With NAB Show just about to wrap up, we thought this would be a great time to recap Sunday's second screen event in Las Vegas
Registration kicked off a little early on Sunday as were expecting "a few walk-ups"--we ended up with an incredibly long line that would not abate and actually had to start the program late to get the most of people into the room for Hardie Tankersly's
keynote, which kicked off the event to standing room only of 350-400 people.
Hardie delivered a great keynote in a fireside chat format (lead by Seth Shapiro), helping the audience to understand why getting the metadata that powers the rich second screen applications syndicated to key partners is so important. Those key partners joined Hardie on stage after the keynote to talk through the challenges and take audience Q&A.
We tested the waters with a "2nd Screen 101" session where we expected 15-30 attendees to join in a parallel program track--and were surprised when 100-115 joined the 45-minute session. The industry is clearly now mature enough that we need to facilitate great thought leadership to at least two segments of participants: 1) experts who live and breathe this stuff every day, and 2) new entrants who are just starting to figure out what all the fuss is about. Expect to see more of this type of content from us at our 2nd Screen Summit in NYC in late June
, one of our newest members, delivered an incredibly engaging live second screen experiment during a technology spotlight, engaging the audience in 3 live voting scenarios and show the results live on stage and then showing the parallel scenario that was recently aired on a live broadcast with the same live voting technology.
Kit Digital launched their "2Si" social discovery platform
at the event, with industry thought leader Alan Wolk
on stage guiding the audience through the features and consumer use cases it was designed for.
We had an incredibly engaging session on the direction of the second screen app market moderated by Marty Shindler, with industry veterans such as Alex Terpstra
from Civolution and Tom Engdahl from Magic Ruby trading views with Tracey Garvin from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Joe Inzerillo from the MLB dazzled the audience for 30 minutes, taking all of us through an incredibly detailed case study of their MLB At Bat product and how complex it is to have the level of success they have captured as the industry's #1 monetized app in the iTunes Appstore.
That was followed by Andy Batkin moderating a very engaging sports panel with Tyler Slocum from the NFL and Joe Inzerillo from the MLB discussing their brand engagement needs with industry startups TOK.tv, Kwarter and iPowow.Jason Kint
from CBS Interactive Sports had the closing keynote, taking the audience through a Super Bowl 47 case study and reminding everyone just how far reaching second screen can be for major events and the brands that sponsor them.
The conversation over cocktails buzzed along for quite awhile before a smaller group broke off to engage further in second screen dinner that was sponsored by Kit Digital and Civolution.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, about 30 of us gathered in a conference room on Monday to conduct a 2nd Screen Society Advisory Board meeting, discussing and progressing key industry initiatives around the DIAL protocol for device access and ad agency measurements.
Add all of the focused action to the incredible buzz of the NAB Show floor (which seemed to scream 2nd Screen and 4k) and it was an 2nd Screen packed week in Las Vegas.
You can check out the Twitter engagement during the show (#S3NAB
) and, for conference attendees, we will be posting the audio and presentations under a password protected link shortly (with an email notification).
Look out for our webinar series on "Successful 2nd Screen Strategies" and join us in NYC during CE week June 24-28 to continue the discussion at our 2nd Screen Summit NYC
, jointly presented with Broadcasting and Cable.
If you werenât fortunate enough to attend our 2nd
Screen Summit at IBC on Saturday, you really missed a special gathering (see the Twitter feed
). The afternoon was punctuated by some great presentations (âThe Future of TVâ by Alan Wolk of Kit Digital, âSynchronisation and Media Interaction with Your Consumerâ by Alex Terpstra of Civolution), a strong review of the current 2nd
screen market data by Renaud Fuchs of Ericsson, and two great panels on monetization (featuring Joe Inzerillo of MLB) and consumer engagement (highlighted by Anthony Rose of zeebox). We even hosted cocktails during the event and a sizable dinner after the event to take advantage of everyoneâs creative juices. For those of you that were registered attendants or are 2nd
Screen Society members or advisors, you can find the presentations and audio downloads here
. For everyone else, here were the key take-aways for me from the summit and for second screen at IBC:
- The Future of TV (by @awolk). Why is Second Screen the best thing that ever happened to Pay TV operators (slides 43-44)? Data. The opportunity to truly capture consumer engagement, measure ROI, improve the user experience (UX).
- Synchronisation and Media Interaction with Your Consumer (by @ADTerpstra). There are a host of new technologies around the synchronization of the second screen device that can drive some engaging consumer use cases--and Civolution has a pretty cool demo app to show the possibilities off.
- 2nd Screen by the Numbers (by @RFuchsTCH). Social TV will be an $8 to $12b business in 2020. Viggle's users check-in 5 times per day on average with a session length of 93 minutes. There were 15 apps launched specifically for the SuperBowl.
- Consumer engagement panel. When initially asked, Inzerillo couldnât have said it better than âif you deliver a great consumer experience, the monetization will follow.â Panel members ranging from broadcast TV consultants and service providers to content creators and founder of the UKâs most popular 2nd screen app had a spirited discussion about what it takes to really engage audiences, whether "social" was the most important feature set (they didnât think so) and how "gamification" and "synchronized content" played into the equation. While opinions ranges on many facets of engagement, all of them agreed that if there ever is a killer app in the second screen space, it will both engage yet not distract the users while providing utility (control of the experience), social interaction (including with those actually in the living room), and stimulation (because not all content is viewed equally).
- Monetization panel. In every summit so far, this has been the most anticipated and hotly debated topic: is anyone going to make any money in this space, and if so, how? Inzerillo talked about the early days of streaming (back before it was called OTT) and compared that to their current revenue profile of something north of $600m annually. While he admits it is hard to pull apart precisely the revenues coming from someone using the 2nd screen as a first screen (ie just streaming to their iPhone or iPad), his estimation was that 5-15% of their tablet-based revenue was coming from activity without the live video feed (with the thought that they were getting the video feed from their first screen and were using the app for the stats, commentary, etc). I realize everyoneâs immediate reaction is to ask for more specifics (and believe me, they asked in the conference), but maybe the take away here should be simpler than that: they are managing a business that generates a âsignificantâ amount of revenue from a segment that did not exist a few short years ago (tablets, smartphones) which has a strong engagement component around the 2nd screen interactivityâand according to Joe, it is all additive (vs. cannibalistic).
If we were to measure success of the event by the amount of debate and engagement both at the 2nd Screen Summit itself and on the wider IBC show floor, I would say the momentum in the second screen space is growing quickly.
for our panels on the West Coast in a few weeks (Multi-Screen Summit, Next TV Summit), in NY during the first week of October (Ad Week), and our next dedicated event at CES in Las Vegas in the new year.
I was reading an article recently from an industry âevangelistâ describing the second screen phenomena as very ânascent technologyâ, that the odds of you discovering that something is on television that you didnât pre-record or already know about is low, that the majority of consumers will continue to want to channel surf to watch the lionâs share of their content and that the âremote is not going anywhere anytime soonâ.
Not a middle of the road stance.
I thought long and hard about that article. Part of the problem being described is a classic market adoption challenge known as âcrossing the chasmâ. Fair enough--peopleâs behaviors take time to change as we are all creatures of habit. But as I read and re-read the article, I started looking at the individual feature comments and thought in terms of the feature sets we have used to describe second screen (Simple, Social, Seamless, Stimulating, Discovery).
And then I re-read the most recent Gartner report called the âHype Cycle for Broadcast and Entertainment - 2012.â The Hype Cycle
has been a great tool for discussing the adoption of everything in the technology world from concepts like the PC or smart phone to more complex challenges like âbig dataâ. So, as we are about to gather at IBC this Saturday to passionately discuss our views about where the industry is headed, what the real challenges are, and where the opportunities lie for content creators and distributors, app developers and service providers, I thought I would lay out my own views of what is a ânascentâ technology triggered
feature for the consumer, which of those have reached the peak of inflated expectations
, which are already slugging it out in the trough of disillusionment
and which have graduated to the slope of enlightenment
or have made their way already to the peak of productivity
To give few examples from the 2012 Gartner chart, 3D TV Services are still at the technology trigger stage, Social Analytics are at the peak of inflated expectations, 3D Flat Panels and Displays are in the trough of disillusionment, while IPTV is making progress up the slope of enlightenment and Mobile Music Streaming is already on the plateau of productivity.
I hope you enjoy the graph and my brief explanation of my views below. I am looking forward to having a spirited conversation about my point of view with many of you in Amsterdam @ IBC 2012 at the Okura Hotel on Saturday, the 8th
of September, at 4.30pm (come by for a cocktail at least). Registration is linked here
Technology trigger. For the most part, these features are on their way to the consumer, but are still in the very early stages of development in our industry:
o Simple. STB integration. Operators are only just now opening up and publishing their APIs to allow third parties to integrate their app functionality. Some of the operators are still struggling to control their own STBs. BuddyTV is the leading 3rd party app in this space, while the major players like DirecTV, Comcast, and AT&T lead the way for operators in the USâoutside North America it becomes very complex quickly and there is a long road ahead.
o Simple. CE device integration. Manufacturers are making progress with their own apps, but are also less sure how to proceed with 3rd party developers. LG is leading the way in this space today as they publish APIs to integrate into their device world.
o Simple. Game Console integration. While Xbox has taken a big leap out front with SmartGlass by committing to an SDK for their platform, the rest of the console market is still at the drawing board.
o Social. Time-zero adjusted social feeds (for pre-recorded events). App developers and content creators are only now recognizing that time-shifted content (eg the Olympics) must have the option for time shifted social commentary to avoid the spoilers. TVplus does this very well.
o Stimulating. âOS-levelâ ACR. The concept of the device or player being aware of the video time code and being able to respond to event triggers has been around for awhile and Flingo is building a business based on the concept, but for the most part, this is truly nascent technology. Expect announcements in this area at IBC and CES from players like Apple, Netflix and Roku.
o Stimulating. Stream capture ACR (NOC). While the concept of tracking watermarks and fingerprints in video has been around for years (see Civolution), using this to manage event triggers on the 2nd screen is only just getting started. The most likely to succeed here are probably Civolution with their 17k monitored channels.
o Stimulating. Synchronous commerce. The first few attempts have been either interesting or painfulâa lot of work required in this field to balance relativity and ease of use for the consumer. There are some apps by Magic Ruby (Foxâs SOA Gear) and WatchWith that are worth watching in this space.
o Stimulating. Ad insertion. We are only just now seeing 2ndscreen ads being inserted by an awareness of the content on the 1stscreenâbut this is a rich monetization opportunity for the industry. I would expect Zeebox to take an early lead in this space and Young and Rubican will work hard to make this space valuable for their clients.
o Stimulating. Live news support. There are a few interesting apps which are leveraging the audio stream to summarize news stories on the fly to give additional information, but this powerful concept is still nascent.
o Stimulating. Synchronous live content event triggering. Apps like Zeebox and TVplus have delivered some very interesting use cases from this capability, but scaling this capability beyond major events is the real challenge. Check out Mobovivoâs Toronto Blue Jays app designed for live syncing at the stadium between broadcast, the jumbotron and the 2nd screen for a glimpse of the future.
o Stimulating. Recorded content event triggering. This becomes more of a metadata availability and association challenge to deliver an experience beyond niche content, but TVplus, Zeebox and WatchWith continue to lead the way in this field. Expect companies like Digitalsmiths who provide scene level metadata to help close the scalability gap her for the industry.
o Seamless. Integration of cloud-based content. As consumers begin to use Ultraviolet and iTunes cloud-based content ownership, there need to be services which can integrate these sources into search and discovery experiences (similar to what is done today for subscription services). Today, there are not any 3rd party services delivering on this promise that reach beyond native first party experiences (ie iTunes, Vudu, Amazon).
Peak of inflated expectations.
o Social. Live Curated social feeds. The technology is working, but when and how to implement is creating a consumer backlash (spoilers) for except truly live events (which did not include the Olympics).
o Stimulating. Live sports support. Getting stats for your favorite professional sport is a reality (AtBat, Courtside, NFL â12), but taking it beyond an interesting use case into monetization is going to drag this feature down to the trough of disillusionment before it can ascend again for business leaders. Cost effective scale and ubiquity will be the challenges here.
o Stimulating. Gamification. From simple trivia games to complex fight scoring and zombie kill counting, exciting games are engaging consumers in large numbers. Viggle and TV Dinner are touting strong numbers of engaged consumers in this space and anyone whoâs seen Mobovivoâs AXS TV Fights app or Red Beeâs AMC Walking Dead app can attest to the interactive engagement those experiences create.
o Discovery. Discovery (the ability to be presented with relevant content in a lean-back mode). Quickly headed for the trough, this is a much sought after (holy grail) feature that no one is implementing well (yet). Most of what consumers are getting today is a collaborative filtering-based recommendation (think Amazon-style âpeople who viewed this also liked...â), but Digitalsmithsâ Seamless Discovery seems to be gaining traction with both pay TV operators and connected CE manufacturers with a next generation algorithm. Expect this to be THE use case for operators to chase in late 2012 and 2013 with announcements at IBC and CES.
o Seamless. Integration of major OTT content sources(Hulu, Netflix, Youtube, Amazon). There are some apps showing initial progress (Matcha, BuddyTV, Fanhattan), but this will suffer from UI challenges before it gets better.
o Seamless. Integration of live broadcast TV sources(cable, telco). Operator apps are doing this well, but perhaps the best implementation to date has been BuddyTV (integrating your MVPD and OTT provided content).
o Seamless. Integration of home network files(professional). Clearly apps like Boxee have jumped out in front, but for this to be valuable to the consumer, the apps need to effectively integrate at least the presence of all major content in the home (iTunes, Vudu, Amazon).
Trough of disillusionment.
o Discovery. Search. While this is technically feasible, poor metadata and a lack of integrated sources of content have made this a poor consumer experience. Fanhattan is probably the best at this so far.
o Discovery. Recommendation. While the Amazon collaborative-filtering approach has been around and social networks are just now being integrated, this is for the most part a poor experience for consumers, usually relying on a list-based approach (top 10 this week, your friends are watching, etc).
o Stimulating. Audio ACR. Having made quick progress up the to the Peak of inflated expectations, the wider-industry is now utilizing this for âcheck-insâ mostly as the quality for event triggering has been unreliable. Climbing up to the slope of enlightenment is going to require ubiquitous scene level metadata and use cases that integrate better polling of the audio stream to determine relative time code accuracy. Despite the âacousticâ challenges, there are some great apps being delivered by companies like Red Bee Media (AMCâs Walking Dead), Yahooâs IntoNow, ConnecTV and TVplus. Expect companies like Civolution to begin integrating this with âOS-levelâ and stream capture ACR to improve the overall user experience.
o Simple. Blu-ray player integration. BD-Live based 2nd screen applications for your Blu-ray content already integrate well into the video stream, allowing application developers to trigger events based on metadata and with Wi-Fi capabilities, give a consistent and accurate experience to the consumer. There are a number of decent apps in this space based on movies and TV shows from the likes of Disney and Magic Ruby.
o Seamless. DVR integration. Nearly all of the operators have created apps that integrate both the recording and playback of content from the DVR. They continue to make progress in making these assets available in content search and discovery and to opening the integration to 3rd party apps.
o Stimulating. Rich, related metadata. There are many apps which perform this function at some level (some are apps dedicated this use case like IMDB). However, Fanhattan and Zeebox continue to lead the way in this field, leveraging metadata service providers like Digitalsmiths and Tribune Media Services.
o Social. Facebook integration. Nearly every 2nd screen app is able to effectively integrate Facebook into the experience, leveraging the app as a single-sign-on gateway in addition to allowing âcheck-insâ, âlikesâ, and comments.
o Social. Twitter integration. Perhaps the most used 3rd party widget in the 2nd screen world, the automated searching of appropriate keywords and hashtags has made this a pretty robust experience for live events (pre-recorded events are still spoiler-challenged). Perhaps the best overall socially integrated app these days is Yap.TV.
o Simple. The classic remote. The last improvements came from companies like Harmony, allowing more efficient programming and usage of the 1960âs-based device.
o Discovery. The grid guide. While some operators have customized the grid guide with favorites and there is discussion of a âcustom channelâ approach, any real improvement in this content search and discovery method is most likely to come from new UI approaches.
(this originally appeared in Civolution's Vision Newsletter at NAB 2012)
There has been a lot of a debate in the blogosphere and trade journals about the value of automated content recognition (ACR) to the user experience and the best way to provide that capability. Letâs start by exploring the value of the feature first. Most apps are using the concept of ACR to provide ease of use for the consumer by identifying the show they are watching and âchecking them inâ to the show (IntoNow is probably the most well-known for this, but many others like ConnecTV and Viggle use it as well). Shazam uses it to provide a launch point to additional information about a product you are watching in a commercial. TVplus uses it to provide a synchronized content experience. There have been discussions about holding the microphone open (or checking occasionally) and when the consumer is determined to be watching something else, to prompt them to change channels (whether for rewards or otherwise).
Letâs start by reviewing the consumer value options first. Can we use ACR to affect the first screen? Absolutely. Think Flingo here. If the TV or the 2nd
screen knows what content is playing, it can change audio, change content sources, pause automatically (when you are exploring something deep on the 2nd
screen), etc. Can we use ACR for social features? The check-in is an obvious case which saves the consumer from having to type in the show name, etc. It could even describe the scene you are watching or the play that just occurred in a game and pre-populate your Tweet (NCAA March Madness does this for cheering). Probably the most valuable feature set to the consumer is providing additional Stimulation. You can provide synchronized experiences, deliver engaging commerce or product information, provide contextual facts, trivia, the latest scores, stats, etc, etc. Discovery could be the most appealing feature when combined with knowledge of the user (ie which member of the household) which would be used to keep track of what they really watch for purposes of providing better recommendations and discovery.
How can ACR be used to drive better features for the business model? With integration into the 1st
screen it could provide the ability to influence consumer behavior. For example, the app detects they are not watching the intended show and offer to tune them to the correct one. It can also provide feedback to advertisers that they are watching commercials (perhaps justifying the Viggle points they receive). It can provide better knowledge about the consumer (their likes, dislikes) for more targeted advertising, and when combined with the timecode or scene, provide contextual advertising or commerce opportunities (which are more lucrative to the provider). Finally, with all of the information, better recommendations mean better influence on the consumers viewing behaviorâan incredibly powerful and lucrative feature (think about Google and the order of their links and adwordsâwhat would American Idol pay to strongly influence the consumer to change channels and watch their show?).
Now if we believe there is real value in ACR for both the consumer and the business, how do we effectively implement it? Audio synchronization is the most widely used form of ACR in the 2nd
screen and Social TV world today. The most common form of audio ACR is âfinger printedâ audio. Essentially, very similar to the way Shazam works with music, a database is created of the audio tracks of the TV shows and movies broken down into small segments of audio and then the device âlistensâ to what is happening and tries to match it to something in its database. Thatâs why it takes 6-12 seconds to create a match and it is so susceptible to background noise (the dog barking, baby crying, other guests talking). This is also why it is so hard to use audio finger printing to create a synchronized experience. ConnecTV, IntoNow, Viggle, and many other apps use this approach for checking you in. TVplus does manage a synchronized content experience using this method.
The next level of sophistication for audio-based ACR is âaudio watermarking.â Instead of creating a database of all known audio tracks, you insert inaudible sounds into the audio track that create synchronization points. Think of it as something akin to the way a dog whistle works. The sounds can be created in a manner to cut through most background noises, and if managed correctly, can function like the time code or clock of the feature. Of course, changing the audio track in post production is expensive (when done for the thousands of shows that exist) and requires support of the content owners and distributors (so that no one replaces audio trackâoften the decision of the cable/telco network operator (Comcast, AT&T, etc) or of the digital video service provider (iTunes, Vudu, Netflix). The Sons of Anarchy âSOA Gearâ app is an example of this watermarked audio approach.
If you have used any of the apps designed for movies (Kingâs Speech, Tron, Bambi, etc), you will notice that they have an ACR method based on synchronizing with your Blu-ray player. Essentially they reach out via local wi-fi and get the time code of the movie that is playing and relay that back to the app. This is not affected by background noise and doesnât require a change to the audio track, but does require the cooperation of the content creator to allow the connection from the app (in BDLive). Some of the more sophisticated apps have both Blu-ray and audio ACR capability, checking for the Blu-ray connection first, and then using Audio ACR as a backup.
In the next 6-12 months, you will see the movie and TV apps (Netflix, Hulu, Boxee, Vudu, etc) start providing some level of synchronization capability , allowing either their own app or 3rd
parties (if they are smart) to access the time code and name of the feature that is playing.
Flingo adds another level of sophistication to this concept. They insert themselves into the âOperating Systemâ of the smart TV, allowing the app to know the time code and feature name of anything that is playing. In theory, this enables them to work across multiple apps.
Where is all of this headed? While the most effective method of synchronizing is great if you are developing the feature (I have seen an example that checks for Blu-ray connectivity first, then looks for a set top box that is can communicate with, and then finally uses audio sync for ACR), it is a difficult approach for 3rd
party apps (those that create experiences for many TV shows and movies instead of a single experience for a single event or feature). The most cost effective way to reach the most consumers is audio finger printing, while the best experience for the consumer is direct integration into the OTT movie service, set top box or Blu-ray player. I would expect, however, that even when the app can speak to the movie service directly, for there to be a âfail overâ option of audio-based ACR. So if you are building an app, some level of audio ACR capability is probably an entry fee to this fast growing market place, and your ability to supplement that with tighter integration to the set top box, blu-ray player, or the OTT movie service itself can be a major differentiator against the competition.
(this originally appeared in Civolution's Vision Newsletter at NAB 2012)
There has been a lot of a debate in the blogosphere andtrade journals about the value of automated content recognition (ACR) to the userexperience and the best way to provide that capability. Letâs start by exploring the value of thefeature first. Most apps are using theconcept of ACR to provide ease of use for the consumer by identifying the showthey are watching and âchecking them inâ to the show (IntoNow is probably themost well-known for this, but many others like ConnecTV and Viggle use it aswell). Shazam uses it to provide alaunch point to additional information about a product you are watching in acommercial. TVplus uses it to provide asynchronized content experience. Therehave been discussions about holding the microphone open (or checkingoccasionally) and when the consumer is determined to be watching somethingelse, to prompt them to change channels (whether for rewards orotherwise).
Letâs start by reviewingthe consumer value options first. Can weuse ACR to affect the first screen? Absolutely. Think Flingo here. If the TV or the 2nd
screen knowswhat content is playing, it can change audio, change content sources, pauseautomatically (when you are exploring something deep on the 2nd
screen), etc. Can we use ACR for socialfeatures? The check-in is an obviouscase which saves the consumer from having to type in the show name, etc. It could even describe the scene you arewatching or the play that just occurred in a game and pre-populate your Tweet(NCAA March Madness does this for cheering). Probably the most valuable feature set to the consumer is providingadditional Stimulation. You can providesynchronized experiences, deliver engaging commerce or product information,provide contextual facts, trivia, the latest scores, stats, etc, etc. Discovery could be the most appealing featurewhen combined with knowledge of the user (ie which member of the household)which would be used to keep track of what they really watch for purposes ofproviding better recommendations and discovery.
How can ACR be used to drive better features for thebusiness model? With integration into the 1st
screen it couldprovide the ability to influence consumer behavior. For example, the app detects they are notwatching the intended show and offer to tune them to the correct one. It can also provide feedback to advertisersthat they are watching commercials (perhaps justifying the Viggle points theyreceive). It can provide betterknowledge about the consumer (their likes, dislikes) for more targetedadvertising, and when combined with the timecode or scene, provide contextualadvertising or commerce opportunities (which are more lucrative to theprovider). Finally, with all of theinformation, better recommendations mean better influence on the consumersviewing behaviorâan incredibly powerful and lucrative feature (think aboutGoogle and the order of their links and adwordsâwhat would American Idol pay tostrongly influence the consumer to change channels and watch their show?).
Now if we believe there is real value in ACR for both theconsumer and the business, how do we effectively implement it? Audio synchronization is the most widely usedform of ACR in the 2nd
screen and Social TV world today. The most common form of audio ACR is âfingerprintedâ audio. Essentially, verysimilar to the way Shazam works with music, a database is created of the audiotracks of the TV shows and movies broken down into small segments of audio andthen the device âlistensâ to what is happening and tries to match it tosomething in its database. Thatâs why ittakes 6-12 seconds to create a match and it is so susceptible to background noise(the dog barking, baby crying, other guests talking). This is also why it is so hard to use audiofinger printing to create a synchronized experience. ConnecTV, IntoNow, Viggle, and many otherapps use this approach for checking you in. TVplus does manage a synchronized content experience using this method.
The next level of sophistication for audio-based ACR isâaudio watermarking.â Instead ofcreating a database of all known audio tracks, you insert inaudible sounds intothe audio track that create synchronization points. Think of it as something akin to the way adog whistle works. The sounds can becreated in a manner to cut through most background noises, and if managedcorrectly, can function like the time code or clock of the feature. Of course, changing the audio track in post productionis expensive (when done for the thousands of shows that exist) and requiressupport of the content owners and distributors (so that no one replaces audiotrackâoften the decision of the cable/telco network operator (Comcast,AT&T, etc) or of the digital video service provider (iTunes, Vudu,Netflix). The Sons of Anarchy âSOA Gearâapp is an example of this watermarked audio approach.
If you have used any of the apps designed for movies (KingâsSpeech, Tron, Bambi, etc), you will notice that they have an ACR method basedon synchronizing with your Blu-ray player. Essentially they reach out via local wi-fi and get the time code of themovie that is playing and relay that back to the app. This is not affected by background noise anddoesnât require a change to the audio track, but does require the cooperationof the content creator to allow the connection from the app (in BDLive). Some of the more sophisticated apps have bothBlu-ray and audio ACR capability, checking for the Blu-ray connection first,and then using Audio ACR as a backup.
In the next 6-12 months, you will see the movie and TV apps(Netflix, Hulu, Boxee, Vudu, etc) start providing some level of synchronizationcapability , allowing either their own app or 3rd
parties (if theyare smart) to access the time code and name of the feature that is playing.
Flingo adds another level of sophistication to thisconcept. They insert themselves into theâOperating Systemâ of the smart TV, allowing the app to know the time code andfeature name of anything that is playing. In theory, this enables them to work across multiple apps.
Where is all of this headed? While the most effective method of synchronizing is great if you aredeveloping the feature (I have seen an example that checks for Blu-rayconnectivity first, then looks for a set top box that is can communicate with,and then finally uses audio sync for ACR), it is a difficult approach for 3rd
party apps (those that create experiences for many TV shows and movies insteadof a single experience for a single event or feature). The most cost effective way to reach the mostconsumers is audio finger printing, while the best experience for the consumeris direct integration into the OTT movie service, set top box or Blu-rayplayer. I would expect, however, thateven when the app can speak to the movie service directly, for there to be aâfail overâ option of audio-based ACR. So if you are building an app, some level of audio ACR capability isprobably an entry fee to this fast growing market place, and your ability tosupplement that with tighter integration to the set top box, blu-ray player, orthe OTT movie service itself can be a major differentiator against thecompetition.
Civolution and Fortium â both sponsors of Variety and the CDSAâs Content Protection Summit in Universal City, Calif. on Thursday â have struck an agreement whereby Fortium will integrate Civolutionâs NexGuard watermarking technology with the companyâs PIN-Play protection solution for studios’ disc releases and digital distribution files.
In addition, Civolutionâs NexGuard – Pre-Release Screener, already used by studios with Fortiumâs Patronus anti-rip copy protection for large-volume duplication of DVD screeners, can now also include Fortiumâs PIN-Play technology on a per-copy basis.
âThe content industry requires the highest possible level of protection for their content and Civolutionâs watermarking solutions allow us to provide that crucial extra layer of security,â said Mathew Gilliat-Smith, CEO of Fortium Technologies. âWe are pleased to have integrated Civolutionâs NexGuard forensic watermarking technology directly into our PIN-Play content protection software and contributed to Civolutionâs screener system. Those two turnkey solutions, already deployed by major studios, can be used throughout the content lifecycle; from creation to promotion and delivery for distribution.â Read more
Interactive TV software developer Ensequence and watermarking technology providerÂ Civolution are teaming on an âautomatic content recognitionâ product integration effort, enabling synchronization of television broadcasts with interactive content on connected devices including tablets and smartphones.
The combination of Civolutionâs watermarking technology with Ensequenceâs iTV Manager platform identifies what viewers are watching on their televisions or PCs, and enables programmers and content publishers to create, manage and deliver two-screen experiences for both TV shows and commercials.
Civolutionâs VideoSync – 2nd Screen product allows for the automatic identification of the TV channel being watched and the content being played. Upon identification, it enables accurate time synchronization between content played on a TV set and supplementary content on a portable device such as a tablet or smartphone. The Ensequence iTV Manager platform enables the creation of the interactive content and handles the timely and synchronous delivery of the content to trigger real-time interactivity. The watermarking technology used for ACR handles distribution delays seamlessly and also supports time-shifted viewing.
âWe are really pleased to bring such innovative interactive experiences to the market with Ensequence and respond to consumersâ appetite for TV interaction,â says Jean-Michel Masson, Civolutionâs SVP of watermarking solutions, in a statement. âBy enabling precise synchronization between the TV programs and commercials on the main viewing screen and the interactive content on a secondary device, we are enhancing the userâs overall TV viewing experience, offering a richer and deeper level of engagement.â
Post-production facility 2G Digital Post has signed a new agreement with Civolution to utilize the companyâs NexGuard Pre-Release watermarking solution for securing pre-release content of âTwilightâ studio Summit Entertainment.
NexGuard Pre-Release is designed to make distribution of audio and video content in the post-production environment both traceable and secure. Civolutionâs new NexGuard Apple ProRes plug-in for Final Cut Studio enables 2G Digital Post to embed a unique identifier on individual copies of Summit media assetsâproviding protection for any film copies that are circulated for preview or distribution.
âRelying on Civolutionâs watermarking technology to identify individual copies of a given asset enables 2G Digital Post to provide Summit Entertainment with enhanced security without impacting the viewerâs experience,â says Jo Dee Freck, Summitâs senior vice president of technical services for home entertainment, in a statement.
Neustar Media is marketing its UltraViolet Digital Rights Locker and Coordinator technology to online entertainment retailers and other companies in the UK, in the first expansion of the cloud-based content delivery platform beyond the U.S.
In addition, Neustar also has announced that it is teaming with watermarking specialist Civolution to develop a solution for the forensic watermarking and fingerprinting of UltraViolet content. The new technology will add security as well as interactivity for future UltraViolet applications, according to the companies.Â Neustar and Civolution are demonstrating their technology at the IBC trade show in Amsterdam Sept. 9-13.
Movies supporting UltraViolet are set to launch in the U.S. later this year.
Civolution, the content management and monetization technology developer, plans to begin offering its VideoSync 2nd Screen synchronization solution to European broadcasters at the IBC2011 trade show in Amsterdam next month.
Based on Civolutionâs watermarking and fingerprinting technologies, VideoSync enables broadcasters to synchronize delivery of interactive content for iOS- and Android-based portable devices with live TV programming. The technology also supports applications such as ad-(re)placement, live voting, synchronized social TV and content-related overlays.
The company will demonstrate VideoSyncâs applications at its IBC stand (Hall 2, C.30) Sept. 9â13. See civolution.com for more information.
Video-on-demand solutions provider SeaChange International will offer Civolutionâs forensic watermarking technology under a new integration and distribution agreement, as cable operators prepare to launch premium VOD consumer services.
Paul de Bot, general manager of SeaChangeâs back office and monetization division, says that the Civolution partnership âaccelerates time-to-market for cable MSOs that want to launch premium VOD services with early release content from Hollywood studios.â
Civolutionâs NexGuard forensic watermarking is already in use with digital cinema systems, hospitality markets, and direct-to-home satellite operations worldwide, according to Civolution CEO Alex Terpstra. The NexGuard application for cable VOD includes a content pre-processing phase to ensure ease of integration and scalability with content streams in MPEG-2 or H.264. The watermark embedding itself is performed on a per-VOD transaction basis upon streaming the content to the viewer by SeaChange or third party VOD servers.
Civolutionâs automated, Web-based NexGuard Detection Service searches for the watermark in suspected pirate video samples. The company says its VOD watermarks can be automatically detected without the need for original content.
Under a new multi-year agreement, the Associated Press will continue to use Civolutionâs Teletrax video monitoring and reporting solution to globally track broadcast television usage of its video news content on a story-specific and real-time basis.
âBy knowing exactly what content aired, how long it aired and who used our content, we can truly understand our clientsâ usage and needs,â says Markus Ickstadt, APâs EMEA director of sales. The usage data, in turn, enables AP to âto offer our customers more relevant packages and value-based pricing options.â
Civolution also will monitor the reach and performance of sports news footage from SNTV, a joint venture between AP and IMG Media.
By Mel Lambert
Civolution is a leading provider of technology and solutions for identifying, managing and monetizing a wide range of media content. âOur extensive portfolio of watermarking and fingerprinting technology applications,â offers CEO Alex Terpstra, âare targeted at mediaÂ measurement and the forensic marking to track illegal-content copies of media assets in pre-release, digital cinema, PayTV and online. We offer comprehensive strategies for broadcast monitoring plus online content identification and monetization that ensures profitable content distribution for our clients.â
By leveraging its considerable expertise in forensic watermarking and media monitoring, Civolution is about to offer a range of media synchronization and triggering services for content providers. âMedia synchronization is the process of adjusting relative timing of media information,â Terpstra explains, âsuch as the accurate time-aligning of audio and video content.â
Alex Terpstra, Civolution CEO
Typically, synchronization involves sending special timing references within each media stream and using them to align and adjust the relative timing of companion events. âA typical scenario might involve synchronizing applications to a TV broadcast,â says Terpstra. âOr triggering applications when certain video content is being aired on a broadcast channel: the content provider might want to offer interactivity that is being aligned precisely with the moment of broadcast. We can also use watermarking to trigger certain applications further downstream in a digital set top box or on an iPad to show data synchronized to TV programs.â
Terpstra cites an example of broadcasters that might be looking to establish stronger user engagement with consumers watching targeted programs, to both enhance audience ratings and to keep that audience connected to programming. âIt will also enhance advertising revenues,â the CEO says.
âBroadcasters are developing applications that run on iPads and other tablet platforms and which directly relate to a program stream. Such applications can provide a lot of added value for the consumer, in terms of additional video, background information, or maybe interactivity with social media â as well as offering polling and voting opportunities. The value to the end user would be a lot higher if broadcasters had the ability to synchronize these applications directly to the TV program; we can do that with content identification technologies.â
Sensing opportunity in the broadcast and online distribution markets of the Asia-Pacific region, content management and security specialist Civolution has opened an office in Shanghai, China. The company has tapped Harrie Tholen, a veteran of the regionâs broadcast and mobile industries, to lead the Shanghai office as general manager. âBoth macro-economic and specific-media business indicators make it an opportune time for us to be opening an Asia Pacific office,â says Alex Terpstra, Civolution chief executive, in a statement. âI look forward to Harrie building a portfolio of major customers that deploy our solutions to profit from broadcast and online distribution throughout the APAC region in line with our strategic expansion.â
Tholen brings 15 years of sales and general management experience in the Asia Pacific region from stints at Philips and NXP.