Partnerships: The key to advancing cloud innovation in media

August 20, 2020

By Raul Aldrey, Chief Business Officer, MediaKind

The rise in adoption of cloud and IP (internet protocol) technologies, the development of new broadcasting standards, and a fundamental shift in viewing experiences to cloud-based OTT services are evidence of the rapid and widespread transformation our media industry is undergoing. Of course, COVID-19 has accelerated the need to adopt smarter, faster and more scalable technologies to reach consumers – a feat at the best of times, and something that requires a new skillset for many.

OTT streaming services are already reshaping how consumers interact with content. According to Parks Associates research, 76% of US broadband households subscribed to an OTT video service in Q1 2020, with a churn rate for streaming services of around 41%. However, OTT had a higher penetration than traditional pay TV services among the 10,000 respondents surveyed, with only 62% subscribing to pay TV.

For established players competing with OTT specialists, the challenge is two-fold; understand the type of services their audiences really want and develop the skills to do so. The complexity of both these challenges requires expertise, which is often found outside of the company. This is why finding the right technical partners is more crucial than ever.

Partnering for innovation

For professional content producers and content owners, the challenge is finding more effective methods of getting content to consumers. As we see increasing movement away from traditional media workflows, the need to monetize that content and generate new revenue streams becomes absolutely critical.

The effect of movie theater closures has already seen giants such as AMC and Universal change their release windows, while Disney released Mulan on its OTT platform, Disney+. The industry needs to find new ways to generate revenue: this can take the form of ad insertions, content promotion or merchandising – it’s about creating engagement.

For broadcasters, the challenge is rooted in the transition from traditional physical systems and moving to IP-based infrastructure. That’s because consumers now want greater control over how they watch their content and they want more choice. This is especially true of professional sports fans, and even more so at a time when they can’t attend the venues to watch their favorite teams. Broadcasters need new mechanisms of content delivery to ensure these experiences are enriched and highly engaging.

In short, media workflows are shifting and, wherever you are in the chain, it takes a combination of excellent technology and deep industry expertise to succeed. In order to create solutions that meet the increasing audience demand for high-quality content, we believe partnerships and collaborations are fundamental.

The strength of the MediaKind Universe Alliance

Our response to this evolution of broadcasting and the transition of media workflows into the “cloud” was to create a unified innovative technology partnership program – the MediaKind Universe Alliance. Our Alliance is not about providing a single piece of software or equipment. It is designed to enable content owners, service providers and operators to access complete solutions and a knowledge base in order to further all aspects of video delivery, with a particular focus around advancing the industrialization of OTT video to broadcast quality levels. It also combines leading technologies and services from MediaKind and leading partners in relevant segments, such as cloud, content monetization, video quality optimization and user experience.

Less than a year after launch, we have collaborated with some of the world’s leading technology providers on a number of exciting joint projects and technologies. These breakthroughs have also provided the foundations for a number of go-to-market strategies. Together, all members of the Alliance have benefited from the familiarity and understanding our respective innovations, our collective ways of working and the opportunities to knowledge-share.

Powering a united ecosystem 

The Chattanooga Film Festival collaboration was testament to this, as my colleague Erik Ramberg explains in this blog on embracing media disruption. MediaKind alongside Microsoft, Evergent, VisualOn and Slalom, successfully transformed the four-day event into a highly interactive, low-latency, direct-to-consumer digital experience that featured live and on-demand content to a virtual audience.

By bringing the entire ecosystem together, working in an entirely cloud-native environment and architecture, we were able to demonstrate our speed of innovation at play. This is something that wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, and certainly not without collaboration and enhanced solutions built by partners with particular specialisms and expertise.

Our cloud native software has the ability to run on any public cloud, enabling broadcasters, content owners and producers to address their technical changes, shift media workflows into the cloud and run them at scale with the highest standards of quality.

Another success of our Alliance has been enabling as-a-Service (aaS) models to bring more agility, flexibility and focus around towards cloud-based, bandwidth-efficient, IP-centric offerings. Our work with Tiledmedia was a catalyst in the launch of Cygnus 360° Events last year. Furthermore, our partnerships with both Google and Microsoft have been instrumental in developing recent solutions such as Aquila On Demand, which was launched earlier this month to deliver rapid asset processing of on demand OTT and IPTV video content.

Customization and collaboration

We know consumers want control over their viewing experiences. What this means varies a lot depending on the content; theater goers will want some form of exclusivity, while sports fans want to recreate the matchday experience with merchandising, sports betting and personalized fan engagement – all of which is now possible through the power of technology.

As the media industry moves towards a future of increasingly cloud-based, bandwidth-efficient, IP-centric offerings, collaboration means we can begin to pool our diverse wealth of resources and lay the foundations for strong, robust end-to-end ecosystem. Working together, we can design interoperable, standardized technologies. This will enable broadcasters and service providers of all sizes to access disruptive innovations, bridge the gap between legacy and emerging solutions and generate new sources of revenue.

Through the MediaKind Universe Alliance, we have demonstrated our end-to-end capabilities and the opportunities to standardize and pre-integrate our partners’ technologies within our respective solutions. By investing time and resources in these long-term and mutually beneficial relationships, we can continue to push the boundaries of the entire media chain.