4 ways to deliver your content
In April 2022 in the UK, there were around 110,000 hours of content available on all streaming platforms. Netflix accounted for nearly half of this - around 41,000 hours. This year, they’re set to spend $1bn on production in the UK - that’s a lot of content to deliver, and around 20% of the UK’s global production spend in 2021!
Chances are you will produce, or have produced, content for Netflix at some point. And if not, it’s getting more likely that you will - Netflix are still growing their content production schedule, despite their recent issues. So, how are you going to send rushes or prints over the Atlantic? Well, Netflix, along with many other SVOD services, only accept digital content delivery now. With UHD titles reaching the tens of TBs, not to mention rushes, FX shots etc., you’re looking at many days if not weeks of FTP uploading. And you can’t even ship drives if you wanted to - not to mention the security concerns, or the 15,000 parcels lost every day in the UK.
What to do?
There’s a few media-centric transfer technologies out there. Signiant Media Shuttle and IBM Aspera are popular choices for larger organisations, and they will set you back around $15,000 - $30,000 a year. On top of that, you’ll need an excellent fibre internet connection - a rarity in the UK. That could cost around the same price as your transfer software subscription however!
Most SVODs do have their own portals and content delivery systems for producers to use - Netflix uses its own called Backlot, but some do require a subscription to Aspera or Signiant on top.
An FTP server is practically free if you know how to run one. The problem with FTP is that it’s insecure and slow - especially for massive video files. This is down to it being invented before the internet was really a thing, so don’t judge too harshly.
Of course, post and QC houses will usually be able to help with internet transfer and delivery. Depending on the provider, you’re likely to get a great service, although most UK post houses internet connections top out at around 100MB/second. The only issue then is the cost - take a look at your quotes or invoices, and you may find transfer or delivery costs of around £1000 - £2000/TB. When we’re talking in terabytes, for example a typical 4TB MXF deliverable, it’s easy to see the impact on budgets.
Dedicated transfer services
Maybe the easiest option if you’re looking for a more on-demand solution is to use a dedicated transfer service. These services are fairly uncommon, and focus on delivering really fast internet transfers by uploading your files from a physical drive, to your destination via a simple download link. They’ll usually use an accelerated transfer technology like Signiant, and with some you can even book and get it done on the same day. The benefit here is that instead of investing in expensive routing, fibre and software technology, you can essentially rent this infrastructure by the GB, as and when required. And unless you’re blessed with a 10Gb/s fibre leased line, it’s the fastest way too - 4TB at 1Gb/s takes around 9 hours, and at 10Gb/s it’s only around 50 minutes.
It would be great if Dropbox or WeTransfer could really deliver for creators. In reality, the main thing that stops these inexpensive services from being useful is the size limitations - 2GB for WeTransfer. That’s about two thousand times too little! As these services are designed for sharing documents and photos, or maybe even highly compressed video, they’re really just not suitable for content creation.
We think if you need to get massive files down an internet near you fast, and you don’t fancy paying many tens of thousands for high speed internet, really the only options in the UK are post-production services and dedicated transfer services like ours. If you can think of any other ways to get those massive files across the ocean, we’d love to hear it!