While the current sluggish state of the economy in the Middle East and internationally makes life difficult for media companies, particularly those that rely on advertising dollars, a new breed of media software tools may help alleviate the challenges they face. Speaking to Digital Studio at CABSAT last month, Louis Hernandez Jr, CEO of Avid, said he could see a clear trend of broadcasters and other media companies looking to invest in platforms that help them operate more efficiently.
“Across the board what we’re finding is that the intensity of the business challenge has increased,” he said. Hernandez added that this means more companies are intrigued by the “idea that you can have a more comprehensive suite of applications across more of the workflow concentrated in a more efficient platform”. The Middle East is a prime example of this trend, and Hernandez says that Avid is performing well in the region, with broadcasters and content creators looking to improve the way they handle their media assets as well as improving efficiency.
“Saving money through enterprise pricing is what’s really driving the market because the economic realities are intensifying for people, and that’s how we’re finding the overall region. The region’s performing very well for us right now,” he said. Hernadez pointed to a deal that Avid signed with Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera in January as one example. Avid signed a major framework agreement with Al Jazeera Media Network including a global services agreement and global product call-off agreement. These agreements further cemented the companies’ strategic relationship and enhanced Al Jazeera’s investment in Avid’s tools and workflow solutions.
The companies also announced a joint collaboration to develop and test cloud-based technology deployments of the end-to-end Avid newsroom solution. The alliance will help Al Jazeera realise its own cloud strategy, and help shape the future of cloud-based newsrooms across the industry, paving the way for the first-ever hybrid cloud deployment of the MediaCentral Platform across a large, global newsroom operation. “Clients like Al Jazeera have been our partners for a very long time and are deepening their relationships because they are saving more money with this platform approach, including buying more applications through a common integrated suite,” Hernandez said.
The CEO also pointed to another challenge for media companies. While content creation is undergoing something of a renaissance globally, competition for eyeballs is becoming ever more fierce. “The business challenges we have spoken about before are more real than ever. Avid operates in 140 different countries and I think the big thing is no matter where we are in the world the issues are very similar. More people are creating content and the good news is people want more of what we help create. The bad news is if you’re competing for viewership or listenership it’s more competitive than ever,” Hernandez said. In this light, broadcasters must make their content available to a broader range of media channels, which adds cost and complexity for gains that are often as-yet unproven. “Navigating through this transition, and still maintaining profitability is a real challenge, and then when they find a winner, optimising the value of that asset has become a lot more complex and a lot more important,” Hernandez said.
He added that this is where services such as metadata tagging, rights management and the ability to make content available in different formats immediately becomes important. With the diverse challenges that media players are facing, Hernandez said that Avid’s tools, and particularly its Avid Everywhere model, offers a compelling solution. “The Avid Everywhere model, of having an integrated suite where you have a comprehensive connection between the story creation process and the consumption all on an integrated platform is attracting significant interest in the model right now. “It’s happening just at the right time because the economic realities are intensifying. This means people still want to tell the best stories but they need to save money, and I think it’s hard for anyone to compete with the comprehensiveness of the solution,” he said.