BlackArrow targets ads to IP devices, forges new partnerships
BlackArrow announced the availability of a new product, BlackArrow Linear, that will help cable operators extend live and linear TV programming into IP devices.
In tandem with the new product release, BlackArrow also announced partnerships with encoding, transcoding and packaging vendors to create an ecosystem for splicing ads into the live streams. The vendors that work with BlackArrow Linear are Elemental, Envivio, RGB Networks and SeaWell Networks.
According to Chris Hock, senior vice president, product management and marketing for BlackArrow, BlackArrow Linear helps cable operators enable two trends. The first is cable operator subscribers want to be able to watch video whenever and wherever they want on various multi-screen devices.
The second trend is the emergence of new technologies, such as MPEG Dash, ESNI and ESAM interfaces, and the continued improvement in the SCTE 130 and SCTE 35 standards.
“We’re starting to see that IP is a real platform for delivering TV video services in a way that’s more flexible and less costly for operators,” Hock said. “Those two trends are causing operators to look at how they can start standing up services for delivering their TV programming to IP-based devices.
“That’s why we’ve announced the new product Black Arrow Linear, which we started working on in 2012. Basically this is a software solution that helps pay TV operators control the insertion of not only ads but also of alternative content, such as blackouts, into TV streams going to IP.”
Working with its vendor partners, BlackArrow Linear enables dynamic ad insertion (DAI) of local and national ads within linear streams into the various device endpoints. The signaling of how to package the streams is handled in an ESAM format between BlackArrow and the component vendors. Up in the network, a manifest proxy handles the duties of ad insertion and encrypting streams for each client and each device.
“We also have capabilities in BlackArrow Linear to understand the original broadcast schedule lineup and which ads are on broadcast TV and replicate those ads if the operator wants to do that, so that feature is called linear replication,” Hock said. “We also have capabilities to do alternate content for blackout support. This is important as pay TV operators take traditional capabilities for broadcast TV and now put them over IP platforms. They have to have parity and supporting blackouts is one of those capabilities.”
Working with other BlackArrow products, such as BlackArrow Audience, BlackArrow Linear helps cable operators monetize their ad opportunities across both live and on demand viewing on any screen.
The BlackArrow platform allows service providers to unify audiences, measurement, and monetization rights and policies for TV delivered over both traditional QAM and new IP platforms. It also provides ad routing and mediation services, enabling sales organizations and affiliate partners to use their existing ad servers for fulfillment of inventory.
“What we’re trying to solve here is how to do service providers transition their services over to IP platforms?” Hock said. “When they do that they have to take advantage of existing signaling inside of the streams. They have to take advantage of the existing carriage agreements between the programmer and the operator, what the inventory splits are, and they have to take advantage of what the carriage agreements say about the data and targeting rights, who can target what sorts of ads.
“So that sort of extra layer of complexity that is found in the pay TV ecosystem from the service provider point of view is really the problem we’re solving.”
Hock said BlackArrow Linear has been in lab and market trials, but wasn’t able to say which cable operators had kicked the tires. BlackArrow’s announced customers include Rogers Communications, Comcast and Time Warner Cable
BlackArrow Linear will be on display in the CableNet section of The Cable Show next month.