The emergence of digital platforms has bestowed media companies with challenges and opportunities galore. Some, like Asianet New Digital, have turned the former in their favour
By Vinita Bhatia
Broadcasters in India are finally playing catch-up to new-age media and are rapidly adding OTT to their overarching business plan. However, they are making this addition while keeping linear television at the forefront of their media strategy. Forward-thinking organisations are well aware that this tactic can work only if they have the right solutions implemented at their programming and infrastructure level.
One such broadcaster is Southern Indian conglomerate Asianet News Media, which offers channels in different regional languages, including Malayalam and Kannada. It too wanted to leverage OTT as a competitive tool and use it to offer exclusive live news and VOD content. Through its long-standing partner, RGB Broadcasting, it selected Brightcove Video Cloud to revamp and launch its online news website for four of its south Indian languages.
What’s more, the company wanted to explore ways to monetise its content – something that other broadcasters have been trying to do for a while. While this is easier said than done, the necessity and urgency to go down this road is unsurprising. “Ad revenue, which has been the dominant income for media companies, has been declining after audiences started migrating to online platforms. Falling ad revenues are driving some companies to restructure or even to close operations altogether,” surmised Anoob Ali, head, business development, RGB Broadcasting.
To deliver an integrated OTT platform, RGB’s team, in consultation with Brightcove, got a firm grasp of Asianet’s digital strategy and its priorities. It then mapped these out to identify the order in which the solutions ought to be implemented.
The initial project outline that RGB received was fairly simple – Asianet News already had Live TV on YouTube, but wanted TV or VOD content on its website. It also wanted to enhance user experience with innovative video experiences by adding 360° virtual reality, 9:16 vertical videos and publishing to social destinations.
“We counselled Asianet about the best practices, provided then insights into world of online video technology, organised product demos and testing sessions for their teams to get a first-hand feel of product,” stated Ali. This was to build the users’ comfort level and confidence with the proposed solution.
The next phase of the execution involved organising an onboarding programme with Brightcove and Asianet technical team. This is a standard programme offered to every new client as it ensures easy migration to the Brightcove Video Cloud platform. As part of the onboarding, Asianet was provided with developer use case examples, which helped them integrate the services easier and faster and ongoing local engineering support during the migration and the service period.
DEALING WITH CHALLENGES
Working on a project of this nature, especially for a leading broadcaster, can never be without its challenges. In this particular case, RGB had to ensure that the project could go live within a short timeframe. Luckily, this is where cloud-based systems proved to be advantageous.
“The beauty of a cloud-based video platform is that our clients do not have to worry about hardware or software installations and are able to go live with their digital offerings in a matter of a week or a few weeks, depending on the level of complexity of the migration,” explained Ali.
To ensure that the project implementation took place seamlessly, RGB Broadcasting acted as the first point of contact and also took the onus of providing local support during the onboarding, integration and migration stages. It had onsite engineers to ensure that the entire process ran smoothly from the implementation till it went live. These engineers provide baseline training to the client’s digital teams, as well as the opportunity to attend expert level training sessions conducted by the Brightcove teams in India, Singapore and US.
Once the contract was awarded, the entire project – from implementation, testing till going live – took approximately four weeks. “In term cost-effectiveness, the client was able to take advantage of the latest video compression technology that is designed to reduce costs associated with bandwidth and storage, while improving video quality,” Ali pointed out.
The key stakeholder in the project, Asianet, seemed delighted with the progress of the project. Talking about it, Anoop N, COO, Asianet News Digital said, “Video is the core of our content monetisation strategy. We chose Brightcove for its superior technological capabilities in rendering and playback. Our entire experience with RGB as our implementation partner was seamless as well. From handling multiple transition challenges to going beyond the contractual obligations to hand-holding internal development teams, RGB met our expectations.”
Muhammad Nissar, director, technology, RGB Broadcasting, said that content trends are evolving at breakneck speed in the broadcasting industry. “As always, India is embracing this transition quickly. Embarking on the business philosophy of helping our clients to make profits in this process, is continuously venturing into partnerships to bring latest technologies into the region.” He believed that these alliances will help the company get a better insight about the intricacies involved in digital video delivery and understand it. This, in turn, can help it recommend the most viable solution to their clients who are willing to leapfrog to the OTT space.