More content than ever: The challenge of audiovisual demand in difficult times

The recent consequences of the pandemic generated by Covid-19 have created a situation never seen before at a global level. The quarantine has triggered the demand for content, but does the entire audiovisual industry have the necessary software tools to keep up in the current circumstances? In this comprehensive article, we analyze the current situation of content consumption and the challenges it raises at the technological level.

The recent state of confinement caused by the Covid-19 is undoubtedly generating a daily reality worthy of scenarios only described until now in dystopian science-fiction stories: deserted streets, all kinds of closed establishments, special security force measures, lonely, cautious and almost unrecognizable citizens behind their masks, and, above all, many hours to be spent from the comfort of our homes.

That last detail is, without a doubt, the paradigm shift that most affects the general public. Casual conversations now translate into countless messages on social networks; family and friends gatherings depend on the reliability of the chosen video call software; and what just a month ago would have been a meeting between fans to relive a concert can now become a virtual event with thousands of followers. In a way, we are anticipating the future and promoting the use of technological tools through their massive use due to the need to look for alternative forms of entertainment and communication.

This situation is a great challenge for the entire entertainment industry, and in particular for the most widely used media: TV and non-linear platforms (OTT, VoD, streaming…), organizations that face the crisis simultaneously as an opportunity and as a challenge . How are companies in the industry taking on the current circumstances?

The streaming giants, more in demand than ever

“Our audience is growing,” noted Ted Sarandos, CCO of Netflix, in a recent interview for CNN. The fact does not take surprise anyone: a couple of days before, Nielsen estimated that streaming consumption could rise by more than 60% in the US, taking as a reference previous situations of forced isolation, in this case due to natural disasters. A good moment for the expected European launch of Disney +, the VoD proposal of the house of the mouse, that inaugurated its service last March 24th in many EU countries. In spite of the expectation generated for the launch in normal circumstances, it has been the European institution itself that has requested to all these streaming services, including YouTube, to lower the quality of their broadcasts to avoid banwidth saturation, which is clearly more necessary than ever.

Despite this undeniable increase in demand, the audiovisual industry is also facing two direct side-effects: on the one hand, a general shutdown of productions all over the world, and on the other, the provisional closure of cinemas, the usual window for new releases from the major studios. While Netflix will not immediately notice this shutdown due to its unique release model (directly on its platform and with all the episodes of a series available at the same time), other production companies are not so lucky and are already adjusting their schedules by cancelling and delaying new content in the worst cases, and in the best cases transforming theatrical releases into digital ones, either using their own platform or selling broadcasting rights to third parties who do have them.

In any case, a prolonged statu quo would force all those interested to multiply their content in order to differentiate themselves and maintain their competitiveness, and given the lack of novelties, the natural resource would be canned content, already finished and ready to be discovered for the first time, rebroadcast or the juiciest option, repurposed for the occasion: compilations, thematic specials, seasons…

Traditional television is at the frontline

On the other hand, how are linear televisions reacting to the current situation and the increased demand from their more aggressive competition? On the one hand, the halt in productions affects them at the same level as streamers, so, as  Josef Adalian suggests, perhaps the best thing would be to reconfigure TV programming and strengthen live broadcasts, their distinctive sign, to also take advantage of the foreseeable audience peaks.

News specials, programs dedicated to educating the public, educational alternatives in the absence of face-to-face classes, regional specials… Linear television has resources to get by even with today’s logistical limitations, as well as historical and often exclusive content archives that can also be brought to light for the occasion..

When technology makes a difference

It seems clear that the current circumstances represent not only an exceptional situation for the audiovisual industry, but also a whole battery of daily challenges that require an additional effort: a tailored approach, efficient coordination… and reliable software capable of enabling, coordinating and enhancing all the necessary tasks to continue operating at full capacity.

Remote working is no longer optional, so as part of its technology installation, every company should aim to have a production organization system. A solution designed specifically for media production environments that allows optimal organization through the administration of managers, staff and task control, features that help streamlining workflows and allow users to focus on what they do best: creating content.

For exa
mple, users could access the same sequence from different positions, which can be edited while the production process continues without wasting time transferring it. With a social tools module, the project team could track changes, add comments and interact with each other in real time.

As far as repurchasing and republishing content is concerned, a powerful Media Asset Management system has a lot to offer in this regard, as it provides all the tools needed to properly manage the content of one or more companies with maximum efficiency. Now that organization is more important than ever, locating content quickly has become critical.

By this way, setting up complex metadata structures as customizable as you want, hierarchizing areas and classes of assets with inheritable properties or cataloging by layer certainly constitute a versatile system that can adapt to any need.

After locating the necessary contents, the ability to perform various functions from the same interface also applies to the next step, editing. Simple 100% web-based video editors such as Wedit can make a difference when it comes to getting assets ready for broadcast, since among other features, they can edit low resolution sequences with photogramic accuracy, record voiceover over the timeline, finish the editing in most non-linear editors (NLE) if necessary, and also offer the possibility of accessing the tool through any browser or operating system, virtues that nowadays can spare more than a few headaches.

Planning: the most necessary tool

Of course, it is of little use to organize tasks, locate contents and edit them if we do not also have a system that allows us to plan when and how they are going to be broadcasted: that is where a traffic and planning system is most useful, since it allows the scheduling of contents in multiple screens and in the long term.

Displaying your own content and the purchased one, monitoring the available licenses for the latter automatically and having advanced options offered by systems such as VSNCrea to preview any content  to verify it is an ideal option to gain speed and agility.

In addition, its integration with management systems such as the already mentioned MAM offers a series of very important competitive advantages to be taken into account. In the specific case of integration between VSNCrea and VSNExplorer MAM, while one is dedicated to recovering the necessary media and the other to programming it, all the changes made in one -such as modifications in metadata or segments- are reflected in the other and vice versa in real time, which makes up a powerful software as useful for a traditional TV as for a VoD.

Lastly, analyzing the profitability and return on investment (RoI) of content through these systems helps in making better strategic decisions in an environment where -now more than ever- every viewer counts.

Clearly, this exceptional scenario seems to have reshaped the immediate future in many ways. An integrable, efficient and intuitive technology that allows agile coordination of teamwork is no longer an option, it is a necessity of the first order. In short, every tool that allows us to stay connected – whether it is to create, coordinate or send a simple greeting – brings us a little closer to the end of this complicated road. Stay safe – Keep it digital.

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