SmartNet: Powering Digital Transformation of Media and Entertainment Industry

One of the largest industries in the world, the Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry, is growing faster than the global average and has emerged as the leading driver of public cloud adoption. The sector recorded a growth of 16.4% to touch $21.5 billion in 2021, according to a recent EY-FICCI report. Moreover, the industry is likely to grow by 17% in 2022 to reach $25.2billion.

Several factors are driving the exponential growth of this Indian M&E industry; the growth in the digital ecosystem and increased digital adoption is one of the key reasons for this growth. India has around 795 million broadband connections, and the number of smartphones continues to grow. The EY-FICCI report says that the number of screens is likely to touch one billion by 2024-25. In addition, the increasing popularity of online gaming and video streaming is driving the M&E industry and changing the traditional business models of content production, distribution and consumption.

Factors Driving the Exponential Growth of Indian M&E Industry:

  • Acceleration in digital ecosystem 
  • Growing popularity of video streaming platforms and online gaming 
  • Shifting consumption patterns during COVID-19 pandemic

Further, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had a massive impact on the industry as it pushed the home-bound consumer to explore new digital entertainment avenues. Work-from-home and learning-from-home provided ample time to the users to consume content on several digital platforms as the traditional mode of theatres remained out of bounds. 

There are changes in content consumption of sports and news media as well. Now consumers demand constant coverage and updates in real-time. Further, the new-age consumers expect on-demand access to content on their devices all the time. There is also a growing need to secure the production and archived content in terms of disaster recovery. 

However, even as consumer demand continues to explode, technology advancement coupled with changing consumer expectations is transforming the way the industry works. Hyperscalers such as Google, Facebook and Netflix have disrupted the M&E sector and are redefining media consumption, forcing content producers and distributors to explore alternate models to reach the consumer directly. It is no longer enough to produce quality content, but M&E companies will also need to harness the viewer data to make content discovery easy and seamless for the end-user. 

Content, along with technology, is driving cloud adoption and leading to the emergence of newer business models. It is no longer just about producing content but is also accompanied by value-added services like games, gift cards or eCommerce/merchandising. 

Digital Transformation Ahead!

The changing user expectations and hypergrowth in content production and consumption demand a massive transformation of the technology infrastructure, both on the contribution and distribution components used by the M&E industry. Therefore, a low-latency and high-speed network for next-generation video contribution and distribution deployment is the need of the hour. 

The contribution network between the broadcaster premises to the Content Distribution Network requires the foundation of a low-latency, robust network to transmit un-compressed content to maintain the quality of experience. The transformation of the contribution network is crucial as it covers storage, content aggregation, digital rights management and encryption. Traditionally, the M&E companies have been using compressed video files for easy transmission and bringing down the cost of transmission. However, this impacts the quality and is not interoperable with all digital video gear. Further, compressing video files leads to network complexity and increases the time to market. 

On the distribution network, covering transmission between broadcaster to the end user, efficient and intelligent CDN and Edge CDN-based networks are required to cater to a growing number of users. This is dependent on the user network infrastructure and the quality of service delivered by the user service provider. Further, the growing demand for high-definition and high-resolution video has led to an increase in the capacity demand. This is where network scalability, reliability and security will play a fundamental role in media distribution and migration. Moreover, the networks must be elastic and flexible to address the ever-growing requirement for higher bandwidth for UHD and other upcoming standards. 

Leveraging The Cloud For Greater Efficiencies 

The signs of mega transformation are already visible. The media and entertainment industry is consolidating studios, production houses and data centres to bring down costs and gain operational efficiencies. This is helping them eliminate duplicate, redundant facilities, networks and applications while allowing them to centralize content, production, IT and network infrastructure.

Adoption of the cloud is a crucial part of this transformation. To begin with, the cloud not only offers a massive cost advantage but also allows companies to move from Capex to an Opex model. In addition, cloud-based workflows allow the media and entertainment companies to efficiently address the growing demand of data volume, variety and velocity, which is not possible to manage with legacy setups. 

The Cloud allows M&E companies to

  • Move from CAPEX to OPEX model 
  • Address the growing demand for data volume, variety and velocity 
  • Scale easily and quickly 
  • Streamline workflows for greater efficiencies 
  • Easy sharing of assets between different departments leading to greater collaboration 

Further, virtualization of server, storage and network resources in private, public or hybrid cloud is allowing media companies to streamline workflows, and leverage automation to bring down production time and reduce the total cost of ownership. Traditionally the content production, management and distribution functions tend to work in silos in media and entertainment companies but moving these operations on the cloud allows easy sharing of assets and resources, leading to greater collaboration. 

Cloudification and infrastructure consolidation bring diverse traffic flows from file-based, live video streaming, content backup and recovery and advertisement file, to a single seamless network for easy coordination and handling. 

Typically, the M&E companies use traditional telecom networks for their workflow. This is emerging as a bottleneck as they are unable to meet the requirement of delivering high-quality content efficiently to production teams dispersed at different locations. Next-generation optical networks improve quality, reliability and total cost of ownership for M&E setups. It is key to ensuring a protocol agnostic converged network infrastructure. It promotes remote production, thus doing away with the legacy distribution methods in on-premises setups. Next-generation optical networks are not only more secure but also ensure low latency and high data rate. 

Today, the industry is witnessing the emergence of converged networks with Transport Stream, File, Live, Content, backup & Recovery, and advertisement traffic, all present on an Integrated DC and Cloud DC architecture, hence providing easy access to broadcasters for Post-production (editing, cutting, rendering), ad insertion, voice-over, and supply chain.

This will enable :

  • Easy Visibility and control of data centre resources
  • E2E production from the cloud, enabling seamless content creation
  • Real-time collaborative edit operations on the cloud
  • Seamlessly switch between multiple content delivery networks (CDNs) to offer the best user experience to the end consumer.
  • Reduced content capture/aggregation latencies on the network, providing a better user experience. 
  • High availability and low latencies for DR site switching– uninterrupted user experience 

Emergence of DC-Cloud DC-DR -CDN Converged Network


Get the SmartNet Advantage 

Lightstorm is disrupting the Indian digital infrastructure by building a state-of-the-art network infrastructure designed to accelerate the growth and innovation of digital enterprises. As India’s only carrier-neutral network infrastructure platform, Lightstorm has built a first-of-its-kind utility-grade low latency network designed for hyperscale needs. Lightstorm’s SmartNet network uses utility-grade fiber to connect India’s major economic hubs; Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. 

The Lightstorm offering of digital services is centred on three key elements—utility-grade fiber infrastructure, an intelligent software-defined mesh network, and an on-demand Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform. 

More than 92% of Lightstorm’s network uses a utility-grade fiber network enabling it to provide 100% uptime and the shortest latency. Furthermore, the utility-grade fiber is not prone to problems like fiber cuts, a persistent issue in India, thus ensuring extreme availability. In addition, spine-leaf architecture and point-to-point linear long-haul provide the lowest latency. 

Lightstorm’s SmartNet enables the transformation of the entire workflow of the M&E companies, right from creating, producing, distributing and consumption of content. In addition, since Indian media houses are transitioning to hybrid production, including remote, on-premises and cloud, the Lightstorm network provides an unparalleled advantage of easy access and interconnections to distributed content for production, collaboration and distribution. 

It allows the M&E users to manage high throughput optical network for the datacentre to datacentre, cloud datacentre, CDN and datacentre to disaster recovery connections. On the consumption side, it delivers real-time content through the connected ecosystem with key CDN and IX players connected via Lightstorm’s network. Lightstorm’s state-of-the-art SmartNet network is all set to empower M&E companies to leverage the growing market opportunities by simplifying their operations and workflows across the creation, production and distribution of the content. 

After all, the show must go on (without any jittering and buffering)! 

Manish Kakkar

Author

Manish Kakkar

Global CSO