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TV TOKYO Uses AWS to Cut Direct Annual Costs by Tens of Millions of Yen While Accelerating Content Use

2020

TV TOKYO, a popular Japanese broadcaster offering highly original content, aims to use IT to realize data collaboration and utilization, create new video experiences, and improve business efficiency. The station has archived its most important video content to physical media since it began broadcasting more than half a century ago. However, the operational inconvenience and cost of procuring media for this solution created challenges. By shifting its video data archive destination to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon S3 Glacier, TV TOKYO can reduce costs, boost operational efficiency, and make it easier to use data with AI and other advanced technologies.

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For broadcasters dealing with high-volume video data, the cloud is a crucial technology and service that cannot be ignored. You might say the cloud was made for video. We have great expectations for AWS as a partner in creating new businesses amid a dramatically changing broadcasting environment.”

Suguru Niinomi
Senior Managing Director CIO, Engineering, News, and Media Strategy, TV TOKYO Holdings Corporation

With the Rise of the Internet, Viewing Patterns are Changing, and IT is the Key to Taking the Next Step

“BS TV TOKYO handles our BS broadcasting business, TV TOKYO Communications our digital communications business, and TV TOKYO our terrestrial broadcasting. With these three stations as the core of the initiative, we aim to deepen the collaboration between broadcasting and communications, share management resources as a group, and fulfill our responsibilities as a media enterprise. This means becoming the kind of leading, comprehensive media group built around video and broadcasting that the digital era needs,” says Suguru Niinomi, senior managing director and CIO, Engineering, News, and Media Strategy for TV TOKYO Holdings.

For broadcasters, the ongoing changes in video delivery and consumption are something to watch closely. It is easy to see how the position of traditional broadcasting businesses will be greatly affected by the rise of Over-the-Top (OTT) operators using the Internet, simultaneous distribution over the Internet by domestic broadcasters, and the full-fledged roll-out of 5G services.

Niinomi is advancing a program of responding to these changes through technological innovation. Based on three IT strategies—opening up internal data, creating new expressive techniques and viewing experiences for video, and improving internal efficiency—the company is adopting AI, RPA, VR/AR/MR and other cutting-edge technologies to achieve multifaceted business expansion, evolve content, and improve operational efficiency. In particular, internal information systems are constructed based on a cloud-by-default, package-first policy.

“The television industry is at a major turning point. This is also an opportunity to overturn existing hierarchies and conventional wisdom. Advanced cloud services like Amazon Web Services are a crucial element in that mix. Based on our three IT strategies, we are planning to take a new step forward,” says Niinomi.

An Ever-Expanding Video Archive, Media Operations, and Cost Overload

Video content is vital data for television stations as the source of their business. Footage shot during the production of television programs, including material that was never broadcast, has been archived since TV TOKYO’s founding. That archive currently holds around 220,000 HDCAM/XDCAM tapes’ worth of content.

Archival media is stored in an offsite warehouse and accessed via a regularly scheduled courier service, running several times a day, as needed for program production. The archive has a certain degree of tagging (metadata management), but there is no way to know precisely which media contains which material. This means that when producers want to use archived material, they must either request a large amount and use only a fraction of it, or request repeated courier drops until they find what they need.

The cost of media is also a major issue. TV TOKYO purchased more than 10,000 tapes annually, including storage for 600 terabytes of video data as well as replacements for lost or malfunctioning media. The total annual cost was in the tens of millions of yen.

“We considered switching to Linear Tape-Open (LTO) tapes, which have higher data density, but this would not have solved the fundamental issues around physical media. As we considered the problem, the price of cloud storage kept dropping. It seemed like a good time to free our content from physical media,” recalls Atsuto Ishida, TV TOKYO technology and IT general manager and member of Nikkei Innovation Lab.

A Secure Video Archive with Amazon S3 and Amazon S3 Glacier Robust Cloud Storage

With robust cloud storage, the problem of tapes being lost or damaged while on loan from the archive disappears. Once a means to obtain data is established over the network, all media made available can be reused for production and other purposes. It can also be accessed much more quickly than via repeated courier service trips within a single day. If access controls are enforced, there are no security concerns.

After much deliberation, TV TOKYO chose AWS as the cloud service on which to store its archived data. “Not only is Amazon S3 reasonably priced, it offers high durability of 99.999999999%. AWS Direct Connect provides a secure and fast network,” says Yoshikuni Kitamura, director of the IT Development Administration's Archive Center.

The company connected two locations (its headquarters and archive center) to AWS using AWS Direct Connect, providing redundancy via inter-location connectivity. After content files are stored on Amazon S3 via an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) proxy server, only MXF files are tagged using AWS Lambda. The tagged MXF files are archived on Amazon S3 Glacier for their entire life cycle.

“The vast AWS Partner Network is another one of the reasons we chose AWS. To meet our needs, we needed a vendor that was strong not only in the cloud but also in video. AWS introduced us to wonderful partners, and we were able to build a mechanism for retrieving data from tape and transferring it to the cloud,” says Kitamura.

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Aggregating Video Data on AWS and Promoting Data Use with Advanced Technology

TV TOKYO is working on migrating data stored on physical media to Amazon S3. The ability to reuse traditional storage media instead of buying new tapes has already reduced costs significantly. The company is also looking at ways to further utilize data on the cloud.

“We believe that aggregating video data on AWS will let us launch new initiatives. By using AI to analyze the material by category, actor, and so forth, we can make it easier for production managers to search through footage. There will be fewer omissions and errors than when this was done by hand,” says Nobuhide Matsuo of the IT Development Administration's Systems Division and Archive Center.

TV TOKYO has already begun testing and developing applications for AI-based video analysis and is working on additional ways to use archived data.

Makiko Iwata, director of the IT Development Administration’s Archive Center, says, “We are also using AWS for television program information sites, so internal data sharing by linking with archived data might even be possible. We also expect it will also be possible to create new value via AI-driven ‘evolved content.’ By moving our archive to the cloud and performing video analysis, we believe we can improve operational efficiency, freeing us from unnecessary chores so that we can focus on our core business of creating and using content.”


About TV TOKYO

TV TOKYO is the TV TOKYO Holdings’ terrestrial television broadcaster. As a key station in the TXN network broadcasting in major metropolitan areas, TV TOKYO provides unique content with a focus on the economy, anime, and health.

Benefits of AWS

  • Media procurement costs reduced by tens of millions of yen per year.
  • AWS Direct Connect ensures line safety and redundancy.
  • Exploring the possibilities of AI video analysis and internal data connections.

AWS Services Used

Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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Amazon S3 Glacier

Amazon S3 Glacier and S3 Glacier Deep Archive are a secure, durable, and extremely low-cost Amazon S3 cloud storage classes for data archiving and long-term backup.

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AWS Direct Connect

AWS Direct Connect is a cloud service solution that makes it easy to establish a dedicated network connection from your premises to AWS.

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers.

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