The Next Generation Digital Media Networks: Playing a New Tune

A dramatic shift is occurring in the way digital media is created, distributed and consumed. Speaking before a couple hundred entertainment executives at the THE (Transforming Home Entertainment) Summit, Russ Crupnick, managing partner of music industry tracking firm, MusicWatch, discussed this new digital reality in today’s music markets.

“The future for music will be a convergence between audio and visual,” Crupnick predicted. He pointed to industry data showing 8 out of 10 people who regularly use the digital music service Spotify also use YouTube to watch music videos and advised his peers, “If the industry wants to keep up, it needs to prepare.”

And consider these indications that digital content is growing at extreme rates across the media industry. According to new research from online video advertising company YuMe, 34% of viewers in the U.S. stream video daily, 16% of U.S. viewers binge-watch television daily and 41% binge-watch one to three times per week.

All these changes usher in new challenges when it comes to the cost, efficiency and security of digital media.

In this two-part article, we will look at the digital transformation of the media industry and examine how why leading media players are turning to interconnection to meet the growing demands of their voracious consumer base.

A media industry in transformation

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the $37 billion media technology market is expected to grow to $60 billion in 2017. To keep up with this exploding demand, media production workflows and content delivery networks – the backbone of the media and entertainment industry – are undergoing a major transformation.

Ethernet is rapidly replacing traditional media workflows that were once dominated by physical tape and legacy coax cable-based networks. Cloud-based production and distribution platforms are further disrupting the end-to-end media supply chain and content monetization methods. Not to mention that consumers are now accessing digital media from numerous types of devices (smartphones, tablets, wearables) from around the world, on-demand, at escalating rates.

Traditional network architectures that depend on Internet virtual private networks (VPNs) and high-cost, low-bandwidth MPLS services are no longer sufficient to handle current digital media workflows. As media file size continues to grow, the current workflow model of pushing and pulling media content to remote vendors and services will become less efficient and add additional latency to media production, which is often already under tight deadlines.

These additional trends are also disrupting today’s media networks:

  • Cloud-based encoding and post-production platforms continue to grow, pushing production applications onto the network edge.
  • New high-definition video formats, such as 4K, high-dynamic-range (HDR) and Dolby Vision, require ever-larger storage pools, further stressing space and power requirements at local facilities.
  • Production tax breaks continue to disperse filming location across the globe.
  • Current advertising revenue is shifting from terrestrial broadcast to mobile and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
  • Millennials and mobile technology continue to reshape the viewing landscape and content distribution.

By adopting an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™, media companies can turn these disruptions and challenges into opportunities and unleash the full potential of their media networks. An Interconnection Oriented Architecture integrates the physical and virtual worlds, shifting the fundamental delivery architecture of IT from siloed and centralized to internetworked and colocated, which can help mitigate the ramifications of the increasing amount of digital media content.

In the second and final post of this series, we will discuss how media companies can leverage an Interconnection Oriented Architecture to address the growing demands for streaming content and better monetize multi-media assets.