AWS Elemental explores OTT and live delivery from the cloud in new whitepaper

Over the top (OTT) video is the revolutionary trend taking over broadcast, and in AWS Elemental’s new whitepaper, Live Video Delivery from the Cloud: A New Paradigm for Live Video Broadcasting, the area is thoroughly explored.

The paper notes that consumers have embraced the explosion OTT video, with around1.6 billion people worldwide watching video on connected devices [The OTT Playbook | Parks Associates]. Based on figures from Ericsson ConsumerLab’s TV & Media 2017 report, AWS Elemental states that 70% of consumers watch video on smartphones, twice as many as in 2012, while more than 60% of the video content people consume is watched live and that by 2020, half of all video will be consumed on a mobile screen.

The report states: “For content providers, the technology infrastructure required to create live streams for every consumer’s device has been difficult to design and costly to procure and maintain. The advent of cloud-based live video processing heralds a new way to provide live broadcast programming to consumers. Now, cloud-based resources can support an end-to-end video processing and delivery solution for content distribution of live events and linear broadcasts.”

It goes on to say that ove the past few years the cost of cloud resources has fallen as cloud infrastructure providers take advantage of economies of scale, increased network bandwidth, and the ability to offer enterprise-grade reliability and security. “This offers content providers an opportunity to “get out of the infrastructure business,” moving away from on-premises data centre architectures to cloud-based resources for processing, packaging, and delivering live and on-demand video.”

AWS Elemental says the transition to cloud-based video infrastructure promises several advantages for the production and distribution of live content, including: pay-as-you-go expense models; scalability; operational agility; global reach; and the ability to focus on core business; as well as supporting new technologies: “As new device types, video codecs and streaming formats reach the mainstream, cloud-based video infrastructure can stay ahead of accelerating technology trends without investments in software upgrades or costly hardware replacements. This extends to related capabilities, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, that are beginning to integrate with video processing and delivery workflows,” the paper says.

It goes on to note that as today’s video consumers demand more playback capabilities and augmented services, pay TV providers and content owners need video workflows that personalise the viewing experience. Consumers increasingly expect DVR-like functionality with streaming video, such as pause and rewind for live broadcasts. The paper says: “To stay competitive, content providers must offer a range of live-to-VOD capabilities including time-shifted TV, catch-up TV and network personal video recorder (nPVR) as a part of OTT service offerings. As machine learning tools enter the video workflow, live-to-VOD workflows can apply new capabilities that add significant value to live and VOD content. For example, production workflows are currently deployed to extract video metadata from live streams using Amazon Kinesis Video Streams and Amazon Rekognition.”

Although traditionally, capabilities such as this were only available to the largest media companies due to the cost and need for internal tech teams to manage them, “the cloud, used in combination with broadcast-grade, software-based video solutions, such as AWS Media Services, a family of fully managed cloud video services, can enable media organisations of all sizes to meet customer expectations efficiently and cost-effectively for 24/7 linear content delivery with nPVR functionality”.

In conclusion, the paper states: “The migration of video workloads to the cloud is just beginning… By moving operational costs to variable costs and paying only for what they use, content distributors now have the opportunity to experiment with enriched video offerings and pursue opportunities that resonate most with viewers. The conversation is no longer about how many systems need to be secured, racked and maintained to support an offering, but rather about how rapidly a new service can roll out, how many channels can be run, or how many VOD-asset hours can be offered per month to improve customer satisfaction.”

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