Two Minute Tech Read: Media Management 101

Walt Zerbe | Mar 09, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how we access and consume content.  We thought we were clever when we cut the cord. We thought it would save us money instead of being captured by packages of unnecessary stuff just to get a channel we wanted.

Well, we’ve now inadvertently opened Pandora’s box. Once Netflix hit the scene and showed the world (including the other media giants) a new model for consumption, everyone glommed on. This has presented us with a media management nightmare! 

I’ll take a single show that recently came onto the market, one I wanted to check out.  The show is called “Picard” — I was really looking forward to catching it on CBS but, much to my dismay, it wasn’t available on CBS in the USA.  It was available on CBS All Access, according to powers that be: “CBS All Access is available on a lot of devices and can even be accessed through Amazon Prime.”

The only way I could gain access to it was to subscribe to the CBS All Access streaming service.  I didn’t want another service just to watch a single show.

But you will have customers that will.

Confusing? There’s more

There are three parts to this game. Part one is knowing what services offer what shows.
Part two is hardware and it’s a fierce competition, as everyone wants to own the living room/family room. To that end, let’s look at some ways to get content:

  • Dedicated black boxes: i.e. apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Nvidia Shield – these devices have access to streaming apps.
  • Hybrid black boxes: i.e Xfinity cable box/satellite box that provides cable/satellite content as well as streaming services such as: Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, YouTube, etc.
  • Traditional black boxes: Cable and satellite boxes which only provide their native content (these should be few and far between these days)
  • Streaming sticks: i.e. Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast which provide access to streaming content apps as well as some “legacy” services from traditional black boxes like dish TV
  • TV Manufactures: i.e. Samsung, Sony, LG – They provide access to streaming service apps but also provide access to specialized content that each one of them offer
  • Off air antennas: Captures HD broadcasts of local signals

Additionally, not all devices have the same capability: Some support Dolby Vision and immersive audio formats and some don’t. Another piece of the hardware pie you will need to know is just how these devices are controlled. Some are very “integration” friendly into a control system and some aren’t.

The Solution?

How are you going to figure all of this stuff out? You should purchase many of these devices to learn how they work, what they support, and how they integrate with sub systems.

Regarding services and your customers preferences: You will need to interview them. This applies to all members of the household. Your challenge will be figuring out the most efficient way to provide them, hopefully in the best quality possible. 

And what happens when something breaks? That’s part three, which you have little control over.

Agreements between content creators and distributors change all the time.  Something that used to work may not at a moment’s notice. When it breaks, who’s going to get the call?

There are many websites that can provide a bit of help.  If we had to pick one, I’d suggest www.cordcutters.com as it has some useful information to help sort all of this out but this takes time and constant energy. The bottom line: You may need to dedicate man-hours to this, and some larger firms may even consider adding a “content management” position to the roster.

If we are having challenges figuring all of this out, how do you think the consumer feels? The CEDIA integrator is the perfect person to figure all of this stuff out. Simplicity is the new luxury: If you can simplify this for your customers it could even become an independent service — much like maintenance contracts. 

NOTE: This Emerging Trends piece is brought to you by CEDIA’s Technology Advisory Council and Technology Application & Innovation department.