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News in the Digital Era: Tips for Broadcasters

News in the Digital Era: Tips for Broadcasters

Do you prefer reading news on social media? If your answer is yes, you belong among 51%[1]  of the population who prefer so. Research by Reuters Institute reveals that 64% of the population between the age group of 18-24 rely on online media for information.

Which makes us wonder – is digitization transforming the way viewers consume content? As the F.O.M.O. and the favor of personalization over objectivity give rise to social media and aggregators like ‘In Shorts,’ ‘Feedly,’ and ‘Digg Reader,’ do traditional media need to change their broadcast/distribution strategy to retain the audience?

In an age where what goes ‘viral’ sells, here are some tips to utilize the power of digital media to capture the audience.

Intriguing Storytelling: While the information remains the same, how the broadcaster presents it is what pulls and retains the audience in the ‘mobile first’ world. With the same story available across multiple platforms, readers look for a unique perspective, and perhaps, an intriguing way to share the same news. To retain the audience, storytelling has to change – it has to be short, visual, timely, and hyper-relevant.

‘Snackable’ Content: According to Forbes[2], adding infographic is a sure shot way to boost news traffic, as 90 percent of what we remember is based on visual impact. Short-form videos play a vital role in capturing the viewer’s attention for a longer time, thereby driving user engagement and revenue.

Explainer Videos: With the information overload that comes with the Internet, an average person is attacked by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day. Explainer videos are a great way to cut through the information overload. Focusing on the facts, explainer videos often have only subtitles without any sound highlighting the crux, which usually works well for breaking news.

Focus on Soft News: Humans are primarily driven by emotions. Therefore, viewers tend to connect more with the soft news that has a strong emotional element. A simple story presented objectively with an emotional perspective works better for news broadcasters.

Choosing the Right Distribution Platform: With offsite news video consumption growing fast, broadcasters need to focus on the distribution channel to ensure maximum reach. For example, videos uploaded to Facebook or shared on Twitter get more views than those uploaded on the website. Therefore, sharing the breaking news on social media, and do a follow-up story with detailed analysis and context for the website will have more viewers than uploading a detailed video on the website.

Going Live: Thanks to the video appeal, user engagement, ‘in the moment’ value, and instant feedback, live video has become an interesting trend in the broadcast industry. With Facebook Live, Snapchat, YouTube, and Periscope allowing wider reach, media houses are competing to bring interesting and valuable live videos to their customers.

Having Defined Goals: Not all content is created with the same purpose. While the cyberspace is flooded with news and videos, each trying to carve a niche and attract the audience, a broadcaster needs to have defined goals like monetization, engagement, or brand extension before generating the content. It is important to have a strategy in place, which the broadcasters should review and refer to at regular intervals.

Creating Video Community: Media houses are increasingly turning to platforms like Talenthouse, Tongal, and Zooppa to have new video content that explains key issues simplifying business/hard language. Creating video community is a great way to crowdsource ideas in thousands, connect with the audience and empower them, and create a loyal viewers’ community.

Having Ready-made Templates: News, if not communicated as soon as it breaks, become stale. Therefore, it is important not to waste time in deciding the ideal content format or creating videos from scratch. Having templates for various kind of news across different platforms enable quick packaging and sharing of videos and news, thereby helping broadcasters share information as soon as it happens.

As broadcasters embrace the new digital world and make their presence more prominent across online platforms, it is important to have a right strategy to ensure increased engagement with the audience.

Video Storage Formats: Then & Now

Video Storage Formats: Then & Now

The Motion Picture Industry had begun to develop in early 1900s. Celluloid Nitrate films were the industry norm till the magnetic tape came into play. With technology, the video storage carriers have also evolved. From carrying bulky video cameras for shoot and storing cans of videos archives to live streaming of video using a mobile, video has come a long way.  Let us look at some key formats through the history of video.

1956 saw the coming of Quadruplex videotapes which were most commonly used commercial distribution medium at that time. Developed and released by Ampex, 2” Quad was the first successful videotape format. The name comes from its four-head wheel which rotated 240 times a second. VR 1500/600 (by Ampex) was the first consumer VTR.

From Videotape we graduated to video cassettes. In 1969, Sony introduced a prototype for the first widespread video cassette, the 3/4″ (1.905 cm) Composite U-matic system. ¾” U-Matic, Sony, 1970 was one of the most successful formats of all time. Until its release, news acquisition had primarily been gathered on 16mm film.

In 1976, Sony introduced Betamax which was the first successful consumer video cassette. It failed in the marketplace against VHS due to its maximum record time despite initial success. Introduced as a competitor to Betamax, VHS, JVC, 1976 was the most successful among all home video formats.

Sony introduced Betacam in 1982, which eventually turned out as the most widely used analog tape based format, later Digital Betacam was introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the analog Betacam SP format. Sony’s D-1, the first digital VTR, featured uncompressed digital component recording and was mainly used in high-end post-production facilities with special effects and multiple layering of video signal.

In 1985, Handycam introduced by Sony was the first portable Video8 Camera with commercial success. The 8mm video format refers to 3 video cassette formats namely, Video 8 (analog), Hi8 (combination of analog and digital) & Digital 8 (digital). And a decade later in 1995, the next generation of digital disc storage was introduced, the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD). The world’s first DVD player was the Toshiba SD-3000 launched in November 1996 and was made available in Japan, US, Europe and Australia.

Blu-Ray is the next generation of optical disc format aimed to store high definition video (HD). Named after Blue Laser, it stores more data than a standard DVD.  DigiBeta is the highest quality standard definition format in common use. It’s 10 bit 4.2.2 with a low compression of 2.3 and a common SD delivery format with many broadcasters. Launched in 1995, DV is a format for storing digital video. DVCPRO, also known as DVCPRO25, is a variation of DV developed by Panasonic and introduced in 1995 for use in electronic news gathering (ENG) equipment. In 1996 Sony responded with its own professional version of DV called DVCAM.

Its competitor is High-Density Digital Versatile Disc (HD-DVD). Promoted by Toshiba, NEC & Sanyo, it is a digital optical media format applying the same disc size as Blu-Ray.  As far as quality of Video is concerned the future belongs to Ultra HD or UHD. The UHD Alliance comprising of 35 companies have laid down UHD Premium Specification in 2016. The specification comprises a list of features that should be included in products like TVs and Blu-ray players to ensure maximum compatibility with other content and hardware produced.

Though availability and quality of recording devices is a huge edge, it comes with disadvantages. Modern recording devices produce 720p, 1080p and 4K video resolutions eating up hard drive space thereby slowing it down. It faces lack of adequate backup feature as well. These inabilities make Cloud Storage Solutions the future of video storage.  Cloud provides excellent features like anywhere access, easy sharing and retrieval and also ensures longevity of the content.

Video content consumption has revolutionized our lifestyle in massive proportions. Surprisingly, the developing economies consume video content in startling way. Africa often referred to as “The Mobile Continent” witness 77% viewers consuming content on smart phones and 53% are interested in mobile video on-demand. UNESCO has highlighted, “much of our audio visual heritage has already been irrevocably lost and much more will be lost if no action is taken.” Broadcasters and content owners must now focus on migrating their valuable media assets to latest video storage formats and ensure its availability for generations to come. The future clearly belongs to the media organizations that adopt digital and offer choice of platforms (any device, any time) and variety of content to their viewers.