Case Study

Even More Power to a Global Content Powerhouse: FremantleMedia Centralizes Content and Facilitates Access Through Wazee Digital

FremantleMedia is one of the largest global television-production companies in the world. It is behind some of the world’s best known and loved content, including The Young Pope, Deutschland 83, Gute Zeiten Schlechte Zeiten, American Gods, Deadliest Catch, Project Runway, The Apprentice, and The X Factor. FremantleMedia has long held a place in the game-show market, producing Take Me Out, Family Feud, Match Game, Let’s Make a Deal, and The Price Is Right. The company is also responsible for several successful talent shows that have gone global, such as American Idol, Got Talent (co-produced with Syco in the U.K. and the U.S.), and The X Factor (co-produced with Syco in the U.K.). In 2017 FremantleMedia launched its first big-budget scripted show, the popular and critically acclaimed America Gods, which started out on Starz and will eventually appear on Amazon. “We’ve seen an explosion in demand for content thanks to new media outlets like YouTube that barely existed 10 years ago. There’s also more competition from big-budget content creators like Netflix and Amazon. With those factors at play, we needed to get total control of our assets once and for all. Only then could we respond more nimbly to global demand and maximize our margins in the process.”  Chad Hamilton, Vice President, Technology, FremantleMedia North America Operating in 36 markets, FremantleMedia creates, produces, and distributes content across traditional TV and digital platforms at a rate of more than 10,000 hours of programming per year — which it sells to both traditional clients such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox and new-media companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube. With such a varied and illustrious library that’s constantly growing, this content powerhouse has one of the biggest and most valuable catalogs in the world. With technologies and formats continually evolving, multiple FremantleMedia sites contributing content, and multiple tracking systems from multiple entities involved in production, it’s not surprising that over the years, FremantleMedia would have accumulated disparate systems for storing and managing its assets. Despite its best efforts at centralized media asset management, the company’s content still lived on all kinds of media in silos that were difficult to track and navigate, making discovery and use far more time-consuming and difficult than it should be. “We’ve seen an explosion in demand for content thanks to new media outlets like YouTube that barely existed 10 years ago. There’s also more competition from big-budget content creators like Netflix and Amazon that didn’t exist before,” said Chad Hamilton, Vice President, Technology, FremantleMedia North America. “With those factors at play, we needed to get total control of our assets once and for all. Only then could we respond more nimbly to global demand and maximize our margins in the process.” That meant centralizing assets, making them easily discoverable and accessible to anyone in the company anywhere in the world, and being able to track them throughout their lifecycle across all FremantleMedia sites. It was a monumental task that required the right technology and the right expertise. For that, FremantleMedia turned to Wazee Digital and its Core platform for software-as-a-service, enterprise-level media asset management in the cloud.

Research and Planning

“We chose the Core platform not only because it’s available as a secure cloud solution, but because it is backed by a team dedicated to improving services tailored to the M&E market and willing to collaborate with its clients to meet their business needs,” Hamilton said. “That dedication was evident throughout the project, but especially in the research and planning phase.” FremantleMedia invested plenty of time on the front end, engaging groups throughout the company — the social media team, digital media services, production, postproduction, legal, finance — to get different business perspectives and determine how people would use the system. Spending time to learn what its users needed in order to build something that worked for everyone was one of the keys to the project’s success. It sounds obvious, but surprisingly, it’s a step that many businesses cut short. Wazee Digital was an important part of those discussions. Over several months, the two companies worked together to nail down exactly what the cloud-based asset management platform should do, who would interact with it and why, and how it would solve FremantleMedia’s business challenges.

The Goal: Access for All

The primary goal was to give all FremantleMedia’s internal stakeholders easy, secure access to the company’s huge media catalog, which would not only allow them to spend less time wrangling content, but would give them visibility into a new world of content they might not otherwise have known to look for. In addition, FremantleMedia wanted to make it easier to distribute content in new ways (such as publishing to social media channels), sell it to others who might want to use it in their own projects, and maintain the rights to it — all with the ultimate goal of generating more revenue from its massive library and raising awareness of content. On the back end, the solution would have to allow FremantleMedia to:
  • Make immediate use of content that’s “born digital” while providing a path to digitizing and monetizing legacy content
  • Wrangle all content — old and new — across all disparate systems and all formats
  • Generate and make optimal use of metadata to help internal stakeholders find and use any asset in the library countless times and in countless workflows, no matter what department they’re in or why they need it
“Wazee Digital Core gives us complete control over our assets, so we can adapt and grow with the changing content-creation and distribution landscape,” Hamilton said. “Ultimately, Core makes it possible for FremantleMedia to do what we do best: focus on creating content and delivering it to our clients on any platform on a global scale.”

The Solution: Wazee Digital Core

After close collaboration with Wazee Digital, FremantleMedia’s new asset-management solution went live, powered entirely on Wazee Digital Core. FremantleMedia uses Core to store, view, manage, and sell assets going back more than 60 years. FremantleMedia’s Core library contains over 200,000 assets — more than 20,000 hours of programs — and counting, which any internal FremantleMedia user with the appropriate permissions can access easily and securely from anywhere in the world through a web browser. In terms of ingesting content that wasn’t “born digital,” FremantleMedia made the wise decision to start with the newest or most requested content first rather than try to digitize everything at once. As more and more of its legacy assets become digitized, its Core library — and its earning potential — will only grow. Importantly, Core meets three of FremantleMedia’s most important criteria: It integrates with major social media platforms; it enables content sharing for internal/external client review; and it provides access for eventual direct content sales to the public.

Results: Simplify Monetization, Cut Costs, and Boost Creativity

With its Wazee Digital Core implementation, FremantleMedia now has a central global resource for managing, researching, viewing, sharing, and selling its content. Besides making it easier for FremantleMedia to monetize its vast catalog of content, those capabilities can yield other benefits in terms of workflow, creativity, revenue, and cost savings. For example, any authorized employees can search, preview, clip, share, or otherwise use any asset in the catalog to apply it to their own productions or fulfill requests from others. Having unfettered access to the entire FremantleMedia catalog through a web browser often produces significant intangible benefits for large media companies such as FremantleMedia. This access allows for creativity to flow more fluidly, giving employees the ability to come up with powerful content that could lead to new streams of revenue. Employee access also greatly increases the efficiency of many revenue-generating workflows, such as social media syndication. That efficiency, coupled with Core’s social media integration, could have a profound business impact on FremantleMedia, whose assets are the most viewed of any production company on YouTube. When it comes to costs, FremantleMedia has identified significant savings from centralizing its asset management in-house. By implementing Core, FremantleMedia could eliminate the fee-for-access storage services it was using before, which required employees to call upon post­production vaults and bonded warehouses to locate content on tapes or film and make viewing copies before they could even consider using the content in question. Those services added up to a considerable expense, hampered access to the company’s own assets, and ultimately stifled creativity — problems that FremantleMedia has overcome by making it possible to find assets through Core with any modern browser.

What’s Next

Right now, FremantleMedia is using Core primarily as a central, secure, cloud-native content library that all internal stakeholders can access, no matter what their location. With the success of the Core solution in its North American offices, it has started rolling out Core to other FremantleMedia sites around the world. Eventually, the company plans to use Core as an access point through which other permissioned content creators, such as advertising agencies and filmmakers, could search and purchase clips to use in their projects. Because of the platform’s sophistication under the hood and integration with other Wazee Digital workflows, FremantleMedia could rely on Core for other important functions in the future, such as:
  • Retaining and managing rights to the content it creates, making it possible to capitalize on the brand and future opportunities well after the show’s initial run.
  • Tracking the use and performance of each asset, which could help refine future offerings by viewing platform, identify untapped audiences, and open up even more avenues for engagement and monetization. This could be especially helpful for the social media team, who is continually testing different formulas to know what content resonates with whom.
  • Building automated transcoding and subtitling workflows in the cloud to meet the demand for different outlets and territories.