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Video: What Are the Key Challenges of Live Linear Video Delivery?
Comcast's Stuart Kurkowski discusses the UX challenges of live linear in this clip from Live Streaming Summit at Streaming Media East 2018.

Learn more about live linear channels at the next Live Streaming Summit.

Watch the complete video of this panel, LS105: Live Streaming Spotlight: Dead Air is Not an Option, in the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Stuart Kurkowski: Everybody jumps on that first bullet--sports blackout--when they think of alternate content or how we convey information between content providers and distribution partners and how we control that. The sports blackout was, obviously, kind of the big bullseye target for that one. You have live sports, as many of you know, when you're streaming there are always restrictions around that. It could be geo-restrictions where the home team has certain rights and you can't broadcast it outside of that. In the old days, you’d have issues where the stadiums didn't sell out, so then they needed to black it out to try and get people in the stadium. You also have restrictions today even down to business agreements. NFL games, they can only be distributed on phones if they're Verizon network phones, not on others. And so, you have lots of restricted information that you need to impart on that that are still part of sports blackout.

But it's gotten a lot bigger than that. As you look at the ecosystem today and what's causing a lot of burdens are some of these other categories up here. One is terrestrial video delivery. In our traditional satellite market, you use satellite to distribute spot beams of information. So, if you sent something to L.A., it went to L.A. If you sent it to Boston, it went to Boston. If you sent New York, it went to New York. You didn't get that mixed up very often. Now that we're using terrestrial delivery and all of that content is available to everybody all the time, you need to be able to control which markets get to see it, which ones don't.

Another category that's really impactful when it comes to streaming is web embargoes. People think of sports blackout as one of the biggest issues. Some of the trickiest schedules that we're seeing actually gets down into black and white content. The old I Love Lucy episodes and things like that. They have restrictions based on content rights that they've gotten that were signed long before we ever had iOS devices. And so, when they got those agreements, they didn't have the rights to show that on mobile devices or over the internet, so you have all these embargoes that have to be enforced. How to convert that again on a machine-to-machine level?

Another category that's kind of popped up again recently is the OTT experience. Traditionally, in the blackout, it was really about the live event, and when you're streaming it, at the start of the event I blacked it out. And I sent somebody to slate or just put up a sign that said, "Not available in your area." And at the end of the event, you lift that restriction. It's kind of the title of today's talk is No Dead Air. You don't want that to happen, you want your users to be able to keep watching something from yours. Even if it's not the live event they're allowed to see, you want to steer them to something else. Maybe a VOD asset, maybe another something that's planning to keep eyeballs on your feed. But, part of the OTT experience is, they want to be able to do that same decisioning that we just talked about: when a program starts, I'm gonna block you out. They want to do that even for the EPG or the electronic program guide up to two weeks out.

And so, the scenario is, if I look at my program guide and I see the game on Sunday that I want to record and I record it. I want to make sure that I'm recording the game, right? I don't want to get to Sunday night and I'm ready to watch it and I turn it on and all I recorded was “Not available in your area.” And you're like, "What the heck? I wanted the game and now I didn't get it." And so, what we're finding out with the OTT experience is that they want this information weeks ahead of time so that they can run all that same decisioning over the same logic that's going to happen live. So, on the schedule they never even show you that game. They show you whatever is going to be available so you can have a much more accurate user experience.

The fifth category here is one that kind of just popped up both in the U.S. as well as in Europe. But, it really became concrete earlier in the EU where they've passed a lot of laws now about cross-border portability. So, if I stream content in Europe and I'm a citizen in one of the European countries that's part of the EU and I get that content at home, if I travel anywhere in the EU, I have to be able to get that same content. Which makes it a little tricky for the distribution partners now to be able to make sure that that content that I can see at home, I can now see away. But, at the same time, they're putting more restrictions on the country boundaries, and this has always been an issue in Europe because satellite spot beams don't follow the country borders very well. But, if you couple this with number two, terrestrial delivery, people can get content all over the place and there's big fines if you get it outside of your borders. And so, they were using geo-blocking and things like that to try and enforce the borders.

Now they can do it much more dynamically with SCTE 224 and things like that. We also had the same issue here in the United States when we take a lot of affiliate channels that maybe in the past were only part of New York and they had a spot beam that they're used to operating in. And when they black out a sports event, maybe it's only four or five zip codes that get blocked out. Well now, if I go over that same content terrestrially to a partner that's global, my blackout zone just went from a couple zip codes to maybe the whole U.S. or something like that. And so, border portability and understanding those borders and restricting that is definitely a big player.

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