M&E Journal: How Fluid Metadata Spells Opportunity for Content Monetization

By Jim Delli Santi, VP Marketing, Spherex

At MIPCOM 2018, keynote speaker and ITV CEO Carolyn McCall announced ITV’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) service, launching by year end in the U.K. Also at MIPCOM were a host of new DTC services targeting domestic audiences residing in other countries, including Cinedigm’s new OTT channel offering Chinese film and television content to North American audiences. More than a few content-hungry video platforms were presenting as well. Huawei’s director of content cooperation Jian Ju announced the expansion of the company’s global mobile video network connecting content partners in seven countries to audiences worldwide. Ju said Huawei is looking to expand its content network from 200 content partners today to over 1,000 by 2022.

This platform growth is driving explosive content and revenue growth. Juniper Research now forecasts worldwide OTT video revenues will double from $64 billion this year to $120 billion in 2022 with SVOD services fueling the growth.

The Economist recently reported a Goldman Sachs analysis that Netflix will surpass its 2018 content budget of $8 billion to spend between $12 billion to $13 billion by year-end.

Content budgets are exploding as multinational content attempts to meet insatiable demand across too-numerous-to-name smart connected devices, access methods and formats offered through overlapping pricing models: FVOD, AVOD, TVOD, and SVOD.

A metadata perfect storm

It’s not entirely clear how the management of content metadata can keep up when the number of titles requiring marketing and distribution is growing exponentially. IndieWire reports that while Disney and Warner Bros. expect to release 10 and 23 films respectively in 2018, Netflix is expected to release north of 82 films while producing or acquiring 700 new programs, many of which are being produced in multiple countries. Multiply anticipated releases by the number of studios, platforms, devices and OTT services, and what results is a historically all-time high volume of multinational content and a near-perfect storm for the supply chain processes required to create and manage title metadata.

If one considers the metadata changes required to manage title, price, synopsis, language and artwork across windows, storefronts, devices and formats (SD, HD, 4K and now 8K) UHD previewed at Mipcom — the sheer volume of global updates to be managed will cause sensory overload.

Billions of metadata variations

As a service provider to the M&E industry we believe that the value chain operators best qualified to author metadata that will convince an audience to watch their content are the content providers themselves. A title’s discoverability within retail storefronts is directly dependent on the quality of its metadata, yet the creation of this metadata is a less than desirable task for most studios — and is often left to downstream operators including distributors, post-houses, aggregators and other types of service providers.

The metadata variations of the million global titles we track illustrate these points very well. Our algorithms processing historical title metadata yield over two billion metadata variations across title, synopsis, genre and the names of actors, actresses, producers and directors. We’ve seen the number of synopsis versions that exist for a single popular title range from five to as high as 30 to 40 variations across global storefronts.

Although we find film run time to be reasonably consistent across storefronts, something as basic and essential as film genre can have 10 or more variations between first and second level genre categories (action/adventure vs. sci-fi/fantasy vs. action sci-fi, for example). The names of studios that own the rights to distribute the content also have problematic variations while the names of actors and directors can be abbreviated multiple times, in numerous different ways across retail platforms.

Metadata nirvana

Recent initiatives by the Entertainment ID Registry (EIDR) coalition are a much-needed effort to standardize metadata to accurately track and manage content titles end-to-end through the business systems used to license, distribute, localize, market and distribute revenue and royalties. We fully support EIDR because we believe content metadata should not be siloed and should be free — dynamically flowing through these business systems to increase content transactional velocity, fix revenue leakages and create new sales opportunities.

However, to tap these exciting new revenue opportunities, we also believe content creators and marketers need the ability to track, measure and adapt storefront metadata to the preferences of their global audiences, who are accessing their content through an ever-increasing number of channels, platforms, and devices.

Given the volume of multinational content coming our way as the creative and platform economies merge, we believe a new approach for managing and calibrating film and television metadata for global audiences is required now.

A reimagined digital supply chain is needed to provide an entirely new level of metadata fluidity, visibility, and control across platforms, devices, formats, languages and geographies so that the opportunity to improve content monetization looks as bright as the creativity and platforms making all of this content growth possible.


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