The global pandemic forced changes on the media industry, underlining the importance of agile and flexible workflows that allow media organizations to shift service models and workflows quickly. The need for remote production and distributed workflow capabilities has been front and center this year, particularly for live events. For many broadcasters and production companies this meant ramping up their roadmap to new technologies and infrastructures. Rather than transitioning to remote production models in two to five years, they had to make the shift immediately in order to keep live content flowing and audiences connected, allowing everyone from editors and replay operators to on-screen talent to work from anywhere, using a standard internet connection.

The transition to cloud and IP solutions has been accelerated. Net Insight has seen this trend coming for a number of years and has been a pioneer in open and cloud-based contribution and distribution solutions. Our Nimbra Edge cloud platform supports all major industry standards (RIST, SRT, Zixi), enabling users to deliver any content on any network to audiences around the world. This puts us in a strong position to help customers make this transition.

Despite the disruption, the pandemic has shown that media organizations are dynamic and can find innovative ways to stay on air even in the face of challenging circumstances. These characteristics will be the key to putting the lessons of 2020 into action to ensure media companies are better prepared for future challenges.

Key learnings from an unprecedented year

The importance of distributed workflows is one of the big takeaways from the last year. The technology to power these workflows has been available for some time but industry players have been reluctant to make the shift from tried and tested methods of supporting live content production and delivery.

The move to distributed models requires a change of workflows and more importantly a change of culture. COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated that live events can be delivered with the majority of the production team in separate locations – including their homes – and just camera operators and a small technical crew on site without compromising quality. This means that remote production enables industry players to benefit from its economics and minimize CAPEX. Media companies can access world-class centralized production resources when they need them, without any upfront investment. As they face the sharp uptick in demand for content in 2021, more media organizations will be turning to flexible production workflows to open up new business models and smarter ways of working.

2021: Destination cloud

Looking to 2021 and beyond the move to cloud will continue. As demand for content continues to grow ever stronger, the impact will also be felt by service providers in the form of growing demand for network capacity.

Migrating towards more cost-efficient and flexible OPEX-centric business models based on open IP and cloud investments will deliver the scalability they need to stay ahead of the curve. Cloud-based infrastructures can more easily scale up to support surges in demand for the contribution and delivery of content, they also allow service providers to help their customers try out new services without incurring huge costs thanks to flexible pay-to-play pricing.

Cloud-based production will become more prevalent during the course of 2021, in particular to support content delivery to social media and for smaller events. As we continue the move towards cloud, we’ll see more subscription-based models allowing broadcasters and content providers to leverage pay-as-you-go pricing that is activated only when services are running. Services can also be rapidly spun up and down, benefiting on-demand and live sports events in particular.

Net Insight is unique in delivering a charge-per-stream option for our Nimbra Edge solution. We will also be introducing a subscription and recurring price model for our Nimbra and Aperi platforms in the coming months.

While this type of cloud-enabled approach is already emerging at the content delivery end of the chain, we’ll begin to see a larger impact on the production and contribution side in the months ahead. Customers will be able to better unify their production, contribution and delivery which brings dramatic cost efficiencies.

This in turn opens up many more content options, such as Tier 2 and Tier 3 sports and local content. It also allows niche content to reach a global audience, creating greater opportunity for monetization.

Business models will evolve further

The media ecosystem will encounter further mergers and adaptation among industry players with business models continuing to evolve in the next 12 months.

During the pandemic, there’s been a lot of consolidation across the industry. In 2021, we’ll continue to see this trend develop as cloud players move into the media industry, venue contribution players move into media transportation and service providers invest in production capabilities. We will also see greater consolidation among broadcasters as they look to ensure access to content rights and production companies will increasingly acquire networks to gain control, enhance connectivity services and pave the way for remote production in the future.

2021 and beyond

2020 was a difficult year for many, and for sports fans the absence of any live action on their TV screens in the early part of the year left a big hole. The industry has learned to deal with uncertainty and has the technology available to ensure content can remain on air, uninterrupted and with the quality that viewers expect.

COVID-19 has proven that these new workflows and solutions work and achieve cost and efficiency benefits . The coronavirus crisis has also shown that a rapid response is key to survival – even without the impact of a global pandemic. Media organizations have to make the transition to the more agile and flexible infrastructures and workflows that cloud and IP deliver or they will be left behind.

This change has to be done in a secure and reliable way and Net Insight has adopted this approach; we are not asking our customers to undertake forklift upgrades. Instead, we are enabling them to migrate at a pace that works for their business and allowing them to leverage existing hardware investments.

While you cannot say with certainty what 2021 will bring, what is certain is that this is an exciting time for an industry which will look very different in 12 months’ time.

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