Over the course of just a few years, the ways in which we consume content have changed dramatically.
In order to compete in this new landscape and to adapt to the technological change that underpins it, media studios and other content producers should consider providing relatively open access to their proprietary content. This necessitates a cultural change across the industry.
Cable television cancellation, or “cord cutting,” has increased significantly since 2010, and with the pandemic accelerating the trend, there are now more than 30 million cord-cutter U.S. households. The American digital content subscriber now watches streaming content across an average of more than three paid services. For several years, more video content has been uploaded to streaming services every 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years.
With an abundance of content readily available across a growing number of platforms, each accessible from a plethora of different devices, media providers should invest in making it easier for consumers to find the video content they want to watch. If a viewer can’t access and stream something with minimal effort, they’ll likely move on to one of the countless alternatives readily at their disposal.
Think about voice-based assistants and search services. When prompted to find a piece of content, these services sift through a multitude of third-party libraries, where access is permitted, and remove friction from the user experience. It’s important for media companies to evolve from siloed, closed-off content libraries to participation in digital ecosystems, where a host of partnership opportunities can precipitate wider reach and revenue opportunities. Ultimately, joining these communities facilitates the delivery of the right experience on the right device at the right time to the right consumer.
Navigating a streaming jungle of content
Legacy silos prevalent in the media and entertainment industry must be broken down to make way for richer viewing experiences. It’s critical that studios roll out content faster, distribute it more securely, and better understand their audiences so they can provide customers the content they want in the contexts they want. In order to achieve these goals, publishers must leverage technology that’s purpose-built for the demands of a more dynamic, competitive landscape.
Publishers should consider embracing application programming interfaces, or APIs, to better connect with viewers and maximize return on content production. APIs, which facilitate interoperability between applications, allow publishers’ content to be consumed by more developers and publishing partners, who subsequently create more intelligent, connected experiences surrounding that content for the viewers.
This new content value chain should leverage an API management tool that resides on top of cloud infrastructure to manage the partnerships that ultimately ensure media can easily make its way to the consumer on their ideal viewing platform. APIs let content owners and distributors interact with partner technologies to drive value from social interactions and attract a wider audience via insights derived from data and analytics.
Perhaps most important is the ability for APIs to allow content to follow users as they start watching on one device, stop, and transfer to another. Content is increasingly separated from the device. APIs enable experiential continuity to be maintained when devices are changed, facilitating more seamless experiences across devices of different form factors and screen sizes. Consumers expect content to follow them wherever they go.
How APIs improve content creation and distribution
Last year, streaming services produced more original content than the entire television industry did in 2005—so for many media producers, adjusting to consumers’ new media consumption habits involves not only making content available on more devices but also producing more content, faster.
Studios should explore solutions that help them collaborate globally and produce great content more securely and efficiently. In the content value chain, APIs are used to seamlessly connect artists and production crews to necessary resources and assets across multiple production technologies and locations. For example, via APIs, a film crew in one country can record, encode, and collaborate and share content with another studio in another country. These cloud-based production environments can offer a single destination for all contributors to access the assets they need while also keeping those assets accessible only to the right people in the right contexts.
In addition, creating and distributing content requires a complex supply chain. APIs let multiple parties, each responsible for a different core function (such as content purchasing, storage, payments, physical media delivery, customer service, etc.), meld into a seamless experience for the customer. Rather than reimagining their strategy when it comes to these backend tasks, studios can leverage third-party APIs to expedite getting content in front of the right people and ultimately execute each of those functions more efficiently than they could on their own.
Besides tapping into partner APIs, savvy media and entertainment companies can accelerate consumption of content by developing their own public APIs to securely provide access to their asset libraries, pricing, and other relevant information. This is important, as it lets media creators use the same API to serve content to a variety of services and device types, thus helping them scale content distribution without simultaneously having to scale security resources.
Media companies’ APIs can also be implemented to deliver better customer experiences. Because APIs are involved each time a customer streams a video and every time a developer integrates a media asset into a new app or digital experience, API usage analytics can provide powerful insights into where, when, by whom, and on what devices different types of media—from traditional movies to augmented reality and other interactive content—are being accessed.
Bringing it all together with an API management tool
In order for studios to quickly adapt to a content value chain and distribute their content across multiple platforms, it’s important that they implement an API management tool on top of the cloud environment that powers content creation and distribution. For instance, Google Cloud offers Apigee, which sits on top of its public cloud. This added layer facilitates the integration between a studio’s proprietary environment and the strategic partnerships that APIs make possible.
The API lifecycle can be rather complex, especially when multiple APIs are leveraged. It can include:
- Planning, design, implementation, testing, publication, operation, consumption, maintenance, versioning, and retirement of APIs
- Launch of a developer portal to target, market to, and govern communities of developers who leverage APIs
- Runtime management
- Estimation of APIs’ value
- Analytics to understand patterns of API usage
Using a management layer such as Apigee increases the likelihood that media and entertainment companies can combine the ability offered by public clouds and APIs to adapt to the requirements of new devices and protocols. It brings next-generation technology together to ensure studios can scale, secure, monitor, and analyze digital content creation and distribution.