Scalable Transcoding Protection in the Wake of Day-and-Date Distribution

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

The amount of video content created, consumed and shared around the world is growing by the day. Content owners have been introducing new business models to both monetize their content and create enhanced consumer experiences that drive revenue growth across the video market landscape, such as day and date distribution.

The theatrical release window is a key component of the content distribution strategy. New market drivers, like the rise of online streaming services, have played a pivotal role more recently. The National Association of Theatre Owners reported that the average time between a movie’s theatrical release and availability for home viewing fell from 138 days in 2005 to 91 days in 2015.

Global day-and-date distribution, however, results in more pressure on infrastructure, workflows and operational staff as content owners and studios distribute their files to more third parties and in a growing number of versions. To meet deadlines without compromising on picture quality, using faster than real-time transcoding is no longer a nice to have, it’s now a necessity.

Discussing the importance of universal, streamlined transcoding, Ikuyo Yamada, CEO of Capella Systems comments, “The seamless import and export of all video formats is critical when it comes to day-and-date distribution. The pressures associated with packaging video for a variety of markets over varying channels in different formats are further compounded when these files air on the same day. Content owners, pay-TV and OTT service providers alike need transcoding features such as a source-adaptive bitrate ladder and scriptable workflow support to deliver effective day-and-date distribution, enhancing production on the back end”.

Home entertainment, as it applies to both earlier movie window access and YouTube-driven video content, is expected to fuel the growth of the video industry, with anticipated annual rates ranging from 16 to 25 percent from now until 2020. Furthermore, in high broadband penetration markets, like the U.S., where online streaming services are readily available and accessible, consumer viewership of Internet video is already very high and further increasing.

This is driving opportunity for content owners of all sizes to push their content to eager, hungry audiences. According to nScreenMedia, there are now an estimated 80 million homes in the U.S. that watch 50% or more of their TV content from SVOD services. With all of this in mind, safeguarding video content is absolutely critical.

This rapid push to distribute video, regardless of format, through a variety of channels to homes and devices all over the world means there are more entry points vulnerable to pirate interception. Fortunately, forensic watermarking provides an effective and well-accepted tool to fight this. Forensic watermarking is the process by which a unique, invisible serial number can be added to video or audio content. The watermark is designed to remain with the content, regardless of how it might be transcoded, resized, downscaled or otherwise altered for distribution. Adding this technology enables best-in-class content protection through the whole content lifecycle. Modern solutions can be easily integrated into today’s workflows to secure revenue, which is of peak importance when it comes to transcoding.

"Transcoding is no longer limited to turning one format into another, but rather looks at all formats at once. This innovative, enhanced transcoding reinforces the importance of forensic watermarking for all types of content – and therefore all types of content creators," Ikuyo adds.

While the progression and rollout of day-and-date distribution across the global video market has been a challenge for many, robust measures are being taken — and taken seriously. This includes ensuring that transcoding, a key piece of the distribution process, supports the efficient deployment of forensic watermarking to protect the creative industry from the irreparable damage that piracy can inflict.

About the authors

Harrie Tholen is Managing Director at NexGuard, a Kudelski company, who provides the most widely deployed forensic watermarking solutions in the movie and entertainment industry across the globe. Harrie started his career in advanced development of HDTV technologies at Philips. He moved on to product management, sales and general management in various high technology fields. With assignments in Singapore and Shanghai, he has over 15 years of experience in the Asia Pacific region in the digital broadcasting and mobile multimedia industries. A Dutch national with experience in Asia Pacific and the US market, Harrie is a global expert on content protection and tackling the illegal redistribution of content.

Ikuyo Yamada is a founder and CEO of Capella Systems that develops innovative software-based live encoders and universal transcoders. She was previously part of Rhozet, a software company, which was successfully acquired by Harmonic, Inc. She has more than 12 years of experience in multimedia industries related to video compression technologies.

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