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Future-proof media, entertainment depends on making the right technology choices

Johannesburg, 06 Jul 2023
Calvin Huang, Solutions Architect, Huawei Cloud South Africa.
Calvin Huang, Solutions Architect, Huawei Cloud South Africa.

Media and entertainment streaming services and content platforms are grappling with multi-pronged challenges of managing massive volumes of content, securely, while also adapting to changing consumer demands. Investing in the right technologies can help them overcome these challenges.

This is according to Calvin Huang, Senior Solution Architect at Huawei Cloud South Africa, who says media businesses must shift their focus from purely content to the technologies that underpin their business. 

A changing sector

Huang says: “In recent years, the media sector has undergone significant changes, and has been influenced by various technologies, such as the cloud, big data, AI and machine learning. At the same time, people are spending more time on streaming services, OTT platforms and social media, and traditional TV viewership has declined. This shift has led to the creation of more original content by streaming platforms. Multimedia has become more interactive and immersive, with live streaming, VR, interactive and 360-degree experiences allowing audiences to actively participate in and explore the content.”

Data volumes have exploded, he says: “Major platforms for sharing and transferring content are seeing massive increases in the amount of content being uploaded and shared – on YouTube alone, it is reported that over 500 hours of video content is uploaded every minute. Platforms like Netflix also deliver massive volumes of video and audio content. Social media is another major contributor to sharing media content – as of 2022, Facebook had nearly three billion monthly active users, while Instagram and TikTok each had around one billion monthly active users, sharing and engaging with photos, videos and live-streamed content.”

But these well-known platforms are not the only source of multimedia content growth. Huang says: “Collaboration tools and cloud storage like Huawei WeLink, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive have made it easier to transfer and collaborate on multimedia files. As the technology evolves, the volumes of media data being shared and collaborated on, will continue to increase.”

He adds the smartphone has become a primary device for multimedia content consumption. “The wide availability of high-speed internet and popularity of social media has driven growth in mobile-first short form content, which offers a lot of opportunity.

“Another trend is that the abundance of content available has made personalisation and recommendations very important. Platforms must continually analyse user data to present relevant content and advertisements for a more engaging experience.”

Growing challenges

Huang says several new challenges confront media companies. “There are challenges around both the technology and user experience. Streamed media needs a stable connection and sufficient bandwidth to deliver seamless content, with no buffering. Content providers must focus on content delivery latency and optimising the user experience, especially when providing real-time interactive content such as livestreamed sports events. A streaming platform must also have scalable infrastructure capable of handling massive numbers of concurrent users without degradation in performance. In addition, there are security, compliance and content protection concerns.

To help overcome these challenges, media companies need advanced, secure, scalable and cost-effective media infrastructure solutions, Huang says.

“Media companies need a cost-effective media infrastructure solution to reduce capital expenditure, with multiple billing methods and dedicated teams to help clients design the billing model. They need scalability and elasticity in their cloud infrastructure to enable them to handle varying workloads and sudden spikes in traffic, and a global network of data centres and CDN edge nodes to ensure they can deliver content globally with low latency and high availability,” he says.

Importantly, media companies need technologies that support security and compliance. “Media providers need to invest in cyber security and data protection, with robust DRM technology. They must also continue to invest in, and upgrade their technology to deliver the best possible experience and meet changing needs."

Huawei’s media and entertainment solutions

Huawei Cloud is a top ICT and cloud solution provider, with various technologies and solutions to support content creation, management and distribution for media organisations, Huang says.

“On the networking and telecommunications side, we provide networking infrastructure and solutions for high-speed content transmission, with 5G, optical transmission systems, IP networks and wireless solutions. For media processing and delivery, we have a media processing research centre in Europe, with innovations such as HD low bitrate technology to ensure that during delivery there is no compromise in quality, while saving on bandwidth, storage space and cost,” he says.

Huawei innovations also include AI image recognition and content moderation technology to help streamers ensure legal content streaming and the ‘Digital Human’ intelligent virtual human for advertising and branding.

Huang concludes: “We also offer cloud computing and infrastructure as a service through Huawei cloud – with hosting for media applications, platform-as-a-service to build content and tools for management and distribution.”

Huawei Cloud Live, a one-stop solution built on years of video expertise, transmits live content at low latency and delivers smooth HD video even when there are massive concurrent requests. It has over 2 800 nodes worldwide, delivering over 100Tbit/s bandwidth, and 24/7 network-wide health management.