On what basis should a network owner/operator make the decision to operate the network in-house or outsource the operation?
I claim a “network operator” should never outsource content management on his network to a third party, unless of course he’s not really a network operator. Perhaps an end user venue (think retail store, QSR, stadium, hospital, etc.) is not really in the business of running a digital signage network as a part of their core competency, so outsourcing content management in that instance certainly would be acceptable – and actually recommended. But if your core business is being a “network operator” such as Gas Station TV, who runs a network on gas pumps across the country, you better know that job yourself, inside and out (and by the way, they do!)
Some venue owners are already in the “media and entertainment” business, so for a casino to farm out their content management of all the screens in their facilities would be a little bit nuts. They’ll do that in-house. And many corporations have large campuses spread across many states (and sometimes the world), so it would not be a stretch for them to manage their own network. Novartis, for instance, has an internal group managing content at hundreds of locations across the globe. They do rely on outside companies to help them with installation and hardware procurement, but for the most part, they run the network themselves.