Upcoming Industry Conferences
Streaming Media West [13-14 November 2018]
Live Streaming Summit [13-14 November 2018]
Streaming Forum [26 February 2019]
Past Conferences
Streaming Media East 2018 [8-9 May 2018]
Live Streaming Summit [8-9 May 2018]
Content Delivery Summit [7 May 2018]
Streaming Forum [27 February 2018]

11 Steps to Building a Successful Global Content Business Utilizing Streaming
While every organization is different, these guiding principles can help prepare for potential growth and scaling of a content business.
Tues. May 2, by Tejpaul Bhatia

In the internal sales step, it is extremely important to demonstrate return on investment. Show the long-term financial and strategic value of this project and, if possible, show immediate returns as well. We will discuss business models later in this article, but in the conceptualization phase, you should have several models that will pique management’s interest.

It is up to you how conservative or speculative you want to be in your revenue opportunity projections, but make clear early on that upfront investment in infrastructure, metadata planning, and design goes a long way. If building infrastructure is not economically feasible for your company, find best-of-breed partners and have a clear exit strategy with each of them. Try not to get locked into long-term contracts or potentially limiting revenue-sharing agreements. If you have to share revenue to avoid initial investment, understand the overall opportunity and how much you will have to give to your partners and for how long. Make this all clear in your pitch.

Step 4: Define Content
As stated earlier, rights can make or break you. You need to know what online rights you have for your market. If your business is made up of traditional television properties with rights licensing agreements, some of your agreements may already allow for rights on multiple platforms. This would be the ideal situation. If online distribution rights are not included in current agreements, you need to evaluate the current and future value of these rights to your business. Remember, online business models are still unproven in comparison to television and as the market moves forward, rights holders and buyers will determine the best methodologies for valuing rights in a means that supports their strategies, brands, and future relationships.

Production is another key piece of this step. You may be able to repurpose content already being produced by your company or you might have to produce content specific to your product . . . or both. Either way, make sure to budget enough to support content production and the related technical steps necessary for streaming media.

Buying content rights is another option. If your management supports the strategy, you can purchase new rights and contract with production companies to create content. There are many production houses that now focus on multi-platform and interactive content.

Depending on the rights and content you own, licensing or syndicating your content to other broadband outlets may be an option for your company. Some brands have explored partnering with online video storefronts. If you choose this option, make sure you have a realistic understanding of the revenue you will get after the split and an understanding of the impact on your brand.

Finally, when choosing your content, define your product’s content identity. In Step 1, you discovered the overall strategic need for your business and you chose streaming media as a solution. Was the goal to port an existing video product onto the Web? Or was the goal to support another business by creating ancillary content to keep consumer interest piqued during off-times? Understanding your product’s content identity will help you decide how much to spend on developing new content and how much to spend on repurposing existing content from other platforms.

Step 5: Define Metadata

You have two options with metadata: Pick an industry standard for the platform you are building on or create your own metadata schema. In either scenario, pick something that you feel confident sticking with for the long term. Metadata becomes the key and common ingredient in every aspect of your product, from front-end display to content management to digital rights management. Changing your metadata schema once your product is widely distributed is a difficulty that is best avoided.

A simple way to think about flexible metadata is to break it into four buckets: asset, rights, content, and profiles. The asset bucket defines the actual physical media. This might be a physical tape, a VOD asset, a Quicktime video, or something else. The rights bucket defines when, where, and how the content can be accessed. These are rights that govern any use of the content. The content bucket contains all information pertaining to what the viewer sees regardless of the platform. This bucket might contain the context of the content, a description, a cast list, closed captioning, a date, and similar information. The profiles bucket represents the various platforms that the content can be displayed on. This might contain actual server locations, resolution requirements, distribution instructions, streaming format, file names, and more.

Once you have broken down your content metadata needs, you have a better understanding of what to look for in an industry standard or what to define in a homegrown solution. It is best to avoid allegiance to any particular technology or platform when choosing a metadata solution.

Step 6: Build Infrastructure (Media Asset Management)
For most startups, building a complex infrastructure is out of the question. For existing content companies, a new infrastructure might be a dream, but reality is that you will need to integrate with legacy systems. The best approach to building a strong and flexible infrastructure is to define a workflow. Each component of the workflow should be a standalone unit that can be built, bought, or plugged in later. The "glue" that ties all the workflow components together could be a piece of software, a file system, a human, a robot, or another option.

The basic components for a streaming media workflow are ingesting, editing, metadata tagging, transcoding, distributing, hosting, streaming, and reporting.

Ingesting refers to the process of taking a piece of content and getting it into a digital format. You may set up software that schedules time with your house router, downlinks content, and encodes it to a high-quality MPEG. You may also buy a tape deck, a capture card, and a FireWire drive and hire someone to manually ingest tapes.

Editing is the process of turning your pieces of content into a packaged asset. If you are simply taking content off of another platform and making it available via broadband, the only editing you will need is setting the start and the end of the clip. You may be able to automate this. If you are creating new assets, you can use editing software such as Apple Final Cut Pro or Sony Vegas, or go very high end and purchase dedicated Avid editing stations.

Metadata tagging refers to the capturing and publishing of information about the asset into a predefined format that can be easily identified in the future. Most companies use a combination of automatically captured data (closed captioning, length, publish date, etc) and manually entered data (caption, headline, producer name, etc). Tools exist to capture automatic and manual metadata into an XML format that accompanies the asset. Depending on the complexity of your metadata schema, you may have to develop your own tagging tools.

Transcoding is the process of taking a high-quality clip and encoding it multiple formats at once. Most companies will buy third-party software for this process. You may have to build extensions if you encode to new or non-standard formats in the future.

Distributing refers to the shipping of encoded clips to the appropriate locations. Options for this part of the workflow include everything from FTP to HTTP to satellite to fiber, or even a bike messenger service.

Hosting refers to the servers where your streaming content will reside. Larger companies will choose a content distribution network to host and stream their content. You may want to choose a CDN solution or host the content your self. Bandwidth costs need to be taken into consideration when choosing a hosting provider.

Streaming is the part of the workflow that the end user receives. You can take this literally as streaming a file from a server to a client or you can refer to this as product development and the overall experience your fans will get.