At Ateliere we’re in media and entertainment (M&E), an industry built on telling stories. So now, after all the stories we’ve helped package and deliver, here’s ours.
While it’s no secret that demand for content is skyrocketing, what’s less known is that the technology isn’t keeping up. We know this from first-hand experience. Ateliere started out on its journey as a direct-to-consumer business in 2010. To solve serious media supply chain pain points we were facing, we shifted focus to engineering solutions that would enable the business to package and distribute content with greater efficiency and speed.
The unique technology we created solved our supply chain problems and can do the same for the M&E industry – including the 800 pound gorillas that are facing big challenges in scaling their businesses to meet demand.
The M&E industry is experiencing rapid consolidation of content companies. These newly consolidated media companies are massive and thus need robust technology partners that can handle the demand and scale. However, the vendor market is fragmented. There are thousands of smaller vendors who do a tiny piece of the workflow. This market fragmentation does not efficiently support what is required in terms of capabilities and scalability of the very large content customers. And for smaller content players, the cost to leverage the technology is just too high.
For us, the answer to supporting the large and small content players, and the enormous demands, is found in a broad Software as a Service (SaaS) where all that is needed is wifi and a browser (and the power of cloud computing, from a service provider like our friends at Amazon Web Services). A single platform that encompasses storage, mastering and distribution, reducing the number of pieced-together vendors in the overall workflow.
To achieve this, there needs to be a consolidation of technology vendors (much like that across the content business). Vendors that serve M&E need to democratize the systems – taking technology developed for/with the biggest players in the market and consolidating it in a way that ties together all the siloed, segmented areas of the production workflow and content life cycle for maximized efficiency, increased revenue opportunities and endless scalability.
With the ability to scale up or down easily all in one place, this technology can also be applied to markets like healthcare, e-learning and government, down to the social media influencer that is going through similar baptisms by fire.
Solving Our Own Business Pain Points
As stated earlier, Ateliere started out as a direct-to-consumer video provider. At one point, we were packaging and delivering over 6 million content assets, with a sizable portion of them managed through third-party technology services. And with limited firepower –just two engineers working on it full time – this was inefficient and unsustainable. We needed a system that could streamline and automate.
At the time, there were no purpose-built solutions. Most people were trying to force broadcast systems into digital workflows (which really didn’t work), and along with early technology solutions that sputtered, the industry was at a virtual standstill.
Our intention at the time was not focused on revolutionizing the M&E supply chain. We just needed a way to solve our own content management and delivery problems. Because the technology did not exist at the time, we had to invent it ourselves.
However, as we set out to create a solution that solved our particular pain points, we quickly discovered that we weren’t alone. We needed more than a system for ourselves; we needed a new paradigm for the industry.
An Inflection Point
The relationships we made during our direct-to-consumer days proved pivotal as we developed solutions that initially solved our internal workflow challenges.
We began to move assets much faster to and from suppliers and clients, adhering to the myriad of distribution and licensing agreement requirements. Almost immediately, peers and partners noticed how quickly and cost-effectively we were getting content out the door.
Instead of the industry standard weeks, months and even years turnaround at hundreds of thousands of dollars, we were turning around in a matter of hours for a fraction of the big budgets. During this same time, streaming leaders were consolidating their positions, changing the market dynamics for what it would take to run a successful direct-to-consumer content business.
It created a perfect storm of opportunity.
I had a background in enterprise software, a team of top-notch engineers with B2B product experience, and colleagues, clients and suppliers desperate to solve their technology problems just like we had done.
It was time to change direction. Ateliere was born, and we’ve never looked back.
Industry Fragmentation Creates Barriers to Opportunities
It is estimated that more than 3.5 billion people will stream or download videos at least once a month by 2023. Online video is responsible for over 80 percent of consumer internet traffic this year and streaming is expected to grow in revenue from $419 billion in 2021 to $932 billion in 2028 – and that’s in a global M&E market that was worth two trillion dollars in 2020.
The transition to digital and growth in streaming has been the bedrock of our direction as a company and it’s the reason we’ve attracted so much attention from studios, content owners, technology partners and investors.
And there is no slowdown in sight.
More consumers are demanding more content and the pressure on the M&E sector to produce, package, market and deliver it is growing. There is significantly more content demand now than in the broadcast TV era. The fragmented vendor ecosystem, which is made up of thousands of vendors who address a slice of the overall workflow, is not structured to manage such volumes.
Assets are sent through a veritable maze of companies and systems before there’s any output. Not only is it hopelessly complicated to begin with, but it’s also changing all the time as vendors arrive, rise and fall. There is a litany of new file formats, storage environments and transport protocols, all of which might not integrate properly with the next step in the supply chain – or even exist in six months’ time.
Ateliere implicitly understands this fragmented landscape and the need to consolidate workflows and technologies to support market demands. We envision a future where the current situation is a distant memory and customers of tomorrow will be able to keep up with all the demands of production and delivery without having to think about all the pieces behind the scenes that go into creating, packaging, distributing and monetizing content.
This will make the lives of content service providers (even the 800 pound gorillas) easier, more efficient, and lucrative. It will also trickle down to all content creators outside of the M&E industry like social media influencers, corporate marketers, and more because of innovative, low-cost, easy-to-use solutions.
Ateliere’s Technical Ethos
Users tell us every day how tired they are of dealing with single-piece-of-the-puzzle solutions, going through another provisioning or tender process and ending up with a dizzying network of services and vendors just to get a media asset out the door. They’re constantly playing a game of technology catch-up they can never win, sacrificing revenue and agility as they do.
Lately, you will hear a lot of those vendors extol the virtues of cloud computing, trying to convince you it’s the next big thing. But the reality is, cloud computing has been here and we’ve been building on it for years, using its strengths and advantages to create a future-proof media supply chain platform that democratizes content management and distribution.
Media and Entertainment companies need a partner who can supply a broad service, addressing all their pain points while reducing the number of contacts they need in the resources to manage media. Customers want to achieve all of this without having to think about it or pay professional services to handle it all while losing money with inefficiencies.
To be clear, Ateliere is not about replacing the tools media companies use for editing, VFX, language versioning or delivery to distributors. It’s about connecting them to any user who needs them seamlessly from a common platform in the cloud.
Ateliere designed a cloud-based platform that can help with any step along the story-telling journey (from concept to consumer).
All assets – sequences, subtitles, trailers, posters and beyond – are stored in a logical file structure (IMF) and indexed throughout the life of the project. This is contrary to today’s standards where different media is stored on portable drives, flashcards, online and who-knows-where else, never to coexist in a searchable, logical way.
Once in the cloud and properly systematized, content can move through the media workflow seamlessly. It’s accessible to anyone with the right credentials, wherever they are, and everybody’s working on the same content, the platform maintaining a single source of truth, ideally componentized in a structure that allows for easy access and handling, such as IMF.
It’s the endgame for our industry to thrive and can only be achieved through a consolidation of vendors that produces a handful of players like Ateliere to partner with content giants on an even playing field.
Industry Reckoning Will Create Parity
At Ateliere, we’re expanding as quickly as the global media companies are. We must, in order to ensure our service is still rugged enough to apply to any media operation that produces, manages and distributes content. However, many within the industry are not keeping pace with the needs of customers, creating an imbalance in the vendor ecosystem. A vendor rollup that mirrors the consolidation we saw on content providers is inevitable and necessary to establish parity with content producers. And this rollup may not be made up of the tried and true on-premise brands. An old stalwart is no longer a front runner for next-generation technology.
The main players are still jostling for position and the market is still finding its tide marks. That might be a positive or negative depending on your perspective, but rapid change and industry reckoning is imminent as demand is not patient.
The streamers are requiring more robust services with deeper automation and even faster,more efficient tools amplified through AI and machine learning. No single vendor has enabled a no-code/low-code platform to provide these tools at scale across the production and distribution workflow until Ateliere. By democratizing our technology, our customers don’t need a team of engineers to configure and use it.
It all comes together at a crossroads where the infrastructure that enables the biggest video services on Earth is scalable down to the smallest operators too. Just like Ateliere itself when we started on this path, it’s hard to compete without it.
Imagine a social media influencer who shoots, edits and posts content on a continual basis. They have the same pain points as Disney+ or Netflix repurposing or transitioning content to the next step in production. Ateliere’s cloud-native, multi-tenant environment provides them with the low cost of entry they need to compete with far bigger media brands.
We built the company in an era where media functions were restricted to on-premise systems, and one by one we’ve reengineered them for cloud-native workflows, reinventing the capabilities of media asset processing so all you need is a wifi signal and a browser.
It was a game changer when we started, and it’s leading an entirely redesigned game today.