By Rico Cordova, Senior Software Engineer
Imagine this: You're watching your favorite sports team live on your TV, computer or mobile device, and ads are replaced by special features about your team and the halftime show by an episode of your favorite sitcom or drama. You pay a little extra for a premium package and get a live broadcast made just for you. Sounds pretty great, right? Something to look forward to in another five or 10 years?
Try right now. The powerful conditional boundaries feature of the Verizon Digital Media Services platform goes well beyond server-side dynamic ad insertion to enable our customers to show their original content, replace content with ads or skip segments of content entirely.
Originally created to help address a common issue in broadcasting – handling of time-sensitive C3 and C7 ads across live streams and VOD content – the conditional boundaries feature and its underlying framework allow even live streaming content to be customized on the fly to suit the preferences of each and every individual viewer.
Rather than disrupt the existing broadcast workflow, this technology leverages the SCTE triggers already used for dynamic ad insertion to open the door to amazing new possibilities in content delivery. Plugins working behind the scenes provide the rule sets that ensure that the right mix of programming and advertising is delivered and presented in just the right way. It's simple for the broadcaster and for the viewer.
In the case of a live event, our Live Slicer application captures content from a live signal and inserts metadata associated with particular SCTE triggers into the asset that is sent to the encoder cloud and then published to a live channel. During playback, HTTP requests and simple GET parameters incorporated into the URL sent to the viewer's streaming app enable manipulation of the assets being played. As a result, the broadcaster or other content provider can easily define specific parameters that dictate playback and define the viewing experience.
Because we can manipulate this data on a per-user basis, our customers need only tell us what they'd like to see happen. We designed the underlying framework so that the addition of a new request requires just 20 or 30 new lines of code. We can create and test new features in little time, which means our customers, traditional broadcasters and newer companies working with HTTP standards, can move forward quickly in enhancing the viewing experience or offering new premium services.
Our conditional boundaries feature was created to automate the removal or replacement of content segments and commercial breaks on a conditional, per-user basis. This capability alone affords our customers a valuable competitive advantage. Taken further, however, this technology has the power to transform the way today's consumers engage with streaming content; it enables agile and comprehensive customization of the viewing experience, whether it includes live or on-demand content.
This is great news if you're a content provider, and even better news if you're among the many media consumers who want to enjoy the full potential of streaming services.