The news media and television broadcasters are arguably some of the biggest cloud adopters in the world. Their embrace of cloud computing has come at a cost, however – the decline of traditional television. By now, the term cord-cutters has entered the mainstream and symbolizes the growing sector of consumers who forgo cable and satellite subscriptions for streaming options. Steaming services from Netflix and Hulu knowingly use the advantages of cloud computing and are great at what the content they offer. However, they do not offer live entertainment and daily news options.
Traditional television habits are changing, especially among younger viewers. According to Nielsen's 2014 fourth quarter report, released in March 2015, the trend among the 18 to 24 demographic does not show signs of changing. From 2011's fourth quarter results to 2014, the number of television hours watched per week dropped seven hours per week. The most likely reason? They are streaming their favorite programming instead.
Changes to the industry
According to a report from Accenture, there have been three major disruptions that have led to bigger distribution over the Internet and heavier reliance on the cloud:
- User demand of greater choice, such as interactive viewing and on-demand offerings.
- Time pressures to unveil new services
- High costs, including maintaining legacy hardware and increasing prices for content
Gravitation to the cloud
A 2014 survey from Devoncroft titled the Big Broadcast Survey asked approximately 10,000 broadcasters in over 100 countries to share some trends about technology purchasing plans. According to Devoncroft, the acceptance of cloud technology rapidly increased in 2014 to become one of the fastest growing areas of project spending by broadcasters. The report also stated cloud services, "had one of the largest year-over-year percentage increases in terms of broadcast technology and user-project spending."
Although multi-platform content delivery was the top priority, followed by areas such as 4K resolution and ultra high-definition video, an argument can be made that those areas rely heavily upon the cloud. To handle large volumes of streaming requests, broadcasters turn to the cloud to help manage the delivery of content to multitudes of devices. Accenture said a cloud's infrastructure is especially helpful in handling transcoding.
Benefits of the cloud
Cloud services have greatly improved how content is delivered to consumers. Local news broadcasts are available for streaming, as are popular live events. This was not the case 10 years ago. The cloud helps networks handle large spikes in traffic because they can utilize infrastructure as needed.
Live sports are a prime example of networks successfully using infrastructure-as-a-service cloud services. NBC typically allows for Internet streaming of its popular Sunday Night Football matchup. At the end of 2014, a total of 3.3 million unique visitors watched games online on a computer or mobile device. It was an increase of 9 percent from 2013. The network also hosted the Super Bowl in 2015, and saw a record 1.3 million online viewers, up from 1.1 million when Fox broadcast the game in 2014.
That number has a long way to go to catch traditional viewership numbers, but it was still a record. The cloud provided the infrastructure to handle the increased traffic without problems, so viewers were able to see the game's pivotal moment.
News media embrace
On-demand services have allowed viewers to view shows at their leisure. Of course, those videos need to be stored somewhere, and the cloud can help store current seasons and past seasons of television shows. Networks can easily increase storage needs to satisfy demands.
But it is not just network shows embracing the cloud; traditional news programs are as well. Weekly news programs on the big three U.S. networks let viewers stream from any device and watch past programming. Local media outlets especially are offering live streaming options to expand audiences.
Mobile news is also utilizing the cloud to deliver customized news when viewers want it. In early 2015, Reuters delivered a mobile application giving subscribers curated, on-demand news. Cloud infrastructure can support these types of media services.
Broadcasters and data
As more viewers expect on-demand content, broadcasters are turning toward data analytics to deliver custom offerings. It is identified by Accenture as one of the ways broadcasters use the cloud to "change the game." Cloud services help networks store the data securely, while also offering vast amounts of power to easily analyze viewing habits and other trends. Accordingly, the study said networks can create individualized experiences. Viewers who always wondered how television show recommendations are produced now know the cloud plays a big part in personalization.
A common talking point characterizes broadcasters as behind the times of popular online video services. However, based on multiple surveys and current offerings, that is not true. Cloud services are used extensively to provide better options and stability to online viewers.
Trends have shown viewing habits are changing, and the news media and entertainment industry is turning to the cloud to meet the desires of customers.