Automated Distribution Servicing for ‘TV Everywhere’
By Vimalesh Melwani, Vice President, Product Line Management I Deepika Raju Chainani, Product Manager
With multi-platform content explosion on the rise, distribution operations across the Media & Entertainment (M&E) industry are getting more complex than ever. Each OTT and VoD platform has a host of technical speciﬁcations that content enterprises need to meet, involving different formats and standards like CableLabs, IMF and DCP. Typical fulfilment deliverables include a vast inventory of content in multiple formats, subtitle/dub files, images, documents etc., many of which are created by external vendors and freelancers. Task status is tracked using a complex web of spreadsheets, emails and calls, which leads to operational inefficiencies. The lack of real-time updates and transparency of operations taking place across the supply chain further impacts decision making. In the absence of integration with existing Content Management Systems, operations like assessment of missing inventory, Digital Rights Management (DRM) packaging, forensic watermarking, re-deliveries and partial deliveries all need to be performed manually, resulting in spiralling costs, long Turnaround Time (TAT) and an increased risk of piracy. For enterprises with large volumes of legacy content, the challenges run even deeper. They need to leverage the elasticity of public cloud infrastructure to meet their transcoding and Quality Control (QC) needs in a cost-effective manner.
Simplifying the Complex VoD Distribution Landscape
Many of the challenges described above can be solved by adopting an innovative Cloud solution that leverages a powerful combination of automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and work order management. Such a solution helps manage deliveries seamlessly across the entire media ecosystem, including VoD/OTT platforms, cinemas and social media handles. It also helps in Standards-driven content distribution (DPP, IMF, DCP etc.) and fosters improved collaboration for managing inventory logistics.
Built to address the specific needs of Distribution Operations teams, such an automation-led system connects all participants and external systems across the content supply chain, including scheduling/rights management systems, content suppliers, creative teams, localization vendors and destination platforms that playout the final distribution packages.
Here’s a glimpse of how it works:
Order Entry/Order Tracking through Real-time Dashboards
Built on top of work orders, the solution provides APIs for integration with external systems (e.g. Scheduling, Rights Management) to accept ‘Distribution Orders’. Incoming work orders can be tracked to closure against ‘Due Dates’ using real-time dashboards.
The technical requirements of each delivery package are defined under a ‘Distribution Profile’ using specifications that the automation software can easily interpret. Typically, each package includes metadata specifications (attributes, languages etc.), video essence specifications (bitrate, resolution, watermarking etc.), thumbnail essence specifications (dimension, format etc.), audio and subtitle essence specifications (languages, formats etc.) and packaging structure.
Missing Inventory Assessment
For each package, the solution assesses missing inventory items on the basis of ‘of what’s required in a package’ vs. ‘what’s available in the MAM’; and auto-generates human-led work orders for the creation of these missing elements.
The system is equipped with a rich library of BOTs that automate packaging and delivery for popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Netflix. The BOTs also support packaging using global standards like Cable Labs, IMF, DPP, DCP and AS-02. While these BOTS are equipped to handle packaging and delivery requirements of specific content platforms, they can also handle complex operations like scheduled deliveries, re-deliveries, Delta deliveries, mid-rolls and DRM packaging.
Valuable Business Benefits
The proposed solution ushers in several significant business benefits on the back of automation, BOTS based deliveries, and the ability to perform complex distribution operations without manual intervention. M&E enterprises can enjoy enhanced operational efficiencies, faster time-to-market and improved collaboration with all stakeholders across the content supply chain. The solution’s end-to-end Work Order Management functionality further enables users to tap best-fit resources from their vast talent pool, and empowers them with dashboards to track the status of all tasks through a single interface. Security frameworks also get enhanced, as the solution provides the ability to embed forensic watermarks and ensure DRM protection/rights verification of content before delivery. Plus, with the overall need for manual intervention getting reduced, the risk or piracy comes down as well.
At a time when ‘also digital’ is giving way to ‘digital first’, automated Cloud-based solutions are re-defining the distribution landscape across the M&E industry. While Distribution Operations teams are the direct beneficiaries of such solutions, the benefits are fast percolating down to Content Marketing, Content Sales and Digital Media departments as well. It’s little wonder that adopting automation is no longer just a catchphrase, but rather a clearly articulated strategy for M&E players across the globe.
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