Bringing Order to the SCTE 35 Chaos

By Angie Johnston  |  February 26, 2018

Alan Young | New Bay Media | February 22, 2018

SCTE 35 has been relied on for two decades by broadcasters and cable TV networks (“content providers”) to signal local avail breaks—the slots that are granted by the content providers to the cable system operators (and other multichannel video programming distributors) for local advertising. In the United States, these breaks are usually exactly a minute long and occur twice an hour. The content providers usually schedule promos and other non-essential filler material in these slots for cable operators to insert their local commercials over. Local commercial insertion is a mature business (and a very big business).

More recently, the use of SCTE 35 has been expanded considerably and it is now used to signal the start and end of programming and national advertising breaks. This is to enable virtual MVPDs to blackout programming where rights are limited and also to replace scheduled broadcast adverts that cannot be distributed over the Internet (either because the advertiser doesn’t want to or because they can’t—adverts have rights too). SCTE 35 can also be useful for automating live-to-VOD (e.g. C3 VOD) and delivering enhanced nDVR capability.

However, there are a number of issues with this expanded use that are hampering the effectiveness of the SCTE 35 standard and, as a direct consequence, the ability of content providers to efficiently monetize the immense opportunities OTT streaming provides.


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