The light in the darkness
S03E11: Game of Streams (The light in the darkness)
Our Media Solution Consultant, Magnus Svensson, is sharing his reflections from the online streaming industry in this post. This is part of a monthly series so make sure to follow us here if you don’t want to miss an episode.
The first week of November the fourth Streaming Tech Sweden was arranged in Stockholm. We got twelve educating and interesting presentations covering everything from production challenges to player optimizations. We learned that we have the pixels we need, but that HDR is still a challenge. More of this later in this episode. We also learned how to build a large multitenant streaming solution and how to compress and distribute content throughout the workflows, in as low latency as possible.
A new topic at this year’s event was audio and we got an overview of immersive sound and the technologies connected to that. And as usual, a small local startup was on stage presenting some innovative ways to enhance the sports experience. At the end of the event, we got an understanding of the challenges in the different devices.
All an all a great event with a lot of learnings. I already look forward to the next.
It’s not only competition for the local streaming services, the global streaming services that establish also increase the requirements on the local production market. In addition to EU directives that at least 30% of the content of a channel or platform must be produced in Europe, there is also a great deal of interest from the end consumer for local films and series.
Netflix has set a new standard in the market that not only means that those who want to deliver local productions to Netflix have increased demands, they also set the standard that the consumer compares to. If you want to compete with Netflix, Disney, Amazon, and the other global players, you have to deliver quality that meets consumer needs and requirements.
The number of pixels on the TV screen has long been something pushed by the TV producers, while the range of films to consume as end-users have been limited. The productions have been captured in 4K or Ultra HD for long, but it has disappeared on the way to the end consumer, largely because of the extra costs this entails.
The traditional TV houses and distributors took on huge hit when HD was launched in the early 2000s. A cost that also did not mean any difference in revenue as it was difficult to charge more for this. This is probably one of the big reasons why 4K and Ultra HD have taken a long time to establish. But now it is no longer possible to avoid competing, these quality formats will be pushed by the streaming services, but maybe to a lesser extent in the traditional distribution channels.
The number of pixels puts demands on cameras, but above all larger files to handle. There are new technologies for handling and transporting large video files, but it takes time to adapt tools and workflows.
As discussed at Streaming Tech Sweden by Filmlance, HDR puts new demands in the early stages of video production. First and foremost, you have to decide whether to grade your production according to both SDR and HDR or start with one and adapt later to the other. These different options come with different pros and cons.
The global streaming services also impose strict, and usually expensive and complicated, safety requirements. This applies to both physical security such as personnel, premises and camera surveillance, and information security such as data security and encryption at all levels.
The production companies must ensure that no unauthorized person has access to the film. It involves complicated administrative measures to keep track of who has access to the film, or parts of it. This also means that there must be camera surveillance in all premises where the film and its material are stored or processed and that all information must be encrypted, incl. the physical machines and networks where the material is located.
Both the quality, with increased file sizes, and the security come with great costs for the production companies who want to join and deliver. Those who can handle the change have a great chance of being able to benefit from the increased demand for local productions. The industry is under pressure and changes and efficiency will be required if you are to succeed. But can you afford not to be on this train?
To watch out for the coming months…
In the first week of December, I will be moderating a panel at Video Exchange Streaming in London. We’ll be talking about how OTT could be better than broadcast and I convinced that it will be an interesting discussion.
Magnus Svensson is a Media Solution Consultant and partner at Eyevinn Technology. Eyevinn Technology is the leading independent consultant firm specializing in video technology and media distribution.