M&E Journal: EIDR ID Round Trip Validates Vision of Unique Identifiers

By Jason Peña and Don Dulchinos, Entertainment Identifier Registry

EIDR first emerged as an organizing factor within the title management systems of the major Hollywood studios. By 2015, it became standard practice to create EIDR IDs for all film and television productions. Jeff Stevens, Warner Bros. VP and EIDR board member, recently observed that 95 percent of the studio’s complete library is registered an EIDR ID, and more importantly, 100 percent of its commercially available content has at least one EIDR ID.

The EIDR registry has grown in many dimensions. The raw size of the registry has grown to 1.1 million unique records, and the timeliness of IDs created for new film and episodic releases has improved as membership covers more and more of the commercial market.

The diversity of records has grown from a focus on Level 1 title-level or parent IDs (“abstractions”) to encompass more Level 2 edits or versions of titles to accommodate various distribution needs. And the migration to Level 3 manifestations is poised to explode with the advent of new technologies like the Interoperable Master Format (IMF.) The geographic reach of the registry has grown especially in the last two years, and 20 percent of EIDR membership is now comprised of companies outside the U.S. (Two of the three largest catalog match and registration efforts in the past year originated in Europe.)

The achievement of broad coverage of the universe of commercially viable content has yielded some interesting internal applications.

Google promotion of EIDR and EMA Avails

Google, a board member of the EIDR organization, has been an advocate for the alignment of EIDR and the EMA avails specification. Google has championed the recognition that the presence of a standard ID can drive efficiency in the processing of new avails and ultimately speed time-to-market of content on retail platforms.

The efficiencies of this integration benefit both studios and retail partners. Warner Bros.’ use of EIDR in its client avails systems provides synergy with some of its online retail partners, who also derive benefit. In a prior M&E Journal article (Fall/Winter 2103), EIDR reported on a study of the Warner Bros. – Microsoft work flow and identified savings of hundreds of hours in manual matching and QA efforts in just a single business deal for one pair of business partners. Multiplied by several partners and dozens of business deals, this amounts to significant cost savings.

More recently, Google conducted an internal study and found dramatic reductions in processing time for a batch of avail updates. Again, multiplied across tens of thousands of avails, and hundreds of content partners, this effort pays for the company’s EIDR membership and effort many times over.

For both cases, in addition to cost savings, there are clear benefits through greater automation in time-to-market improvements, getting avails in front of consumers sooner and leading to earlier realization of revenues. And the revenue realization component is now where things are getting very interesting.

Automation of financial reporting

Google announced in February of 2017 that YouTube transactional reports have been improved to include the EIDR ID, when that number is provided in an avail. This marks the long-anticipated completion of the EIDR “round trip.” Transactional reports will include both the EIDR Title ID and the EIDR Edit ID if provided to that level of granularity by the content supplier.

This announcement completes a concerted effort within Google Play in cooperation with the EIDR organization to incorporate EIDR in its workflows. The first step was to integrate EIDR IDs into the publication of EMA Avails from the major Hollywood studios. Those studios are themselves charter members of EIDR, already integrated with EIDR and creating EIDR IDs for their new releases.

“We realized early on that supporting a common, robust identifier throughout our supply chains, in concert with the industry standard EMA avails specification, would yield huge dollar savings from efficiency. Further, such improved automation would improve timeto- market for our content partners’ entertainment assets,” said Bill Kotzman, Partner/Product Manager at YouTube/Google, and EIDR board member. “And now, EIDR is an integral part of automating the financial reporting for us and our content partners.”

This is not just good news for the major Hollywood studios. Google Play is also engaged a major effort to match and register EIDR Identifiers for its back catalog of film and television assets. This will end up being the largest such registration in the history of the EIDR organization, and serves to bring into the EIDR ecosystem tens of thousands of valuable titles from smaller film and television producers. This library is global, encompassing Google’s long tail of content suppliers around the world.

The business intelligence value of EIDR-keyed reporting

Once the round trip is complete, content producers and their partners and vendors have in hand a data set of enormous value for analytics and business intelligence.

For example, Sony Pictures Entertainment has spoken about an internal use case to support the business analysis leading to green-lighting decisions for new features. In such analysis, comparable films are analyzed to help predict the likely return on investment. To obtain a complete picture of competitive title performance, data from multiple sources covering multiple territories and distribution channels must be collated. This requires significant manual effort.

Sony analysts leveraged EIDR identifiers, and the existence of Alternate IDs within EIDR Records, to link data from multiple sources. Sony MPM IDs were used to retrieve previously matched IMDb IDs from EIDR-linked records. TiVo IDs could be used to match additional Sony MPM and EIDR records, pulling in even more IMDb IDs. And EIDR’s matched Flixster IDs were used to pull Tomatometer ratings via the Rotten Tomatoes API. (IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes are now owned by EIDR members Amazon and NBCU, and efforts are underway to complete a 100 percent match between those IDs and EIDR IDs.)

There are over 1.5 million Alternate IDs within the EIDR system. They were included initially to help with unique content identification, but as they are growing faster than the number of records, they have emerged as a value-add to users of the EIDR system.

This value proposition is reflected by recent additions to the EIDR membership list among companies that develop and manage media and entertainment data for business intelligence and other purposes. These include Variety Insight, S&P Global (and their media service group SNL Kagan), and Common Sense Media.

** For The Mighty Macs, Sony analysts leveraged EIDR identifiers, and the existence of Alternate IDs within EIDR Records, to link data from multiple sources.

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