It doesn’t seem that long ago that the cloud conversation was centred around whether the broadcast industry will transition to the cloud. But now, the shift to the cloud is a given, and the conversation is more focused on the when and the how, rather than the if.
Some broadcast organisations have already moved the majority of their operations from on-premises (on-prem) to the cloud, while others are in the process of gradually migrating their functions, including playout. With this transition to the cloud now well underway, are we likely to get to the point where cloud playout becomes the norm, with broadcasters only looking back to on-prem playout when they reminisce about the ‘good old days’?
The advent of streaming has caused demand for content to go through the roof. With the cornucopia of services offering inconceivable volumes of content, competition for viewers is fiercer than ever before. As a result, content providers and broadcasters are under immense pressure to deliver huge volumes of high-quality content to consumers, in the most cost-effective way possible. They can only succeed in doing this if they achieve operational efficiency, and at the same time have an infrastructure that enables them to work flexibly with the ability to scale up or down to meet demand.
Traditional hardware-based infrastructure is typically costly to buy, complex to operate, and requires ongoing maintenance, replacement, and eventual upgrading. The same can be said of the buildings needed to house it all, and don’t forget that this kind of hardware-based infrastructure also needs teams of professionals on site to run everything. Although on-prem infrastructure has been the backbone of the broadcast industry for decades, expanding or adapting it to meet changing consumer needs is challenging and costly - the traditional capex model does not allow for the flexibility and scalability that broadcasters now require.
Migrating playout to the cloud offers several benefits for broadcasters. The flexibility and scalability that the cloud offers simply can’t be matched with on-prem infrastructure. When done well, operators can also benefit from cost savings and improved operational efficiency.
First let’s consider flexibility. With cloud playout, broadcasters can access and manage their channels effortlessly from any location. It's also easy to respond quickly to user demand and launch new channels and pop-channels, and just as easy to close existing channels when the demand is not there.
The innate scalability of cloud playout is another big draw for broadcasters. Without the need for new hardware, its quick and easy to scale up operations and extend to new audiences and regions. This makes it easy for broadcasters and service providers to experiment without it being detrimental to the business.
Additionally, by moving workflows to the cloud, there are significant capex savings to be had because broadcasters no longer need to maintain and house huge amounts of complex and costly hardware and other physical infrastructure. The pay-as-you-go-model that the cloud typically operates to is cost-effective, providing resources are managed well. Cloud-based infrastructure also makes it easier for broadcasters to optimise workflows and leverage automation where it makes sense, thereby improving operational efficiency.
It would be remiss to say that broadcasters could do no wrong by migrating workflows to the cloud without a second thought. To maximise the benefits, the transition to the cloud has to be done at the right time. If hardware and infrastructure is still serving broadcasters effectively, there may be no immediate incentive to replace them with cloud services. A gradual transition from on-prem to the cloud will most likely be the best approach for most operators.
The benefits of cloud-based working, and indeed cloud playout, are far too numerous to ignore. While it may take a bit of time to get there, once broadcasters are operating effectively from the cloud, there is no compelling reason for the industry to ever look back and revert to on-prem playout solutions.
The shift to the cloud is inevitable, and those that embrace it now will avoid getting left behind. While it may take time for companies and the industry as a whole to fully transition, the advantages in terms of cost-efficiency, flexibility, accessibility, and collaboration are too good to resist. The future of broadcasting is in the cloud, and it's a future we're excited to be a part of.
We’ll be at IBC in Hall 5, Booth 10, so if you want to find out more about Veset’s cloud playout solution, Nimbus, get in touch for more information or to arrange a meeting.