Broadcast is no longer the only show in town when it comes to delivering TV and film content to the masses. In recent years, the consumption of such content over Internet-enabled devices has exploded. From connected TV and consoles to tablets and mobiles, there is a rush to dominate the Internet TV service proposition and offer TV anytime, anyplace and in HD.
For consumers, this is a great time as TV and film services become richer, more customizable and “always on.”
For content owners, it’s a mixed bag of increased opportunity and increased operational pain. Content owners can no longer bet on a single Internet TV platform; they must sweat value from their content by leveraging multiple deals to stay in the game. The fulfillment and delivery side of things can be incredibly painful and costly with content preparation and repurposing costs often negating the commercial upsides for smaller deals. However, the same technologies that have enabled Internet TV have enabled file-based workflows and digital delivery that help overcome this.
In this article, we discuss the challenges and considerations for content owners when delivering content to Internet-enabled platforms and devices.
There are a number of delivery paradigms to consider when addressing the challenge of delivering content to the Internet. The first is a push-based approach, where content is bundled up and pushed to a remote Internet TV service. With this model, the content owner is responsible for AV formatting, preparation of metadata, subtitles and art work, and organizing the related files into the correct directory hierarchy.
The other concept is pull-based, where a remote Internet TV service requests content from a content owner through a form of remote browse or querying interface. The former is far more popular a concept and is analogous to the old world of tape-based fulfillment through content services companies.
When delivering to the Internet, there are several platforms to consider, including self-publishing, VOD service creation and VOD delivery. (See Figure 1.)
Self-publishing is where content owners create their own direct-to-consumer TV service. The easiest way to achieve this is to set up an account with the likes of YouTube or Dailymotion and push content and metadata to the service via plain FTP and simple XML. Most APIs of this ilk support programmatic control of delivery so that software and workflows can be used to automatically deliver to Internet TV platforms. Such APIs are now robust and relatively mature. It’s in the interest of Internet TV service providers to make it as easy as possible for content owners to publish their content and reach a wider audience.
A more sophisticated approach to consider is the creation of a white-label TV or film service. The content owner creates and manages its own video players and typically embeds them within its own website offering. It ensures much greater control over functionality, branding and user experience than merely configuring a YouTube channel. Probably the best way to get the ball rolling on this is to enlist the service of an online video platform provider that allows users to customize players to a larger degree, like Brightcove or Ooyala. The upside of using these services is that many of them are multidevice-aware and will support playback on mobile and tablet.
Occasionally, content owners will go one stage further and build their own Internet TV service from scratch. This involves developing their own player and utilizing CDNs, transcoding technology, and various payment and content protection software. Ditching out-of-the-box systems like Brightcove or Ooyala and enlisting the likes of an end-to-end video management company can be expensive and may involve enlisting systems integrators and front-end developers, but it allows content owners to create a completely customized and integrated Internet video business.