The Digital Supply Chain, Simplified

AMSTERDAM — Sept. 10, 2010 — At this year’s International Broadcasting Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam, Microsoft is bringing together products like Silverlight, PlayReady, Mediaroom, Dynamics, SharePoint, SQL Server and its Azure cloud platform to demonstrate technology innovation that will change the game for media companies today. Under the banner of “The Digital Supply Chain – Simplified,” Microsoft has transformed the Topaz Lounge at the RAI to showcase the unique depth and breadth of Microsoft platforms. Based on these platforms, Microsoft’s thriving partner community has built industry solutions in areas such as digital content management, media business management and digital marketing and experiences. Microsoft and its partners will demonstrate how they can help increase productivity by simplifying workflows and find innovative ways to deliver new value to customers who continue to demand access to rich content across multiple screens and devices.

“We believe our partner community can out-innovate any single technology provider in the market,” commented Joseph Hanania, vice president, Industry Solutions for the Communications Sector at Microsoft. “That is why we focus on building great platforms, on top of which exciting new solutions are created to improve key media business functions that dramatically shorten time to increase value for our customers.”

Companies announcing their adoption of Microsoft technologies at IBC include The Associated Press, Gannett, Endemol, RTVE, RAI and Telecinco.

In addition to highlighting its strong partner lineup, Microsoft intends to reinforce the benefits of cloud computing for an industry hit harder than most by the adverse economic climate. Media companies are scrutinizing costs, looking to reduce CAPEX while transforming business models that support traditional media infrastructures to a more nimble digital environment. Chief information officers and chief technology officers attending IBC this year may be searching for ways to more efficiently reduce costs yet ensure they can produce and distribute content more creatively than ever. Microsoft is presenting a compelling proposition to these decision-makers with the Windows Azure platform, as evidenced by its adoption by leading media companies around the world.

Tribune Company has reduced its datacenters by over 90 percent and has created a content repository in the cloud that dynamically generates newspaper-like layouts in real time based on a reader’s selected content to offer a much more personalized experience. The Associated Press was also able to achieve virtually unlimited scalability for its News Reader, a rich Internet application for delivering content that isn’t bound by a browser or limited to online use.

As well as a focus on the industrywide pressure to reduce costs, another major discussion thread at IBC this year is the significance of sports broadcasting as a driver of technology innovation. Sports broadcasting is considered to be leading the way in retaining audiences and monetizing content in a variety of new ways. Sports broadcasters are setting industry standards with multiplatform strategies and breaking records for live event streaming. Undoubtedly, sports coverage lends itself to exciting new viewing experiences as these audiences crave the latest pleasures of real-time streaming on the Internet, on-demand, HD and 3-D.

During the FIFA World Cup 2010, RAI NET, the Internet company of RAI (Italy), used Silverlight Rough Cut Editor and IIS Smooth Streaming to deliver live and on-demand HD streaming from the event on its Rai Sport and portals. Audience figures peaked at more than 1 million unique users and 560,000 concurrent users. Likewise, Telecinco in Spain used Silverlight to stream World Cup matches to an online audience of over 200,000 users. The project had three functions aimed at recruiting and retaining an audience: show the match online; display a message box with all the messages/comments sent by anyone watching the match, and display editorial messages sent by journalists and official commentators during the game. Telecinco used Windows Azure as its cloud platform for the service, making it the country’s largest implementation of Azure to date.

However, this kind of innovation needn’t be exclusive to sports broadcasting — Film Flex is utilizing a similar strategy to manage audience experiences, making it easier for consumers to find and enjoy film clips and content. Recognizing the fact that media companies continue to struggle to find the right business models to support new, creative ways of monetizing their assets, Microsoft has enhanced its Digital Marketing portfolio, which will be unveiled at IBC. This is a new approach to help media companies drive online revenue generation around key industry trends such as online video, adaptive websites and social media. The portfolio focuses on enabling media companies to better monetize their relationships with their audiences, bringing together technologies such as SharePoint, FAST, Silverlight, ISS Smooth Streaming, and utilizing the Microsoft Advertising network and online properties to reach consumers across multiple platforms and channels.

As one of the largest marketers and advertisers in the world, Microsoft is well positioned to understand the issues facing media companies and seeks to address the impact of changing monetization models on how content is presented and protected.

“IBC 2010 presents an exciting opportunity for Microsoft to demonstrate that its products and technologies really do contribute to something greater than the sum of their parts,” said Gabriele Di Piazza, managing director, Media & Entertainment, Communications Sector at Microsoft. “Some of the big players in the industry are choosing Microsoft to help secure their relevance in the future and calm the confrontation between lowering operational costs and bringing innovative experiences to audiences in new ways.”

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