SCTE Standard Targets the Fast-Forward Button

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has published a new standards document designed to provide programming networks and cable operators with a technically uniform way to selectively enable or disable fast-forwarding in video-on-demand and advertising. 

The standards document, dubbed SCTE 130-10 2013 and entitled “Stream Restriction Data Model,” is part of the SCTE 130 suite of Digital Program Insertion—Advertising Systems Interfaces.  

It defines how programmers and MSOs can selectively disable fast-forwarding when needed or desired, such as during advertisements, while preserving the capability within other portions of the on-demand stream. Previously, disabling or enabling that function within any portion of a VoD stream required that it be applied to the entire video stream, the SCTE said.  In practice, this standard would establish a way for viewers to fast-forward through the program but disable that function during a commercial break.

Another aim of the standard is to ensure interoperability and procedures for multi-vendor advanced advertising systems.

The document comes into play as cable operators and their programming partners attempt to monetize “free” VoD titles via the use of dynamic ad insertion. Disabling the fast-forward function in select on-demand streams would prevent ad-skipping, which has long been a concern of programmers and MSOs as more TV content becomes available via VoD and TV Everywhere applications.

Among examples, Time Warner Cable disables the fast-forward function in select shows that are authorized for the MSO's Start Over and Look Back services in order to preserve the advertising.

“As technology presents new options for viewers, it’s important that programming networks and cable operators have the tools they need to ensure the success of their business models,” said Les Carter, VP and chief architect of BlackArrow, who served as editor for the document, in a statement.  BlackArrow is an ad management vendor that counts Comcast, Cisco Systems and Time Warner Cable among its backers.

“SCTE 130-10 enables implementation of business policies that can preserve the value of sponsors’ advertising investments, and at the same time allows the content control that is so important to viewers,” added Paul Woidke, SVP of advanced advertising at Nagra-OpenTV, and chairman of Working Group 5 of the SCTE’s Digital Video Subcommittee (DVS), which developed the new standards document.