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Dan Willstrand, Clipsource CEO

The rise of global streaming platforms provides an unprecedented opportunity to reach new audiences, not only for Hollywood dramas but also for local originals. There is a growing appetite for non-English content and according to Netflix, consumption has increased by 90% over the last three years.

However successful international distribution calls for considerations beyond economic disparities, cultural preferences, and translations. One example is the adaptation and delivery of metadata to comply with local regulations, standards, and formats. This can be particularly intricate and challenging for US platforms entering the European market, with 44 countries, 24 official languages, and a multitude of regulations.

Consider a few examples.

● Parental guidance - The European Union encourages broadcasters and streaming platforms to implement clear and effective classification systems that inform viewers about the nature of the content. This includes indicating if a program contains violence, sexual content, or other potentially sensitive material. Additionally, guidelines emphasize the use of age-specific symbols to help parents decide what is suitable for their children.

However, the implementation of these guidelines is at the discretion of individual member states. Consequently, parental guidance rules differ across countries, forcing multinational content distributors to adjust their guidelines to align with numerous local regulations.

● Accessibility - The European Union strives to make broadcast and streaming content accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical or sensory abilities. 

Regulations encourage the implementation of features such as closed captions (CC), audio descriptions (AD), and sign language interpretation (SLI) to enhance the viewing experience for individuals with hearing or visual impairments. These regulations can be found in the European Accessibility Act, and will become mandatory by June 2025.

This means that content owners must ensure that the metadata, on their own and third-party platforms, include symbols displayed on-screen or in accompanying materials to inform viewers about the accessibility features available.

● Technical delivery formats - Delivery formats for metadata to streaming platforms play a crucial role in ensuring a seamless and standardized exchange of information between content providers and streaming services. Metadata, which includes details about content such as titles, descriptions, genres, release dates, and more, is vital for content discovery, recommendation algorithms, and overall user experience.

The choice of delivery format often depends on the streaming platform’s specifications and requirements, which means you will need to adapt your metadata to fit the demands of the individual streaming services. While there is a degree of standardisation occurring within the media industry with initiatives like Entertainment ID Registry (EIDR), TV-Anytime, or MovieLabs, individual configurations are unique, requiring flexibility and adaptability.

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These adaptations alone (and there are many more), have a detrimental effect on time-to-market and scalability for streaming services launching in multiple markets. Ideally, all of these considerations could be addressed within large centralized systems that manage overall planning. But this is not feasible, for two reasons: 

Firstly, central systems are inherently complex and should concentrate on their primary task: ensuring the publication of large volumes of movies and series with accurate and comprehensive data promptly. Introducing multiple layers of local data and rules could render the systems unmanageable.

Secondly, local modifications occur frequently. Updating a central system each time a local rule changes carries risks, as these updates may introduce bugs that disrupt other components of the system. Therefore, it is prudent to have a “last mile” approach where generic metadata is adapted automatically closer to the local markets.

Rich and accurate metadata is commonly acknowledged as a prerequisite for great consumer experiences and easy content discovery. Yet, it is rarely a top priority for C-level management, with the exception of the CTO. The typical response might be a somewhat dismissive “We have a process for this,” or “This is something we can address later.” But in most cases, neither of these statements are usually accurate.

Clipsource takes the metadata adaptation and distribution burden off your shoulders, allowing your organisation to focus on more popular growth activities such as business development, marketing, and customer acquisition.