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Video: SCTE 224 Primer, Part 1: The Basics

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: For those that don't know about SCTE 224, I'll give you about a two-minute tutorial which doesn't do it a whole lot of justice, but just to give you a context as we talk about it. It is event signaling notification interface (ESNI). It's a confusing name because Cable Labs has an ESNI standard for a while.

One of the goals of the SCTE 224 standard was to reign that in. We had ESNI from the Cable Labs world. We also had it from the OATC community and several other places that were out there trying to define alternate content.

One of the goals of SCTE 224 was to bring all those communities back together, reach consensus, and then capture that in a standard that could take us forward. I think that was one of the big first steps in going from the gradual to suddenly because now it does have momentum and things. The main goal behind it is really that second bullet point, transmission of event and policy information. I can send you event information that describes an event, and we'll talk more about that on the next slide. Then I can put all these policies with it.

The gradual part was people trying to define the start of an event and an end of an event, now suddenly we're seeing that I got all kinds of other stuff that I can put in describe an event. It is schedule-based and also it can be signal-based or time-based. Obviously, signal-based is the preference. If it's signal-based information it gives you a nice user experience. I can be frame-accurate in my switching and doing those kind of things. It does convey that information.

It really started out of the bottom bullet there, the traditional rate, satellite, IRD delivery mechanisms that we have today. The content providers are used to doing that, sending it over the satellite, controlling the IRDs, dictating what feed gets to what IRD. Now when they go to terrestrial delivery and all this content's available through the IEP and you're streaming it, they lose some of that control. There had to be a mechanism to replace that to where they had confidence that they were giving you the right instructions to be able to make the right decisions over the programming and so SCTE 224 gives that replacement.

The standard itself is pretty short. It's not that many pages long. As I say, it gives you enough rope to hang yourself. It defines the standard, defines the space, but how you implement it is the real key to 224.

It has only five types of messages. The first one is a media. A media, if you kind of think about it as a channel, so a media could be Fox Sports One or something like that. Media points is any point in that channel, so it represents events. Usually I have a pair of media points that go with each event, one for the start and one for the end. That's rapidly growing. We'll talk about that in a few minutes.

I could have a media that maybe has 14 days’ worth of information in it. It has 500 media points, the start and end of each program that's coming up for the next 14 days. Each one of those media points is an opportunity then to trigger or to start a policy. A policy then looks at a viewing policy which tells you what you can do with this content.

Again, traditionally the thought was a program starts, the policy would be that this set of audience members get blacked out, and now I want to be able to replace that with an alternate content. I want to be able to replace it with a VOD asset or something else. That all comes through the viewing policy.

Last is audiences. This is a perfect example. In the standard there's like 41 different audience types, all the way from zip code restrictions for both home and geo, all the way to DMAs to device types, all those things in between. This is a perfect example of where it can get really complicated in implementing that. If you can rein that in and try and funnel it down to your use cases it's very helpful.

Again, the concept behind 224 is really taking you from a media point, which is some event that's either triggered by time, like 2:00 this afternoon something's going to happen, or a signal, a SCTE 35 marker that's seen in the video. At both points in there you have a media point that's become active. Now you're looking through your policies, your viewing policies, and your audiences.

As I mentioned earlier, the traditional viewing policy, go to slate or go to some alternate content. Now what we're seeing is a lot more actions. No fast forwards, no rewind, no recording. You can record but there's C3 restrictions on replacing the ads.

All those things are starting to show up now in the viewing policies for the users so that you can define that. Because it's defined per audience I can make this pretty dynamic. When I stream content now, if I'm streaming it through one partner, A, they might have a set of business rules that I have with them where they're allowed to record my content. Partner B has a different business agreement and they're not allowed to record the content so I can have individual viewing policies now per audience. That's a key part of conveying that information.

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