MLB to evaluate broadcast usage with digital watermarking

MLB has contracted with Teletrax to digitally watermark its content and evaluate the broadcast television usage of all of its upcoming postseason games.

Teletrax, a specialist at monitoring the usage of broadcast content, is a subsidiary of Medialink Worldwide. Its core technology originated from Watercast technology developed in the laboratory by Philips. Currently, 24 percent of Teletrax is owned by Royal Philips Electronics.

The watermarking technology used by Teletrax places an imperceptible code, usually with a time and date stamp, in the video picture. It does this with a digital embedder by subtly manipulating the noise that naturally occurs in moving images. The company said this can be done anywhere in the video chain and does not impair picture quality.

Once embedded, any footage with the watermark can be traced instantly through Teletrax monitoring stations around the world. This data can provide full details of where the video was aired, as well as the section used and the duration of the broadcast.

The code cannot be manipulated or degraded, even through standards conversion. The only way to destroy the code is to destroy the picture itself.

The technology is intended to help MLB assess the broadcast use of its game content beyond the live telecasts and apply this information to its business decisions, ranging from rights management to placing a value on sponsorships.

The MLB said it would test the Teletrax service, including its extensive coverage of satellite, cable and terrestrial stations, in all 210 TV markets in the United States through the end of March 2008.

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