Broadcasters Turn to the Cloud to Extend the Reach of Popular Content

Across industries, research shows that most companies are still in the early stages of their cloud journey—approximately 20 percent according to Ovum. When cloud first began, it was all about renting compute power to help increase productivity and decrease costs. As the next chapter of cloud begins, the focus is all about taking a hybrid and multi-cloud approach to unlock real business value from data and drive new growth.

The media and entertainment industry is ripe for innovation in this next chapter of cloud.

The industry itself is no stranger to disruption. The rapidly changing nature of content creation and consumption means that content companies face unique challenges. In order to stay competitive, the speed at which companies must produce and distribute content is skyrocketing. This is met with rapidly evolving customer preferences and behaviors including unpredictable viewership spikes and expectations that content can be streamed on-demand in real-time via any device. Even the revenue models are shifting with subscription and advertising-based models being adopted to keep consumer costs low.

A recent survey, for example, found that U.S. consumers use Netflix to watch video content more than any other platform, leaving other cable and broadcast providers scrambling for new ways to attract viewer attention and gain market share.

For these companies, the cloud is about more than just infrastructure-as-a-service. The real opportunity will be leveraging the cloud to rethink how they deliver new, interactive and highly personalized experiences to consumers.

For example, new cloud-based video, data and AI tools enable content providers to produce and deliver user-focused programming and fan experiences tied to popular television shows and sporting events. The result: harnessing their data to deliver specialized content that offers fans a more intimate connection with their favorite shows anytime, anywhere.

The breakout success of the USA Network’s "Mr. Robot," for example, inspired the network to launch the "Mr. Robot Digital After Show," hosted by The Verge. The "After Show" is a livestream that immediately follows each episode, allowing fans to discuss what happened, hear from some of the actors and learn about hidden messages they might have missed.

The network turned to the cloud to run the very popular "After Show’s" livestream as a way of keeping its popular "Mr. Robot" property top-of-mind while also rewarding loyal viewers. By adopting cloud, USA Networks could focus their efforts on providing innovative, real-time content as opposed to focusing on the reliability of the infrastructure, according to the network.

USA Network’s efforts with its prized "Mr. Robot" brand are only a taste of what’s to come for media companies as they take a more open and strategic view of the cloud.

Fox Sports turned to the cloud last year to give sports fans a glimpse of the future. The broadcaster’s FIFA 2018 World Cup coverage relied on a collaboration across multiple network properties and programming with the help of artificially intelligent software. The broadcaster tapped IBM Watson Media’s cloud-based specialized AI video technology to quickly classify, edit and access game highlights in near real-time, despite the production team sitting thousands of miles away in Los Angeles.

Fox Sports and Watson Media also launched The Highlight Machine, an interactive online site that allowed fans to browse FIFA’s archive of past matches and create custom highlights—by year, team, player, match and play type—from both historic footage and content from the 2018 tournament.

These are just a few examples of how the cloud can help companies differentiate and keep their content competitive. Adopting a hybrid multi-cloud strategy is already enabling companies to connect, integrate, synthesize data—regardless of where it resides—and then activate those insights across content offerings, ad products and user relationships. This is just a taste of what’s to come as the next wave of cloud computing helps to drive transformation in the media and entertainment industry.