Can Cloud-Native Technology Fix the Broken Media Supply Chain?

(Image credit: Ateliere)

Video consumption is at an all-time high. While this should be good news for the media and entertainment industry, the voracious demand for all content types brings major challenges to content owners and distributors. The diverse array of available consumption devices and platforms force media companies to work with a myriad of file formats, storage requirements and transport protocols, resulting in a highly fragmented media supply chain. 

In addition, understanding consumer habits and pivoting business strategy quickly to attract and retain new viewers is key to remaining competitive in the streaming wars. A broken, siloed media supply chain cannot provide such audience insights, hampering efficiency. 

If business and technical challenges weren’t enough, media companies are under increasing pressure to remain profitable while delivering more content to more viewers, often with legacy workflows that fail to meet the requirements. 

This is where a cloud-native, integrated media supply chain is critical to success - let’s explore why. 

A Media Supply Chain Under Pressure
With major shifts in video viewing habits and the relentless growth of content consumption (which started during the pandemic and have now become the norm), customer demand has forced media companies to reposition themselves as streaming-first providers. This compromises their legacy production and distribution workflows. 

Additionally, the cost of operating streaming services, often alongside linear broadcast or cable TV offerings, is extremely high. Media companies are expected to deliver more content to more outlets with the same traditional tools and processes, but unless they modernize and optimize their technology back-ends, they will struggle to deliver a profit. Typical pain points that exacerbate budgets include increased storage requirements, additional transcoding needs and extra resources to package and deliver content.

This is compounded by the increasingly squashed time-to-market: whether the business is producing or licensing new content, or reusing existing content for streaming, it needs to be delivered at lightning speed.

To put it bluntly: this rapid increase of direct-to-consumer streaming has broken the prevailing media supply chain. The traditional, on-premises, siloed approach to video production and distribution, with each step of the media supply chain happening within its own operational island, is now inadequate. 

Most companies have seen their media supply chain grow organically, with countless vendors addressing specific workflow segments. This fragmentation results in untapped library assets, complicated packaging tools and poor visibility, all leading to inefficient consumer delivery. Such convoluted technology implementations cannot respond quickly to changing audience demands, causing revenue loss. 

Why Implement a Cloud-Native, Integrated Media Supply Chain?

To evolve with speed, companies in the media and entertainment space need to connect the dots across all their traditional, fragmented silos. An integrated, cloud-native media supply chain achieves this by consolidating production and distribution workflows into a single platform. Your business will reap the benefits of:

  • A holistic view of the content lifecycle: An integrated media supply chain connects each process and each team. Data flows smoothly to deliver continued, uninterrupted content workflows for an exquisite viewer experience. Businesses can gather key data across the chain and make strategic improvements quickly and often. 
  • Scalability and flexibility: A cloud-native workflow can scale up or down easily, making it an ideal solution for companies of all sizes. 
  • Efficiency and revenue opportunities: An integrated supply chain in the cloud can automate manual processes and reduce processing time with consequent dollar savings and increased profit. The ability to quickly set up new consumer offerings opens the door to additional revenue markets and growth opportunities.

Consider a real-life example. At this years’ HPA Tech retreat, a deep dive into James Cameron’s latest ‘Avatar: Way of the Water’ revealed that a whopping 1,065 unique delivery versions of the movie had to be produced for theaters alone. “We had to turn our operation into a 24/7 support model,” reported Walt Disney Studios VP Technology Mark Arana. 

The team had to build a new system to create and track all of the versions and portions of the versions over multiple vendors around the world. They also had to develop a new DCP mastering tool in the cloud. But developing in-house solutions is only possible if you have a big budget and unlimited human resources. The alternative is to find the right technology solution: a centralized platform for storage, mastering and distribution to manage the entire process efficiently and profitably. 

The Key to Media Supply Chain Success
If you can relate to some of these issues, it’s likely that your media supply chain needs some help. Integrating your existing workflows and teams into a single platform sounds ideal, but how do you succeed in the process? 

First, when considering a cloud-native workflow, look for a vendor-neutral solution that can handle the diverse file formats, storage environments, and transport protocols required for media asset processing.

Next, you’ll benefit from finding a technology partner who can design and implement a suitable solution for your business, addressing all your pain points while reducing the number of steps needed to manage and deliver your content to viewers. Typically, there are three key areas that need to be addressed ahead of implementation: where your content is today, the quality of your metadata and how to efficiently package and distribute it all to a range of audiences.

A cloud-native workflow should be easy to use, requiring minimal technical expertise to implement and manage. Lastly, a scalable solution that integrates with existing systems and workflows is crucial to ensure a smooth transition.

Two decades of evolution from broadcast to streaming have put increasing pressure on the traditional media supply chain. At the same time, this transition has given technology and media companies the chance to come up with solutions that help them remain competitive. 

Now is the perfect time for your media business to stop bleeding revenue through its broken supply chain. The future of media asset processing lies in a cloud-native workflow that can revolutionize the industry and unlock new opportunities for growth. 

Dan Goman

Dan Goman is CEO of Ateliere