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Without a doubt, ensuring access to digital content is atop every enterprise’s priority list. The aim is simple-extending the reach of, monetizing and analyzing one’s content portfolio. This is, of course, common across a spectrum of enterprises, such as production houses, music studios, content distributors, broadcasters, digital right companies, celebrity management companies, et all.

So, did you ever think what makes a platform ideal for this purpose? I think, providing a 360˚ industry agnostic experience, through cutting-edge technology and business intelligence is a must. Why? To help media and entertainment enterprises take content to untapped markets and end consumers digitally, naturally!

The purpose of this article, in a nutshell, is to identify critical criteria required from a carrier grade industry standard media platform. In my opinion, these include:

A Multitude of Options for Sourcing Content

The platform should be able to broadcast live feeds from satellites, events, user-generated content, et all.  It should also be able to provide on-demand stored content.

Extensive Processing and Adaptation of Content

The idea is to make the required content available in multiple formats. A long-winded process, it includes uploading and managing the lifecycle of the content; management of multi-language metadata; transcoding of content to make content across various formats, etc. Equally important are management of digital rights for secure distribution of content; artificial intelligence-based transformation of metadata, including translation,transliteration, content curation and profiling for applications.

Multiple Models for Content Distribution

Next, the platform should be able to enable access to this content. This process may involve content availability on adaptive or non-adaptive streaming or progressive download; the ability to start a new channel, rapidly enable a live stream; etc. Equally important are content caching at edge locations for faster access through CDN; user authentication and authorization before accessing content; securing the content delivery channel, content delivery as per device capabilities etc.

A Feature Rich Presentation Layer for Enhanced User Experience

A complete portfolio of interfaces, such as mobile applications for various operating systems, smart TV, etc, ought to be available.

Ensuring Security

Security-related features needs to be in-built to safeguard the digital experience right from content sourcing to distribution. Some of the important aspects to be considered are content licensing; encrypted content storage on storage devices; DRM for restricting the unauthorized access of content; tokenization based authentication for content access; obfuscation to hide the location of content directly visible on the URL; time-to-Llve implementation in content URL; geo-fencing the content to honor content licensing terms; Protection against DDOS attack; AI/ML logic to enable blacklisting of users to deny access in case of malfunction are some of the measure must to ensure security.

Platform Scalability

To meet ever expanding business needs, this aspect entails multiple components, such as the number of live channels; the number of users accessing the service simultaneously; added geographies; technological upgrade, et all.

These increased demands result in increased capacity requirement of: computing resources; data storage; territories addition and making service available from edge locations; data rate capacities; and connectivity

In addition, the server should be able to augment the server capacity at run time automatically on the fly; auto increment of storage; distributed compute systems; content distribution using CDN; transcoding for live streams; publishing transcoded streams to CDNs; support of adaptive streaming; playing appropriate format/quality content on device; support of latest codes etc.

In nutshell, it is responsibility of the platform provider to provide a platform that is Built on innovation, Designed to deliver and Engineered to perform right from content acquisition to content availability on diverse channels, comprising requisite content processing, adaptation and distribution to exceed ever changing and ever demanding enterprise and consumer needs.

By Manish Jain, Assistant Vice-President and Head of Engineering and New Product Development

March 19, 2019 0 comment
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It would be a bit of an understatement to say that the digital content market has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Indeed, it may be more fitting to say that the digital content landscape has evolved over a period of time.

Now, let’s examine both statements-first, a few hard facts and figures. According to the good folks over at Juniper Research, the digital content market was pegged at just under $99 billion in 2014 and will increase to nearly $155 billion in 2019, an average annual increase of 9.4 per cent. This magic number, according to the research firm, will be largely achieved by the gaming segment, although the content sector with the strongest growth over the forecast period will be e-publishing.

Now, moving onto the oldest and arguably, the best loved component of the digital content space-music. As per Juniper, revenue generated from streamed services will be partially offset by a significant decline in ringback tone revenues, particularly in the Far East and China.

Next, Over-The-Top (OTT) players are expected to root for and push video-based content. In other words, players like Netflix will continue to expand their footprint across various markets. And, needless to say, these players will focus on enhancing the amount of original content they offer to end users. Going a step further, OTTs are also expected to begin to bid for sporting rights in the longer term, thereby making them even more attractive propositions to customers.

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Now to tackle the other bit-in so far, we’ve established the fact that the progress made by the digital content industry is nothing short of magnificent. But how has this industry evolved? Well, two major trends come to mind immediately. First, across the digital arena, there has been a gradual transition from the pay-per-download model to subscription. The best example of this shift is in the mobile space, where the overwhelming majority of applications (99 per cent, in fact!) are now free at the point of download.

Therefore, the majority of application-based revenues (pegged at 88 per cent in 2014) can be traced back to freemium applications, via a combination of one-off purchases for additional items made in-application or through subscriptions. Moreover, there is also a shift from “downloading” to “streaming”, which will continue to become more significant, as network operators enhance the coverage of their 4G networks.

In other words (and I cannot overemphasise this), we are living in a world of 24/7 connectivity, where every customer accesses content on their own terms and on the device of their choice. In a nutshell, the way that content is accessed, monetised and delivered has changed significantly. Naturally, this has implications for all stakeholders of this industry and these players are scrambling to ensure they don’t get taken by surprise.

So, what are the challenges facing these stakeholders? Well, first and foremost, content monetization and payments. Of course, this issue is as old as the hills, but one not likely to dissipate anytime soon. In a nutshell, monetisation and payments are a key focus for companies. The issue is compounded by the fact that a considerable proportion of the world’s population is ‘unbanked’, which implies that service providers ought to find alternative methods for consumers to make payments. Now, a number of options, such as carrier billing, subscriptions and pay-per-video or pay-per-download have been closely examined, but, while all three have their merits, my guess is, this debate will continue for some time to come.

Next up is content discovery and distribution, another oft-debated subject. Now, there is little doubt that there is a surfeit of content up for grabs today. But, the question is (and remains), how does one ensure the subscriber is able to easily discover these offerings? Of course, let’s not forget that the content market is very fragmented, which makes it harder for distribution channels to access the right content. Consider the disparity-leading players in the content industry can afford to create dedicated channels for content distribution, but it isn’t that simple for small-time artists and independent content creators. How do these players ensure their offerings find their way to the right audience? How do they make money from this? Needless to say, this, in turn, cascades into the age-old issue of piracy.

So, while I have outlined the evolution, trends and the various challenges facing the digital content market, the intention wasn’t to paint a bleak picture. I would like to conclude by providing an idea of what can be done. And here it is-net, net, the need of the hour is to create a “marketplace” or a platform to cross the chasm between content publishers and customers. This platform should ideally permit publishers to push all kinds of digital content directly to the customer. In other words, a holistic platform to address a customer’s every digital-related need, whilst eliminating (or at least mitigating) the issue of content discovery and delivery can go a long way in simplifying the overall ecosystem. Well, we hope so.

Watch this space for more.

February 3, 2016 0 comment
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