NBC Sports Group Looks to Block the Ad-Blockers for Live Video

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How do content providers ensure that their ads are seen, and that online video viewers don't create the equivalent of a DVR for streamed content, where they can skip ads at will? For NBC Sports Group, the answer is player development.

During a recent Streaming Media East panel on reducing complexity and improving reliability in server-side ad insertion, Eric Black, vice president of technology for NBC Sports Group, explained that his team might get ads as long as 2 1/2-minutes to fill the breaks inherent in live TV sports coverage.

"We're still in a world where we're trying to get 7- and 15-second creatives right now, so when you look at a traditional TV model, we're still getting a lot of 30s," Black said. "Depending on the program itself, we may even get a 2 ½ if it's something very custom. I think the nature of our business is live sports so we've got these ad breaks."

Combatting ad blockers in live video is a critical goal for NBC Sports.

"It's definitely a concern for us. We're trying to look at it more holistically if not just 'Is server-side the answer to that problem?' but 'What can we do client-side to help mitigate some of the ad-blocking techniques?'"

The answer is diving into the player code and working with developers.

"You can do stuff done on a kernel level and maybe work with Adobe directly or work with other partners directly to try and find a way around it," Black explained. "When we look at player development itself, when you look at how an ad is coming into the manifest itself, is there a way to go around some of the more popular ad blockers? The answer is even on the player level, without even going down to the Flash level, there are ways around it."

For more on improving server-side ad functionality, watch the panel discussion below and download the presentation.

 

Server-Side Ad Insertion: Reducing Video Player Complexity & Improving Reliability

Factors such as the proliferation of devices with differing capabilities, concern over the use of ad blockers, and the need to insert digital ads into live streams have driven many distributors to move ad insertion management from the video player to server or cloud-based solutions. While this approach can reduce the complexity of player applications and provide improved streaming performance and reliability, it can also introduce some tradeoffs in advertising functionality. Attendees will hear the views of leading media outlets and technology solution vendors on this emerging trend in video streaming.

Moderator: Glenn Goldstein, SVP, Chief Technology Convergence Officer, Viacom
Speaker: Ralf Jacob, CRO, Verizon Digital Media Services
Speaker: Eric Black, VP, Technology, NBC Sports Group
Speaker: Jon Heller, Co-Founder, Co-CEO, Freewheel
Speaker: Paul Gavalis, Sr. Director, Video & Audio Platform Technologies, ESPN

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