Avoid Hidden Risks in the Content Aggregation/Fulfillment Process

  • Published

    April 13, 2017
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By Andy Manidis, Deluxe VP of Technical Solutions 

The globalization of entertainment has made the market for content huge. Cisco says it would take five million years for one person to watch the amount of content that will cross global IP networks in a month in 2020. To take advantage of this growing market, aggregators need to quickly get their digital assets from owners to distributors globally to capture the wide range of on-demand, OTT, streaming, linear and live opportunities. 

It seems simple enough. Get assets from content owners and transform them for fulfillment to the delivery endpoints. Everything is spec’ed so on the surface it looks easy. Scratch the surface, though, and the sheer variance of software and hardware implementations, combined with disparate systems and environments, turns the process into a giant matrix, which can only be figured out by rigorous trial and error. That is the biggest gotcha of all – the complexity that hides in the massive variability. It’s not for the faint of heart and it takes pretty big firepower and meticulous process to address.

From our experience building a digital delivery system that services 200+ content owners, delivering 60,000 files every month to 2,000 worldwide end points, these are the often overlooked factors that we’d advise any company launching or scaling a content aggregation business to consider when choosing a partner. 

1. Connectivity is only step one.
Your distribution partner needs to test and confirm not only that files can be sent/received, but that they will be sent at high speed and delivered exactly to spec. Miss one window or deliver files in a spec that doesn’t work on the other end and not only may you risk monetization opportunities, but consumers are left with a bad experience of your client’s brand – and yours.

2. Not all specs are the same.
Clients may provide a three-page spec written by an engineer that lays out every parameter perfectly, or they may send one line: ‘80 Mbps m2t.’  The devil is in the details and the many undocumented variables are where the landmines lie. It can take weeks or even months of back and forth testing until a file QC’s successfully on both ends. Also, specs for large international streaming platforms can vary by region. In any case, until actual files are delivered and propagate through the endpoint system, no one knows if they’re any good. The time to test each connection can’t be underestimated. The Deluxe delivery system encompasses more than ten years of successfully verified and re-verified delivery profiles that continues to grow and evolve.

3. What’s under the hood counts.
Make sure that your delivery solution can keep pace whether you’re delivering hundreds of titles per week or thousands. At Deluxe we have 20+ petabytes of storage, more than 1,500 encoding/transcoding nodes, and more than 800 metadata technicians working on solving and anticipating problems. If you can’t make deliveries fast at any scale, ROI can plunge.

4. Relationships are important
. In building our ecosystem of content and distribution partners, we’ve also built a global account management infrastructure around it. We’ve found that while being global in this market is critical to supporting our partners’ needs, having local relationships means being able to pick up the phone and know who to call to get answers at both ends – whether it’s Sky Germany, Amazon, Orange Israel, Hulu or BskyB – which means faster resolution and fewer missed dates.

The global content market is growing rapidly, with more content owners and distributors joining every day – each bringing their own flavors of spec and requirement to each piece of content. Supporting content aggregation initiatives in this heterogeneous environment is trickier than it looks. Being aware of the hidden complexities and planning for scale can mean the difference between stalling out of the gate and wild success.