“The only thing that’s permanent is change.” In a world shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic in the last 18 months, this quote from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus has never been more accurate. Shaped by blocking and social distancing, the world in which we live, learn and work has changed irreversibly, with technology coming to the fore as a key factor for cooperation, engagement and how we consume content.
About the author
Gordon Brooks is the CEO and CEO of Zixi.
Regarding the latter, for example, according to Nielsen, the most popular activity for home workers is listening to music on an AM / FM radio station or streaming services, with 40% listening daily. This was followed closely by watching TV or streaming content during a work holiday, with 33% watching every day.
This growth in streaming content, especially live streaming, is not a behavior that is likely to change in the foreseeable future, and it is important for the media and entertainment industry to adapt and adopt new technologies in order to prosper.
With this in mind, we have identified three key features for a streaming broadcasting infrastructure to support successful, flexible working media processes. These are:
- Inherent agility
- Universal interoperability
- Data-driven capabilities
Let’s go through them in turn.
1. Inherent agility
Modern workflows need to be able to respond quickly to changing market dynamics, as well as be able to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. For this they must be based in cloud.
Software-defined and virtualized workflows provide a level of responsiveness that is impossible to reproduce in any other way. For this reason, we see that more and more large-scale media companies are turning to more and more cloud-based workflows.
The cloud has five main benefits: improved flexibility, cost savings, increased reliability, faster time to market, and the ability to maintain a virtualized and remote workforce (this later became a key component of the post-pandemic economy). Each is a compelling reason to move alone into the cloud; add them together and it’s easy to see why only 35% of future infrastructure builds in a 2020 survey plan hardware-defined infrastructure. 65% consider software-defined infrastructure, and given the pandemic’s ability to accelerate all things in this area, we would be surprised if that number is no longer higher.
2. Universal interoperability
Every IP, every protocol, every infrastructure; the most efficient new workflows will be IP-based and portable.
The shift to IP workflows across the media industry is a generational change due to many different factors from changes in viewing options to the adoption of hybrid network workflows, increased bitrates, improved monetization capabilities, and more.
This is also supported by the increased reliability, acceptance and democratization of the managed and the unmanageable IP networks above and above inherited transport methods. Managed and unmanaged IP networks are defined to include the Internet, leased fibers, cellular 5G and IP satellite. When done correctly, public IP provides higher resilience, higher reliability, lower latency, higher quality, and significantly more flexibility than traditional methods. If you look at the industry, that’s where the momentum is. Other transport methods have played and still play an important role in the overall development of IP-based workflows, but they are essentially becoming an evolutionary dead end for new global media workflows that are nearing the end of their usefulness as IP becomes in a dominant route to connectivity.
It is important to recognize the critical importance of 5G in this as well. 5G will generate $ 1.3 trillion in revenue in the media and entertainment space by 2028, completely reshaping the media landscape and ensuring that if companies fail to support it, they risk failure or even extinction.
The cloud is also crucial for the successful implementation of 5G, as well as the other four of 5C, namely content, media, cellular and user.
- Contents – Provides the ability to create and deliver broadcast content with the highest quality of experience (QoE)
- Cloud – Extending the existing cloud to 5G / 4G LTE, creating end-to-end computing (MEC)
- Carrier – The critical fiber infrastructure between regional and global MECs
- Cellular – Wireless network with high frequency band, ultra low latency, providing a universal advantage
- Consumer – The ability for mobile users to create and deliver live 4K content
As an example, we spent the past year deploying with a large carrier to deliver over Verizon 5G networks, using AWS Wavelength Zone technology to allow 4K UHD streams to be distributed to commercial targets with super low latency without the need for satellites. The result is a defined architecture that includes local devices (5G routers) in all segments.
3. Data-driven capabilities
Finally, it is important to consider the role of data analysis to ensure QoE, etc.
There are a lot of complications here. Data overload can lead to too many false alarms, leaving organizations unsure what is important and what is not, while a reactive approach, rather than a predictable one, can be costly and stressful.
What is required is a better RCA (root cause analysis) to quickly understand the causes of instability and failure, to anticipate them and prevent them in the first place. The increasing use of artificial intelligence and machine learning has a big impact here, and the right application reduces noise and costs, improves RCA accuracy, increases operational efficiency and allows for a predictable and proactive approach to streaming issues – allowing users to be warned of problems before they occur.
The momentum behind streaming is undeniable. However, there are several pitfalls for the reckless in such a fast-growing area, and there is potential for the implementation of solutions to be too restrictive to ensure an adequate return on investment, especially when looking at future developments.
However, by ensuring that they are committed to partners that provide services with inherent flexibility, the universal interoperability needed to accommodate public and private IP, hybrid IP and 5G networks, and data-driven capabilities to ensure reliability and QoEs, broadcasters and other media companies can be confident that their streaming offerings will meet and exceed consumer demand for streaming content, now and in the future.