AWS Media Blog

Graham Digital looks to AWS for remote workflow flexibility

Between the 24-hour news cycle, abundance of social media platforms, and proliferation of digital technology, the delivery of information is nonstop. From significant current events to live entertainment to a friend sharing their daily activities, a wide range of content is available at the consumer’s fingertips at all hours of the day via the simple click of a button. With so much content readily accessible, and so many audio and video streaming platforms, the competition for viewership is fierce. For news broadcasters, cutting through the noise to capture the audience’s attention and keeping them up to speed, while also generating ad revenue, requires a highly efficient production and delivery workflow coupled with an understanding of digital platforms.

An industry pioneer, Graham Digital saw the writing on the wall early on, and built 24/7 live OTT news channels for each of Graham Media Group’s seven stations that play a combination of live and pre-recorded content. To revamp its monetization strategy and gain centralized control of these channels, the company migrated a majority of its media workload from on-premises equipment to cloud-based services from AWS, including AWS Elemental MediaLive for broadcast-grade video processing, AWS Elemental MediaStore for HLS origination and distribution, Amazon CloudFront and AWS Elemental MediaConvert.

Moving to the cloud has allowed Graham Digital to drive all of these channels remotely, from live switching to dynamic ad insertion, which has proven essential to operations this year. With AWS Media Services powering centralized control of the workflow for all seven 24/7 content channels, each station no longer has to manage their individual channel or the hardware driving it. The cloud-based infrastructure and content switching for each channel can all be centrally managed by the Graham Digital team in Detroit, whether at the office, or in the case of the last few months, from home.

“Making the switch from on-prem to cloud was simple and straightforward. It had long been our objective to move this infrastructure to a cloud-based alternative so that we would not be constrained by location or hardware. This capability empowered our people to control these channels without being tied to our station infrastructure. We can easily scale to meet the needs of each station and its audience to ensure the secure delivery of high-quality video,” shared Adam Simpson, DevOps Lead, Graham Digital. “It has made the transition to working from home much easier for our teams and stations, and is opening up new opportunities to move even more of our workflow into the cloud, such as editing and playout.”

In its transition to the cloud, Graham Digital is also exploring enhancement of its monetization strategy across channels with AWS Elemental MediaTailor. In this prototype, SCTE-35 markers from on-premises encoders are contributed to AWS Media Live, and using ad insertion, made available in the HLS stream. MediaTailor and an ad decision service then power ad replacement. “MediaTailor allows us to bring viewers more personalized ads at a broadcast quality caliber,” shared Michael Newman, Lead Developer, Graham Digital. “The automated reporting also allows us to better measure ad impressions and viewer behaviors. We anticipate that this will be invaluable for our future monetization strategies.”

As the media landscape evolves, Graham Digital plans to continue exploring the cloud as a vehicle for innovation – from improving the audience experience to streamlining operations behind the scenes.