Now’s the time to fix infrastructure holes

When you’re being inundated with rain and water’s coming in everywhere, there’s rarely time to worry about fixes.  Sometimes all you can do is gather the buckets, place them under the leaks and create a repair plan for sunnier days.

As we begin to emerge from COVID-19 quarantine, the media industry is assessing how their tech platforms stood up to a storm of usage. In many cases, services have experienced three years of viewing growth in as little as three weeks, exposing how systems that may have prioritized rapid time to market had holes in scalability, monetization, content availability, and service quality.

Let’s be clear: A flood of customer activity is almost always a good problem to have. Pandemic isolation created an environment in which viewers eagerly sought out new choices. For services that were prepared for the surge, it was an opportunity to move both existing and new viewers through the engagement funnel. If that didn’t happen – and you know who you are – you need to ask hard questions about what worked and what didn’t. It was a rare opportunity to look into the future – What did you see? And what should you do about it?

A post-pandemic checklist

  • Did your content delivery spend – CDN, storage, infrastructure and cloud – go through the roof to meet the sudden demand, or was delivery impacted during times of extreme usage? It’s time to see how back-end systems can scale to meet the new normal of consumer behavior.
  • Did your content delivery spend – CDN, storage, infrastructure and cloud – go through the roof to meet the sudden demand, or was delivery impacted during times of extreme usage? It’s time to see how back-end systems can scale to meet the new normal of consumer behavior.
  • Did service quality deterioration under the strain of increased usage result in outages, high latency, playback errors, or poor QoS? Maybe you need to explore new middleware options that can optimize the ability of viewers to seamlessly access available content.
  • Did you lack the agility to maximize the value of your content catalog? Were you “running out of content” even though you were awash in thousands of video assets? It may be time to switch to a more robust content management system that leverage AI to maximize the longtail value of the content you have, make smarter decisions on what content will engage your users, or even to strike partnerships with other providers to bring new titles to subscribers .
  • Did your revenue increase at the same rate as your usage? Did you harness the power of advertising to monetize the surge, or to increase viewing choices? Then it’s time to ante up for the ad management platforms, personalization solutions and customer journey expertise that can be revenue rainmakers.

Long-term point solutions are the answer

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you need to arm your network against continued increases by making sure your services are buttoned up for the future. Two things to consider: First, in most cases, we’re talking about point solutions that can address specific weaknesses, not rip and replace of entire systems. And second, it’s important that services invest the capital necessary for long-term solutions, rather than short-term fixes that temporarily mask the problem at hand.

Over the past several weeks, the surge in viewing has receded as lockdowns have eased and weather has improved, but connected devices have continued to hold onto much of their COVID-19 viewing gains. If anything, strains will increase as more and more content is delivered in 4K and 8K. As the clouds of quarantine lift, we need to implement now the solutions that will reduce churn and drive engagement and value in the future.

André Christensen