A presentation by OCS System and Workflows Manager Alex Tidow at the Dataxis webinar of 10 February 2021 sponsored by MEDIAGENIX
How does Olympic Channel Services (OCS) manage sports content and rights to maintain year-round interest between iterations of the Summer and Winter Olympics, especially among a younger audience? Keys to success are multi-platform and multi-device availability on the one hand and diversity of content on the other. Coverage of competitions in Olympic sports is combined with short and long-form content about globally and locally relevant Olympic athletes.
With the Olympic Games in Tokyo coming up, hear from OCS System and Workflows Manager Alex Tidow how Olympic Channel Services (OCS) achieves agile and collaborative content creation processes across regions, with a fast content turnaround for all the localized versions and simpler traffic and front-end management.
During the Games, the bar will be raised even further, with a tremendous amount of content being produced in a short time. The content teams will be working remotely creating the glocal content offering including the regional carve-outs. Rights are published to two CMSs and connected devices with support for SVOD/VOD devices and multiple publication windows.
The greater part of this webinar (in Spanish with subtitles in English) is a demo providing interesting insights into the reversioning and localization workflows in the traffic system (i.e. WHATS’ON), and planning management in the production system. Here are some — summarized — highlights with the respective time codes.
“It is true that in the beginning, we tried to get the viewers to go to the platforms we manage, but today, our focus is on being where the viewers are. If they’re on our platforms, perfect, but if they are on Snapchat, we work with that social media platform. We work a lot with social media platforms. Sometimes it’s as simple as just putting the content on YouTube. Other times we have to change and revise the content, change the duration and the aspect ratio.”
“In the workflows we have implemented for Tokyo, we pursue many objectives.
One objective was to improve remote work with teams, with much more efficient and faster reversioning processes to adapt the content to the formats of social media platforms. Before, this kind of re-editing was complicated. Now platforms (such as WHATS’ON, ed.) have made an effort to automate these processes.”
“We want to help rights holders get the maximum out of the rights they have acquired. In other words, in no country in the world will a rights holder have to compete with other broadcasters for the same live material. What can happen is that there are some regions where, for whatever reason, there are no rights holders. That’s what we call ‘carve-outs’, where we have the right to broadcast. So say, in India, we would have 15 minutes for which we could produce 30 clips of 30 seconds each. This is where the workflow starts, based on the rights. The contracts tell us what we can and cannot do. All the planning starts with the knowledge that we can produce content that lasts a total of 15 minutes each day, for which we can produce up to 30 pieces of content.”
“Our traffic system (WHATS’ON, ed.) is where we create what we call ‘on-demand agreements’. We have different agreements for different regions and different versions. With those agreements in place we ask ourselves, on what platforms do we want to publish this content? It is very important to have that level of granularity. So the thing here is to know exactly what rights we own, what content we can publish, and to maximize all that content, and plan it with a lot of time in advance so that when the Games start, everything is set up.”
“During the Games, the content structure originates in the world of rights. That conditions the content we’re going to create. It’s very important to know that model very well because then you can implement that model in all the tools, in your traffic system, or your production system.”
“The user who is creating the content doesn’t need to know what rights they have to respect. They need to know what they have to create and do that as well as possible. They have to focus on getting the best raw version, on creating the best graphics, give it a really good edit, tag relevant metadata for the end-user, and publish it quickly, in case it’s an urgent news item. The user here is no longer a scheduler, it would be a digital producer or a journalist. They know, for instance: I’ve been asked to create a story on this subject and I’m responsible for the international version.”
“The traffic system (WHATS’ON, ed) generates a media placeholder for each version and then that information is imported into the production system. There we would, for instance, have three tasks because there are three versions, and we would have different statuses, because during the Games there will be people publishing, and people creating video content. There will also be people making sure that the agreed plan is followed, and above all, that if we have fifteen minutes to publish content, that we get the most out of that content. And how do we do that? With a task manager. A coordinator assigns the tasks and prioritizes them, so that when users come in they immediately see what content they have to create that day. This way you can process a very high volume of content because you reduce the noise, you reduce the possibility of people not knowing clearly what they have to do. In the same way that we have tasks to create media, we have publishing tasks, for instance, the task to add metadata.”
“The core processes we always have to do for administrative or superuser reasons, such as traffic management and publishing, are made invisible to the users creating content so that they have the easiest possible experience. We have created a very large flow in which there is a calendar, task management, and access to an online file to search for clips. We give them a lot of tools, and we standardize, which greatly reduces localization work. There is a lot of work from the graphics department to standardize templates so that basically the only thing the user has to do is enter the text and the subtitles. The same for creating new versions. From the traffic system we’re automating everything in this process, which is reflected in the different stages in editing but also in tagging.”
By way of conclusion, Alex Tidow’s interesting view on the future of media operations.
“I think we’re going to be able to do things remotely that we didn’t think of or weren’t willing to try before. That will generate a lot of changes in company culture as well as in business culture. There is obviously a change from on-premise to cloud infrastructure and that’s going to change the business. We’re changing from owning equipment to hiring services. There will be a lot of SaaS. Often the problem with that is the implementation and the integration. I hope that there will be a lot of advancements in terms of simplifying the adoption of systems and workflows because what makes it difficult for me sometimes to make improvements is the effort that a new tool entails for the specification, the implementation, and then user adoption. These three phases require a lot of time and are very costly. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. I think that the turnaround times have to be reduced a lot. Vendors have to develop much faster. The ones that adapt are going to succeed and the ones that don’t are going to fail.”