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Liberty Global unifies its metadata processing across broadcast and OTT and across territories

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From this summer, Liberty Global will have a common metadata workflow for its broadcast and OTT services

This summer Liberty Global will deploy a next-generation content metadata system that consolidates all metadata operations for broadcast and OTT services, eliminating function duplication and so potentially reducing cost. At the same time the new system will enrich the metadata that is used with content assets, improving the search and discovery experience for consumers (and hopefully improving customer engagement and loyalty).

The cable operator will be using the new Fuse solution from Piksel. The common metadata workflow system will be used across twelve countries. The metadata can be ingested at different locations but will be stored centrally, with an image of the metadata visible to the local operations teams. Some metadata might be ingested centrally to be used in each market (like with a global movies rights deal) whereas metadata for local content might be ingested locally and only used locally.

The cloud-based platform provides extremely high levels of resilience and low latency for the metadata, which will be used by consumer devices – whether set-top boxes or multiscreen – when finding and presenting content. It can also scale very quickly, so could provide metadata for content to 10,000 people and then increase that to two million people within seconds. 

The arrival of OTT and multiscreen TV during the last decade generally prompted broadcasters and service providers to create video workflows that are separate from the broadcast services. Now there is an industry-wide desire to rationalize operations and Fuse was designed to make this possible for metadata processing. Liberty Global is the first customer for the new product, which will be made available generally in due course.

As Fabrice Hamaide, President of Piksel explains: “Historically you ingest for broadcast and ingest for OTT, encode for broadcast and encode for OTT. You handle the metadata separately for both, and the content rights management. You profile the user for the broadcast services and again for OTT. Fuse allows you to rationalize the metadata so you process it once.”

The new solution at Liberty Global is not just about rationalization, but also enriching the user experience. Fuse supports the automated ingest of third-party metadata, like from IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, so there is the potential to expand the information about content, including extended cast listings or the awards that a show or film received, as examples.

Just as importantly, Fuse helps service providers and broadcasters to eliminate any inconsistencies in the way content is presented on different screens. This becomes possible thanks to common (and more complete) metadata files for all devices. A situation where someone searches for James Bond films and is presented with two on a set-top box and four completely different titles on a laptop, can now be avoided. 

This kind of thing upsets viewers, Hamaide points out. “They say, ‘I can see it on my computer but not on the TV set’.” 

He continues: “It has become particularly critical for service providers, broadcast and cable networks to efficiently consolidate their metadata between linear and OTT services, and to augment, in a granular way, the metadata associated with every VOD and linear asset. This will allow them to further enhance their search, discovery and recommendation services and to ultimately improve customer engagement with all the content.

 â€œWe have an excellent and long-standing relationship with Liberty Global stretching back to 2010. We work with them in a professional and managed services capacity and this product implementation of Fuse Metadata, based on the Piksel Palette [Piksel’s micro-services architecture] further cements our position as a trusted partner and expert in next-generation online video solutions.”

As you can read in this case study, Piksel is a key partner in the Horizon multiscreen service. The company built and runs the Online Enterprise Service Platform (OESP) that underpins Horizon and enables its launch in new markets. 

Olivier Philippe, Vice President CTO Development at Liberty Global, says of the Fuse product implementation: “The investment we are making in this new partnership means that our TV customers will be able to enjoy even better search and recommendation services, enhancing their overall viewing experience.”


Piksel acquires Lingospot – scene analysis on the Fuse roadmap

In separate but related news, Piksel has acquired Lingospot and its natural language processing, semantic search, image analysis and machine-learning technologies. These are all applied to metadata extraction services and will augment Piksel’s know-how in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) for video. The new capabilities will be used in the Fuse metadata product.

The roadmap for Fuse includes frame-by-frame analysis of video in order to extract new and valuable metadata that will enhance search, recommendation and other discovery. Fuse will be able to use image analysis, soundtrack analysis and subtitle analysis to create metadata about content that did not exist anywhere before.

Hamaide outlines the potential for this innovation. “On a linear channel you could be watching a weekly soccer show. You support Manchester United, you do not care about Arsenal or Manchester City. The image and audio analysis will tell you, automatically, when the topic of the show changes so you know when they are talking about Manchester United. You can also understand the topic some players are talking about. 

“This is all brand new metadata that can be used if you are searching for content about Manchester United. Before, this show would not have showed up because there was no metadata [to link it to Manchester United]. Now you will see the show and, more importantly, the sub-segment of the show. You can watch the two minutes that you are interested in.”

Hamaide reckons this capability will have a significant impact on search and discovery but also helps media companies to convert linear feeds into short-form content. “That is very important for mobile consumption,” he suggests.

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