The scope and scale of broadcast monitoring and compliance (M&C) has increased greatly in the three years since the last physical IBC show in 2019, with vendors now showing off capabilities designed to compete on an expanded front beyond the basic operational and legal functions required.
The dominant trends are the dramatic proliferation in video streaming even just over the last 12 months, and movement of distribution platforms to the cloud. These trends in turn have expanded the scope of M&C to cater for the increased complexity of OTT delivery and associated functions such as integration with social media, and control of quality for both contribution and delivery over less predictable unmanaged networks.
New vendors have been drawn to the field, but at the same the market has expanded and will continue to do so over the next few years, according to analysts. Market research group Frost & Sullivan (F&S) recently identified streaming as the big driver of broadcast M&C over the next few years, forecasting compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.8% in the OTT M&C sector, driving the value to $149.7 million by 2024. The firm advised OTT M&C vendors to address the market by adapting their existing proven software platforms if they have not already done so. F&S also noted the trend evident at IBC 2022 towards extended capabilities helping manage video quality of service (QoS) over unmanaged networks, for delivery to media streaming devices, handsets, tablets and TV sets.
This theme will be driven home at IBC 2022 by vendors like Actus Digital (Stand 7.B40), whose CEO Sima Levy noted significantly increased functionality required by service providers for OTT monitoring. She identified two clear industry changes in the last year. “One is dramatic growth in OTT services that require more OTT monitoring tools to deal with the MBR and multiple distribution points quality of service. The second is more AI based workflows for automation and automatic metadata generation.”
The reference to MBR (Multiple Bit Rate) is notable as that is an alternative to ABR (Adaptive Bit Rate), which many service providers prefer because it delivers the highest possible quality at all times allowing for the state of the network and capability of the playing device. Under ABR, the video player automatically adjusts the quality of a video to the available bandwidth. MBR is subtly different in that it encodes video at multiple qualities and the device player has to select one of them manually from the available streams. Playback of that stream continues even if network conditions improve or deteriorate, which means in both cases quality is not as good as it could be. There has been increased use of MMR because this may be required to ensure that a service provider can reach all possible target platforms and devices.
The increased complexity of these protocols should be a key factor in choice of M&C product, according to Anupama Anantharaman, VP of Product Management, Interra Systems (Stand 7.C05). “As the media industry makes a major shift towards streaming, broadcasters have a greater need to monitor since the ABR delivery is significantly more complex than the traditional broadcast method,” said Anantharaman. “Monitoring is used to not just monitor quality but to also monetize the content. Targeted ads and preparing VOD libraries to cater to language and compliance requirements have made the content preparation process quite complex.”
Scope of M&C depicted by Interra Systems.
Anantharaman added that operators were now looking for monitoring systems that are smart, that can provide data about the quality of content delivery in real time and offer intelligent error correlation. “Data driven decisions are important, meaning a way to get alerts, reports and perform problem resolution without having to watch the dashboards all the time.”
She also noted a strong preference for cloud-based monitoring from her customers now.
This trend towards extended capabilities of M&C monitoring was noted in a white paper published by Actus Digital’s Levy and covered earlier in The Broadcast Bridge (New Compliance Tools Bring New Revenue Opportunities).
Both Actus Digital and Interra Systems are positive about IBC 2022 after the 3-year absence. “Since Covid started, Actus growth has been phenomenal with many new customers that have purchased our solutions,” said Levy. “IBC will be a great opportunity to meet them all in person as well as meet our new partners. IBC is also a great place for us to meet more potential vendors, with products we can integrate with, to provide enhanced solutions to our customers. Another good result of IBC for us is to learn from the customers about their road map, to make sure we will support it when they are implementing new technologies. We also love to hear about new ideas and requirements of the customers.”
Actus Digital is keen to demonstrate added value beyond on-going new options and improvements for compliance monitoring. “As a few examples we will show at IBC more options in Actus content re-purposing Clip Factory PRO, for simple and fast content publishing to social media,” said Levy.
There are also new AI options for automatic metadata generation such as speech to text and translation, with intelligent searching and keyword alerts. Then there are new OTT monitoring options to pinpoint issues in the distribution chain or with the MBR. “We will also show how the different workflows are benefiting from the pre-integrated solution, including how the Clip Factory PRO is using the compliance metadata,” Levy concluded.
Interra Systems is also keen to underline capabilities beyond basic monitoring and compliance. “Our focus is to connect with the customers and talk about the latest solutions we have developed to address the new and evolving content QC and monitoring needs, specifically, IP, and OTT based video monitoring, and AI/ML driven Baton Captions,” said Anantharaman.
Baton Captions is Interra’s proprietary Software as a Service (SaaS)-based system for captions management in the cloud. “We will be showing our entire suite of products comprising QC (Baton), monitoring (ORION), and analysis (VEGA) solutions,” Anantharaman added. “Since the last show at IBC, we have updated our products to meet the evolving needs of the media industry in the areas of new formats, hybrid deployments, and quality assurance for streamed content.”
Interra has also enhanced its Orion Central Manager to provide deeper visibility and quality analytics for every stream delivered from the cloud. “Since the quality is being tracked, it makes it easy to identify error location, troubleshoot, and root cause analysis,” said Anantharaman. “In the Baton Captions product, we are further exploiting various technologies for higher accuracy in captions generation, adding support for new languages, specifically ones used in Europe.”
Other vendors are also promoting M&C products at IBC 2022, with Frost & Sullivan citing IneoQuest, Tektronix, Touchstream, Witbe, and Evertz as key players beyond the two already discussed. However, Levy cited two others, MediaProxy and Vela, as Actus Digital’s two primary competitors. Of these, Mediaproxy, based in Clayton, Australia, is showing unified software for monitoring, analysis, multiviewing and capture of live video from broadcast and OTT sources. The company’s software consolidates analysis of on-air incidents, content search and ad verification via web browser and mobile interfaces.
Then Vela, headquartered in Florida, has a long pedigree dating back 30 years to its foundation in 1992 as an R&D company focusing on video compression. Since then, it has evolved to become a customer facing vendor that has expanded into other parts of the video delivery chain, including M&C, which has increasingly become its core focus.
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