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ETCA 2016 kicks off with Alive and Online: The "New Linear" Television

June 29, 2016

We're kicking off ETCA this morning -- building on the success of previous year's ETIA conferences -- with an expanded program and some exciting new tracks including a major emphasis on Virtual Reality (VR). Bob Seidel's opening remarks put the century of entertainment technology progress into context with the challenges and opportunities that are facing SMPTE members going forward. One that he highlighted was the shrinking content release windows which are helping ensure the growing success of alternative delivery systems, like those using the internet or other digital and streaming systems. Pat Griffis took us through the conference program, including 13 sessions and 2 keynotes.

Alive and Online: The "New Linear" Television

Colin Dixon of Nscreen Media kicked off the main program with a panel on the online delivery of traditional TV content. CBS's Jon Mantell explained how the network has made much of its content available live and online, in 720p HD. Of note, he stressed that live events generated much longer viewing sessions than more traditional video on demand. Panelists emphasized the challenges in dealing with many different content source formats, and then distributing them across a wide-variety of devices and platforms. Part of the process includes embeding ad blocks via metadata, that can be replaced with the appropriate ads when the content is delivered. Server-side ads were highlighted as delivering better performance than client-side ads, that often generated "spinning wheels" and cost viewers. Matt Smith's Anvato is also tackling the "signal to screen" challenges for TV stations, now that they need to provide content across both traditional channels and newer digital streaming channels. Panelists agreed that moving these systems to 4K was off in the future, as there are many challenges in delivering it at scale.

Stuart Russell's You.i, tackles a different part of the problem -- creating a cross-platform development environment for those building video apps such as Crackle, which emulates a traditional TV channel by starting playing in the middle of a show when you start it up, and then follow it up with a curated list of shows that further mimics an over-the-air TV channel -- but with the advantage you can rewind and restart shows, or jump to other shows. 

Colin challenged the panel to explain their response to Ad blockers. Server-side ads were again touted as a solution, since they can be spliced nearly seamlessly into the content before it is delivered to the client. They also have a consumer benefit that the device doesn't need to do the work of fetching ads itself. Smith said it was likely only a matter of time before ad blockers get smart enough to detect even in-stream ads, which will in turn lead to encrypted streams to help prevent blockers from peeking in. CBS couldn't comment on specifics, but has been looking ideas for premium subscriptions that might allow consumers to opt-out of ads.

Tag(s): ETIA , ETCA2016

David Cardinal

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