by Pace Media

10 Reasons for Looking at Software-Based Playout

The Economics of Media Transformation

Playout automation touches every area of a broadcast television or video service distribution facility and the time is drawing near when it will run on virtual machines in a datacenter or in a public cloud over IP networks.

Yet just because we might be able to build broadcast publishing systems using virtually hosted applications, interconnected via IP networks, why would we want to?

Broadly speaking because software-centric broadcast playout can take advantage of the cloud as a flexible and cost effective operating environment.

But what does that mean? Let's unpick ten business reasons for looking at software-based playout as your next investment.

1. Simplified workflow. The pressure on current approaches to playout is driven by increasing demand for non-linear consumption and further complicated by the need to target multi-screens.  Content creators need a simplified and unified workflow for creating and publishing content irrespective of its distribution method or target device.

2. React to OTT. Playout in the cloud promises to lower the cost of channel creation and to extend channel brands into new markets at a time when established players need to react quickly to OTT. 

3. Rapid channel deployment. The potential to innovate enabled by a software-defined broadcast environment means channels can be deployed rapidly and changed dynamically in real time. We are talking of the ability to spin up a channel in hours, not months.

4. Disaster-resistant. With built-in replication, the cloud is disaster-resistant and provides straightforward collaboration across multiple sites.

5. Scale at will. Private data centres offer broadcasters capital equipment and real estate cost savings plus the ability to scale operations instantly – up or down – as they launch new ventures or respond to short term demand spikes with pop-up channels (such as around major sporting events).

6. Rent, don't buy. They might do this using a a pay-as-you-go model. Otherwise known as Software as a Service (SaaS), its chief benefit is the ability to scale. With processing, storage and networking infrastructure as pooled resources serving hundreds, perhaps millions, of customers rather than using dedicated independent infrastructures, this model delivers economies-of-scale by reducing overall costs with every additional user. Network automation at scale reduces capital investment and reduces operating costs in staffing and distribution contracts.

7. Overcome geographic boundaries. Virtualization takes the geographic dependencies that have previously limited playout, out of the equation. No longer reliant on cost-prohibitive satellite bandwidth, regionalization, localization and even hyper-localization of channel content can be achieved. Channels can be created on the fly, virtually at any location in the world.

8. Alter content on-demand. Instead of storing assets in large proprietary data centers and tape archives, a cloud-based approach enables broadcasters to alter content on demand, and reformat it for VOD and OTT multiscreen delivery.

9. Create cohesive workflows. Current versioning workflows can involve multiple organisations, located in different parts of the world, for example, providing compliance and language versioning services. A software-defined network located in the cloud unites versioning as well as ad sales, scheduling, automation, traffic and video servers into a single managed workflow with browser-based access.

10. Innovate, fast. As the components of a playout chain become software objects, the ability to interact and integrate with other related software and services increases, enabling innovation and quicker iteration of ideas.