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Distribution

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

One of my main responsibilities is taking all of the content created or acquired by our group and making it available to end users.  Needless to say we look at web delivery as our primary distribution outlet, since it offers many advantages:

  • Load once, play many times – there’s no realistic limit on the number of views of the same file, though of course there are bandwidth issues
  • Simple cost structure – we’ve either paid for the servers already, or we have a standard cost with our CDN for service, so there’s no item-level cost (again other than bandwidth & overage) for streaming a video
  • Ongoing metrics – since we monitor the servers, I can easily determine usage
  • Control – by and large you maintain the only copy of the file and can keep ownership
  • Anytime, anywhere experience – there’s really nothing special needed other than a standard PC to watch the video (we’ll save the format and platform flavors for a later discussion when I’ve figured out what the heck to do with iPads)

By comparison, CD/DVD/Flash drive distribution is exponentially more difficult:

  • Each end user needs their own copy
  • There’s a hard cost involved – you have to print all those copies, probably more than you really need, and if you run out you have to go print more
  • There are no hard metrics
  • Lack of control – once it leaves your hands you have no idea what happens to it
  • There can be issues with CD playback – some of our productions are rich media that depend on ActiveX controls and other features that prevent simple, no-click playback

Despite these clear advantages, I’m still getting numerous requests for DVD and CD distribution.  We no longer make copies for people, so it’s a pretty simple step to burn a master copy for them to take off to a duplication outlet.  It’s just puzzling to me that content owners are still thinking of the old methods of getting their material to their users.

It’s not really their fault – these are by and large not technical people, and often they have reasons for wanting to work the way they always have.  We’ve had to create an entirely duplicate workflow to provide DVD versions of work we already capture automatically, and why?  Because the end users are an older group of people that don’t know how to use computers, and they need to play the content on their TVs.  In other cases they’re used to walking in to a conference room or classroom with a CD in their bag ready to go, and they either haven’t thought of moving to web delivery or just can’t get comfortable with the idea.

As usual, it’s a combination of education and gentle pressure that can bring the content owners around to a new model.  Some will see the benefits immediately, and will move to an online approach quickly.  Others will not be so easily convinced, and at a certain point you have to let them live with dinosaur methods if they choose.

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