To rent or to buy? This has long been a topic of debate in the world of property, with people having to choose between spending virtually all of their money up front or giving their money away each month with little chance of seeing a return.
How does this apply to the media and entertainment sector? Well, the need to constantly evolve to stay ahead of the technology curve places a heavy emphasis on embracing innovation. It has never been more important for businesses to adopt new ways of working and new technologies. However, factors such as shrinking budgets and limited periods of utilisation mean many organisations are being hindered by the associated capital expenditure involved.
This means the traditional tactic of purchasing their own assets such as cameras, lenses and live production tools, and then sweating them as much as possible in order to extract maximum value is no longer viable for many media organisations. For several reasons, it has become an outdated approach.
Challenges to consider
The most important thing for organisations to remember is they have to get the procurement process right. There’s no room for error, which is becoming more of a challenge as solutions get more advanced and complex and standards continue to be developed. From getting locked in to a certain vendor, to picking one that doesn’t align to its technical roadmap, making the wrong decision could hinder an organisation for years. As such, having access to a diverse portfolio of assets and hardware may actually be a better fit within their workflow.
The second issue is that expensive pieces of kit now become outdated faster than ever before. Advances in technology move faster than buying cycles, meaning it doesn’t take long for users to fall behind. With manufacturers primarily interested in selling in their latest and greatest offerings, users can quickly find themselves without access to new and important features. The pressure is on to keep up.
Thirdly, maintaining this equipment can be a drain on resources, particularly having to cope with any downtime while kit is being serviced or repaired. If the kit isn’t physically functioning, businesses are losing money.
Finally, there is the matter of cost. While buying the latest technology can help drive growth by bringing in new business from end users looking to work with the latest formats and workflows, it can also be extremely expensive. This often puts new technology beyond the reach of many budgets.
Reasons to rent
With all these factors in mind, it’s no surprise that long-term hiring of equipment is becoming increasingly attractive to those involved in the content creation process. In the same way that users can always get the latest handsets through phone upgrade programmes, or lease cars for a certain period of time through personal contract purchases, renting helps organisations flex towards the latest technology and work within a broadcast space that ordinarily would be cost prohibitive.
And there are plenty of other benefits. For example, specialist rental companies handle most of the evaluation work, as it’s in their best interest to do their homework and invest in what they believe to be the top performing solutions (i.e. the ones that are likely to deliver the best returns). If these companies have good relationships with the manufacturers, then they’ll also probably be among the first to access new models and alternative solutions when they are released. Rental agreements can simply be updated, letting end users get their hands on top-of-the-range technologies sooner so their creative toolkits remain at the cutting edge.