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Content is king… but only if you can manage its contracts!

Content is king… but only if you can manage its contracts!

Content is king… but only if you can manage its contracts!

Guest post from Michael Holocher, Product Manager for Over-The-Top TV at Siemens Convergence Creators

“Content is king” has been a buzzword in multiple industries for the past decade or so now. But the phrase fails to describe any of the accompanying economic processes involved in the rapidly evolving world of content and business management.

While content quality will always be vital in this regard, business management is the crucial dynamic factor that leads to financial success. How can operators choose the right business management system, steering and controlling the whole end2end media delivery chain, managing contents, contracts and products? Consider the following seven key factors for long-term financial success in the field of media distribution.

Diversify via multiple business models

Flexibility in offering alternative business models out of the box is essential to be able to react to market needs without delay. When distributors launch their initial offer limited to S-VoD or T-VoD, it becomes important to be able to adapt and expand quickly. This guarantees the streaming solution to be future-proof and opens doors for potential business as well as advertising partners. Pioneers like Netflix and Hulu conquered the market, while from now on diversity in content and offers will become the crucial success factor.

Manage contracts and rights carefully

Most business management systems focus on content and are built up around it. But different business and license models need high awareness to fulfill various kinds of legal obligations. Contracts with every content-rights owner and studio are based on different limitations, license windows and conditions such as pricing or minimum commitments. Therefore business management and distribution needs to be based on contracts, not content assets! Distributors, studios as well as key US institutions like SAG (Screen Actors Guild), WGA (The Writers and Actors Group) and IATSE Labour Union demand more and more precise contract-based reports. A business management solution able to create detailed reports and prevent contract violation, will lower the insurance premium for distributors as liability can be reduced. As an additional benefit, better conditions can be negotiated with the content providers.

Distribute internationally

Successful video distribution gets more complex when crossing borders – license agreements have to be respected while multi-region features are mandatory to comply with region-specific restrictions. In order to fully exploit the growing potential of international markets, country-specific content licenses, multicurrency payment, time difference, multi-language usage – from simple change of language to completely different user interfaces for Western, Far Eastern or Arabic regions, including specific cultural characteristics need to be considered.

Keep operational and storage costs low

Operational costs can be reduced by highly automated workflows which are designed for non-technical personnel. The less work an editor has to do, the better for scalability and profitability. An advanced role management within the business management solution will increase efficiency of daily work.

The decision for a storage possibility along with the respective cost is fundamental for the whole business case. Cloud-based setups as service (SaaS) make a system scalable and able to grow fast if needed, but here the best choice depends strongly on the respective usecase.

Offer content bundles for tailored target groups

Special interest groups are becoming the new mainstream. Tailored offers for different target audiences like children need to be created to address these rapidly growing markets. The key factor for packaging & bundling options are flexible product configurations. Personalization through manual and/or automatic configuration of content presentation and content recommendation is an important tool to increase user-specific customer experience. Children for example need a completely different user interface than sports fans – this is not limited to appearance, but also includes the recommendation logic.

Built on open APIs and technology standards

Even if a business management solution is highly customizable to cater to distributor’s needs, it still needs to be built on trusted and well deployed industry standards to ensure seamless integration in existing eco systems and 3rd party services as well as future extensibility. Support for standards like CableLabs, usage of technologies like REST and SOAP plus the implementation of widely accepted standards like MPEG-DASH for streaming and CENC for Content encryption build the base for successful service rollout.  

Ensure efficiency by employing a comprehensive business management system

A comprehensive business management system offers great advantages in comparison to the use of a multitude of independent software tools. If components like contract management, customer management, content management and asset or media management tools are incoherent, the efficiency of the entire business operation will be considerably limited.

These key factors should provide a clear picture of how to bring video-distribution to long-term financial success and create, maintain and optimize new revenue streams. It shows that a contract-centric business management, steering and controlling the end2end media delivery chain, offers significant benefits. Changing the understanding of content from a pure asset management perspective to a hybrid one-stop solution will make a big difference, as businesses should not be based on stove-pipe models and multiple different management platforms but on one centralized content contract management system ruling the entire Over The Top distribution from ingest to end user applications.

Max Heintze, OTT Sales Director Siemens Convergence Creators, will be a speaker at the OTTtv World Summit (9th – 12th November 2015 Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London)

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