APB+News & Events

Avid Stream IO: Al Jazeera gains quick access to cost-efficient, future-proof production tools via subscription model

By Shaun Lim

Established in 1996, Al Jazeera is one of the most recognised news networks in the world, with the Arab broadcaster today reaching more than 450 million homes across 150 countries.

To sustain this outreach, and to expand it, Al Jazeera has been building its broadcast systems around the cloud, a transition that recently culminated in the network’s production operation moving towards a cloud-based subscription service, together with multi-site collaboration and remote production.

The move also saw Al Jazeera renew long-standing partnership with Avid, which helped to upgrade and expand the former’s news and programming creation workflows and connect teams distributed across its regional hubs and its global network of news bureaus and other sites.

Al Jazeera’s latest move, according to Dave Colantuoni, VP Product Management, Video & Media Solutions, Avid, is yet another demonstration of the multiple benefits broadcasters are enjoying by moving multimedia production to the cloud.

He told APB+, “It allows news production teams to collaborate and access projects, assets, tasks and other resources, anytime, from anywhere.

“News can happen anywhere, so with workflow solutions that tightly integrate into the cloud, teams can create and deliver content from anywhere with the same speed, ease, and workflows as if they were in the studio.”

Al Jazeera is converting onto an Avid MediaCentral Flex subscription model, which gives them access to the latest platform tools and Avid NEXIS storage. It will also include a transition path in the near future from existing hardware servers onto Avid’s next-generation software-based and cloud-enabled media ingest and playout platform, Avid Stream IO.

With this setup, Al Jazeera can also produce and publish content more quickly, as Colantuoni explained, “With centralised shared storage and all production managed in the cloud, including media ingest and capturing multiple live streams over IP, there’s no waiting for media to be delivered. 

“Writers can start working and collaborating with other stakeholders on material as soon as it’s received, enabling ultra-fast delivery of content that can be adapted and delivered to multiple digital outlets with a single click.”

Ahmed Al Fahad, Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) ’s Executive Director of Technology & Network Operations, added, “We’re very pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Avid. This new subscription agreement gives us a comprehensive end-to-end solution and all the flexibility we need, so that our journalists can focus on what they do best — telling the important stories of the day.”

For broadcasters who continue to work remotely, embracing the cloud also allows them to attract top talent from anywhere. Since producers, directors, editors and other staff no longer need to be physically present in their newsroom, studio or event venue, a cloud solution allows them to expand their talent pool globally, regardless of location. 

Moreover, each person can work on several programmes a day, increasing efficiency, Colantuoni added.
More importantly, he pointed out the potential flexibility migrating the cloud can offer to reduce operational, building and other infrastructure costs. The cloud also provides the freedom to adapt quickly as projects and resourcing requirements change.

Colantuoni continued, “Teams can simply spin up resources and add new capabilities as needed, resulting in a higher return on investment as the total cost of ownership of a cloud-based system is lower than deploying and maintaining a system locally.”

While enjoying the many benefits the cloud offers, broadcasters must not neglect the need to minimise any potential workflow disruptions. “Hardware, software, storage, and connectivity should be properly maintained and optimised; ethernet connections are preferable to Wi-Fi to offer more stable bandwidth. Latency should be minimised by the use of zero clients and by having remote workers connected to the nearest cloud centre,” he said.

Gaining new operational efficiencies and capabilities

One of the key tenets of Avid’s collaboration with Al Jazeera is the implementation of a subscription-based model, which is increasingly being embraced by more news and digital content producers as they look to integrate technologies into their infrastructure.

Where a cloud-based subscription model is concerned, Colantuoni identified a number of key benefits, including a lack of significant up-front costs. “Instead of laying out for production hardware with a limited view of its return on investment, broadcasters can instead use a subscription model to budget predicably over time,” he highlighted.

Broadcasters also gain access to the latest sophisticated tools and solutions, which removes the risk of technology obsolescence and helps teams create great content. “Embracing a subscription-first approach lets broadcasters move fast and continue to innovate. They can take advantage of new capability introductions—such as on Avid’s latest ingest and playout solution Avid Stream IO and the latest AI-driven video editing tools in Avid Media Composer—right away,” Colantuoni said.

As business requirements change, a subscription-based model also relieves broadcasters of the need to be hemmed in by a rigid technology roadmap, which makes it difficult to add new capabilities or scale up and down as required. Subscription-based production in the cloud, not only solves this problem but offers more operational flexibility.

Lastly, subscription models offer a valuable gateway towards fully cloud-based operations and enable broadcasters to test out solutions and move at their own pace. “They can experience the key benefits of scalability and immediate updates via a subscription and then gradually increase their cloud footprint as required,” Colantuoni concluded.

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