Before You Start: Content Distribution Challenges to Know About

content distribution

If your production team is churning out unique and eye-catching video content, take the next step and monetize it through over-the-top (OTT) content distribution. Know that the increase in OTT streaming has put new demands on network and video playback infrastructures. This means managing and distributing video content now comes with substantial technical challenges.

From platform and content specifications to file origination and logistical issues, you’ll need an experienced team to deliver content to multiple platforms. Let’s explore some of the technical aspects your in-house team will need to navigate to see how you can simplify the process.

content distribution
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1. Logistical Issues

Before you start OTT content distribution, you’ll need to get organized. Address how you’ll manage the following issues first:

File Transfers

Intensive, bandwidth-heavy uploads and file delivery to labs or platforms pose another challenge. With large file sizes and limited bandwidth, file transfers are slow and tie up multiple devices, often resulting in delays. In addition, different platforms may require different file formats or codecs. It can also be difficult to ensure all platforms can play the same files.

Access to Specialized Tools

Specialized software and hardware that can handle the unique demands of OTT distribution are essential. This involves tools capable of creating and manipulating delivery files, such as:

  • Image manipulation software
  • Non-linear video editing software
  • Closed captioning software
  • FTP software

You’ll also need computers that can run these programs. Smaller content owners may struggle to acquire these tools due to their high cost and time-consuming nature.

Data Storage

Quality video content uses significant storage space. Physical or local storage solutions require climate control, and their limited nature makes them prone to failure. What’s more, legacy data centers aren’t equipped to handle the complexities of modern video operations, including security and content sharing. It’s virtually impossible to operate automated video processes on outdated systems.

To keep up with demands and prevent losses, you need an elastically scalable solution. While cloud storage offers substantial advantages in terms of accessibility and scalability, the costs add up. There are often hidden fees, especially when you’re dealing with large files or high volumes of content.

2. Platform Specifications

Every platform has its own list of deliverables. So, content owners must be familiar with each platform’s specific requirements for content distribution. To avoid rejection or additional costs, files must be delivered to each platform or lab according to its requirements.

Requirements can vary significantly depending on the file type, bitrate, bitrate ladders (HLS), accepted frame rates, codecs, and audio layout. In some cases, the platform may require frame rate conversions, cropping, or audio channel mapping for a given delivery. Take these examples:

  • PlutoTV: Third-party labs manage and approve PlutoTV deliveries. Pluto prefers high-quality, uncompressed Pro Res 422 masters with sidecar closed captions and layered Photoshop images.
  • The Roku Channel: Roku provides Aspera credentials and CSV Ingest. It accepts H.264 videos with sidecar closed captions and JPEG images.
  • Stirr: Stirr uses a unique MRSS delivery format with closed captions embedded into an HLS manifest file. Images are provided via a flexible URL.

Platforms also use different means of metadata collection that will require extra work on your part. Some platforms use a dashboard with field entry, while others require either single or multiple spreadsheets in varying formats (CSV Ingest).

In addition, delivery means can range from media feeds (MRSS/JSON), P2P direct cloud transfers, and FTP to hard drives via courier and direct portal uploads.

Navigating and complying with the technical specs of multiple platforms simultaneously is overwhelming. However, dotstudioPRO simplifies the process by providing a single platform that can handle various delivery requirements. This ensures you deliver video content quickly and efficiently while meeting each platform’s technical and content requirements.

Content distribution apps
Source: Shutterstock

3. Content Specifications

As with technical specifications, each platform’s content specifications can vary widely. But adhering to platform requirements is essential to avoid rejection in your content distribution.

Some platforms require a specified amount of black or silence at the head and tail of the content, which is necessary to prevent abrupt starts or ends. Other common requirements include trimming content to only contain the program material. You’ll likely have to remove non-program content such as ads, production slates, bars and tone, or test patterns and modify content to suit commercial breaks.

You may also need to cut or patch URLs and calls to action and adjust closed captions to accommodate any changes to the video timing. This ensures the content is accessible to all viewers, including those with hearing impairments.

Platforms may have strict guidelines on what content is appropriate for certain audiences. So, you’ll need to take additional steps to ensure compliance with regulations such as COPPA for content intended for children.

4. File Origination

File origination is an essential aspect of content distribution. Different platforms may have specific requirements for each type of file. The file origination process involves creating an initial high-quality master copy of the content, which can then be used to generate other versions for distribution.

Platforms also have different requirements regarding captioning specifications, supporting images, and audio files. For instance, closed captions are crucial to helping viewers understand video content, but not all platforms require the same level of compliance. In the United States, closed captions are most often necessary to comply with FCC requirements.

Platform requirements also vary with regard to caption titles and subtitles for content that features multiple spoken languages. Some platforms require subtitles to be burned into the video master, while others require separate sidecar caption files.

Requirements for supporting images, such as title art, posters, production stills, and wallpaper, will vary in terms of resolution, layered files, and aspect ratios. This could require cropping or new file generation on your part. When it comes to audio files, platforms can request audio stems, language dubs, or described videos for accessibility.

dotstudioPRO: Simplifying Content Distribution Challenges

Understanding OTT platform requirements and the challenges that come with them is essential to ensure you can meet specifications, avoid rejection, and successfully distribute your content. dotstudioPRO offers a straightforward solution to fast-track multi-channel content distribution.

Our proprietary technology and simplified content publishing model take care of the technicalities for you, allowing you to launch content quickly and cost-effectively. With top-class digital preparation, packaging, storage, and content management features, dotstudioPRO enables content owners to easily handle complex multi-distribution strategies without technical expertise.

Don’t let technicalities prevent you from maximizing the potential of your video content. Don’t let technicalities slow you down, or prevent you from maximizing the potential of your video content. Request a meeting with dotstudioPRO today.

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