How Subscription Models Are Reshaping Broadcast Technology Decisions

By in Broadcast, News Production

The broadcast world, like our broader reality, is undergoing seismic change. Organizations are having to pivot quickly to meet competitive threats, and they need their broadcast technology to keep pace. Meanwhile, capital investment budgets are shrinking and M&A activity is ramping up.

Yet, the industry hasn’t completely embraced software-as-a-service (SaaS). This is somewhat understandable: broadcasting is a colossal, always-on undertaking, and industry-wide change can feel like trying to turn a massive cruise ship. However, enterprise subscriptions can lower costs, provide much-needed flexibility, and are often easier to deploy. Let’s break down the core benefits of a subscription model.

Lower Costs

Technology is a massive cost center—absolutely necessary, but a cost center nevertheless. It’s also one of the hardest budget items to argue for in tough economic times: if the tech still works, can’t an upgrade wait? The SaaS model lets you mitigate some of those costs by incentivizing multiyear subscriptions, but even yearlong or month-to-month subscriptions can save money.

A subscription model will automatically upgrade as long as you’re subscribed. That circumvents any need to ask for more money to invest in the latest upgrades, or, in the worst-case scenario, missing out on some of the new features that your competition already uses to great effect.

Flexibility: Technology

The broadcast technology landscape tends to change rapidly, so predicting needs even a year out can be difficult. With that said, it might seem odd to recommend looking into multiyear software subscriptions. However, a SaaS model provides faster access to new releases and a much quicker activation process.

Even if you end up deciding that a yearlong or monthly subscription is better for your news organization, customization with a subscription can be a smoother way to adapt and stay ahead of the curve.

Flexibility: Scale

TV viewership is on the rise, according to Nielsen figures reported by Broadcasting & Cable. But this demand doesn’t always translate to a lift in bottom lines; you may need to be prepared to meet that demand with fewer resources.

A software subscription can maximize the use of licenses for colleagues, not just in-station but also for those working remotely. No more buying individual licenses that go unused if the team shrinks. The economics for this kind of scaling up—or down—makes a compelling case for our current times.

Compatibility across Organizations

A 2019 EY report says mergers and acquisitions are a key focus for executives in the media and entertainment industry this year, according to IBC. This comes after broadcast TV M&A hit $8 billion in 2018, according to FierceVideo. While the pandemic may affect priorities, M&A will remain a fact of industry life and come with their own set of operational hurdles, like getting everyone on the same system. For example, when Sinclair bought 21 regional sports networks in 2019, that meant integrating thousands of new employees into existing systems. This can be a particular challenge for broadcasters, who generally work across multiple departments with tech that may have been acquired ad hoc, without a cohesive strategy.

A SaaS model can suit this situation because the software can be deployed to any system, as long as the hardware and operating system meet the minimum requirements. There’s no waiting, nor is there any need to acquire specific, proprietary equipment.

Workflow Efficiency

Plenty of productions have had to integrate remote processes into their workflows amid stay-at-home orders, and ensuring remote access to assets and workflows is crucial to making these changes work. The right subscription model can solve a host of these workflow issues.

For example, SaaS is a viable option for a team that needs an asset management system to integrate with their NLE and graphics solutions, or for a newsroom that needs one workflow to remotely manage digital content on top of the on-air content. Though a general cloud solution is essential to this approach, an end-to-end software solution is what will empower your team to create and inform.

A SaaS model will offer agility where traditional models tend to stumble. Whether others in the industry have yet switched to SaaS or not, a subscription model can help your organization outpace the competition in the face of unexpected changes.

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Oriana Schwindt is a freelance writer based in New York. She primarily covers the TV industry, dabbling also in travel and culture.