is that they own their networks, uniquely positioning them to meet the demands of video delivery.
Multichannel distributors are used to delivering broadcast-quality video to homes over cable, IPTV, or satellite networks, for mainstream TVs such as in the living room. Now that consumer expectation also demands they deliver content to any device, anywhere, while maintaining the same level of service as the main-screen TV, they increasingly recognize OTT as a viable and essential content delivery medium.
MediaKind has helped several operators as they transition to the cloud, including the Spanish telco Telefónica. Telefónica chose MediaKind’s Aquila On-Demand solution to enhance its Movistar+ video-on-demand (VoD) experience, where it handles the transcoding, transformation, packaging, and delivery of Movistar+’s on-demand content. The microservices-based solution provides Telefónica with a flexible, multi-site, and scalable deployment, designed to integrate on any cloud infrastructure.
Looking to the streaming future
Operators were among the first to adopt cloud technology at scale for real-time media, and most see streaming as core to their future. It provides a unified means to deliver live, catch-up, and on-demand content. Meanwhile, in terms of technology and operations, streaming and the cloud revolutionize how content owners, sports organizations, programmers, and broadcasters define their routes to market.
Furthermore, cloud service providers are increasingly offering edge and on-premises private or hybrid cloud management. Motivated by increasing consumer connectivity and the need to scale instantly means that the shift to IP delivery and the migration to cloud-based architectures is now a reality. This shift provides MVPDs and operators with a unique opportunity to leverage their core assets within their networks and customer relationships by delivering a converged and flexible broadcast and streaming video service.
Overcoming barriers to aggregation
Streaming is breaking down the barriers within the media ecosystem and opening up the way towards aggregation. While traditional linear broadcasting, VoD, and streaming once functioned as three separate operations, they are now unified under one broader streaming spectrum. This convergence makes it easier for operators and MVPDs to host content of all types – including live sports and esports, video gaming, news, and on-demand episodic programming – under one roof.
As fans increasingly look for interactive features within a media service, such as sports betting or social media engagement, low-latency streaming is becoming an essential element within a media workflow. Latency exists on a continuum for different applications, with different architectures needed for different types of content and audiences. The challenge is establishing what infrastructure best meets their needs depending on who they’re trying to reach, with what content, and on which platform.
The need for scale also affects the way operators must build their media infrastructure. Particularly within a live sports context, where a sudden surge of viewers tuning it at the start or end of a game can cause issues with buffering, being able to scale up and down as required is a vital part of any modern media service.
Embracing cloud technology
Migrating to the cloud addresses these challenges. The cloud enables operators to scale a service up or down as required, only paying for the services they use while allowing them to reach as broad an audience as required on any platform. The cloud also offers immense agility, enabling them to take their content onto any media platform while limiting capital expenditure.
What’s clear is that the landscape is rapidly evolving. As new services come to market, operators must re-establish their role within the media ecosystem and deliver a seamless service to their customers. What the industry looks like now certainly won’t remain the same in five years. There are immense opportunities for operators and MVPDs to monetize their offering throughout the media value chain, find great content and deliver stellar services. The possibilities in a world of change are endless, and operators and MVPDs should look forward to the opportunities it brings!
In our application paper, Living the Stream, you can read more about MediaKind’s offerings and expertise for operators and MVPDs.