No Need to Throw a ‘Hail Mary’ When Wanting Clips Back from the Archive

LTO for Sport

In July, we are heading to the US for the Sports Video Group’s Sports Content Management & Storage Event in New York. Sports coverage is a particularly interesting area, fraught with stiff competition, high consumer expectations, and a significant number of challenges when it comes to delivering live coverage with all the correct camera angles so that none of the action gets missed.

Online Sports

Right now, it is getting even more challenging, with many stats pointing to a shake-up in sports coverage. Take the NFL, for example, where according to Nielsen viewing is down 8.2% from the same period last year. And, last year Sky in the UK stated a strong shift of viewing of the Premier League to their online platforms.

The next big trend will be the over-the-top providers vying for sports content rights. We saw the first example of this with Amazon securing rights for some Premier League football matches in the UK. All this means that sports broadcasters are having to find additional ways to keep fans engaged, but it also means instant access to content is a must.

Replays and clips from old matches are also a really important part of sports broadcasting, giving fans the chance to relive those key moments in their team’s, or the sport’s, history. What other type of content suddenly prompts the need to find something that was aired several decades ago? But that happens all the time in sports, whether that be a rundown of all the tries scored by a retiring rugby player, the re-run of a historic win, or the moment a team was promoted or even demoted. Again, this means broadcasters need instant access not just to current content, but the entire archive.

Access to the Archive

All of this means that it is more important than ever for sports broadcasters to be able to process the content they have in order to consolidate it to create a meaningful archive that can be accessed at any time. And furthermore, there is a requirement to migrate content from older tape formats before those tapes become unreadable and sports events of the past become completely lost. As organisations determine their migration strategy the options of a private, public or hybrid cloud platform are being considered more than ever before.

Sports broadcasters need instant access to their content, in good times and in bad (Disaster Recovery scenario) in order to make effective use of these moments and  to keep producing content. That simply cannot be achieved using tape media, which were once the staple of media and entertainment. It begs the question whether there is even a point to the tape format anymore or is it only surviving because of “better the devil you know”; doomed to disappear altogether once organisations see the benefits of more modern archive alternatives.

You Cannot AI a Tape!

An odd statement maybe but the concept of ‘Data Gravity’ means that processing of archive content, like automatic metadata generation by artificial intelligence algorithms, is most efficient when the content can be processed where the content lives. For instance, you cannot use AI search or analysis if your assets are on a tape! If you want to mine the archive for all clips of “Joe Montana” you need an object storage platform that can protect and index any generated metadata and, crucially, enable the content to be processed where it lives. AI can be a costly exercise but it is even more costly, operationally and financially, when you have to move the data round just for it to be processed.

That said, given the low cost of tape media itself, it does still have a place for those fire and forget workflows. Let’s face it, as a Welsh rugby fan  there are several matches from the 1980’s I never want to watch again! Some sports content  eventually has a shelf life, and being able to literally put a tape on a shelf might make sense for that content.

LTO can also integrate quite nicely with other storage solutions. For our part, our solution is used in a number of deployments with LTO partners, where MatrixStore is an active cache and the LTO is used for the “dormant” assets.

LTO or no LTO?

The argument will likely continue over coming years, with some stating content is more secure on tape, whilst others argue the opposite. Ultimately, I believe:

  1. LTO  will be around for many years to come, however, it will be used in fewer broadcast use cases than today.
  2. LTO  will only really be chosen on the basis of insurance reasons, as there are very few valid technical reasons to consider it in on-demand workflows.
  3. More sports broadcasters will be looking for the value an active archive can bring.

Essentially, choosing the right platform really depends on what your priorities are. If you need deep cold storage, LTO or ODA may well be more appropriate and less expensive. However, if you need instant or frequent access to your content, or a fully active disaster recovery and business continuity platform then LTO simply won’t cut it. If you want to find out what the right storage is for you or meet us at the Sports Content Management & Storage Event, get in touch.

You can read the original version of this article in TV Technology.

  • A Hail Mary pass, also known as a shot play, is a very long forward pass in American football, made in desperation, with only a small chance of success and time running out on the clock.

About Object Matrix

Object Matrix is an award winning UK based software company that pioneered Digital Content Governance (DCG), object storage and the modernisation of digital video workflows. Our media focused private and hybrid cloud solutions are tightly integrated into file based and IP workflows and bring economic and operational benefit to all of our customers. Our flagship product, MatrixStore, is used by the world’s largest organisations that create and distribute video content, including NBC, TV Globo, MSG-N, the BBC & BT.