Monitoring expanded regulatory compliance and SLA requirements

By Dave Gaetani, Director of Product Management, Telestream iQ 

Video service providers need more than ever a video and audio quality monitoring and analytics platform that will allow them to achieve the end-to-end performance essential to competing in a transformed premium video marketplace.

With OTT video streaming supplanting legacy Pay TV video services in households worldwide, service providers’ ability to maintain performance measuring up to TV standards has become mission-critical. Absent recourse to comprehensive quality management, they would face costs stemming from customer dissatisfaction and noncompliance with SLAs and regulations that could squeeze profit margins.

Challenges related to QoS monitoring to meet SLA requirements

On the contractual side, there’s a vast range of performance and transactional settlement criteria related to service level agreements (SLAs) and traffic metrics that service providers need to consider. They not only need to validate they are satisfying requirements, but they also need to generate reports they can use to protect themselves from being penalized as the result of erroneous metrics gathered by sources used by advertisers and other parties participating in performance-based transactional relationships.

The need to confirm satisfaction of commitments to advertisers is high on the SLA list. Advertisement performance on streaming video services has improved since 2020, when Conviva reported that ads failed to play as intended at least once in 36.5% of all viewing sessions. But as of Q2 2021, the firm still found that 16% of streamed video ads weren’t playing up to par. Most of these failures involved long buffering delays but also included complete misses stemming from mismatches in formatting or errors in ad selection.

More generally, service providers need to show content licensors that they’re adhering to the SLAs they sign with respect to QoS, ancillary features, and content protection mechanisms such as digital rights management (DRM) and forensic watermarking. In addition, accurate tabulations of traffic volumes are essential to calculating payments that streamed-service providers pay network operators for peering and transport costs.

Regulatory compliance chaos

Where regulations are concerned, streaming service providers are confronted with a bewildering, ever-expanding hodgepodge of rules emanating from single countries and regional groupings. The primary regulations impacting monitoring of traffic flows in the U.S. pertain to adhering to closed captioning rules and maintaining consistent audio levels between primary content and ads, as prescribed by the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

Initially, the CALM Act was created for broadcasters, cable operators, and network television distributed by multi-channel video programming distributors or MVPDs. But there is a new bill in congress to amend the CALM Act’s regulation of television commercial loudness and extend it to streaming services. This new bill has been introduced because of recent, steadily rising, consumer complaints to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) about excessively loud commercials related to OTT streaming platforms.

Along with adhering to similar rules issued by other countries, service providers have a lot more to be concerned about under other types of regulations that vary widely from one region to the next. One type of regulation that has become commonplace in many countries, including EU members, the U.K., and many others, requires that a certain percentage of content flowing into a given region is produced there. Australia is enforcing a variation on this theme that allows the government to demand investments in local content if their Australian content outlays are less than 5% of the total content spent.

In addition, many countries have stringent censorship rules that require persistent vigilance by service providers over the content they’re delivering into these markets. One example of how draconian such rules can be is reflected in rules promulgated by India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. These rules forbid content that’s prohibited by any local or national law, disrespects the sovereignty and integrity of India, promotes terrorism or any other form of violence against the state, is detrimental to India’s friendly relations with foreign countries, or endangers national security.

Other types of regulations pertaining to taxation, obtaining rights to stream in each territory, and other forms of payment. In some countries like South Korea, where a “service stability law” recently went into effect, internet service providers demand that streaming service providers pay network fees to gain access to their end users. Service providers who want to impose a share of those costs on their content suppliers need to be able to demonstrate content usage merits such surcharges.

Costs attributable to SLA and regulatory compliance penalties

The risks of incurring major costs related to SLA and regulatory compliance increase as the requirements multiply. Performance awareness provided through quality management infrastructure can go a long way toward catching problems that would otherwise lead to negative consequences. 

For example, deductions, rebates, and makegoods granted by advertisers can put monetization at risk if service providers aren’t able to quickly address ad placement glitches. Demonstrating content protection policies have been adhered to in cases involving content theft helps prevent loss of licensing privileges. Costly overcharges from providers of infrastructure support can be avoided.  

On the regulatory compliance front, CALM penalties can add up absent immediate reaction to audio spikes in ads. Far greater costs can result from failure to adhere to censorship rules. Licenses to operate are at risk in countries whose native content requirements are violated.

The right approach to regulatory compliance monitoring

There’s no arguing with the fact that legacy video distribution service providers and ABR streaming service providers are facing an unprecedented challenge in service quality management, especially in the case of regulatory compliance and SLA requirements. Both legacy TV and ABR streaming services require tools to continuously monitor the video contribution feed in their workflow to ensure they meet regulatory compliance laws by identifying programs or commercials that are too loud or too quiet. They also need to identify the presence or absence of closed captions and ensure they are accurate and reliable.

Telestream iQ’s portfolio of video monitoring probes has long dominated the legacy TV and ABR streaming markets. Telestream iQ provides monitoring solutions for legacy TV service provides and ABR streaming service providers to comply with government regulations and SLA requirements. Inspector LIVE and Sentry enable video service providers with the confidence to ensure their video and audio delivery service is meeting compliance laws. It provides monitoring, alarming, and reporting of Audio Loudness and Closed Caption data so that video service providers can have the knowledge needed to meet regulatory compliance requirements.

To learn more, read our recently published solution brief titled “Contribution Feed Compliance Monitoring for Audio Loudness and Closed Captions”. We hope you will allow us to help you with your video monitoring needs.  

Interested in learning more?  Contact us to discuss our video quality monitoring and analytics services.  

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