Enhancing Switched Digital Video for Support of Next-Generation Advertising through Switched Digital Programming (2007)

By Joe Matarese, C-COR, Inc.

Several years into the development, and a little over a year into the deployment of Switched Digital Video (SDV) technology, is it possible that the cable industry continues to overlook much of SDV’s promise? This paper considers a specific aspect of SDV where cable providers have the ability to make significant advances in delivering value to programmers and advertisers, as well as the opportunity to monetize such value. We define this aspect as Switched Digital Programming (SDP). SDP is characterized by a focus on optimal design of switched digital video systems to deliver programming, not simply channels, in the most bandwidth efficient manner. Existing models of SDV typically consider channel popularity in determining the amount of narrowcast bandwidth that one must dedicate to delivery of the SDV channels. While reliance on channel popularity information is useful in obtaining a rough estimate of SDV sizing, to get a more accurate reading one must consider the actual programs. For example, while Network A might have a general popularity rating, averaged over the week, of six points audience share, it is clear that some programs offered by the network will have much higher audience shares while other programs will have lower audience shares. A similar phenomenon is seen with VOD programs. The relative popularity of a specific program, averaged over its entire license window, is often significantly less than the relative popularity of the same program averaged over a shorter period like the prime time viewing window or the new release window. In order for SDV to take advantage of specific program knowledge and for SDP to be deployed, several things must happen: Modeling of SDV narrowcast bandwidth requirements must be redone to make use of program-specific audience measurement data, perhaps from Nielsen Media Research. SDV systems must be instrumented to generate audience measurement data from real time collection of channel change signaling. SDV systems must be enhanced to facilitate explicit program joins and leaves, either by a human viewer or by a DVR, so that program-specific audience measurement does not incorporate artificial “channel loitering”. This paper will investigate each of these undertakings in detail and provide statistics from an actual field-trial of SDV in order to build these measurement models. As a consequence of deploying SDP, programmers will benefit in addition to MSOs. Through the MSOs programmers can obtain accurate, “raw” audience measurement data on which to base program lineup decisions. Moreover, programmers have the potential to deliver multiple network variants, possibly targeted at different demographic profiles, rather than deliver a single “one size fits all” network that tries to satisfy all viewers.

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