How serverless services help M&E companies gain a strategic advantage in a competitive market
The media and entertainment (M&E) industry has evolved with the digitization of content, proliferation of platforms, changes in the way media is consumed, emergence of user generated content, and globalization. These changes are fueled by and fuel consumer behavior and expectations. Those who were once happy to just record a live telecast of a show that they missed now expect instant access to any form of content they want, on any device. The market is fiercely competitive and consumers have a lot of choice, which makes it harder to acquire and retain audiences. In the US, the average churn rate across all paid streaming video-on-demand services has been at 37% since 2020 (Deloitte, 2022).
To keep up, M&E companies need to create quality content, efficiently manage resources to meet unpredictable consumer demand, deliver personalized viewer experiences, and make sure their infrastructure is highly performant, secure, resilient and scalable – all while managing costs. Companies across broadcast, streaming, publishing, gaming, and music turn to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for compute, storage, networking, content processing, and delivery needs with an aim to shift the undifferentiated work of managing servers to the cloud.
M&E companies like have adopted AWS serverless solutions for their compute needs. Serverless simplifies the management and scaling of cloud applications by shifting the management of the underlying compute resources to AWS. Tasks such as server management, resource allocation, security patching, and instance scaling are handled on AWS so that development teams can focus on delivering personalized customer experiences using their programming language of choice, accelerate their time to production, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). They pay for only what is used, and are able to focus valuable human resources on innovation versus operations.
Popular serverless services for compute include AWS Lambda, a compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, and AWS Fargate, a serverless by-default compute plane that works with Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), a fully managed container orchestration service that makes it easy to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications.
We’ve increasingly observed M&E companies embracing Event-Driven Architectures (EDA) to increase the resiliency and performance of their applications, improve agility to deploy features quickly, and optimize costs. EDA uses events and asynchronous communication to loosely couple an application’s components, providing flexibility and scalability to meet business demands. AWS offers many services, including Amazon EventBridge and AWS Step Functions, that can help organizations build EDAs, and together with AWS Lambda, and Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate, build powerful, real-time digital experiences at scale.
Here’s how some M&E companies use serverless and EDA to meet their most demanding needs
Meet spikes in consumer demand in real time: From the broadcast of live events to the premiere of a popular TV show, M&E companies often need to plan for higher-than-usual demand and spikes in workloads. AWS serverless services provide the scalability and flexibility to meet this demand without the need to provision and manage servers ahead of time. These services help M&E companies maintain consistent performance at peak and off-peak times as they can scale automatically when needed, without any manual configuration or dip in performance. For instance, with Amazon ECS, resources can automatically scale with the ability to launch millions of containers across availability zones in the cloud.
This is why TV TOKYO, the broadcaster of one of the strongest lineups of business news in Tokyo, relaunched its business program on Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate. The subscription-based service needed new capabilities to deliver live broadcasts and VOD up to five times more quickly than the old system. The team made a strategic decision to use Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate to modernize its front-end infrastructure and make the service more scalable. This enabled automatic scaling and reduced the risk of server downtime when demand spiked. In addition, TV TOKYO cut down the time needed to conduct technical preparation for live events like the House of Representatives’ general election from a month to a week, and even slash time spent responding to emergencies because of lower operational workload.
Gain strategic advantage by reducing time to market: M&E companies are looking to build direct relationships with their end users and are quickly launching new services, especially over-the-top (OTT) streaming services, to offer audiences engaging content across platforms. Consumers have multiple options for instant viewing experiences, and with more choice comes more churn. While quality content helps acquire and retain audiences, companies need to invest time and resources in enhancing the viewing experience with high-quality video streaming, providing personalized interactions and communication, ensuring seamless integration across devices, and more. With services like AWS Lambda, companies benefit from automatic scaling, built-in high availability, and a pay-for-value bill model, without having to worry about infrastructure management tasks like capacity provisioning and security patching. Instead of managing and operating servers or runtimes, companies can release quickly, get feedback, and iterate to get to market faster, allowing them to compete in a crowded market.
For this reason, Economia, one of the largest media houses in the Czech market, uses AWS Lambda as part of its serverless infrastructure. Economia started building all its new applications cloud-native, and used AWS Lambda across use cases to gain the agility, flexibility, and speed it was looking for. With this approach, the company was able to test new technologies and products in minutes and days, instead of months.
Deliver the best consumer experience with minimum downtime: With high consumer and advertiser expectations in a very competitive market, providing perfect viewing and interactive experience across multiple platforms is table stakes for M&E companies today. With serverless, companies are better positioned to deliver and run highly performant applications that are available 24/7, and are resilient and secure.
With AWS serverless services, you can delegate responsibilities towards driving well-architected outcomes for applications to AWS. You leverage AWS best practices and expertise on performance, scalability, availability, and security, and AWS takes on tasks such as server management, resource allocation, and scaling. AWS makes it easy to employ monitoring and observability tools within these services. Companies that require scale across regions use AWS Lambda for key back-end and front-end functions. It maintains compute capacity across multiple Availability Zones (AZs) in each AWS Region to help protect their code against individual machine or data center facility failures. Similarly, Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate has the ability to launch containers at scale across multiple availability zones, eliminating the risk of server downtime for customers, and allowing them to deploy globally, across multiple regions.
To access some of these benefits, TiVo, a subsidiary of entertainment technology company Xperi Inc., builds its API stack with Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB. Its technology stack allows the company to maintain a separation of concerns approach, and build lightweight APIs to query and respond predictably in client use cases. Amazon API Gateway provides the management for internal and external APIs, and the APIs are powered by AWS Lambda, which performs the reading and writing operations. The company uses Amazon DynamoDB as its NoSQL data persistence layer, which allows it to attain single-digit millisecond performance for client use cases. Using these serverless services, TiVo was able to modernize its stack, and improve scalability to stream globally and support hundreds of millions of calls per day.
Reduce costs: With an eye on reducing production costs and protecting top-line revenues, many M&E companies are adopting AWS serverless services to help reduce TCO by reducing their infrastructure maintenance and development costs. Developers can optimize resource utilization so that they can focus on higher value tasks and never pay for over-provisioning with a pay-per-use billing model instead of provisioning infrastructure up front for peak capacity. Serverless and event-driven applications also reduce TCO by simplifying operations and reducing application management overhead to accelerate release cycles and increase performance. Customers can reduce their development time by 68% and reduce their TCO by up to 57% when they use AWS serverless solutions (Deloitte, 2021).
A company that benefits from this is DAZN, with streaming broadcasts of top tier sports to millions of customers around the world. To deliver this experience, the company manages the deployment of complex video workflows while coordinating with backend application services that comprise its streaming platform. DAZN used AWS Step Functions to build a lightweight, modular, and extensible orchestrator to automate its live sports streaming events. With the flexibility of AWS Step Functions, DAZN could coordinate both synchronous and asynchronous tasks in a series of steps within a single state machine where cost is only incurred during state transitions. No expensive polling mechanism is required—and the system only moves on to the next step when it is ready. Automatically deploying workloads on the cloud right before an event starts allowed DAZN to optimize its costs and minimize operational overhead.
M&E companies are adopting AWS serverless services across several use cases to gain a strategic advantage in a competitive market. Instead of managing and operating servers or runtimes, companies can focus on product innovation, accelerate business value realization, enhance developer productivity, and control costs. M&E companies successfully use AWS serverless services to:
- Automatically scale without manual configuration, allowing them to consistently meet demand during on-and-off peak events.
- Shift the undifferentiated heavy-lifting of infrastructure provisioning and management to AWS, allowing developers to focus on writing code that creates business value quickly.
- Deliver and run highly available, resilient, and secure applications that support global scale, reduce downtime, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.
- Reduce TCO by allowing developers to optimize resource utilization so that they can focus on higher value tasks and never pay for over-provisioning with a pay-per-use billing model, and simplifying operations and reducing application management overhead to accelerate release cycles and increase performance.