Live From Content Everywhere MENA: IP Transition Ready for Close-Up

Content creators in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, and in particular Dubai, have gathered this week for Content Everywhere MENA, a new event created by the IBC and designed to better meet the needs of the international broadcast and content-distribution marketplace. The event kicked off with a lively discussion about the future of content creation and distribution and how today’s traditional media players can best address future needs.

Steve Reynolds, CTO of Imagine Communications, kicked things off with a discussion of the impact that IP is having on the traditional TV industry.

The Content Everywhere Hub is at the centre of information and knowledge exchange at Content Everywhere MENA in Dubai.

The Content Everywhere Hub is at the center of information and knowledge exchange at Content Everywhere MENA in Dubai.

The transition, he said, is more than just moving to a new way of doing old business. Instead, it is about reaching a new kind of consumer via new devices that do not rely on traditional delivery models and instead rely on “unicast,” which has an impact on how content is created, produced, and, ultimately, monetized.

“Instead of a broadcast model,” Reynolds said, “we are talking about content that is contributed, produced, and distributed out via the cloud to consumers on a one-to-one basis.”

More important, advertising techniques like personalised ads and real-time audience measurement that have been the backbone of broadband advertising are beginning to migrate to the traditional content-delivery methods of broadcast and cable TV.

“How does this change the landscape?” he asked. “Moving to nonlinear and OTT changes the kind of content and the way consumers engage as they move from passive lean-back into a much more engaged model. And that is a great thing because you have a more engaged consumer and can ultimately grow the business.”

Reynolds noted five key factors that will help companies come out on top: proper focus on the audience, understanding the way devices change the way consumers access content, understanding how the content should change (long form, short form), how content is distributed and whom to partner with, and having the right business model to support the ecosystem.

“Those five factors will determine who wins in this landscape,” he added.

Enabling those five factors, he said, requires four key components: a software-defined infrastructure that goes beyond baseband, a multiplatform playout environment, a system that is virtualized and can grow as needed, and a system ready for IP-based distribution so it can deliver content as files and packets to whatever devices consumers are using.

That ever-growing list of devices means that keeping up with fragmentation becomes a larger challenge, according to Luke Gaydon, VP of media, EMEA. budgets, Brightcove. He noted the need to simply keep up with things like content protection.

“It’s a very exciting and complicated time but with lots of opportunity for people in the room today,” he said.

Ingo Lalla, MENA regional director, Limelight Networks, said the best opportunity for content creators is OTT because it can still mean great consumption of linear TV. Annual global traffic will surpass the zettabyte threshold in 2016, and, in 2018, it would take a person more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks in one month.

OTT will play a key part in that increase in consumption, and, in the Middle East region, sports content will be a major part of the equation.

“Premium content is a challenge here, but the chain in OTT is only as good as the weakest link. So speed and operability of the network as well as intuitive ways for content discovery are important,” said Lalla. “We are talking about a complex situation to enable things like subscription revenues and extending a brand.”


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