Mathias Guille, Head of Cloud Platform at Broadpeak, made the presentation “One EPG per sub? Yes it is possible!” during the Streaming Media East Innovation Track the 25th of May 2022.
In his presentation, Mathias shared about how viewers expect more and more relevant and curated content. Developing the idea that one way to raise engagement is to present a personalized experience including the program guide itself. Until now, legacy video delivery technologies were not able to offer dedicated EPG for each sub—it was too complicated, too costly, or not scalable enough.
In the session, Mathias shows how to deliver highly-customized guides to your customers, at scale, by using the power of a fully automated SaaS.
Watch Mathias’ talk here:
Or read its transcription here:
So my name is Mathias, I’m leading the effort of Cloud Platform at Broadpeak and we are going to talk about today about an experience I got few months back with Matrix, which relates to the last movie of The Matrix, released end of last year. And I got an experience with that and we’re going to talk about it.
I tried to take the experience and see what we can do with it in our industry.
First of all, I would like to thank Robert and Allison, because they were good speakers before me and they introduced some concepts that we’re going to reuse today, manifest manipulation and channel assembly, and the data that you can use for personalizing your experience. So, thanks for doing the talk before me.
So yeah, a few months back, I was anxious to watch the latest Matrix movie, and it was very hard to get news about the movie, it was very hard to get the trailer, and what happened is the team of The Matrix, they released a website which says, “The choice is yours.” And so they released the website, and I’m going to show you the experience. So, first of all, you need to choose between the red and the blue pill. So the red pill is when you get out of The Matrix and the blue pill when you stick in The Matrix, so let’s choose the red pill for instance.
You can see by yourself the experience shown by Mathias on this website: https://thechoiceisyours.whatisthematrix.com/
All right. So you may have noticed during that experience, at some point they talk about the “2:02 PM”, which is the exact time that we were watching the trailer, and what the team released, basically, is an experience where you can have 500,000 different experiences based on when you watch the trailer, what kind of pill you are choosing, where you are located and these kinds of things. And the most I was thinking about that experience, I was thinking, “Well, I got that experience on my laptop, it was a great experience, it was super immersive, I got a very good time. I was super anxious to watch the movie.” I say, “Well, this is a web experience, I can see that happen very, very easily on my phone, on my tablet, on any kind of web browser.” And the more I was thinking about it, I would say, “Well, why not having that also on my main screen? Why not have it on the TV I’m watching every day? Why can I not have the same kind of experience as immersive as that on my TV?”
And the more you are thinking about it, “Well, you can expand that concept to the entire EPG.”. The entire guide, you could propose something which is as immersive as that, but like the trailer we just experienced. So the concept of the presentation is really about the choices used. It’s either you stick to the EPG, which is present today everywhere, which is the same EPG for all the customers of a service provider, or you propose an EPG which can really be personalized, and which can adapt to what I love, which can adapt to if it’s Friday or if it’s Monday, which can adapt to my mood, which can adapt to my audience. So, the idea is to talk a little bit about that.
Taking the blue pill – the traditional EPG
Risking the red pill – the personalization’s benefits
So we talked about the blue pill, let’s assess what are the risk to take the red pill and why do we want to change an EPG which has worked since more than 30 years, why taking the risk to change something which is working. So, first of all, you can think, well, if you don’t change it’s a risk by itself, right? Because people will go to direct-to-consumer application if they prefer the experience there. And then the second thing that you should consider is, if you can personalize your EPG you have direct benefit for it. I was getting some figures for company called Spideo, it’s a recommendation engine, it was telling me, as soon as you can personalize the content you deliver over an EPG you have more content interaction, people will check the different channels you have in the EPG, people are going to increase the ratio of click-through/watch. So, on top of just checking the channels, they are going to watch them. And finally, people will come back more on the set-top box to use your service.
Red pill’s ingredients
Again, if you can propose something very, very personalized, you will have all of these benefits. So it’s all about increasing viewer engagement. Now, thinking about the red pill itself, what kind of ingredient you can have in that red pill to enhance the experience of the EPG?
Contextualize every single channel
So, first of all, what you can do is, if you have an EPG of 230, 300 and more channel, you can contextualize every single channel. Now, everyone in the industry is moving to ABR, and the concept of manifest manipulation, it can be used on a larger scale, it has been used for personalization. What we consider at Broadpeak is, right now manifest manipulation has been limited in its use, Robert talked about it. It’s super easy with manifest manipulation to do blackout, to do targeted advertisements, but you can do much more than that, you can actually generalize that concept across the full lineup.
You could imagine using manifest manipulation for automatic parental control. So if you know that the people who watch is a kid, you can actually just get rid of the watershed, and just making sure that there is nothing violent coming after 8:00 PM for the kid in front of the TV. If some of your customers are travelers, people like us, if they move from east coast to west coast, you may want to basically delay a little bit the live and keep the same schedule on the east coast to the people traveling in the west coast, so you can make life easier for your customers. Finally, if some of your subscribers are coming from outside, a foreigner like me for example, it would be great to have default subtitles. You basically give stuff to your customers that they don’t expect, that they typically opt-in by themselves, you can give that in advance and really personalize the experience.
Add personalized virtual channels
Some more ingredient is, of course, adding personalized virtual channel. Virtual channel is typically something that you build per audience, but if you think about it, there’s actually no reason that you can’t do better and really do personalized virtual channel per user. Again, we have all the data for that, there’s no problem at all. The main blocker right now is how you can get the information coming from a recommendation engine, and integrate that in a manifest manipulator. So, the concept that you should apply is, getting your manifest manipulator, integrating API coming from a recommendation engine. Every time that a user is connecting, on the fly, you create a channel for him. The same way that YouTube can create a channel for you, we can do that on an EPG as well.
How broadpeak.io can help
So now let’s talk about how our team is acting to help on that context.
A Video SaaS platform
So, we have built a platform which is called broadpeak.io. broadpeak.io, it’s a video API SaaS platform that everyone can connect and get access to, so there is no need to call anyone or to email anyone, you can just sign up, log in, and you can start playing with our technology. You can start pushing your content, pushing some rules, and you can personalize the experience of your content.
The contextualization engine…
The concept itself is, we will get the manifest of the content on broadpeak.io, and on top of that, we will use some specific rules in terms of audience, in terms of time, in terms of policy, using APIs such as a SCTE 224, using VAST for anything related to advertisement, or using just a basic REST API to create the virtual channel we were talking about before. And as soon as we get all of this information in broadpeak.io, in our engine, we can definitely create one manifest per user, and really personalize the experience that the customer will have in your system, in an EPG.
…scheduled by API
Now, if we go a little bit deeper into the concept, again, we talked about channel assembly and we talked about the fact you can create channel per audience, but how do you do to create it per user? So, again, the concept is that as soon as a user is going to join the system, broadpeak.io is going to call a recommendation engine, using the ID of the user, and coming back to us we will have a list of video on demand, which are recommended to that particular user, we will call an ad server to get access to some ads that we need to add in the schedule, we will also look at some live events, which can be interesting for that particular user. And using all of that information we will create, on the fly, special schedule, and that special schedule will be applied per user.
To conclude on the presentation, what I was trying to highlight today is, to propose immersive experience you don’t need to do that on the web itself, you can also actually propose that on TV, on the set-top, and on a regular EPG. You don’t really need, anymore, to stick to one EPG with 350 channels that you are going to push to all of your users, you can really contextualize that EPG, you can personalize that EPG to your customers, and doing that right now is actually greener than before. In the past, again, the way that you were personalizing the experience, you were adding splicers, originally it was super, super expensive, it was consuming a lot of power. Now, by using manifest manipulation it’s all about manipulating a text file. We don’t even touch the video itself, we’re just changing a text file.
And as I explained before, going to that, you have a tangible and concrete ROI. You will have people being much more engaged with your technology, much more engaged with your platform, and so, of course, it’s a way to get more revenue in the future and to lay groundwork for contextualized advertising. I think most of the challenge right now with targeting advertising is that you don’t really give a context, so sometime you can target a person, by its location for example, but people don’t have the same expectation Friday night with Tuesday at noon, for instance, so you need to give context into that, and so it’s a way also to lays groundwork for this, and to expect a higher CPM in the future. So thank you for your attention today. broadpeak.io, again, it’s fully public, fully available, you can go ahead and try by yourself, putting your content, we have a 30 days trial. And yeah, if you have any questions I’d be happy to take them.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash