Solving The Metadata Mess

By Angie Johnston  |  October 19, 2017

Roger Franklin | InBroadcast | October 2017 | Vol: 7- Issue 10, p. 30

Over the last decade or so, there’s been a substantial shift in the way viewers consume video content. Over-top-content has boomed in popularity, so much so that consumers expect rather than demand its provision. This proves problematic for both linear broadcasters and OTT providers, given the cost and resources required to reformat content for OTT viewing, and the fact that much of this content is given away for ‘free’.

Metadata and SCTE 35 markers add value in the OTT world, and in linear broadcast, are absolutely essential. Oftentimes, metadata and SCTE 35 messages are the only way to monetize content provision, signalling ad opportunities and enabling the dynamic insertion of targeted ads. Without SCTE 35 messages, these actions would be almost impossible.

Flaws in the Messaging

SCTE 35 metadata markers have been inserted into content for over two decades. With good intentions, the standard has been updated numerous times, but the result of this is that no two content owners use the exact same SCTE messages to trigger the same actions (such as an ad opportunity).

This creates several problems – the incorrect labelling of content segments, inaccurate insertion of content or in some cases the failure to insert any content or ad at all, meaning a loss in revenue and unhappy advertisers/viewers.

SCTE 35 messages now travel through multiple transcoders. This can sometimes corrupt the message, resulting in the presentation timestamp (PTS) buried within the message passing on the wrong number to the downstream equipment. In many instances, the message will either arrive late or too early, meaning the segment inserted may overlap the beginning or end of the content coming before or after the break.

Aside from being a massive pain for distributors, the problems with the use of SCTE 35 are damaging the overall potential of OTT because it effects the monetization of content, and in worst case scenarios irritates viewers.

Cleaning up the Mess

At NAB New York, we’re excited to be launching a solution to what we call ‘the metadata mess’.

Crystal Metadata Cloud® uses patent-pending Temporal Fingerprint technology to transmit metadata out-of-band from the transport stream, and crucially resynchronize it on a frame-accurate basis with the content in the downstream distribution chain.

This removes the problems caused by programmers using multiple types of SCTE 35 messages by identifying points in the video, defining what these points mean and translating this information into whichever message format the distributor prefers. The cloud-based solution will complement SCTE 35, ensuring the survivability of uncorrupted metadata from origination to reception, in any format the distributor chooses. Multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs) downstream can now replace content for rights management and dynamically insert targeted ads accurately, regardless of the actions of the programmer.

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