The subscription model has long been a key facet of the media and entertainment industry. However, it has almost exclusively been reserved for the consumer side—from cable providers such as Sky over the last 20 years, to the more recent rise of streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
However, we’re now seeing a shift in the industry, with broadcast and digital content production increasingly embracing the subscription revolution. From news to sports and the latest viral series, the move away from a hardware-based model towards cloud-based subscriptions is continuing to gather pace.
And it’s easy to see why. There are several significant business benefits on offer for those organizations willing to make the move. But don’t just take our word for it—here’s what some of the media industry’s most prominent leaders had to say.
Subscriptions: A New Way of Doing Business
A cloud-based subscription model arguably offers three key benefits. Let’s start with the most obvious: no significant up-front costs. Instead of having to invest tens of thousands of dollars—or more—in production hardware with no real idea of when they’ll see a return on that investment, media production companies can spread the cost over many months or years. Most importantly, they’ll still have access to the sophisticated tools and solutions that help them create great content.
This has proven particularly beneficial for smaller organizations that are attempting to compete with the larger industry players. Nic Newman, senior research associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, explains: “Media companies know they need to invest in technology, but the pressures of funding mean the money simply isn’t there for R&D anymore. Broadcast models, for example, are coming under huge strain.
“That’s one of the reasons why we’re seeing niche companies doing so well—they’ve been able to create innovative operations at low cost using a subscription model. They don’t need to invest huge sums in technology up front because it’s all much more commoditized and available at an affordable price.”
Then there’s the operational flexibility. We know that in today’s world, business requirements can change in the blink of an eye. Media and production companies therefore can’t afford to be weighed down by a rigid technology roadmap that makes it virtually impossible to add new capabilities or scale up and down as required. Subscription-based production in the cloud solves this problem—while at the same time removing the risk of technological obsolescence.
Investing in a new solution only for it to become irrelevant within a few years is every CTO’s worst nightmare—both from a capabilities perspective and the impact it has on the bottom line. “CapEx limits innovation,” says Darren Long, TV executive and former head of production services at major European broadcaster, Sky. “Companies feel a pressure to use their expensive equipment until it breaks, while finance teams encourage users to squeeze as many years as possible out of existing technologies to delay having to re-invest in new ones. With technology now evolving so fast, this approach simply no longer works.”
“I’ve seen this sort of capital dept build up. You build a shiny new infrastructure and it’s wonderful for the first couple of years. Then you get a few more years down the line and think ‘what do we need to spend again to keep up with the latest innovation?’ The OpEx way means organizations won’t get stuck with hardware and software that runs out of date. Ultimately, embracing a subscription-first approach lets companies move fast and continue to innovate. It eliminates the risk of technological irrelevance and means they can take advantage of new capabilities—such as the latest features in Avid’s Media Composer and MediaCentral solutions—as soon as they become available. Darren adds: “The OpEx model is an exciting place for everyone in the industry to play in. It just means the mindset needs to change.”
Clearing the Road to Cloud
Subscriptions also provide a valuable gateway for media and production companies on their journey towards becoming fully cloud-based operations. This is currently a key topic of conversation in the media and entertainment industry, having been pushed firmly to the top of the priority list by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some organizations just moved key processes to the cloud, while others shifted entire workflows virtually overnight. Whatever the approach, subscriptions can act as a valuable stepping stone to the cloud, enabling organizations to test things out and move at their own speed. They can experience the key benefits—such as the scalability and immediate updates—via a subscription and then gradually increase their cloud footprint as required.
Of course, one of the key benefits of cloud-based subscriptions is the flexibility it provides in terms of how work gets done. Creative teams can work remotely from anywhere, resulting in more efficient operations.
“If you look at our industry as a whole, we've always been governed by places,” explains Darren. “Now the opportunity is completely different. If you look at the toolset that is available for people sitting in their living room with Avid on their desktop, they can work from anywhere around the world. This means organizations can focus on finding the best person for the role without any restrictions.”
This thought is echoed by Ali Husseini, Director of Broadcast Operations & Creative Services at Fadaat Media, Al Araby Network, who recently oversaw a major cloud migration. “Cloud infrastructure means all my contributors, all my collaborators, all my journalists can be available wherever they are. All they need is a mobile device, a laptop, and the internet. The cloud is both a massive enabler and a core function.”
Clearly, cloud-based subscription models are vital for helping media and production companies cut costs, work more efficiently, and stay ahead of the innovation curve in today’s competitive landscape. That’s why so many leading news organizations are embracing the subscription mindset. Avid MediaCentral is available through subscription, giving teams financial flexibility and putting great new capabilities in the hands of journalists, producers, researchers and editors alike.
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