As we enter into the second half of 2020, this year could easily be considered the year of streaming. In addition to the launch of a plethora of new streaming platforms such as Disney Plus, Quibi, HBO Max, and Peacock, the novel coronavirus pandemic has seen people spending more time at home and watching more TV than ever. Nielsen Media Research reported a 34% growth in time spent on streaming platforms over the first two weeks of March. Collective usage went from 116.4 billion minutes in the week of March 2nd to 156.1 billion in the week of March 16th, with that total being double that of the same week in 2019. According to a study by the market research firm OnePoll that surveyed 2,000 Americans who can access at least one streaming service, the average person is streaming eight hours of content each day — double the number of hours before the pandemic rapidly spread in the United States.
While these numbers create a wealth of opportunities for OTT platforms, it also poses a problem. As demand for new media continues to rise, filming is indefinitely stalled for producing new content as studios try to figure out how to best move forward with large sets and production crews while maintaining proper social distancing. Suggestions have ranged from selecting films with fewer characters and more outdoor locations, to rumors that Tom Cruise is building a “coronavirus-free village” to resume shooting on Mission Impossible 7.
In the meantime, companies are focusing on post-production efforts, which they are capable of achieving remotely. This move has come with its own set of difficulties though, as many companies have relied on on-premises, or “on-prem” solutions, storing and handling data on local servers. Rick Phelps, CCO of the cloud-based video supply chain company OWNZONES, said of the dilemma: “With billions of dollars at stake and an audience with a voracious appetite, business continuity is critical for the content industry as it grapples with the impact of shutting down operations because of the global pandemic. While the movement to the cloud is likely not going to enable the industry to kick start filming at any time soon, for productions already in the cloud, it can enable remote working in many parts of the chain, and lead to their completion in order to continue delivering content to consumers who are in need of entertainment and solace throughout the coronavirus crisis.”
Originally a content company themselves when the business started in 2010, OWNZONES founder and CEO Dan Goman made sure to create within his company a highly skilled research and development team. Unwilling to be held back by lack of progress in technology, they made sure to always be on the cutting edge of software, until after five years they realized that the technologies they created were the key to their success, and there was a demand for providing them as a solution to other content companies. Today, they have leveraged their experience managing content channels to push the digital media supply chain industry forward. Their core offering, OWNZONES Connect, is a cloud-native solution utilizing a component-based media workflow. Connect’s core competencies are in IMF, parallel scaling, and geographically distributed workflows.
OWNZONES is helping studios and content creators move forward during this pandemic through their OWNZONE Connect service. They encode, package, and deliver the content remotely, allowing professionals to securely log into the cloud-based platform in a browser window and continue to process content and fulfill orders from their living room or anywhere else they so desire. Suddenly, the processing power that would have previously required several rooms full of data racks can be achieved from the comfort of their own home using only their laptop.
At an ever-increasing rate, the future of production is moving towards a “studio in the cloud,” meaning footage shot on set would go directly into the cloud and would be immediately available to vendors around the world who could work in parallel alongside each other. Instead of post-production moving from editing, color grading, sound sweetening, etc. sequentially, through the use of the cloud all can be worked on simultaneously and rest assured that they are always working on the most current version. Further, cloud-based platforms can speed up the packaging of final products for distribution, streamlining processes like region-specific versioning and adding subtitles. The ultimate result is a significant reduction in server costs, improved download/upload speeds and a greatly reduced timeline to global distribution.
Whereas on-prem solutions require servers, licensing, staff, training, server rooms, utilities, IT support, and regular maintenance, a cloud solution reduces those needs and will cost less money, time and energy in the long run. On-prem solutions are also capital expenditure, priced as a one-time high cost perpetual license fee, making them a costly investment. Cloud solutions are operating expenditures that are often priced at a monthly or annual fee, giving them a much lower cost of entry and making them overall more wallet friendly than an on-prem data center. Cloud solutions also offer you the opportunity to scale, paying only for the amount of storage you need with the full option to size up or down as you see fit.
While it may seem counterintuitive, cloud solutions have actually proven to be much more secure than on-premise facilities. When companies get hacked, it’s usually because of legacy IT environments, which make maintenance to meet security standards more difficult. It’s much harder to secure data in those environments than in the modern environment of the cloud, which is updated consistently to meet the most recent security standards. Often, on-premises facilities go years without updating their security measures, making the data inside more susceptible to hacking. The cloud is constantly updating its software to the latest in security. Cloud solutions are also a much more refined solution when it comes to disaster recovery. Whether it be caused by a hardware or software failure, a network or power outage, physical damage to a building like fire or flooding, or human error which can lead to security and data breaches, moving to the cloud has proven to have safer and more sustainable disaster recovery strategies than on-prem services.
The demand for content has increased significantly due to the coronavirus. However, production has slowed dramatically, and even stopped for studios and content companies. They are looking at their vast libraries to try and fill the demand and OWNZONES is helping them conform their content and deliver it to global platforms through its cloud-based infrastructure. As disruptors to the industry, OWNZONES is interested in aiding production houses, large or small, in moving forward during these unprecedented times.