Considerations When Launching a Startup Channel

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Viewers want great content, and they want it now. Consumer demand for video-on-demand (VOD) content has increased exponentially in the last decade yet there is still a substantial market for linear TV. 

As long as that market exists, linear TV will remain attractive to advertisers as integrating advertising campaigns across digital and linear channels allows for a much larger audience to be reached. With more new channels launching, it is clear to see that this increased demand is creating opportunities for new startup channels. The high standards held by audiences with access to huge amounts of high-quality content mean that there is little room for error in modern broadcasting. 

With so many VOD offerings available, to attract viewers, linear startup channels need to deliver unique and polished shows with spot-on scheduling and channel management. Launching a startup channel can be technically difficult, especially when workflows are not well established or haven’t been tried and tested. This is particularly true with news and live shows, where there is potential for last minute schedule changes and risks of technical issues to consider.

To successfully launch a startup channel, broadcasters need to ensure that the key challenges associated with delivering a new channel are overcome. Namely, these are establishing infrastructure that is both efficient and integrated, and recruiting experienced staff. Internal workflows need to be established so viewing experiences are enhanced, and monetization opportunities are maximized.

Establishing the infrastructure for a startup channel is undoubtedly one of the key challenges that broadcasters face. There is a huge choice in hardware and software out there so deciding what to use will depend largely on business needs, broadcast requirements, initial costs, and set up times. Deciding on the right mix of cloud-based and on-premise technology is critical, and ensuring that tools are interoperable will avoid problems down the line. All these things need to be carefully considered and balanced out.

When establishing infrastructure for a startup channel, a decision will need to be made early in the process about whether or not to go through a specialist broadcast systems integrator. If the channel owner has the necessary knowledge and experience, the integration can be done in-house.

Integration is key
In an age where interoperability has become a necessity rather than just a nice to have, being able to fully integrate your traffic management system with third party playout and other broadcast systems and workflows is essential. Using interoperable tools makes it easier for broadcasters to choose the best kit for their operation, so workflows can be efficient, streamlined, and as cost effective as can be, without compromising on quality. 

Recruitment of talent
The post pandemic era has made it more difficult than ever for companies across all sectors to attract and retain the right talent. This is understandably a challenge for startup channels because of the need to recruit a whole team from scratch. Modern cloud-based infrastructures potentially ease this challenge.

Historically, broadcast workflows were hardware dependent so remote working was not a viable option. Remote working makes it easier for content production companies to work collaboratively with people and teams across the globe but also to search out and use both local and non-local creative talent. 

Channels need effective management
Whether a startup channel is being launched individually, or whether a new linear channel is being launched by a digital video service provider to grow brand identity and broaden reach, intelligent management of broadcast traffic is a priority. 

As a minimum, if operating a single channel, broadcasters need the ability to manage advertising sales and traffic, program planning, transmission scheduling, as-run scheduling, and media. 

For more complex operations, broadcasters need a comprehensive business solution that can be tailored to meet a specific business or operational workflow. For maximum efficiency with multi-channel operations, broadcasters need to be able to manage all scheduling systems in a single integrated application, regardless of whether it is for linear or digital. 

Monetization options when growing a startup channel
When launching a startup channel, a range of monetization opportunities are available to the channel owner, such as advertising sales, program sponsorship, channel sponsorship, and profit-sharing advertising with online platforms. 

To maximize advertising opportunities, ad management and monitoring are critical. Viewers don’t want to see the same content repeated during an ad-break, nor do they want to see irrelevant or inappropriate ads. An advanced advertising management system enables ad campaigns to be optimized in terms of placement, target audience, and time slots. This will help to ensure engagement with viewers and maximize return on investment for advertisers. 

For broadcasters with multi-channel operations, there is an additional need to coordinate advertising campaigns simultaneously across various platforms, both digital and linear. In order to optimize ad campaigns, broadcasters need the right management tools and insights at their fingertips.

Business Intelligence and analytics
For a startup channel to be successful, revenue needs to be maximized by ensuring that scheduling and advertising are managed effectively. To do this, broadcasters need tools that can generate comprehensive management and analysis reports which then provide accurate audience measurements. This gives broadcasters the information they need to make operational decisions that are in line with their business strategy.

Future proofing
You may not be planning to dominate the TV market straight away, but it is still worth taking the time to consider future proofing your service so that when you are ready to expand, you’ve got the right tools already in place. It is important to ensure that broadcast tools use current technology, are agile, flexible, scalable, and suitable for deployment in other regions where different languages may be in use. Making sure tools are flexible and scalable from the off will help give your channel resilience and longevity. 

Delivering a new startup channel is indeed complex, but with careful planning, and with the right infrastructure and team in place to meet technical requirements, channel owners can ensure they are in the best position to exploit monetization opportunities and grow their channel. 

Craig Buckland

Craig Buckland is Technical Director for Broadcast Traffic Systems