Live content — in particular, live sports — is a hot commodity in the media market. Everyone wants a piece of the pie – broadcasters, streaming companies, advertisers and consumers. Consumer demand for live sports is soaring; it’s what keeps them tuned in and subscribed to live TV services. Producing live sports events is a high-stakes game. As a minimum, it requires the lowest latency, highest simultaneous signal counts, and highest number of operators to keep collaborating to create immersive content.
With sports fans now watching across an ever-expanding range of platforms and devices, the complexity of producing and delivering live sports globally is more challenging than ever. Broadcasters, production companies, and content producers worldwide are seeing the complexities in production and distribution soaring – requiring bolder innovation to keep pace.
No time for latency
In today’s connected era, when it comes to live video – such as sports, news and entertainment – it isn’t other media enterprises that rival rights holders, it’s social media, which enables instant sharing of information. For live, that might include sharing updates on sports results. As such, content providers must be confident their workflows offer the lowest possible latency – which previously has been a challenge with cloud. To tackle this issue, modern cloud technologies must be built on a series of microservices, including innate low-latency and intelligent timing management capability, that makes difficult issues for cloud-based live sports productions much easier to handle.
The importance of scale
In addition to cloud managing issues like latency, this way of working also brings increased value to content providers. Cloud enables the all-important ability to scale. Today, future-ready production means scaling vertically and horizontally across formats, versions, device types, and platforms to meet an increasingly diverse audience footprint.
The shift towards the widespread adoption of standards-based IP as a more flexible and scalable replacement for SDI, alongside the greater use of software rather than dedicated hardware to reduce cost and provide more automation, is the first step to enable more scale. For many of our customers, the acceleration towards cloud-based infrastructures aims to address the fundamental yield per asset issue by creating more content, more cost-effectively, and better monetising of that program through increased advertising revenue – or extended audience reach across a growing number of distribution platforms.
Future forecast: Cloud
Across these various distribution models, content production is largely the same and equates to we capture it; we create it; and we deliver it. Finding ways to carry out these tasks with greater efficiency and, potentially, for less CapEx and/or OpEx requires shifting the technology stack towards a more software-centric position.
However, simply transitioning to a software-centric future doesn’t automatically bring greater efficiency; what’s also needed is a simultaneous change in approach. In a bid to meet rising consumer demands for greater immediacy, choice, and quality, among traditional media and esports companies there is a drive to do more with less. IP and cloud-based models undeniably form a large part of the solution. Still, the shape of that solution varies from customer to customer, as well as from application to application. With the growing adoption of IP and software-centric solutions, what’s evident is that there simply isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Any “solution” aiming to improve production efficiency must have the flexibility to adapt to each organisation’s tempo.
Cloud-based technologies built on cloud-native applications (like production switchers or replay/clip players in the cloud) benefit from improved efficiency of compute/storage, automated scaling (either up or down). These technologies offer true elasticity and enhanced resiliency by enabling models that use multiple availability instances in geographically dispersed data centres offered by all cloud providers. This elasticity makes cloud-based workflows ideal for remote and live sports productions, providing more flexibility while aligning with the OpEx models most managed service production companies offer to end customers.
The sports landscape in India
India is a prime market for the distributed nature of live sports production going forward. Not only cricket production but production of football, wrestling, hockey and many other sports can benefit from and potentially lead the way in distributed production, while at the same time using the elastic nature of the cloud and platforms like GV AMPP to do so more cost effectively.