How cloud-based video pipelines are inspiring new innovation in broadcast workflows
Consumer viewing habits and media business models have shifted in recent years as smart phone technology and connectivity have advanced and over-the-top (OTT) services have proliferated. To keep pace with an ever-growing demand for content and adapt to rapid changes in viewer behavior, media companies are tapping into the cloud to reinvent the media pipeline, from acquisition to delivery of premium IP, adaptive bit-rate live and on-demand video across multiple devices. In line with this trend, broadcasters are working to fine-tune pipelines and offload more of their traditional video infrastructure to the cloud. As they do, the flexibility, scalability and security of the cloud are proving to be a tremendous asset and opening up newfound technological and operational freedom as well as cost savings. While a large majority of broadcasters have already begun embracing cloud-based technology for these reasons, realizing a complete broadcast in the cloud workflow is just now becoming a reality thanks to advancements in technology that make it easier to deliver traditional broadcast content and multiscreen linear video within a unified virtual architecture.
In the last few years, we’ve begun to see more broadcasters favor cloud-based resources for processing, packaging, and delivering live and on-demand video over traditional on-premises hardware, especially as cloud resources have become more affordable. This is in part because moving live linear workflows to the cloud poses significant collaboration and remote production benefits, can vastly accelerate content production and delivery, and provides a launch pad for more rapid innovation. Using the cloud, all of these advantages can be leveraged with less upfront and operating costs.
FOX recently went all-in on cloud services from AWS across its media pipelines to more efficiently distribute its sports, news, and entertainment television content to multi-channel video programming distributors, more than 200 affiliate stations, and over-the-top (OTT) providers. The nimbleness of FOX’s setup enables its team to react faster to market shifts while also making content more accessible to a wider audience.
As cloud adoption among broadcasters like FOX and others continues to rise, technological innovation is accelerating, laying the foundation for the broadcast industry to transition the full video pipeline into the cloud and gain meaningful efficiencies in the process. For example, statmuxing (statistical time-division multiplexing) is a vital part of traditional broadcast distribution, adjusting bandwidth allocation for various channels in real time and devoting more resources to dynamic content, such as a sporting match, and less to a more static program, such as a talking head on the nightly news. Until recently, statmuxing was solely appliance-based, but with technological advancements, like the new statmuxing feature built into AWS Elemental MediaLive video processing service last year, it can now be used to deploy linear video processing and playout in the AWS Cloud for broadcast, cable, or terrestrial distribution. This allows broadcasters to easily add, remove or update live channels as audience and business demands shift.
In the last few years, cloud developers like AWS have also invested significant resources in ensuring low latency end-to-end video processing and delivery for content distribution of live events and linear broadcasts with services like AWS Outposts, AWS Local Zones and AWS Wavelength. Customers can use AWS Outposts to support applications that have low latency or local data processing requirements. These applications may need to make near real time responses to end user applications or communicate with other on-premises systems or control on-site equipment. Customers should run AWS Local Zones when they need to run their applications with single-digit millisecond latencies close to end users, but they don’t want to build and operate a datacenter or co-location facility, such as for remote live or post production. They can run the parts of their application in the Local Zone that requires ultra-low latency and connect back to the rest of their application and the full range of services running in AWS.
Furthermore, private networking – to and from venues, studios and other production locations – has seen vast improvement thanks to technological breakthroughs and is crucial for broadcasters looking to bring combine their broadcast and OTT workflows into a cohesive pipeline. Using AWS Direct Connect, for instance, Broadcasters can leverage advanced codecs like JPEG XS to support the secure ingest of raw camera signals or lightly switched signals from a venue or studio into the cloud to support production level switching and playout in the cloud.
Broadcast’s migration to the cloud is already well underway, and moving quickly as new developments like statmuxing, AWS Local Zones, AWS Outpost and AWS MediaConnect, and Amazon Direct Connect evolve. As the transition progresses, AWS is trusted by premium content providers such as Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, FOX, Discovery and many others to securely envision and deliver dynamic live coverage of the world’s most watched events, from F1 and NASCAR to NFL, MLB, and the world’s biggest amateur and professional sports competitions. Broadcasters can fully exploit the benefits of the cloud to reimagine how they create, ingest, process, package and deliver broadcast and multiscreen video. When combined with technology from a broad range of AWS M&E partners, AWS services can help broadcasters accelerate content production, automate media processing and packaging for live and on demand viewing, leverage data lakes, and roll out new features faster. For more information, or guidance on shifting your broadcast workflow to the cloud, check out https://aws.amazon.com/media/.