Blog | Gregg H. Brown
January 31, 2022

Metadata Makes Linear Video Exciting Again 

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it helps to be in the right place at the right time to catch the right set of eyes. When your “right place at the right time” consists of diverse devices that are both mobile and global, well… it can get complicated. 

I remember the first time I discovered the mobile web (Yes, this might be dating myself a bit). One of my colleagues walked over to my desk, opened my old-school feature flip phone, and said, “Check this out.” He clicked a few buttons, downloaded some ringtones and games, and browsed the web. It was truly a game-changing experience for me — kind of like entering the fourth dimension — and I realized that the mobile world would never be the same. Transition to our current world of video streaming and distribution, and it’s all about the video path — which is, in effect, all about data. 

Linear streaming services and alternative video distribution paths continue to increase in both diversity and reach. So, where is the next-level growth catalyst for linear video going to come from over the next 10–15 years? What’s going to keep it attractive in the eyes of viewers? It’s all in the (meta)data. The metadata associated with video can power complex use cases, enable more intelligence and automation, and extend users’ video experience beyond their first screen. Let’s dive deeper into some of these use case examples. 

Automated programming swaps for tailored experiences 

One of the most basic near-term use cases enhanced metadata enables for linear video is machine-to-machine automation of program substitution. Once the rules-based engine is set up between the content provider and distributors, a seamless near error-free experience is created, whereby content providers can communicate their rights data to downstream distribution partners. Based on the rights metadata from the content providers, distributors then enable automatic program-level video content switching for blackouts, web embargos, regionalization, or other relevant use cases. The result is significant operational savings for all parties as well as risk management for errors by ensuring the right content gets consumed by the right audience. 

Terrestrial Distribution: Broadcast’s new ground game 

Another critical use case that enhancement metadata helps enable is the transition of satellite to IP-based video distribution. The obvious part of this transition is the actual transport of the video, which requires IP-based protocols like SRT or others to securely move the video from point A to point B. However, there also needs to be a system in place between the content provider and distributor to enable decision-making between the parties based on that metadata. It’s foundational to the services operators want to offer and the advanced advertising they want to support.  

Advanced advertising needs more metadata 

As we move toward the revenue side of how metadata can enhance linear video in the future, the first place to look is the advertising workflow. Historically, ad spots would be placed within live video feeds with little data about the ad viewers, previous ads shown to viewers, or even information contained in the actual video programming. That all changes with the ability to leverage the enhanced video workflow that is fully decorated with metadata. By leveraging this metadata flow, the video advertiser and the related ecosystem can determine which ads to replace, better target the ads to households or individuals that fit the ad demographics, ensure that the advertiser’s rules are applied correctly across ad pods regardless of the ad server being used, and, ultimately, create more intelligent ad decisions based not only on user but also on the ad and scene data from a video program. All these features ultimately generate higher CPM for the ecosystem. 

  There are several other great use cases of how metadata is either currently or in the future going to propel more growth and usage of linear video:  

  • Second screen experiences are top of mind when it comes to metadata-based future use cases, and in-game betting is one of my favorites. Zero-latency streaming functionality is critical for this to work, but think about all the required metadata — betting rules, statistics, location, league, etc. It’s the metadata that makes this use case viable.  

  • Dramatically improved personalization is another example, driven by metadata and the appropriate rules engine that could enable the content switching to occur automatically based on the metadata rules supplied to it.  

  • Rules-based commerce could be enabled within a video stream that connects the video you are watching to brick-and-mortar commerce locations based on your location.  

There are so many possibilities. 

Metadata mastery is the new competitive advantage 

The face of video is changing, and metadata is at its core. At Comcast Technology Solutions, we have the products, services, and expertise to help you enable these use cases and beyond. Specifically, our Linear Rights Management (LRM) product, which is based on the SCTE 224 standard, is a foundational SaaS-based solution that will serve as your foundation to this metadata-based future of video. It powers the experiences necessary to take advantage of this next level of growth, translating the metadata into the standard that enables the machine-to-machine automation required for content switching and other use cases that are based on the metadata rules.