In the past, the ability to tightly control distribution of content allowed for near total control over material, conferring on broadcasters enormous power to feed entertainment as and when they saw fit to an eager public.

Those days are gone – absolute control of the distribution process has been lost, and the traditional media companies know it. How they respond will dictate their long-term success, if not survival. To exploit the opportunities and to gain new revenues, these companies must develop strategies that embrace digital distribution and leverage it to generate profits.

When a new delivery platform (Youtube, Joost, babelgum, Veoh, Brightcove etc etc etc) emerges one thing is clear: everything on either side of the value chain changes as well. By value chain, I refer to the two-way, interactive value chain that IP-delivered content requires:

  • Content creation/encoding
  • Application Authoring
  • Content Management
  • Service Management
  • Service Delivery
  • Synchronisation
  • Traffic and Scheduling
  • Automation
  • Return Path Management and Billing

New networks and network capabilities also give birth to new devices, which in turn help to define and create new formats. The ‘clip’ has become a byword for online video – but this is just the start. At the moment this tends to fall into two categories: the singalong-with-your-favourite song clip and the my-favourite-bit from-a-show-that-I’ve-illegally-edited-and-posted type. This will evolve over time, both from the user generated side and the professional content industry. Examples are already out there – soap operas on your mobile phone and ads created by the public for their favourite brands.

The creation and, as importantly, management of these new formats is not straightforward. Many broadcasters are struggling to remove organizational barriers towards a “single-customer” and “single-infrastructure” view, with content creation and distribution disconnected across departments and channels. Multiple systems from multiple vendors have created complexity at a process level – e.g. data needs to be input more than once. Emerging channels are still locked into separate business units and total spend on content management and distribution is clouded as a result. Platform complexity has forced content owners to develop interactive services as expensive “one-offs” or to adopt complex end-to-end solutions, locking them in to proprietary systems

To bring the digital revolution into the homes of the mass market will require a fundamental understanding of how content can be created, distributed and shared amongst end users. In order to do this, companies will have to fundamentally understand how complex systems work together in a flexible, affordable way to deliver great end-to-end experiences.