Watermarking to Play Big at NAB Show

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — For all the talk about ATSC 3.0, 4K and high-dynamic range (HDR) video delivery, drones and virtual reality, advances in watermarking aren’t getting much in the way of headlines ahead of the NAB Show.

That should change before the week is over.

“As the release windows of worldwide TV content distribution continue to shrink, it is more important than ever to reduce the complexity behind the deployment of watermarking throughout the distribution lifecycle,” said Harrie Tholen, managing director of Civolution’s NexGuard. “With HDR on the way, the value of each asset increases tremendously, and content owners need to be safe in the knowledge that pre-release content is secure throughout the typical delivery chain that includes subtitling, dubbing and localizing partners, as well as potential licensees, marketing agencies and press.”

NexGuard and video software and hardware company Telestream are using the show to demo a solution that sees NexGuard forensic watermarking technology integrated into Telestream’s encoders, giving content and media companies the ability to watermark their content early on, at the encoding and transcoding stage. The two plan to update the solution with support for high dynamic range content later this year.

“At NAB, we will reaffirm the importance of utilizing an effective method to deter piracy at the source for content owners, producers, providers and all their partners,” said Paul Turner, VP of enterprise product management for Telestream.

Ahead of the NAB Show, MediaSilo announced it was launching an on-demand, real-time watermarking service, dedicated to securing video content online. Dubbed SafeStream, the service allows content providers to quietly tie in personal information like subscriber IDs, emails, and IP address to a viewer, using custom watermarking.

“MediaSilo makes it possible for us to have screeners available at a moment’s notice. And, now we can feel even more confident with an extra level of security provided through SafeStream,” said Ryan Snowden, manager of originals operations at Hulu, a MediaSilo client.

MediaSilo is showing off the solution at NAB, and Kai Pradel, CEO and founder of the company, said SafeStream works for any size video clip, and integrates with users’ existing tools and workflows. “By adding user-specific information into a stream, you introduce accountability into the supply chain. Whether cuts are sent for legal review, for dubbing, or executive viewing, each copy is unique and can be traced back to a specific user. This keeps honest people honest and prevents unauthorized sharing of content,” he said.

There will also be demonstrations at NAB showing the watermarking capabilities of ATSC 3.0, allowing for more personalized services to viewers. The technology would watermark signals from broadcasters that can be reliably detected by receivers, and offer everything from alternate captioning and alternate audio, to targeted advertising.

“Open watermarking standards power content discovery, advanced advertising and audience data opportunities across distribution paths,” said Anne Schelle, managing director of Pearl TV, a consortium of the nine largest broadcast companies in the U.S., covering more than 200 TV stations. “It is a central enabler with the potential to allow local broadcasters to realize substantially increased revenue in the years following broad deployment.”