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October 29, 2012
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EIDR gathers steam, touts use cases

Today’s content delivery model flares at both ends. Upstream is a widening array of content sources; downstream is a profusion of display devices. This growing number of sources and endpoints has made it challenging to track the movies, TV shows and other assets that wend their way across distribution networks.

Recognizing that challenge, a group of industry players in 2010 launched a global B2B database called the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR). Now in operational mode, EIDR is gaining speed. A paper at this year’s Cable-Tec Expo in Orlando defined the initiative and pointed to use cases that EIDR co-founder Comcast already has trialed.

Presented by David Agranoff, Senior Architect at CableLabs, another EIDR co-founder, the paper stressed that the EIDR system designates not full-fledged metadata but rather abstract categories (title, year, series, etc.) and unique embodiments (translations, encodings, medium, etc.) “It is not a metadata depository,” he said. Terms, rights, contributor information, digital revenue reporting and content recognition “are not part of EIDR and were never intended to be part of EIDR.”

The EIDR identifier or handle, which has been compared to the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), can help Pay TV operators streamline content delivery in several ways. One is allowing platforms to link identical and associated content automatically. “The idea is for multiple devices and multiple video, tie the video in a uniform way,” Agranoff said. A second is enabling operators to combine a variety of licensed third-party metadata without expensive mappings of proprietary identifiers. Another is measuring content viewership more effectively. Additional cases relate to advertising, authorization and social networking.

Co-authored by Agranoff and two engineering executives from Comcast, the paper reported that Comcast already is requesting EIDR handles for VOD, linear guide and third-party metadata, and that VOD aggregators InDemand and Avail-TVN are on board, along with content discovery and guide provider Rovi. While the high number of assets in circulation with existing identifiers prevents a clean cutover, Comcast has seen a range of benefits in proof-of-concept trials to date, including: pitched-once metadata, automated rollups of series, improved usage reporting and simplified delivery of third-party metadata.

CableLabs and Comcast used these results to appeal for more participation across the video supply chain. From eight co-founders (the others being Disney, MovieLabs, Neustar, Rovi, Sony and Warner Brothers) the effort now includes more than three-dozen promoter and contributor members and appears to be gathering steam.

At Cable-Tec Expo, EIDR announced that Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks had joined and that CableLabs had committed to support EIDR through an upcoming interoperability event. CableLabs also announced that it was loaning one of its executives, Don Dulchinos, to become executive director of the non-profit organization. And the group’s scope extends beyond the U.S.

Earlier this year, London-based media and management company Red Bee Media joined, as did Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), a global digital content operations specialist. More news from Europe is forthcoming, according to a note from Executive Director Dulchinos.

On the Cable-Tec Show Floor, one could also find support for the EIDR format, which consists of a standard prefix, 20 hexadecimal digits and a base 36 check digit. Video production, management and monetization provider Deluxe, for instance, which receives content from more than 300 sources and was in Orlando demonstrating a multi-screen on-demand service consisting of 40,000 assets, said there was value in a common approach.

“A multi-screen world has driven complexity in managing rights distribution and ultimately in accurate tracking and accounting, so that respective owners and distributors of content are getting their fair piece of the pie,” said Chris Rittler, SVP, Sales and Marketing, Deluxe Digital Distribution. “So EIDR provides a level of simplicity and agreed-to practices that the industry needs in a TV Everywhere world.”