If there is one meaningful insight we took away from Mipcom 2018 – it is that the creative economy is fast converging with the platform economy and a sea of content is about to wash over the globe. This mega-convergence is creating market forces that are pressuring today’s siloed metadata and linear workflows to become more open and fluid, requiring new levels of global visibility and control to monetize content better.

A Content Tsunami

Mipcom events clearly indicated continuing growth in digital platforms is happening at an incredible pace. 2018 Keynote Speaker and ITV CEO, Carolyn McCall, announced ITV’s Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) service launching by year end in the UK while a host of new DTC services are targeting domestic audiences residing in other countries such as 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 their global mobile video network connecting content partners in seven countries to audiences worldwide. Mr. Ju said Huawei is looking to expand its content network from 200 content partners today to over 1,000 by 2022.

The 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 this growth. The Economist recently reported a Goldman Sachs analysis that Netflix will surpass its 2018 content budget of $8 billion to spend between $12 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 media and entertainment industry – we believe that the value chain operators best qualified to author metadata who 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 thirty to forty 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 ten or more variations between first and second level genre categories (Action/Adventure vs. Sci-fi/Fantasy vs. Action Sci-fi). 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 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 calculate/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.