In the media and entertainment sector, cloud technology is everywhere. Broadcasters, OTT streaming services, and pay-TV providers use cloud to streamline video workflows and processes, and for content storage. Amazon Web Services, the market leader in cloud technology, accounts for over 40% of Amazon’s total profits.

However, large US-based Subscription Video-On-Demand (SVOD) services, like Amazon and Netflix, have embraced cloud and other innovative technologies faster and more effectively than European broadcasters. Post cloud-migration, those broadcasters need to lay out an innovation roadmap to compete.

What new technologies are on the horizon? How will Artificial Intelligence (AI) – computers that process data into intelligent conclusions – and Machine Learning (ML) – a branch of AI that self-learns – impact broadcasters’ workflows? What innovative developments are occurring in the media and entertainment space?

With 80% of media executives believing AI is the next industrial revolution, this week at MTM we explore recent developments and innovations in advanced technologies, such as AI, across the media and entertainment value chain.

Content creation

Great content is at the heart of every broadcaster’s business but is rare and increasingly expensive to make. New technologies may help. Open AI – a San-Francisco based research institution co-founded by Elon Musk – recently released GPT-2, a technology capable of creating scripts apparently indistinguishable from a human’s. It even suggested an appropriately bloodthirsty scene for Lord of the Rings. Although currently prevented from release due to fear of misuse – its creators fear the potential for deep fake news – this development demonstrates the potential for machine-assisted scriptwriting.

Elsewhere, DJI, creator of the Phantom 4 Pro drone, has partnered with Microsoft to develop drones that use data and AI to identify different types of fruit. Production studios will note the potential here, for example, of using smart unmanned drones to identify and capture never-before-seen natural occurrences or to track rare animals.

AI-assisted video editing is another area of innovation. IBM’s Watson used artificial intelligence to compile a “cognitive highlights” video from the Wimbledon tennis championships, combining an on-court statistician with audio and visual tools that recognised the roar of a crowd and unique player behaviour to determine pivotal points. Similarly, QuikStories – developed by GoPro – automatically creates videos; while SoloShot automatically tracks action and provides robotic editing tools.

Content management

Many important areas of a media company’s business – including transcoding, media storage, digital rights management and copyright, and distribution – are being revolutionised by the application of data and analytics.

One core area is around meta-data services: providing granular insights on videos, such as identifying objects or characters in order to provide classification. GrayMeta provides services that offer facial recognition, powering Sky News’ royal wedding ‘Who’s Who’ app through using machine learning to enrich live-streamed video content, providing users with up-to-date information on guests as the event happened.

Similarly, Valossa uses image recognition to detect and identify faces, tag visual objects, places and activities, recognise sounds and speech, flag and filter inappropriate content and categorise content automatically.

Broadcasters can now use similar innovations to archive and tag their content libraries, thereby creating searchable databases and monetisation opportunities through licensing.

Engagement and monetisation

For broadcasters, reaching and engaging consumers in a competitive, multi-platform environment is challenging. Customer retention and effective monetisation are critical challenges for most executives.

Advanced technologies underpin multiple solutions to these issues. Jump TV, for example, provides subscriber analytics around retention and segmentation, as well as personalising content through advanced recommendations, and developed a model to reduce subscriber churn for Fox Sports.

Advanced advertising is another area where technological innovation is poised to make a significant impact. According to an IAB Europe and GroupM report, media executives believe AI facilitates effective targeting, enabling advertisers to access the right person in the right place at the right time. Among many examples of new technologies, Triplelift, a programmatically native ad insertion and management platform, provides sophisticated online targeting, and was employed by Hearst to automate and optimise native ad formats.

What now?

As broadcaster grapple with the ongoing challenge of migrating their business processes to the cloud, they must also look ahead to see how technological innovation, post cloud-migration, might help them further. It is clear now that many new opportunities are emerging from the use of advanced data and analytics, AI and ML.