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Buyers' Guide to Media and Entertainment Video Platforms 2017

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From logging of raw content, which requires the ability to view transcripts or annotations, to use of integrated and additional metadata, which aids in searching assets, media and entertainment platforms are expanding their analytics and content creation tools at a fairly rapid pace.

Some platforms also offer editing, which includes the ability to collaborate with internal colleagues or even external customers or partners. Role-based enforcement of this approach is critical, though, since these cloud-based features are designed to be accessed outside the content publisher’s network firewall.

This collaborative approach also encapsulates the review and approval process. At some point in the workflow process, after content is created and before it moves to the delivery servers, rights management and business rules are introduced, in order to limit viewership those in specific geographies or with proper credentials.

Anywhere Delivery, Automated

Almost every media and entertainment platform will offer delivery to myriad devices, be they desktop, mobile, set-top-box, or internet-streaming OTT devices. But the level of automation capabilities varies widely among the different platforms.

Some will highlight functionality in their marketing materials that can only be accessed via an application programing interface (API), which means the content owner will need to create not only his own consumer-facing application but also an application to manage the platform functionality itself.

Even for those who are willing to take on the challenge of APIs and player software development kits (SDKs) there’s still a desire to see portions of the underlying platform functionality automated.

What I’m looking for,” an industry executive recently told me, “is a solution engine that executes business logic based on user defined rules.”

In this case, the solution would need to have the capacity for both live and VOD inputs, with business logic that uses the attached metadata from a stream or VOD asset, along with predefined distribution rules to properly execute delivery.

“It would also define how the files are processed,” the executive said, “retaining the original metadata and transferring it to the associated stream or transcoded asset.”

In many ways, this is similar to the way that a broadcast master control might work. Yet for streaming, especially if delivery occurs via a media and entertainment platform, the solution should also track if viewing rights are enforced before delivery, barring viewing by those who don’t fit day-and-date, geographic, or other rights criteria.

Analytics, Reporting, and Monetization

As the industry moves more toward subscription-based VOD, there’s been a tendency to lessen the need for analytics and reporting. After all, if there are no ads running, what measurements for monetization are required for a content publisher?

One area where analytics are still relevant is pay-per-view event streaming. These live events, from concerts to sports, often command premium dollars for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the event live, but they are often also the most likely time at which paying customers run into technical problems.

The ability to measure delivery quality and user experience in real time is key to pay-per-view events making money, rather than becoming a public relations nightmare.

Ooyala, a Telstra company that runs a large-scale online video platform, highlights four types of analytics: behavioral, mobile, performance, and real-time measurements.

From an Ooyala perspective, real-time analytics for VOD is centered on an asset’s rapid trending or even long-tail content that is trending in new geographies. It aims to understand how viewers really act, then drive higher engagement with personalized recommendations.

Behavioral analytics is a newer form of analytics that tracks viewer behavior, combining together the other types of analytics to help content publishers determine the best types of content types, based both on historical data and real-time/trending data.

Proper behavioral data should also take into account the performance—in terms of delivery, preferably by geography—of a given asset.

Conclusion

Whether you’re an online gaming expert looking to grow an audience of admirers, or a premium content company with a library of content that you want to grow beyond a YouTube channel, careful consideration of EMP features and functionality is key to deciding how to best monetize yourself, your brand, and your content.

Key areas to discuss with your short list of media and entertainment platform providers include the level of quality they can deliver, both theoretical and backed up by performance reporting, as well as the amount of collaboration and workflow automation that the platform has integrated into its overall solution. A final area for discussion is the pain threshold required to implement features and functionality, either through platform-provided web apps and applications or via API and SDK options for truly custom branding of your unique content library.

This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Streaming Media magazine.

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