Content Anywhere Means Constant Attention: As Media Shifts to Live Streaming, Who’s Monitoring It?

Publish date:

There is a lot of buzz in the media today surrounding 4K, the cloud and streaming technologies, with a demand for “TV anywhere and content everywhere.” Consumers want access to high-quality content on all of their devices, and content owners are scrambling to provide it.

Image placeholder title

New York’s WABC streams its content online. Above, WABC’s Eyewitness News covers President Obama’s visit to Brooklyn on October 25.

Patterns of media consumption have changed rapidly over the past few years. Streaming media in particular has gained traction thanks to broadband’s increased penetration and the faster bandwidth speeds it enables. Companies like Netflix, Google, Amazon, Redbox and Hulu have capitalized on the availability and speed of broadband delivery. And content owners (whether broadcast or print) are all video producers. Every major market TV station is live streaming now or is on the verge of live streaming its content. Some even stream live 24x7.

In addition to traditional broadcasters, print publications such as The Wall Street Journal have moved to video streaming, producing video and publishing it on the web. The distinction between print and broadcast in the online space is quickly deteriorating.

What of the future of mobile television? In my opinion, mobile TV is dead, or at least terminal. By “mobile TV,” I refer to the ability to receive broadcast signals on devices such as phones or tablets using a mobile DTV receiver that’s either plugged into the device or is embedded within the device. For the widespread adoption of mobile TV, the receiver needs to be embedded into phones and tablets. And the industry is just not there yet.

In the United States, telecommunications technologies are dictated by the large carriers. There is no advantage to the telcos to embed these chips. Instead, they would rather promote streaming that consumes bandwidth, which they can monetize.

Image placeholder title

The Wall Street Journal

offers streaming news coverage as well.

Streaming currently represents the brightest future for media delivery. Not only does it allow providers to reach their audience, it presents a way for them to gather rich data about them. In this context, the monitoring of streamed programming becomes important in terms of complying with FCC regulations, verifying ad delivery and checking the quality of video streams.

While networks are equipped with the necessary tools to monitor traditional broadcasts, they’ve been lacking the same for streamed media. Yet as live streams grow in popularity, so does the importance of reliable live stream monitoring.

Industry experts forecast a triple-digit increase in ad growth for online media through 2017, making online ad monitoring increasingly important. Broadcasters frequently insert ads into programming that is streamed to desktops and mobile devices. These online ads are often different from ads running during the traditional broadcast. TV stations must be able to log, record and monitor their streaming content to provide a “proof of airing” to advertising clients.

FCC web captioning requirements are further increasing the need for live stream monitoring. These new mandates require broadcasters to provide proof of web captioning for hearing-impaired viewers.

Image placeholder title

Digital Nirvana AnyStream live stream workflow diagram

Currently, when broadcasters do monitor streamed content, they do so with a labor-intensive, manual approach. A better solution lies in an automated, scalable system that can reliably monitor the streamed programming of broadcasters.

At the NAB Show this past April Digital Nirvana introduced AnyStream IQ, a a cloud-based system that monitors the live streamed programming of broadcasters for quality, web captioning compliance and proof of advertising. AnyStream IQ records live streams, extracts the closed captions, and provides alerts on the loss of captions, audio and video. It can also extract advertisements within the streams. As a cloud-based subscription solution, there’s no need to install hardware or software. All that’s required is a web browser.

While we expected a strong reaction to AnyStream IQ’s introduction from local stations that stream live and need a service like AnyStream IQ, we were more surprised by the response from content distributors that stream video online. Think of them as “cable providers” for the Internet or content aggregators for the web.

Until now, there hasn’t been any product available that enables content distributors to monitor their “online channels.” One NAB Show attendee mentioned a network operating center at which teams of operators with iPads monitor the streams manually and report on discrepancies. AnyStream IQ automates that process, removing the possibility of human error from something so critical to a station’s bottom line.

Hiren Hindocha is CEO of Digital Nirvana.