Content Gets More Personal with the Cloud

With the availability of cable and satellite content delivery over the last few decades, we’ve become accustomed to choosing from hundreds of channels and pay-per-view options. However, the emergence of the cloud for content delivery has led to an explosion in the volume, forms, and sources of broadcast content available, which will fundamentally change the dynamics of the industry.

I had an opportunity to discuss this evolution as part of the “Years Ahead for Cloud Computing” panel at the CLOUD COMPUTING CONFERENCE held in conjunction with NAB 2012. Here are a few of my observations from that session.

A major catalyst is the tremendous amount self-generated content on behalf of users and end-users. Increasing numbers of people are turning to YouTube versus traditional TV channels, and it’s not a stretch to imagine that soon they will be getting their news from Twitter rather than the 6pm news show. As a result, we will see broadcasting start to move from a push medium to an on-demand, pull-through model.

With some 4 million content creators today and growing, there is an opportunity to tap into that creative base with micro monetization. In parallel, we’ll see a move toward more tiered subscriptions for the consumption of media.

For example, when I put together a presentation for a university computer club, I was able to find content from the Internet, but the licensing models didn’t fit my needs. One person wanted $220 per image because the model was to put it up on a website for a year with global distribution. I didn’t want to spend $2,200 for 10 images to use in a one-hour presentation. Clearly, we need to rethink the rules for content monetization.

Further complicating monetization is the licensing model as we see a significant convergence of multiple devices that can, for example, access a video library on the cloud. I may access that library from my smart phone, my TV screen, my laptop, or my tablet. As content delivery is mixed across delivery options, we need to ensure that content licenses support this model.

While we’re rethinking monetization and licensing, we also need a better model for marketing to content consumers. Today, analytics drive customized promotions to the sites we visit, but those analytics are based on a very rudimentary and incomplete understanding of our interests. If we believe in unicasting, why not ask consumers what they want? If I want to buy a new car, show me car advertisements. Then, when I buy a car, stop! Let’s just find a mechanism that asks people what products or services they are really interested in and then tap into the deep inventory of advertisers that want to target those individuals.

Finally, we need to look at the power of the edge device and how we can use edge devices for capturing, caching, storing, and transforming content. This brings us into the world of an augmented reality in which, for instance, I can snap a picture of my window and then superimpose a new blind or drape onto it to see if it meets my needs.

Moreover, we are becoming hyper-connected-simultaneously accessing the computer TV, gaming console, and cell-phone all at one time. There is a significant opportunity for the broadcast industry to harness the cloud in order to tap into that convergence and start blending game interactivity, entertainment, and real-time news. Imagine a stockbroker being able to simultaneously view a financial deal stream and the news of the day. Using the cloud to deliver a richer, converged, and augmented experience would be extremely powerful.

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