cloud in broadcast


Media and entertainment broadcast infrastructure

Moving broadcast workflow and operations to the cloud

For years, the media and entertainment (M&E) industry has resisted adoption of cloud-based broadcast infrastructure. But spurred by disruption in the M&E industry, digital technology advances, and changing consumer preferences, the resistance has reached a tipping point, and the journey to the cloud has begun in earnest.

The cloud imperative

Prior to COVID-19, the M&E industry made progress addressing many of its long-held criticisms of cloud platforms by advancing the cloud-capable migration of core broadcast, post-production, media management, and distribution technologies. However, when the pandemic required M&E companies to produce and distribute programming remotely, it also increased industry incentives to set aside lingering objections around cost, control, and security and embrace cloud broadcast workflow and operations as a business necessity.

Almost overnight, broadcasters’ successes with remote production and cloud-based video distribution tipped the industry off the indecision fence, making a return to precloud “business as usual” highly unlikely, and firmly establishing this latest technology trend in the M&E industry.

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Disruption in the M&E industry

Shifting consumer viewing habits, new content and delivery demands, digital technology innovations, increasing competition, and COVID-19–related complexities are among the trends disrupting the already dynamic M&E market.

Cloud and XaaS: An affordable, flexible solution

Among the growing M&E technology trends is adopting a combination of cloud-based computing platforms and everything-as-a-service (XaaS) models, which offers M&E companies an affordable solution to their technology investment dilemma. Increasingly robust cloud and XaaS solutions have been able to diminish traditional industry resistance to cloud because they deliver a range of critical capabilities:

  • Control: On-premises, outsourced, public, and hybrid cloud models give broadcast engineers and media technicians more direct control of operations while maintaining the flexibility and cost-sensitivity of each application or data set.
  • Security: Cloud security is now recognized as a shared responsibility of companies and cloud providers; both organizations carefully manage and monitor cloud environments to stay ahead of determined cyberattackers. Exabeam reports almost half (44%) of organizations are now using cloud-based security products to protect their data in a bid to mitigate risk, compared with only 12% of businesses using cloud-based security solutions in 2019.
  • Industry knowledge: Selecting vendors with M&E industry knowledge and proven technologies is important to M&E decision-makers and influencers. Realizing this tendency, some cloud service providers heavily recruited leading media technology vendors to its cloud platform.
  • Lower latency: Faster and highly secure ingest portals address studios’ concerns with movement times for their enormous file-based assets; direct camera-to-cloud acquisition promises higher speeds in the near future, even while on location. Broadcast distribution strategies are consciously designed for linear and nonlinear multiplatform targets (including live broadcasts) and make use of careful design considerations.
  • Comfort and confidence: Leading cloud service providers, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle, and Sony, are some of the largest, most financially stable, operationally rigorous, technically up-to-date, and highly secure business partners in existence, fully capable of standing behind stringent service-level agreements (SLAs).

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Envisioning the broadcast cloud

What might a broadcast cloud look like from a capability and operational perspective? The following figure illustrates how core broadcast media asset management (MAM) workflows handle the ingest, management, transformation, and packaging of broadcast content for linear and nonlinear distribution.

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Seizing the opportunity for fourth-generation broadcasting

There are a number of indicators that the opportunity to transition to a cloud-based, fourth-generation broadcasting infrastructure is at hand:

  • Business acquisitions: Newly merged businesses experiencing technology or application incompatibility may decide to transition to cloud as part of a larger, enterprisewide digital transformation.
  • Contract renewals: Periodic renewals of contracts with private data centers, hardware vendors, and software suppliers allow businesses to consider how services and solutions are currently deployed and to weigh the potential benefits of transitioning to a more cost-effective cloud-based solution.
  • End of product life cycle or upgrades: Vendor end-of-life events are optimal times for a business to consider other options and decommission old hardware or licenses to reduce costs and avoid security risks. Businesses undergoing an application update may find it less expensive and more beneficial to transition to cloud.
  • Scarce or retiring broadcast engineering talent: An aging workforce is another indicator that it may be time to transition to cloud. Legacy or traditional technology requires extremely specialized skills. Most people who have those skills are near retirement, and replacements are scarce. The move to cloud-based media systems and agile software processes is driving a dramatic reskilling of the broadcast engineering and studio IT professions.

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The time to transition is now

M&E companies beginning their journey to a fourth-generation broadcasting infrastructure should be able to move forward with confidence. As industry adoption accelerates, customers, solution providers, and media standards bodies are expected to work together to address any sync, timing, and interoperability challenges that may arise as they pursue a common goal of providing new service and revenue opportunities for mature broadcast organizations.

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Ready to hear more?

Listen to Deloitte leader, John Footen, present about the fourth generation of broadcast infrastructure and why this is critical for media and entertainment companies.

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