Broadcasters continue to embrace cloud production

By Alaina Brandenburger

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With 90% of the world’s largest businesses adopting multi-cloud infrastructure, this trend was bound to trickle into the world of broadcasting. After the coronavirus-related lockdowns highlighted the scalability and ease of cloud-based production, more companies started making the shift. As more broadcasters make the change, they are constantly evaluating and testing tools in the cloud for broadcast production to find the best solutions.

Why broadcasters are shifting to the cloud

Cloud-based production offers a host of benefits to broadcasters and consumers alike. For viewers, the cloud often leads to better-quality content. For you as a broadcaster, it can help reduce costs and deliver broadcasts to viewers more quickly than traditional, in-studio tools. 

Cloud-based production tools offer similar features to costly, in-studio setups, letting you do animations, sports analysis, graphics, and more offsite. You no longer have to wait for your field team to upload media so someone in the studio can finish the production. 

It’s not just the production team working in the cloud. You can also use cloud-based tools for post-production, distribution, and a wide range of other tasks. These tools give you greater flexibility.

“The cloud is increasingly the best option for production and media supply chain workflows because it enables virtually unlimited scalability, the agility to respond faster to market dynamics, and the reliability necessary to keep operations running all the time. The shift to remote models of working also has been a key driver for cloud usage, as it allows access to content and the tools needed to work on that content from anywhere,” said Geoff Stedman, CMO, SDVI, in an interview with NewscastStudio.

Cloud-based production trends shaping 2023

As cloud-based broadcast production gains steam, technology continues to improve while shaping the industry. This is what you can expect in the coming year. 

Event-driven programming

Cloud broadcast production tools give you the flexibility to cover a wider range of local events. Since these tools eliminate the need to plan and build production facilities on site, or to build multiple control rooms for a large-scale production, you can send a team into the field or deactivate different control rooms to cover smaller events. 

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“Customers are demanding agility with the ability to launch new and event-based services on demand and destroy them just as easily when no longer required. Creating unified end-to-end software-driven workflows is essential to fulfilling this vision,” said Peter Wharton, chief strategy officer at TAG Video Systems.

“Live production, by nature, is event-driven and lends itself extremely well to the cloud,” said Evan Statton, senior principal architect, M&E, Amazon Web Services. “An OB or event production truck is a relatively fixed asset with specifications and capabilities, whereas the cloud allows customers to create a production environment suited for a particular show.”

Tailored content

As more people opt for connected TV and free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST), they are becoming accustomed to content that’s tailored to their preferences. Streaming services use algorithms to connect people to the broadcasts they want to see. 

With cloud-based production tools, you can produce more content quickly. You have the tools you need to create tailored content that speaks to different subcategories of your viewers. You can use analytics tools for customer insights that help you create content of interest to each viewer. Using the cloud to put your content on CTV and FAST platforms lets you capture viewers who can then discover more of what you offer. 

“Broadcasters are increasingly harnessing automation-driven solutions to enable seamless content versioning for both full-time channels and live events, allowing them to spin up secondary and tertiary versions of a primary channel for distribution across OTT/FAST platforms — or bring customized, language-tailored coverage of live sports events to diverse cross-platform audiences, maximizing ROI and digital reach. While free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) will continue as a hot market trend in 2023, the ability to bring premium live and localized content to FAST services will be essential to attracting viewers at the necessary scale required to make FAST a real revenue game-changer,” said Rick Young, SVP, head of global product for LTN Global

Better collaboration

Using cloud-based media production tools gives you the ability to hire team members who can work remotely from anywhere. You’re no longer limited to local talent, and your remote team can collaborate more effectively. According to Mike Ward, head of marketing at singular.live, “By their nature, [cloud-based platforms] can be utilized from anywhere, facilitating far greater collaboration while also enabling simplified and frictionless remote production. It is now possible for reporters, producers, and technical staff to operate systems literally from anywhere without having to ship or transport dedicated hardware or production staff. Reporters are already using their mobile phones as cameras, but now tools like graphics can also be prepared and controlled remotely, including via mobile devices. This flexibility allows reporters and news crews to go directly to the story without worrying about getting their equipment there.”

A cloud-based system also reduces the risk of files being lost during the transfer process, so your team won’t have to duplicate their work.

Better automation

With cloud-based media production solutions, you can automate parts of the production process that used to take a long time. Your team doesn’t need to adapt programs and software for each project. Instead, the creative team can go to work immediately once the production team has uploaded its work into the cloud. 

Traditional broadcast systems require complex workflows to make your content suitable for digital distribution. With a cloud-based system, your content is ready for digital, eliminating the time and money needed to prepare a production. 

Revenue streaming potential

Because the cloud allows you to be nimbler and more flexible with your broadcast production, you can create programming that lets you tap into different revenue streams. You can use platforms that run on artificial intelligence to help plan your content and generate data that allows you to understand what your viewers want. 

You can also produce content for different platforms like virtual reality and video gaming systems to better engage your tech-savvy viewers. Using an omnichannel approach to deliver content to your viewers gives you more potential for ad revenue, subscription revenue, and other income that may not have been accessible in the past. 

Reduced environmental impact

Younger consumers in today’s market want companies to reduce their environmental impact. Most Millennials consider a company’s sustainability practices before doing business with them. By using a cloud-based media production platform, you reduce your electricity usage and your negative environmental impact. 

Cloud-based systems also help reduce the number of vehicles you need to send out into the field for your production team, cutting your carbon emissions. Additionally, your team members can work remotely instead of commuting into the studio every day. 

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You can communicate these impacts to your viewers on your website and other marketing materials to build a rapport with eco-conscious customers.

Make the switch

If you’ve been hesitant to switch to the cloud, you’re potentially short-changing yourself. A cloud-based media production system lets you save money on production costs, offer a better user experience to viewers, and tap into talent from across the country. 

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