Home Analysis The Connies 2018 winners are announced, with Verimatrix taking top international prize

The Connies 2018 winners are announced, with Verimatrix taking top international prize

The Connies awards lunch, hosted at the Banking Hall in London
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Verimatrix, the revenue security and video analytics company, won the Grand Prix (winner of winners) for the international categories at the Connies awards yesterday, having impressed judges with the potentially game-changing capabilities of its Federated Rights Management solution, which re-imagines the content security workflow for a hierarchical ‘wholesale/retail’ content distribution architecture. Federated Rights Management had already won the ‘Video Technology Hero’ category during an awards presentation lunch at The Banking Hall in central London.

The Connies reward innovation and recognise emerging best practice across all sectors of the media landscape from content distribution technologies to advertising planning and media research. Freeview Australia won the ‘Best TV/Video Service Update or Launch’ with its Freeview Plus offer, and Media Distillery won the Gold award for ‘Contribution to User Experience – TV & Video’ with its Next Generation Replay Experience. You can read more about these winning entries below.

Harmonic received the Silver award in the ‘Video Technology Hero’ category for its EyeQ Content-Aware Encoding Solution, and 3SS took Bronze in this category with its 3READY Rapid-Launch Android STB + Multiscreen Solution.

In the ‘Contribution to User Experience – TV & Video’ category, Medialaan and Yospace were awarded Silver for their Non-Linear Startover with Dynamic Ad Insertion implementation. Net Insight received Bronze for ‘Live Sport Enthusiasts Experiencing the Future of Television’.

In other categories, ITV and Channel 4 took the Gold award for ‘Best Research Project Initiative’ for their joint work on Project Firefly, which combines first-party data to gain real insights into broadcaster VOD behaviour and campaign effectiveness. Channel 4 also won Connected Media Owner of the Year.

The behavioural planning agency Total Media won the ‘Connected Agency of the Year’ category. Netgem UK won ‘Best User Experience – Beyond TV & Video’ for Soundbox, a fully integrated set-top box and soundbar.

You can see a complete breakdown of the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards across all the UK categories at our sister publication, Mediatel Newsline. Judges also reveal what they liked about the UK category entries there. See full story. 

Derek Jones, CEO of Mediatel, says: “2018 recognises outstanding achievements from a variety of businesses operating in the connected market. It is great to see how data-powered strategies are now really driving creativity and innovation. I’d like to extend my thanks and gratitude to everyone for taking part – and I look forward to seeing more great work in 2019.”

You can read a profile about each shortlisted entry in the international categories here, together with comments from judges about why they liked the prize winners. If you want to learn about the category winners only, they are profiled below.


Freeview Australia – Freeview Plus

Category winner in ‘Best TV/Service Update or Launch’.

Freeview Plus is the free-to-air Australian TV service that combines broadcaster linear TV with catch-up content in one place, harnessing HbbTV technology. In June 2017 it was upgraded with a new user interface, resulting in a 5% increase in average time spent by viewers visiting the platform.

In the year to December 2017 there was a 61% increase in HbbTV receivers in the market and a 78% growth in videos streamed via Freeview Plus, despite all broadcasters having individual catch-up apps on smart TVs that consumers could use instead.

Viewers are shown a carousel with all the catch-up programmes available for the channel they are watching. One click away, ‘My TV’ presents up to 15 carousels of programme choices from across all the linear channels and catch-up services in one screen, and presents personalised recommendations.

The service upgrade was a collaborative project involving five broadcasters working with a third-party vendor, Switch Media. In the seven months after launch, there were 37% more visitors and 56% more new visitors to what was, by then, a three-year-old service.

View from the judges:

“Broadcasters face growing competition for viewer attention, so achieving a 5% increase in the average time that viewers spend on a free-to-air platform is admirable. This service is delivering against metrics that matter, with a huge increase in the number of visitors and new visitors to an existing service. In a country where connected TV and on-demand is growing rapidly, Freeview Plus puts broadcasters at the heart of that universe.”

John Moulding, Editor-in-Chief, Videonet


 Verimatrix – Federated Rights Management

Category winner in ‘Video Technology Hero’ and winner of the International Grand Prix award.

The variety of codes, file formats and encryption mechanisms now used for video delivery means that in a hierarchical ‘wholesale/retail’ content distribution architecture, end-to-end protection often requires repeated content decryption and re-encryption. This is complex and costly and it reduces security because of opportunities for mismanagement and content theft at each intermediate point. Content owners also lack the tools to meaningfully enforce contracts and get consumer insights.

The Federated Rights Management (FRM) model from Verimatrix reimagines this workflow. It addresses these challenges using a single point of integration for both operators and content providers where they can encrypt just once and then allocate decryption keys across the distribution chain. Duplicated processes are eliminated, lowering costs.

FRM streamlines security workflows with persistent encryption, policy definition and enforcement, and automated consumption reporting and analytics. Security and fine-grained control of rights management are one core benefit. Content owners maintain control of the keys and playback policies associated with their content, so can enforce rules across the whole ecosystem from distributors through to end users.

View from the judges:

“This helps reduce risks associated with content distribution, particularly where an operator has hierarchical distribution to serve multiple localities or tenant sites. Any time content is processed, there are risks that errors may be introduced into the content and risks that unencrypted content can be intercepted and pirated. The fact that this solution is cloud-based also helps reduce concerns about unplanned equipment expenditures associated with scaling and load-balancing.”

Steven Hawley, Principal Analyst and Consultant, tvstrategies


Media Distillery – Next Generation Replay Experience

Category winner in ‘Contribution to User Experience – TV & Video’

Using its AI platform, Media Distillery extracts next-generation metadata that was previously only visible to humans, in real-time and at an unparalleled scale, to create a better understanding of what is ‘inside’ video. This knowledge helps TV operators optimise the consumer replay TV experience.

One of three projects under the ‘Next Generation Replay Experience’ banner is EPG Correction. By locating the start and end times of TV programmes, this corrects the difference between scheduled and actual airtimes and related commercial breaks in real-time. In the replay environment, viewers will not miss the first minutes of a programme because they were not recorded or sit through minutes of ads because the programme started later than scheduled.

A related project, Binge Markers, locates the time-marks needed to omit the start and end credits on a show, or the ‘previously on’ segment of a television programme. This enables a smooth transition between episodes for binge viewers.

Meanwhile, Episodic Images technology automatically delivers a relevant and appealing visual image (Thumbnail) that reflects the content concerned, tempting viewers to watch.

View from the judges:

“Media Distillery analyses the essence of media to produce descriptive data. It addresses practical problems, like identifying the actual start and end times of programmes or extracting representative images from different episodes. This can really improve the user experience.”

William Cooper, Founder and Chief Executive, informitv


The judges

Mark Cross, Director of Chartroom, was the chair of judging.

The judges for the International Categories (Video Technology Hero; Best TV/Video Service Update or Launch; Contribution to User Experience – TV & Video) were:

  • William Cooper, Founder and Chief Executive, informitv
  • Steven Hawley, Principal Analyst and Consultant, tvstrategies
  • Ian Nock, Managing Director and Founder, Fairmile West
  • Benjamin Schwarz, Consultant, CToic Consulting
  • John Moulding, Editor-in-Chief, Videonet.


More about the Connies

The Connies are hosted by Mediatel Events, producers of thought-leadership conferences that include Connected TV World Summit, Future TV Advertising Forum, The Future of Brands and The Future of Media Research. The company also publishes Videonet and Mediatel Newsline. You can find out more about Mediatel Events activities here. The annual awards lunch is held at The Banking Hall in Cornhill in the City of London.

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