Comcast Technology Solutions - leaderboard - 3-28-18
  • Comcast Technology Solutions Introduces Linear Metadata Solution

    In the blur of the recent NABShow, I missed that Comcast Technology Solutions introduced Linear Rights Metadata Management (“LRM”), which ensures that the appropriate linear video is distributed through both existing pay-TV operators and new OTT distributors.

    Steve Lacoff, VP of Product Management at CTS, who oversaw the development of LRM, briefed me on why it’s important, particularly in the context of proliferating subscription options and mobile/connected TV consumption.

    Linear rights have always been an issue in the traditional pay-TV world, particularly in sports where blackouts due to various contractual provisions, occur regularly. But as Steve explained, the processes for TV networks to inform operators about blackouts and substitute programming is extremely manual, with spreadsheets often used to convey instructions. No surprise this often leads to errors and confusion.

    To address this and the increasing role of OTT distributors, SCTE, the pay-TV industry standards body, released the 224 event scheduling and notification interface standard, which Comcast Technology Solutions staff contributed to creating.

    LRM doesn’t handle the actual linear video itself, but rather ingests metadata from TV networks via APIs which would include information like program names, schedules, replay/start-over rights, display of icons, etc. LRM then normalizes and unifies the metadata into a single feed for distribution partners. Both the networks and the distributors have a console where they can view all data and policies and adjust accordingly.

    Steve noted that LRM is particularly important for OTT operators who are new to sports blackouts which are a common requirement. A great example includes a broadcast network that’s carrying an NFL game on Sunday afternoon. Because some providers have exclusive mobile rights to many NFL games, if a subscriber without rights to that game tried to watch the game on their smartphone they’d need to be re-directed to alternate programming and/or receive an appropriate message.  

    Obviously, given the infinite combination of bundles, viewing devices, TV networks carried and particular contractual obligations, the likelihood of distributors tripping rights by delivering inappropriate content is quite high, which is what LRM is solving for.

    Next on the roadmap, LRM will give TV networks the ability to deliver not just metadata but also underlying video streams via IP as well. It is also being further developed to actually break down TV network programming into playlists which can be flexibly localized based on geography. This would mean evolving away from single channels being delivered to all distributors which then need to adhere to blackout rules. Rather localized playlists could be dynamically curated via LRM and delivered only to the appropriate viewers. This kind of micro-programming approach could create more robust monetization possibilities.

    Even as linear content is increasingly packaged and distributed by new OTT players, traditional rights must still be observed. LRM is positioned to give both content providers and OTT distributors plus pay-TV operators a more streamlined method for managing these complexities. As a result, it looks like it could play a foundational role in the fast-evolving world of linear TV distribution.

    (Comcast Technology Solutions is a VideoNuze sponsor)

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