OTT Monitoring with SEREEN.watch

As a streaming media provider, how much of your audience do you lose because of problems viewing your streaming media?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, you should consider the simplest scenario  — slow load time. The longer it takes for a video stream to load, the more likely the viewer is to move on to other content. That’s more than poor QoE, that’s lost revenue.

There’s a lot that can go wrong on a video stream. 

Your video could drop frames, drop audio, experience bitrate spikes, skew the aspect ratio, fail to display closed captions, miss DAI opportunities, the list is long and as a content provider in the streaming business you need the ability to monitor your entire content delivery chain across all potential points of failure. 

Monitoring the actual user experience is arguably the most difficult. After all, how many people in your organization can you dedicate to this task? 

You can certainly choose to rely on viewer complaints as your frontline monitoring process for your streaming service, but what if you could have an army of users available on demand who will resolutely march into the metaverse to monitor your media and report back with detailed information about your entire offering? 

Sound impossible? Maybe it was at one time, but with the advent of cloud computing and AI, you can have something even better — an army of digital robots ready and waiting to mimic actual users and report back on their experiences viewing your OTT content. 

That’s exactly what SEREEN.watch from eDigital can do.

Let’s look at three scenarios where an army of AI empowered robots can come in handy in the streaming media business. 

First, let’s talk about C3 content.

For those new to this space, C3 refers to content available on-demand after its linear airing with Nielsen measurement for three days. The program carries the same ad load as it carried in the linear airing. We could also talk about C7, C3 DAI, D4 DAI, and DVR. 

There’s a lot to unpack in all those acronyms. Too much for the scope of this post, but for now let’s just ask ourselves, as viewers, how the heck do we know which of these variants of a program we’re watching? And why is it important? 

The first indication that you’re not watching a DVR instance of your favorite show is that you can’t fast forward through the commercials. 

Which is exactly why this differentiation is important. Advertisers want ad impressions — eyeballs on their ads — and everyone else in the media supply chain wants to get paid for those impressions. For C3 content, because it carries the same Nielsen watermark as the linear airing, the measurement improves the program's linear rating, thus bumping up the ad revenue for that instance of the program.

But knowing, as a content provider, which variant of a program is available, and when, on any given platform can be a data management mess. 

If you’re going to develop content strategies to maximize your ad revenue in a streaming or on demand world, then it’s in your organization’s best interest to understand, in granular detail, what’s happening with your content once it lands on a streaming platform. This is true whether you're talking about an MVPD, vMVPD, OTT, or VOD-only platform. 

There are a lot of important data points related to this type of content, but I would argue the most important is the license window. More precisely, whether or not the asset is available to viewers at the beginning of its license window. This is critical to C3 success because every hour the asset is missing equates to a loss in revenue, or at least a lower total rating.

And what happens on the platform side if the C3 asset isn’t available? Is a D4 (a version of the program prepped for dynamic ad insertion [DAI]) moved up to fill the void? Is there a D1 non-C3 asset floating around? Or will the only option be a DVR version, allowing the viewer to skip the ads entirely? 

The good news is that there are ways to tell what flavors of your programming are available, and when, without having an entire staff of people or a ton of on-premises gear just to check the status of your content and decipher which variants are available and where. 

Instead, SEREEN.watch from eDigital provides exactly what you need — an army of AI-powered digital robots able to monitor your content 24/7 and report back any and all details that interest you. And thanks to eDigital’s partnership with Nielsen, SEREEN.watch is able to identify the Nielsen markers, or their absence, and tell you exactly which versions of your program are available and when. 

But that only scratches the surface of what SEREEN.watch can do. 

Let’s stick with the ad impression theme and talk about DAI in your VOD assets. Because after the C3/C7 window, it’s all about dynamic ad insertion. 

One of the major challenges here is that every viewing session is bound to be different across your audience, based on things like ad campaign structure, ad frequency caps, ad pod duration, and a few other factors, especially if you’re talking about kids’ programming. 

Side note — this is not always the case, of course, and a good example comes from my own viewing experience. I watched a program with DAI on a particular OTT service and every ad pod had exactly one ad and it was the same ad every time. I never hated a men’s cologne so much until that viewing experience, and when I asked other fans of the show about their experience, it was identical to mine. So yes, there are always exceptions, but even those need to be monitored and understood by content providers and service providers alike.

How do you know what your viewers are experiencing when they watch your DAI-enabled content? Again, you can always hire a team of people, or an outside company that will hire a team of people, to scour the streaming services for your content and fill out some reports about their experience, but this is inefficient and limited in both scope and scale. Even if you had enough warm bodies to throw at the problem of content monitoring, human beings are inefficient and error prone. AI-powered robots are neither. 

SEREEN.watch can spool up as many user-bots as needed, give them their marching orders, and off they go. In return, you get fast, actionable reporting about your content that can improve the user experience and your ROI. 

SEREEN.watch can report on a vast array of data points about streaming content, including Nielsen markers, SCTE-35 triggers, audio levels and more. SEREEN.watch can provide specific data about your ad pods AND capture a recording of the ad pod for later review, all in a single pane of glass and hosted in the cloud. And it can do this across multiple services and devices. 

Think of it as a host of on demand viewers for your on demand content — only these viewers are fast, efficient, affordable, and deliver detailed reporting of all the data points you’re interested in seeing. Plus, they never need a break.They’re on the job 24/7, just like your content. 

Let’s circle back to the ad pod recording capability. 

While the wealth of data available via SEREEN.watch is impactful, there are some very good reasons why capturing the ad pod experience in the form of a video clip takes asset monitoring to another level.

Think about KidVid rules. If you’re not familiar, there are plenty of details available from the FCC and frankly, most of the rules, even after recent changes, don’t have anything to do with the type of content we’re discussing. 

But there are some important rules about ads and programs that target kids, and they can be difficult to manage if you’re only looking at the data. No matter what tool you use to manage your DAI campaigns, an incorrect configuration can cause your content to run afoul of these rules. Wouldn’t you rather know about such a thing before it becomes common knowledge? Conversely, if you have concerns about compliance with these rules, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to capture that ad viewing experience for your team to review, across multiple assets and devices? 

Like it or not, compliance still keeps a few people up at night, and KidVid isn’t the only source of concern. 

The CALM Act is another set of rules impacting your ad pods, and arguably a bigger problem given the broader volume (yes, that’s a pun) of content that could be impacted. Right now, the CALM Act does not apply to all video content and services, but that application shouldn’t be your primary concern. Instead, CALM compliance is just good practice and will deliver a better QoE for your viewers of your streaming content,

Because to be completely honest, CALM compliance is one of my pet peeves as a viewer, and since I’m spending more time on streaming services watching content on demand, with DAI, I get to experience lots and lots of really loud commercials. I won’t name names, but I received a free one year subscription to the ad-supported version of a recently rebranded streaming service and decided to try out their tent-pole programming (I’m a sucker for historical dramas about America’s Westward expansion). 

So far, the ads have been excruciatingly LOUD. So loud I stopped watching the content and am considering canceling the service, even though it’s free right now. 

Is this the experience you want your viewers to have? Let’s put aside discussion about who is ultimately responsible for loud commercials in streaming media and focus on the viewer experience. Because the viewer doesn’t care why the ads are so loud and obtrusive, the viewer just wants it to stop. I just want it to stop.

And I’m going to blame the service for allowing it to happen in the first place, just like your other viewers. 

As a content provider, what can you do about it? 

It starts with awareness, and SEREEN.watch can deliver that to your dashboard, including both the data and the video of the ad experience. Because even if your ad pods aren’t violating any government regulations, if they’re still alienating and angering your viewers/subscribers, it’s going to impact your bottom line. Spare your viewers and avoid subscriber churn by delivering the best possible QoE, including loudness management, and prepare your workflows for a future of more regulation in the streaming space. 

Monitor all of your content across platforms and devices with SEREEN.watch and you’ll be empowering your team to proactively address a multitude of issues and ultimately deliver a better experience to your viewers, reduce subscriber churn, lower your cost, and improve your ROI. 

That’s the power of an army of AI enabled bots in the cloud. That’s the power of SEREEN.watch from eDigital.

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