Home Analysis Reducing the commercial and technical barriers to content proliferation

Reducing the commercial and technical barriers to content proliferation

Tom Munro, CEO at Verimatrix
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Verimatrix is taking the leadership role in creating an innovative content distribution ecosystem that makes it easier to distribute content to multiple endpoints, manage the content rights and business rules associated with that content, and gather usage data that helps to verify rights and contractual obligations (as well as improve services, marketing and business decisions). The aim of the platform-as-a-service, called Viewthority, is to make it easier for content owners and video service providers (including Pay TV operators and OTT outlets) to do business together. It acknowledges the fact that some content owners would like to work with new distributors but do not have the resources to verify that content will be played in the correct windows and that device restrictions will be applied, and that every stream or download of their movie or programme will be accurately recorded.

Enforcement of content rights and policies, and ensuring compliance with content contracts, can slow innovation. It requires a degree of trust and this tends to limit how many distributors any content owner works with. One of the aims of Viewthority is to give content owners greater control of how rights are imposed once the content has been ‘handed over’ to a distributor. Another objective is to give owners access to usage and QoE analytics (from distribution services) that confirms how the content has been retailed. Verimatrix believes that improved control and transparency will give content owners the confidence to sign deals that were not previously practical – thus opening the way for wider distribution and additional monetisation of their assets.

Meanwhile, Viewthority aims to simplify video processing and content security workflows in another attempt to open up distribution opportunities. A guiding principle is that content can be stored once for use across many video services. Service providers can avoid re-encoding. Content can be encrypted once, and repeated decryption and re-encryption steps can be avoided. The current encryption/decryption cycle is not only operationally demanding – it also leaves content vulnerable to theft at intermediate points. The new Verimatrix model requires persistent encryption, with decryption keys and playback policies distributed separately for final end-device playout.

Viewthority is a platform that is managed by Verimatrix and hosted in the AWS cloud and it takes advantage of the fact that many of the processes that make up the content playout and distribution workflow are now available as a software function (including microservices-based software). The company is using AWS Elemental Media Services to ingest live and on-demand video, and there is also a partnership with Harmonic for a range of content processing functions like ingest, playout, graphics, encoding, transcoding, packaging and origin serving (part of Harmonic’s VOS 360 video software-as-a-service offering). Akamai has been revealed as an early CDN partner.

There is an important integration with Mediamorph’s Content Value Management (CVM) platform, which among other things manages content windows and pricing, contractual rights and title/offer enrichment. This integration will automate the flow of content rights and entitlements directly from content providers to what Verimatrix calls the video service operators (VSOs).

The Mediamorph CVM solution encompasses transactional royalties, payments from SVOD and AVOD partners, and linear settlements. Mediamorph also provides performance tracking to show the impact of titles across different platforms.

Verimatrix has gathered together some of its own solutions to complete the offering: the VCAS revenue security solutions; forensic watermarking solutions and services; and the recently launched RightsConnex product (previously called Federated Rights Management), which supports the encrypt-once model.

Contract terms managed by Mediamorph are translated into the DRM system via an integration with Verimatrix RightsConnex. This manages downstream distribution windows, playback policies, and the keys that deliver the right content to the right operator in a secure fashion.

“Mediamorph brings a wealth of experience in helping global content providers bridge the content processing workflow with more automated financial management,” says Tom Munro, CEO at Verimatrix. “Its Content Value Management Platform has already changed the way content providers think about managing their assets by reducing friction from the original contract all the way to consumption. The results are more visibility and control into the entire process, which is a perfect fit with Viewthority.”

The Verspective Analytics platform from Verimatrix also comes under the Viewthority umbrella. A key benefit, in terms of managing content rights and policies, is the provision of automated usage and QoE reporting. Feedback data can be used for business and marketing purposes, too. Content owners can see aggregated viewership, and data can be used to combat churn, improve ad sales and upsell subscribers, etc.

Viewthority represents a bold attempt by Verimatrix to climb the value-chain ladder as it becomes the umbrella management layer that facilitates the flow of content, metadata, digital rights and business rules in one direction (from content owner to distributor) and usage data in the other (from distributor back to content owner). This product demonstrates how the advent of cloud processing could drive vendor disruption in the ecosystem: you do not have to be a Cisco, Ericsson, ARRIS or AWS to pursue a big, bold idea in an increasingly cloud-centric, SaaS-based world.

Verimatrix believes its large customer base is a unique differentiator as the company creates this new solution category. With 950 customers, covering content owners and distributors, it is well placed to create a cloud-based ‘exchange’.

Verimatrix describes Viewthority as a content distribution platform that connects content owners and the video service operators. “Viewthority centralises the content and security workflows via a common cloud platform with a single point of integration where both parties gain significant distribution efficiencies,” the company said when unveiling the solution at IBC 2018.

There is an emphasis on how the exchange of content and data is performed in an accountable manner, with transparency being one of the key value-adds, together with ease of collaboration. The platform is designed as a place where content can be discovered and negotiations enabled.

The elimination of workflow duplication is another key benefit, Verimatrix believes. Covering both on-demand and live video, content is delivered pre-packaged at a set of given bit rates and file formats. Video service operators can avoid re-encoding. “There is no longer the need for encoding farms to create 20 or more different file formats for hundreds of different service providers,” Verimatrix declares.

Tom Munro comments: “Based on our experience, and from talking with the leaders in their field, it became obvious that efficiently connecting a centralised content library to a network of global video service operators would address many of the current challenges of distributing content. We are excited to introduce a new way of thinking to the video industry.”

Verimatrix believes that its Viewthority solution will open up new markets, new viewers and new revenue streams in the industry. Here are some of the benefits the company has articulated:

  • Makes it easier to conduct ‘trade’ in an increasingly fragmented media landscape (where direct negotiations over rights, quality levels and delivery formats becomes harder). Verimatrix reckons contractual negotiation processes can be shortened.
  • Enables more nuanced and flexible contracts between rights owners and distributors thanks to the increased transparency – which could mean less reliance on minimum guarantees, for example.
  • This is partly achieved by making it easier to enforce license agreements and playback policies, something that itself is made easier using automated and verifiable content usage reporting and other video analytics data. It becomes easier to know when contracts are being observed or not.
  • A knock-on effect is that you can expand the number of distributors that can be trusted with content. If rights owners know, from verifiable, automated reporting, that content has dropped off a service after exactly 90 days, or that the correct ads were played, or that a programme guide is carrying the content description required, they can work with more companies (without having to scale their own monitoring capabilities).
  • Delivers friction-free workflows, including the bi-directional flow of content/service related data.
  • This helps reduce the cost of getting content to a growing number of endpoints where consumers are being engaged, thus making it possible to monetise content in the multiplatform digital landscape.
  • Give video service operators easier access to the content they need, while reducing the costs they themselves bear for distribution, partly by eliminating duplicate encoding farms that are each creating multiple file formats, and by eliminating decryption/re-encryption steps.

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