Long reads

Live again: sharing experiences of cloud-native television

Simon Frost, Head of Industry Marketing, EMEA, on the AWS Media & Entertainment Symposium 2023, Kings Place, London, 8th February

After engaging with customers and partners exclusively online since 2019, it was incredibly rewarding to hold the annual AWS M&E Symposium in person in 2023. Over 300 customers and partners joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) in London for a day of knowledge sharing, trend discussion, and face-to-face networking – one of the most valued aspects of these events. 

The full-day agenda began with an AWS Keynote, reflecting upon the significant progress made by media companies in adopting AWS for key workloads. Ian Munford, EMEA M&E BD Lead at AWS, spoke about how Amazon Prime pushed the boundaries of post-production with The Lord of The Rings: The Rings Of Power all-in on AWS, and how commercial broadcaster ITV has seen considerable success with its new OTT proposition, with ITVX driving audience viewership up by 138% year over year. Munford also highlighted key customer trends with a call-out to data management.

Dave Travis, Group Director of Content, Broadcast & Platforms Engineering at Sky’s CTI team, provided the customer keynote. Travis gave insights and learnings to how far Sky has reinvented performant media workloads on AWS and realised significant savings in both costs as well as reduced carbon impact, a major focus for Sky. Travis closed with an ask to industry vendors “to do more to make your software functions cloud-native, interoperable, manageable, and with flexibility on commercial engagement”. In essence, Sky has realised the true benefits of the cloud and can now value and measure the agility and flexibility of this approach. More established technology vendors need to accelerate and in the cloud there is very little friction.

With data and sustainability as emerging themes, Formula 1 followed, showing how far it has come in using the cloud to build digital products, engage fans, and build unique sports insights to augment racing. F1 also covered its use of uniquely trained Amazon Transcribe machine learning (ML) models to scale the ability to translate and deliver live closed captions in multiple languages.

Trying a new live event format, AWS invited two new-stage innovation companies to pitch their approach to known challenges. Sports BUFF and ThinkAnalytics each had just five minutes to connect with the audience, an approach the audience valued. Later, Grabyo and Technicolor repeated the challenge.

Networking continued with a busy coffee break, customers and partners reflecting on event themes, connecting on projects, and engaging with AWS on ways to move faster. Many agreed that despite the challenges and impact of the pandemic, the media industry made a leap forward with remote work, collaboration, and engagement. Much of the creative process in making great programming has traditionally evolved around physical proximity. Now, remote work and collaboration has been proven on AWS.

The balance of the day’s agenda included engaging panel sessions that got straight to the heart of key workload themes including FAST channels, content production, media supply chains, live production, and OTT innovation. Sign up for on-demand access to the event and view the sessions yourself. The day ended with two hours of networking and socializing over drinks and food generously supported by AWS partners Amagi and SDVI.

I want to thank customers, partners, and AWS teams for their passion and renewed energy in meeting together to progress our industry. In my summary of the day as host, I reflected that the needs of the industry now are much like they were over 10 years ago –collaborative working, open APIs, lightweight standards – enabling the industry to move faster, add more software-defined functional elements to workflows, and remove risk. Having been lucky enough to host this event for the last five years, the progress is simply staggering; no longer do customers or partners question ‘why the cloud’, it is instead how do we all go much, much faster than before. This is the time for cloud-native television and the pioneers are already realising the benefits.

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