May 10, 2024

Channels are changing: Cloud-based origination and FAST

Linear television isn’t dead, but it certainly isn’t the same as it was even five years ago. As content delivery and consumption shift toward digital platforms, content owners and distributors find themselves navigating a rapidly evolving landscape. The rise of streaming services has further intensified competition for viewership, challenging traditional linear TV models to adapt or risk becoming obsolete.  

In response, content owners and operators are rethinking their distribution strategies and exploring innovative approaches to engage audiences and adapt to end-user preferences. However, thriving in this new ecosystem demands more than just reactivity — it requires innovation, agility, and a keen understanding of emerging technologies and industry trends. Read on to learn the role that Managed Channel Origination (MCO) plays in the evolution of content delivery or watch experts Gregg Brown, Greg Forget, David Travis, and Jon Cohen dive deeper in the full webinar here.  

Global reach in the digital media landscape 

MCO, which leverages cloud-based technologies and advanced workflows to streamline and scale content delivery, is at the forefront of the content delivery revolution. With cloud infrastructure, service providers can seamlessly scale up or down based on demand, optimizing resource allocation and adapting to evolving consumer preferences and distribution platforms.  

Thanks to the cloud, barriers and complexities that once hindered global distribution are either significantly reduced — or no longer exist at all — allowing businesses to operate at a global scale and deliver content across multiple regions and availability zones. This newfound flexibility enables providers to deploy channels easily in any region, eliminating the need for physical infrastructure and simplifying the distribution process.  

Beyond flexibility, cloud solutions can also lower the total cost of ownership, accelerate deployment speed and time to market, and lower security and support costs. When this is considered with the greater levels of flexibility and scalability offered by cloud-based origination, it’s clear that with the right MCO solution, content providers can tap into emerging markets, capitalize on growing viewership trends, and drive revenue growth on a global scale. 

Unlocking the value of live content 

Live content, such as sporting events and concerts, remains a cornerstone of linear television, engaging audiences with unique viewing experiences and a sense of immediacy that other forms of media just can’t quite replicate. Yet, operators must strike a balance between the expense of acquiring live content, effectively monetizing it through linear channels, and delivering it to global markets. Cloud-based origination makes it easier to achieve this crucial balance and highlights the importance of collaboration and strategic partnerships in scalable, cost-effective delivery.   

Within the context of MCO, live content translates to greater opportunities for regionalization and niche content catering to diverse viewer preferences. As the industry continues to evolve, leveraging technological advancements and embracing innovation will be essential for content owners to navigate the complexities of global distribution, advertising, and monetization while delivering compelling content experiences to audiences around the world.  

FAST forward: Transforming the perception of ad-supported channels 

FAST channels represent another way that linear is undergoing a transformation. These free, ad-supported channels offer content to viewers over the internet and cater to the growing demand for alternative viewing options. Yet content owners must carefully consider the role of FAST channels within their overall offerings.  

The current state of the FAST market feels like halftime in a major sporting event, prompting stakeholders to reassess their strategies and make necessary adjustments to adapt to shifting viewer preferences and navigate the complexities of content distribution. By leveraging advanced technologies, cloud-based channel origination can act as a catalyst for the creation, curation, and monetization of FAST channels.  

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The simplicity of onboarding onto FAST platforms with pre-enabled implementations has made entry into the market more accessible for content owners. This accessibility, coupled with the growing consumer demand for high-quality content, underscores the importance of FAST channels meeting broadcast-quality standards to remain competitive and reliable.  

There's a noticeable transition in the FAST channels landscape, where channels previously seen as lower value are now transforming to increase their sophistication and content quality. This shift reflects a growing demand for higher-quality FAST channels, signaling a departure from the perception of FAST channels as merely supporting acts to traditional linear TV.  

With many content providers expanding their reach beyond regionalized playouts to cater to international markets, a cloud-based approach can help navigate the opportunities and challenges associated with expanding FAST channels into emerging markets, particularly concerning advertising revenue and economic viability in new territories. 

Advertising within cloud-based origination is still evolving. Currently, distributors wield substantial data and control, managing ad insertion, networks, and sales. At the same time, FAST channels represent the next evolution of monetization, particularly with technologies like server-side ad insertion (SSAI) and AI making it easier to leverage data to create more personalized experiences. As the flow of open data increases, and the use of AI and ML expands, it will only serve to foster greater efficiency and innovation and ensure that ads reach the right global users at the right time. 

Crafting a customized channel origination strategy 

While channel origination offers content owners an innovative and cost-effective way to launch and manage linear channels more efficiently, it can’t be approached as a one-size-fits-all solution. For instance, does the business want to add a new channel or expand distribution? Is the content file-based, or does it include live events? If it's ad-supported, are there graphic requirements, or is live data needed?  

To address these variabilities, content owners must create a scalable strategy that is flexible enough to adapt to regional requirements. By leveraging cloud-based solutions, content owners can effectively manage fluctuations in demand and adapt their channel offerings to meet the needs of global audiences.  

In a marketplace where entertainment options abound, cloud-based origination helps businesses make the most impact, not just by increasing the number of channels, but also by ensuring that they have the right offerings in the right places. By adopting a holistic approach to channel origination that incorporates internet-based delivery services, content owners can maximize their reach, enhance viewer engagement, and position themselves for success in an ever-changing landscape.  

Learn how Comcast Technology Solutions’ Managed Channel Origination can help your business expand your offerings or break into new markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and beyond.