ZDF Studios’ program catalog has a huge volume of assets that need to be handled and organized, both data and metadata. The main assets that the company works with are movies and TV series with the corresponding data being video files, audio files, text files such as subtitles, image files, plus a vast amount of document files including supporting materials such as scripts, music cue sheets, dialog lists, biographies, press kits, and many more. These, roughly 80, data types require a decent set of metadata each. In addition, the movies and TV series require their own set of metadata such as synopsis, genre, staff, age ratings, etc. Most of this information is stored in multiple systems such as data warehouse (DWH), cloud environments, or service providers’ systems, which are mostly not connected to each other as of today.
Here’s an example for just one of these 80 data types: Each series, season, movie or episode needs a “synopsis” in five length versions, ranging from a one-liner, up to 2000 characters. One series with three seasons, containing 26 episodes each, add up to 410 synopsis variants. What’s more, those five versions may be required in multiple languages. And all of this information needs to be reflected in various systems. Do the math!
As new systems come on board or new sales requirements arise, there is a constant need to change versions or add new versions of this field and to populate/control it. Doing this work of extension and customization of fields manually, with the required level of data governance, has become a real challenge. For a SME business, the resulting data model itself can hardly be maintained by common enterprise architecture tools, such as UML diagrams paired with Excel files, which are currently used as an industry standard.
ZDF Studios had no harmonized and holistic view of their data, especially around fields, types, and descriptions. Consequently, there was no single source of truth available in their systems. Combined with the severe lack of documentation, the need for visualization and maintenance capabilities of their schemes and relations/mappings was inevitable.
The company does not only want to keep pace with the constant change in the media industry, but to be at the very forefront when it comes to efficiency in handling their massive catalog of data. The rise of the video-on-demand (VOD) business requires the availability and delivery of perfectly structured (meta)data in high volumes. If this cannot be provided, problems in the fulfillment of sales deals ultimately result in lower margins and the poor efficiency becomes a bottleneck on the delivery side of the supply chain.
ZDF Studios was searching for a smart and futureproof solution that could solve the aforementioned and other challenges, while at the same time being maintainable with a minimum in overhead. They had been looking for a lightweight system to achieve mastery in data handling.
ZDF Studios needed a solution that could not only rise to all these challenges but also cope with future changes properly and robustly and would reduce the overall costs involved in the utilization and maintenance of their data.
After putting a list of requirements together, ZDF Studios reviewed many solutions and tools but found most of them were either too bulky to get started with, not easy to use, and/or would not fulfill all the requirements, especially the specific criteria of being able to visualize the use of any particular data field across systems, including a comparison of the data types, restrictions and other properties. It turns out that there is no blueprint in the media industry that ZDF Studios could have followed. The whole peer group seems to accept the cumbersome status quo. Many solutions have been proposed by the LinkedIn network. In the end, a simple Google search for “(meta)data management” helped to find the right tool. This is how ZDF Studios found Simplity and the Accurity platform, the solution the company longed for.