Streaming video on smartphones, tablets and computers is becoming commonplace, to the point where some content producers create programming only for web streaming. If content producers don’t have a video streaming strategy in place, most are working on one or planning a move in that direction.
Given the growing importance and prevalence of streaming media, it’s important to maintain high picture and sound quality and that the stream runs when scheduled. This means monitoring and logging all the moving parts that go into generating the stream and the stream itself.
Web captioning and proof of compliance
Digital Nirvana’s AnyStream IQ records streaming video, including HTTP Live Stream (HLS) and Flash video. It provides alarms when it detects a loss of audio or video or if captions are missing. New FCC web captioning mandates require broadcasters to provide web captioning for hearing-impaired viewers. Broadcasters must provide proof of compliance for these new mandates as well. AnyStream IQ can demonstrate compliance with these regulations.
Within their streamed programming, producers often insert ads that differ from those running on the traditional broadcast. TV stations must create a log of their streaming content to provide a “proof of airing” to their ad clients. Industry experts forecast a triple-digit increase in ad growth for online media through 2017, so the need for online ad monitoring will only expand. AnyStream IQ provides proof to advertisers that their commercials ran when they were scheduled.
Benefits in the cloud
Now that web-based services for storage and online project management — aka “cloud services” — have proven capable and reliable, the power of the web can be used to monitor, log and analyze video streams. This removes the need for expensive equipment to record, log and analyze streaming video. With a cloud-based monitoring system, all that’s required is a computer with a browser and an e-mail address that will be sent alerts and alarms.
Today’s monitoring and logging systems must also record all of the available metadata — such as closed captions, commercial insertion information and audio level data — embedded in the transport stream.
Along with its standard browser interface, our streaming media monitoring system also allows for convenient monitoring using an iPad tablet. A content owner’s advertising representative can use an iPad to access programming and advertising information during sales calls with clients.
As a cloud-based service, users specify the URL of the stream, and AnyStream IQ records the stream, extracts the closed captions and provides a browser-based interface to search the recorded stream. With its cut/clip feature, users can make frame-accurate in-and-out points on video and share the clip for either compliance or proof-of-airing purposes. Figure 1 shows the live stream workflow.
Captioned text increases value
Efficient cloud-based processing of captions opens new doors for valuable video content. Content owners can view the FCC’s recent requirement for online captioning as a business opportunity. Captions are an ideal way to provide text for video streams that can be found via search engines — increasing the searchability
and value of programming.
Web captions that provide searchable information increase the commercial life of content. If there is no text, it’s harder for viewers to find and consume content, thereby limiting the program’s value. Exploiting caption data is a way to unlock previously difficult to recover value in your content.
Traditional broadcasters are moving rapidly into web streaming. Some content owners use web streaming just for distribution. AnyStream IQ supplies the tools you need to record, log and extract metadata information that makes content infinitely more searchable. It also provides a convenient way to confirm advertising playbacks, which helps maintain client relationships and provides confirmation that FCC caption requirements have been met.
Possibly the best part is that monitoring with this subscription cloud-based service requires only a web browser and an e-mail address; no additional equipment is required. It eliminates upfront installation and server maintenance costs, and turns monitoring into an operating expense as opposed to a capital expense. With subscription-based pricing, the cost of monitoring is spread over the course of an entire year, making it affordable to a range of broadcasters.
—Hiren Hindocha is CEO of Digital Nirvana.