Signiant, which positions itself as a provider of "content supply chain management" software, is announcing this morning that Epix, the new premium cable channel, is using its software to deliver and manage video across multi-platform outlets. Epix's VP of Operations Thomas Carpenter, whom I spoke to yesterday, described his goal in working with Signiant as trying to create a "lights-out" work flow that handles content from procurement to delivery with minimal human involvement.
As Thomas explained, Epix's work flow is particularly challenging because the channel is trying to blend online, linear and on-demand distribution right from launch. This contrasts with typical situations where the linear channel and its work flows are first solidified, and then online, on-demand and other distribution is layered on later. With Epix's approach, Thomas said it's been a necessity to automate work flows as much as possible to drive maximum efficiencies.
With Signiant, Thomas said that once content licenses are finalized, his team is able to set up a work flow process so that video is acquired, processed and distributed in a highly automated way. As video moves through the process, his team receives status alerts and updates. The process replaces a lot of manual intervention which not only doesn't scale, but is also error-prone. Epix keeps a database of licensed content and details about its business rules which is updated as deals change. As Thomas put it, the goal is to allow Epix to focus its resources on content, not on work flow management.
The issues Epix is facing may be highly acute, but they're representative of what many other video content providers are also facing today. The proliferation of formats, devices, partners, monetization opportunities, etc, are combining to create huge operational overhead, even as revenues are often relatively early stage. As Tony Lapolito, Signiant's VP of Marketing and Product Management said, Signiant's trying to help its customers create "content factories" where content moves quickly and cost-effectively along to its ultimate viewers. Signiant cites Hulu, NBC, NFL, Lifetime and many others as current customers. I expect we'll see plenty more going forward as complexity only increases further.
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