Streaming can seem deceptively simple and a simple HLS workflow can be, but to deliver a monetised service to a wide range of devices, with a mix of live and on-demand assets, with advertising and DRM where needed is far from trivial. In this video, we hear from several companies on how they manage the complexity which allows their service to thrive.
Nadine Krefetz from streaming media asks the questions as we hear from Sinclair, Eyevinn Technology, fuboTV, FandangoNOW and Verizon Media. Firstly they introduce us to their services and the types of workflows that they are maintaining day in, day out.
Companies like Sinclair are frequently adding new channels through market acquisitions. Those companies that don’t grow through acquisition will, similarly, find themselves looking at their own legacy workflows as they look to modernise and improve their offering. Our panel gives their thoughts on tackling this situation. Magnus Svensson and Michael E. Bouchard both talk about having a blueprint, in essence, a generic workflow which contains all the functional blocks needed for a streaming service. You can then map the old and new workflows to the blueprint and plan migration and integration points around that.
The panel covers questions about how smaller services can address Roku and Amazon Fire devices, what to ask when launching a new service and which parts of their services would they never want to buy in or outsource.
Ad insertion is a topic which is essential and complex. Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) is seen as an essential technology for many services as it provides protection against adblockers and can offer more tight management of how and when viewers see ads. But the panel has seen that ad revenues are lower for SSAI since there are fewer analytics data points returned although VAST 4.0 is addressing this problem. This has led to one of the panel members going back to client-side ads for some of their workflows simply due to revenue. Magnus Svensson points out that preparation is key for advertising: Ensuring all adverts are in the correct formats and have the right markers, having slides ready and pre-loading to reduce peaks during live transmissions.
The panel closes looking at their biggest challenges, often in adapting to the pandemic, and the ever-evolving landscape of transport formats. Watch now! Speakers
Michael E. Bouchard
Vice President of Technology Strategy,
ONE Media, Sinclair Broadcast Group
Media Solution Specialist,
Addressable TV is coming to DVB with targetted advertising specifications. Famously Sky has been one of the main driving forces behind addressable TV in Europe. Sky’s AdSmart technology, launched in 2014 has long allowed advertisers large and small to target very specific viewers. In 2017 DVB spotted the need for an interoperable standard for targetted advertising and today we are seeing the results of their work to date. Usually, broadcasters can charge a premium for targetted advertising which brings them on a par with the ability of the large streaming giants to target ads to their customers. Sky has found that personalised commercials result in 21% more engagement and 35% heightened attentiveness.
Addressable TV has been shown to encourage smaller advertisers to use TV for the first time. Whilst creating a professional advert is not cheap, this is played off against the reduced cost of only targetting a small percentage of households. Capitalising on the localisation possible, Macdonalds, for instance, has used targetted advertising to announce new menus in specific branches.
Targetted advertising shows a promising future for growth, so this seems to be a great time for DVB and HbbTV to be jointly producing standard guidance for the industry called DVB-TA.
Martin Gold introduces the DVB-TA Part 1 – Signalling explaining that this specification is currently going through ETSI for standardisation. DVB-TA accounts for signalling from playout to the encoder, to downstream transcoders/multiplexers and to the receivers themselves. The specification focusses on SCTE 35 and where a receiver can’t understand SCTE 35, there is a way to translate these messages to DSM-CC messages for HbbTV devices. SCTE 35 has been extended and includes a unique programme descriptor and also accounts for PTS adjustments.
Matt Poole follows by talking about Part 2 which deals with communication with ad servers. Matt explains how privacy and working within GPDR has been considered throughout this section. He then talks about the importance of carefully matching the video format of the ad inventory with the viewed channel in order to get the most seamless transition possible and be careful to download the correct file type of asset. Matt then talks about the playoff between reach and perfect user experience.
The talk ends with a 20-minute Q&A session which includes panellists Peter Neumann and Angelo Pettazzi.
Delivering high scale in streaming really exposes the weaknesses of every point of your workflow, so even those of us who are not streaming at maximum scale, there are many lessons to be learnt. CBS Sports Digital delivered the Super Bowl using the principles of ‘practice, practice, practice’, keeping the solution as simple as possible and making mitigation of problems primary to solving them.
Taylor Busch tells walks us through their solution explaining how it supported their key principles and highlighting the technology used. Starting with Acquisition, he covers the SDI fibre delivery to a backup facility as well as the AWS Direct Connect links for their Elemental Live encoders. The origin servers were in two different regions and both received data from both sets of encoders.
CBS used ‘Output locking’ which ensures that the TS segments are all aligned even across different encoders which is done by respecting the timecode in the SDI and helps in encoder failover situations. QVBR encoding is a method of encoding up to a quality level rather than simply saying ‘7000 kbps’. QVBR provides a more efficient use a bandwidth since in the situations where a scene doesn’t require a lot of bandwidth, it won’t be sent. This variability, even if you run in capped mode to limit the bandwidth of particularly complex scenes, can look like a failing encoder to some systems, so the fact this is now in ‘VBR’ mode, needs to be understood by all the departments and companies who monitor your feed.
Advertising is famously important for the Super Bowl, so Taylor gives an overview of how they used the CableLabs ESAM protocol and SCTE to receive information about and trigger the adverts. This combined SCTE-104, ESAM and SCTE-35 as we’ll as allowing clients to use VAST for tracking. Extra caching was provided by Fastly’s Media Shield which tests for problems with manifests, origin servers and encoders. This fed a Multi-CDN setup using 4 CDNs which could be switched between. There is a decision point for requests to determine which CDN should answer.
Taylor then looks at the tools, such as Mux’s dashboard, which they used to spot problems in the system; both NOC-style tools and multiviewers. They set up three war rooms which looked at different aspects of the system, connectivity, APIs etc. This allowed them to focus on what should be communicated keeping ‘noise’ down to give people the space they needed to do their work at the same time as providing the information required. Taylor then opens up to questions from the floor.
VAST 4.0 represents the first opportunity for a fully integrated, standards-based, Server-Side Ad Insertion workflow. Here’s a 5-Minute guide to VAST. Watch this video to learn how it will impact your workflows and enable you to maximize your revenue by circumventing ad blockers, reaching more devices and improving viewers’ experience.
Presented during Streaming Media West 2017 Discovery Track Sessions by Stefan Lederer, CEO of Bitmovin.
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