Disney: Distributing content has become a mission-critical component

Dave Ballew, Disney

Dave Ballew, Disney

Dave Ballew, director of enterprise media management services (EMMS) at The Walt Disney Company, on efforts to develop a new video archive and distribution model, the biggest distribution challenges currently facing his team, and the feasibility of future-proofing delivery mechanisms.

Dave will be speaking at the CDN World Las Vegas show taking place on June 25th-26th. For more information and to register, please visit

Can you tell us a little about Disney’s efforts to develop a next-gen archive and distribution model?

That’s a big question, because Disney has a broad and diverse set of segments and media to archive and distribute, but I can tell you about the portion I work with, which includes archival of all episodic shows and features that are prepped or used for air on TV for both the ABC Network and the cable networks.

We support the media networks segment and other segments such as parks and resorts in archiving their media content.

Over time, as the archive has grown, it’s reached a point where distributing content graduated from a bonus feature to a mission-critical component.

We’ve always focused on mechanisms to ingest high-resolution mastered and finished content from vendors, post production houses, and so on, and we deliver that content to Disney facilities worldwide.

What progress has been made on this project so far?

The group was formed five years ago after a proof-of-concept effort within the company, and the technology aspect has gone through a tremendous amount of progress, but with a corresponding level of support, dedication and change within the business groups themselves.

When we started, we delivered a couple terabytes at a time to our locations. Today, we move petabytes of content in hundreds of thousands of files every quarter.

We’ve measured growth as a multiplier each year, seeing 3x-15x annual increases across all statistics, and we’ve been working with our partners in global networking, transport and automation to scale to handle the increased volume.

What do you think are going to be the biggest distribution challenges facing you and your team in the near future?

The ever-increasing appetite internally and externally for content delivery and the increasing pace of the processes around it is our biggest consistent challenge, but also an opportunity.

In our B2B-centric mode, we have need of the capabilities offered by CDNs and distribution networks, but we have to focus on which content is used in which geographies, and how do we store it, manage it and distribute it securely and efficiently.

In this sense, our customers value predictability and performance – they’re not willing to sacrifice one or the other.

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