That’s Entertainment, Folks!

Next time you settle down on the couch to watch a Netflix movie, give a passing thought to the technology at the backend powering your entertainment. We talk about how technology has transformed the way we do business, but I think the changes have been equally radical on the home front. Just ten years ago, we all had cable or terrestrial TV and cell phones were there to make calls while on the move. To quote W.B Yeats’ famous lines, ‘All has changed, changed utterly.’

Streaming TV content

Today, we’re viewing on-demand, streaming TV services, like Netflix, using high definition TV displays. According to a recent Deloitte study, 55 percent of US households now subscribe to paid streaming video services, and nearly half of all US consumers streamed TV content every day or weekly in 2017. Not only are consumers across all age groups streaming more content than ever before—they are doing so on smartphones and tablets. Of course, for every change, there’s a consequence. As a personal aside, while I love the convenience of Netflix, a part of me misses the conversations about what was on the box last night – the shared communal experience of friends watching the same TV program at the same time.

Smart phone and social media

Most importantly, ten years on, the smartphone has become ubiquitous, even among the older age groups. Did you know that the average person in the UK now spends more than a day a week online? Ofcom, which compiled the report, attributes a large part of the surge in time online to the rise of smartphones, which are now used by 78 percent of the population compared with just 17 percent in 2008, the year after the first iPhone was launched. In fact, the average person now checks their phones every 12 minutes! And of course, not only are people watching video on their smartphones, they are also developing content themselves. Social media apps such as Snapchat, and Facebook’s live video option have also given amateur videographers and life-style bloggers an easy and cost-effective way to create and distribute content.

Anytime, any device & everywhere

As a result, media & entertainment is no longer connected to a place like a living room or cinema – it’s now available anytime and everywhere on any device. Boundaries are disintegrating as connected technologies turn everything fluid. Content creation and production are being challenged by a broad range of output, everything from 4K to consumer-generated footage, recorded by smartphones, while content delivery is expected to be instantaneous. Media production is also increasingly common in areas, such as training, museums, and education.

Mobile video advertising

The trend towards advertisement-free TV viewing has also forced marketers to look for alternative ways to reach viewers that they can no longer hope to attract through TV ads. As a result, more and more video content is being pushed online. Mobile video advertising is growing faster than other forms of digital advertising. With video being so prevalent on mobile devices, advertisers have adapted by creating videos with a vertical perspective to complement the way we hold our tablets and smartphones.

A move to open standards

What does all this mean for broadcasters and production houses? How are they investing, experimenting and innovating? How are they remaining relevant and keeping pace with this level of change? Unsurprisingly, our media & entertainment customers tell us it’s a fiercely competitive market. As a result, they need to stay ahead of the technology curve. Different technology platforms need to work together to make their production workflow as efficient as possible. As a result, I am seeing the industry move away from expensive, proprietary platforms to open standards. Increasingly, broadcasters and production houses are incorporating standard computing into their solutions to reduce costs, increase agility and exploit new revenue streams. This dynamic is pushing the top ISVs to develop their own out-of-the-box solutions by collaborating with IT companies like Dell Technologies, OEM & IoT Solutions.

Technology demands are high

3D animation, VR, compositing, grading and non-linear editing are now placing the compute focus firmly on workstations while 3D rendering and all aspects of video content creation, from acquisition and transcoding through to distribution, require huge amounts of server processing power. Digital video production, whether for TV or film, emphasize the storage part of the equation as well as the ability to view and edit data natively with 4K, especially now with 8K and HDR looming on the horizon. With multi-device consumption and ultra-high definition driving increased demand and generating more data, storage like Isilon is needed across all these workflows as a repository to manage content. And, of course, all these tasks require professional grade monitors with high resolution, precise color grading and industry relevant color coverage that reproduce data in high fidelity.

ATEME’s story

A customer story brings the picture to life so let’s take leading video compression company, ATEME. Responding to the rise in internet-based video, ATEME wanted to provide a converged, scalable, and virtualized video processing solution for its broadcasting customers. The goal was to increase compression efficiency and video quality while decreasing server footprint. Working with Intel and Dell OEM, ATEME successfully re-engineered its appliance platform. The results speak for themselves. ATEME reported 10 times the channel density, 80 percent reduction in delivery time and 25 percent reduction in maintenance overhead. Read the full story here. As Michel Artières, CEO, ATEME said: “We didn’t want just a supplier, we wanted a partner and Dell OEM went the extra mile by testing and fine-tuning the joint solution to reach the highest performances and the best efficiency.”

The road ahead

Looking ahead, the speed of change and the breadth of new technologies continues. 5G will create new business models that will see billons of devices consuming and generating data like never before. Adoption and usage of voice-enabled digital assistants is also growing, suggesting that voice could be the next big thing in human-computer interaction. Other emerging trends include AI, IPv6 protocols, virtual and augmented reality and IoT. To survive, the industry must continue to innovate rapidly.

Dell Technologies is the only company on the planet that has hardware and software solutions that play at every level, from the edge to the core to the cloud. We can deliver all the necessary assets, including scalable, secure, manageable and open infrastructure architecture, IoT and big data expertise, the ability to customize through our OEM division, the right partners plus a sophisticated global support and supply chain.

Are you in the media and entertainment business? If so, please join the conversation. I’d love to hear your comments and questions.

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