How a global ‘forced experiment’ has helped innovate video production in Asia
This story appears in the October 2020 issue of Television Asia Plus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the lives of consumers across Asia. Strict social isolation regulations have meant the majority of people are staying at home, mostly relying on digital technologies for remote working, entertainment, and socialising.
Across Asia, the adoption of cloud computing once lagged behind Europe and the U.S. but is quickly catching up. Today, cloud-based computing has made its way into almost every business in some shape or form. Most media organisations probably use a cloud-based service every day—be it for storage, communication, video conferencing, or hosting their company’s server.
But for video production, the use of the cloud still lags behind, and the pandemic has created a type of “forced experiment.”
Usually, digital transformation is gradual and meticulous, but the COVID-19 crisis has forced media companies and content creators to transform first and then figure out the impacts on workflows and roles and responsibilities later. When the lockdowns came, they came quickly, and change had to be immediate to keep content relevant and the channels on air.
However, many media businesses have thrived during this “forced experiment.” Working remotely has enabled video production teams to leverage the full potential of technology, paving the way for creativity and innovation. It has allowed broadcasters, media rights holders, and content publishers to try new methods, workflows, and content formats that will bring benefits to the industry that will last beyond the pandemic.
For example, Singapore broadcaster Mediacorp faced a huge challenge as the city-state headed into a general election during a complete lockdown. Mediacorp shouldered a responsibility to ensure Singapore’s population could follow the election from home.
In what has been dubbed Singapore’s first social media election, Mediacorp rolled out a highly agile campaign to deliver live news broadcasts, election debates, and updates across its digital and TV channels. It leveraged the flexibility of cloud-based solutions to send reporters out into the field using only a camera and laptop to deliver live broadcasts across its social channels. The broadcaster also aired a live election debate on its Facebook page, creating a focal point for voters to watch along while showing their support, discussing the issues, and debating with other voters in real-time, replacing the physical rallies that couldn’t take place. Over half a million Singaporeans tuned in to watch live.
Mediacorp’s strategy allowed them to be flexible by limiting the amount of personnel, equipment, and travel needed to create quality coverage across its digital channels. The broadcaster was able to tailor its coverage focus and the volume of content produced. This stripped-back approach has many applications for the future of news production, helping organisations to be first to market while reaching a vast online audience.
The future of sports production
One of the most prominent, and most missed absences during lockdown has been live sport. Now back on our screens, sports broadcasters and federations are working in new ways to produce live and VOD content.
These new workflows were first trialled by the Korean Football League. K League 1 was the first major football competition to restart following the sport’s hiatus and demonstrated a blueprint for hosting live fixtures and delivering broadcasts to fans.
With only essential personnel on-site for K League’s digital team used cloud-based video production technology to produce and deliver the broadcast remotely to social media. Australia-based match commentator Simon Hill contributed to the broadcast remotely, using cloud production tools.
We are now seeing this type of production set up in sports fixtures all over the world. It is more economical, reduces the cost of equipment, travel, and resources, while also decreasing the carbon footprint of each production.
When fans are allowed back into stadiums, these principles should remain. The production costs of a live event are problematic for broadcasters alongside the amount of equipment and resources needed to be transported to multiple venues. Using cloud technology, sports media organisations can cut costs, reduce their environmental impact, and create truly multi-platform content strategies across TV, online, and social media.
For decades, linear TV viewing dominated households everywhere. But today it’s OTT, mobile, and social platforms that are becoming the media destinations of choice for consumers of all ages.
Many media publishers have taken to creating bespoke social and digital video content to engage consumers at a time when no new live content was available. Consumers have become accustomed to consuming more video content across social and digital platforms, responding positively to the raw and unfiltered nature of social content while enjoying its interactive elements.
Media companies must now design their video strategies to be all-encompassing. Broadcasters and publishers need to repurpose linear TV content for multiple digital platforms, optimised for viewing across a range of devices, to extend their reach and stay relevant.
Yet, there are challenges in distributing linear TV content to digital platforms. Traditional broadcast infrastructure and systems aren’t suited to digital distribution, they require complex, high-cost workflows that restrict the potential of digital content and product innovation.
Engaging audiences on social media and mobile apps require a constant output of high-quality content. The competition for eyeballs is unrelenting, so publishers need to be consistent, and at speed.
At the same time, consumers expect to be able to watch content on whichever platform and device they prefer. Multi-platform strategies are the most successful because focusing on just one channel will greatly reduce the reach of content. Once new content is created, often it needs to be repurposed, reformatted, and distributed across various platforms, optimised for its destination.
Using traditional equipment, this process is repetitive and slow. Cloud-based production tools are built with this capability at their core, and publishers are able to produce and deliver content at scale.
The biggest challenge for broadcasters, rights holders, and publishers across Asia is how they will react to this shift in consumption habits caused by the pandemic. The ability to access content online has become a base expectation, and broadcasters must equip themselves with the right tools to not only win audiences but build loyalty that lasts.
Elliot is a digital media and technology specialist, with over 18 years of experience across traditional and emerging media platforms within all Asia-Pacific markets including China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia. In his role, Elliot advises major broadcasters, rights holders, and content publishers across the Asia pacific to maximise their digital video strategies. Elliot also helps publishers to easily monetise video content across social media, mobile, and OTT platforms.
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