SnapStream Blog

The WatchESPN App is Gone. Now What?

December 18 2019 by Tina Nazerian

Developers               Loudness Graph_Dec_5.                          watch-espn-logo (1)                     

Earlier this year, ESPN killed its WatchESPN App. Now, all of ESPN’s streaming content is bundled into the ESPN app.

You might have been using the WatchESPN App to screen grab content you could then post to your sports team’s social media page. You can’t do that with the main ESPN app—it detects when users are trying to screen grab content. However, there’s a way you can still clip and share your sports team’s memorable moments—with SnapStream.

 

Clip & Share Moments from Live Video & Broadcast TV  

St. Louis Blues-Stanley-Cup-Tweet (1)

With SnapStream, you can clip and share any moment from broadcast TV and your own live video feeds. Specifically, you can create screenshots and frame-accurate GIFs and video clips. Then, with just a few clicks, you can email that content to anyone, or instantly post it to Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. 

 

Make Clipping & Sharing a Collaborative Process

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If you and your colleagues are live tweeting one of your team’s games, you can do so collaboratively—for example, you can divide up the work so that certain people create clips, and others look at those clips and decide which ones to post. SnapStream makes it easy to have that kind of workflow. It enables users to set clip points, and create and save bookmarks of those clips. Then, your colleagues can access those bookmarks and choose which ones to post.

 

Crop Clips for Instagram & Snapchat

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SnapStream makes having Instagram and Snapchat-ready posts easy. There’s no need to use an additional editing tool. You can create screenshots, GIFs, and video clips with square dimensions, 9:16 dimensions, 16:9 dimensions, and 4:3 dimensions right within SnapStream.


SnapStream makes live video and  broadcast TV social. Our technology lets users instantly capture, create, and share video clips, GIFs, and screenshots to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as create square and vertical clips for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. SnapStream's customers include BuzzFeed, Major League Soccer, and the Arizona Coyotes.

Need a Volicon Replacement? Ask These Questions

December 16 2019 by Tina Nazerian

Developers               Loudness Graph_Dec_5.                          need-a-Volicon-replacement-ask-these-questions-question-mark-image                     

Is finding a replacement for your current broadcast monitoring and compliance solution on your to-do list? According to a recent survey we conducted, 73% of respondents are looking to do so by the end of 2020. Of those looking to replace their current broadcast monitoring and compliance solution by the end of 2020, 75% are specifically looking for a Volicon replacement (meaning, they’re using Volicon today). 

During your research, there are several questions you should ask yourself about features. (For tailored questions you should ask based on your organization type, read how three broadcast industry professionals—one at a cable company, the second at a local TV station group, and the third at an MVPD—would evaluate their next broadcast monitoring and compliance solution). 

 

1) Do I need loudness monitoring?    

Loudness Graph_Dec_5

    The loudness graph in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. 

In the United States, the CALM Act regulates the audio of TV commercials in relation to the TV program they’re accompanying. Having automated tools for finding loudness problems and being alerted whenever there’s an issue is immensely helpful. 

2) Do I need audio metering? 

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    The  Multiviewer in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance—with audio meters turned on. 

You might need to monitor audio levels without listening to the audio. If so, make sure your new solution lets you quickly determine audio levels for multiple feeds at a glance.  Loudness Peaks Dec 10Loudness Graph_Dec_5

3) Do I need closed captioning monitoring? 

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    Clip export with burn-in of closed captioning in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. 

The FCC dictates that TV stations, cable and satellite providers, and program producers are responsible for closed captioning compliance. If your organization is found to be out of compliance, the fines can add up—the FCC considers each episode of a program with defective captions to be a separate violation. It’s vital to have a tool that can help you verify that your closed captions ran as they should have. 

 

4) Do I need to analyze ratings? 

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     The ratings display graph in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. 

If you get ratings data from Nielsen or other providers, you can import that data to help you visualize it and analyze ratings performance for your content. For example, you can compare how different channels perform over specific times and dates to gain additional insights, such as whether you might have gotten low ratings on one channel because the majority of your viewers were watching another channel during that time period. 

5) Do I need ratings audio watermark monitoring? 

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    An alert from SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance about a missing audio watermark. 

Audio watermarking is an important part of having accurate ratings data. If your organization uses ratings audio watermarks (such as Nielsen audio watermarks), it’s important to have a tool that can alert you if those watermarks are missing.

6) Do I need SCTE-35 message monitoring? 

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SCTE-35 message monitoring in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. 

If you work at an MVPD, you’ll want to be notified if there aren’t any commercial messages in the stream. If it gets to the point where a broadcaster sees an ad not run, the broadcaster will contact you saying they didn’t get an avail message for that ad. Then, you’ll need to be able to easily jump to the date and time in question to look for the splice_insert for that particular avail.

 

7) Do I need as-run log integration? 

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     As-run logs in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. 

If you need to prove to advertisers that their ads ran, it’s important to have a tool that lets you easily find specific ads in the as-run logs, create clips, and directly email advertisers those clips. 


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can easily migrate your as-run and Nielsen ratings import configurations from Volicon. SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance is the official Volicon transition partner and  has solutions for loudness monitoring, audio metering, closed captioning monitoring, ratings monitoring, audio watermark monitoring, SCTE-35 monitoring, and as-run log integration.

Loudness Monitoring: Developer Q&A

November 27 2019 by Tina Nazerian

This is the first blog post in our series, "Behind the SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance Feature." 

"With SnapStream, instead of broadcast engineers having to manually look for the loudness problems, the problems will come and find them." — SnapStream developer Paul Place 

Developers               Loudness Graph_Dec_5Loudness Graph_Dec_5 .                                            The loudness graph in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance.                                          

Key Takeaways

1) When they were building the loudness feature in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, developers Paul Place and Tim Parker had extensive conversations with Volicon users. 

2) During those conversations, they learned the major pain points Volicon users had with the product—such as having to manually look at the loudness graph daily.

3) In turn, they built a solution with an emphasis on exception based monitoring. 


When they were building the loudness feature in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, developers Paul Place and Tim Parker spoke to multiple prospective customers. They dug into what in Volicon worked for them, and what didn’t—so they could make loudness monitoring in our own product comprehensive and user-friendly. 

They recently discussed their journey developing the loudness feature. 

 

Developers

SnapStream developers Paul Place (left) and Tim Parker (right).       

SnapStream: What research went into building SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance’s loudness monitoring features? 

Tim Parker: We started with Volicon. We took a look at was in the Volicon UI, and that gave us a bunch of hints on where we needed to start our research. 

When you open up the Volicon UI, you see things like ITU-R BS.1770 mentioned, or ATSC mentioned. Once you start looking at one of those documents, you realize there's a chain of documents that fit together. For the United States, it starts with the CALM Act, which then points to ATSC A/85 RP, which then points to the ITU-R BS. 1770 reference. 

We spent time doing extensive research on loudness specifications and how loudness is computed. We did it this way because we didn't just want to follow what others had done without knowing how and why it worked. We wanted a deep knowledge of what loudness really is so we knew that the product we planned to build would work the way our customers expect.

Loudness Peaks Dec 10Loudness Graph_Dec_5Loudness Peaks Dec 10

You can easily look for loudness peaks in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance's loudness graph. 

What insights did you gain from the conversations you had with Volicon customers? 

Paul Place: We focused a lot on how they were using Volicon. The Volicon UI is kind of confusing because there's a number of things they present that aren't in the standard. Were customers using short interval computations, for example? What are they, why do customers care? Volicon also has long interval integrated value computations. What are they, why do customers care? 

Interacting with customers and understanding their workflows helped us understand these features and pinpoint what was actually useful for them. 

For example, we put the short interval values into our product because it made sense to us—they allow the customer to do things like select the end of a program segment and figure out what the integrated loudness is for just that commercial. 

In other words, one of the biggest use cases for our customers is: is something too loud? The offender is usually a commercial. 

What happened with Volicon is that they sort of accrued features over time—some of them more useful than others. There's a lot there that we couldn't find anybody using.

Parker: It's an interesting ecosystem because there's basically two layers at play here. There's the layer of automation that ensures the loudness is normalized before it goes to the customer's set top box. 

And then we come in at the end of the chain, after it's been broadcast to the viewer. We're verifying that yes, this loudness is normalized. So when a viewer complains that something is loud, a broadcast engineer wants to analyze what went out to that viewer and see where it was loud. 

That helps the broadcast engineer identify what part of that chain—before it went out to the viewer—is not working properly. Broadcast engineers have devices and software that make sure that loudness is normalized, but sometimes they get out of spec or they stop functioning properly. We're the last step in making sure that everything is working properly for them.

Clip Export with Burn in Video-_1

Clip export with burn-in of loudness data in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance.

What were some major pain points Volicon users had that you both addressed? 

Place: We started to see a pattern of these broadcast engineers being reactive. Volicon didn't really offer a good means of identifying program segments that were out of compliance. One broadcast engineer we spoke to would just scan and look at the peaks and valleys on the loudness graph. When he saw a peak, he would zoom in to see if there was a problem. 

He had to go through this very manual process daily. Every single morning, he got in and he had a checklist of things to do. One of them was to look at the loudness graph for any problems. 

We knew we could do better than that in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. We’re giving broadcast engineers automated tools for finding the loudness problems and alerting them. With SnapStream, instead of broadcast engineers having to manually look for the loudness problems, the problems will come and find them. 

Volicon had an alerting system, but it was difficult enough to use that nobody we talked to used it, at least for loudness monitoring and compliance. Volicon users said they got a lot of alerts that they had to sift through to find the things they cared about. That made it not useful. 

Loudness Reportloudness report

Loudness report in SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. 

SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance has a loudness graph and clip export with the option to burn-in loudness data. It also generates loudness reports. Could you give some more details on each? 

Parker: I've seen screenshots of other loudness tools and they generally do just the report feature, or you get a spreadsheet with numbers essentially. 

I think the way we present the loudness graph in the UI makes it easy for users to interact with and scrub the data—versus having a spreadsheet, which is limited in what it presents. 

Place: I think the visual indicators are very useful. For example, looking for peaks on the loudness graph. Say you have a day’s worth of data. You can easily see if a part of your feed fell above the maximum loudness target, and then be able to drill down and learn more. 

We’ve put a lot of engineering effort into making the loudness graph usable and responsive. You can zoom in and zoom out, for example. 

Parker: The clip export with the option to burn-in loudness data gives broadcast engineers evidence they can send to someone—for instance, to a colleague, saying “Hey, you need to fix this. Here’s the data.” 

And the goal of the loudness reports is to help users close to loop, so to speak. It’s a way for them to present proof to the FCC or another external stakeholder. 


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. Our solution includes loudness monitoring, closed captioning verification, audio watermark detection, and more. SnapStream also offers tools for searching TV; sharing TV clips to Twitter, Facebook, and more; and sharing clips of live events to social media in real-time. 

3 Ways to Give Your Election Coverage a Leg Up

November 26 2019 by Tina Nazerian

Axios-Tulsi-Gabbard-Tweet (1)                                                                                   

Much of the national conversation about the 2020 presidential election happens on TV—and being able to search, track, and clip that conversation can give your election coverage a leg up. 

 

Find Exact Moments

SnapStream-TV-Search (1)

 

Maybe you missed a candidate’s appearance on a news show, or simply didn’t catch a particular comment she or he made during a debate. With SnapStream, you can search through the closed captioning text and program guide data for all the TV shows you have recorded to instantly find the exact moments you’re looking for. 

You can search for a particular candidate’s name (such as “Bernie Sanders”), and even refine your search to find narrower matches (such as “Bernie Sanders” and “Elizabeth Warren”). 

 

Track Mentions with TV Alerts

Bernie Sanders-and-Elizabeth-Warren-TV-Alerts

With SnapStream’s TV Alerts feature, you can get consistent emails about the search terms that matter to you and your reporting. 

Each SnapStream TV Alert is made up of one or more search queries (ranging from simple to advanced). You can set up an unlimited number of TV Alerts, and dictate the frequency and time of day you get them.  

For example, you can set up TV Alerts for the search terms “Bernie Sanders,” and “Elizabeth Warren” to appear in your inbox every day at 9 AM. 

Additionally, you can send TV alerts to as many people as you’d like. 

 

Clip Videos for Increased Engagement on Social Media 

BuzzFeed-News-Joe-Biden-Tweet (1)

Did a candidate say something surprising on TV? Did a commentator or spokesperson make an interesting, insightful comment about the election? 

While you can write out a tweet or Facebook post quoting what was said, doing so takes away a lot of the nuance. Creating a video clip of that moment and sharing it on social media would be more powerful. Your followers would not only get to listen to what was said, but they’d also be able to glean additional context, such as tone and body language. 

They’d also be more likely to engage with your posts. On Twitter, for example, tweets with video get 10x more engagement than those without. 

With SnapStream, you can clip any moment from broadcast TV to create a video, GIF, or screenshot. You can then instantly share that moment to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. You can also vertically crop clips for sharing on Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.

 


SnapStream makes broadcast TV searchable, and live video and broadcast TV social. Users can find any moment and mention on TV by searching closed captioning data and setting up TV Alerts. They can also instantly capture, create, and share video clips, GIFs, and screenshots to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as create square and vertical clips for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. SnapStream's customers include BuzzFeed, Politico, CNN, and the Media Research Center. 

Twitter LiveCut & SnappyTV Alternative: 3 SnapStream-Powered Posts with 500k+ Views

November 22 2019 by Tina Nazerian

St. Louis Blues-Stanley-Cup-Tweet (1)                                                                                   

The deadline for finding a SnappyTV alternative is approaching. SnappyTV will shut down on December 31. Twitter LiveCut, the tool Twitter has replaced it with, has limited functionality

SnappyTV versus Twitter LiveCut vs SnapStream

To keep your momentum on social media, it’s important to find a powerful SnappyTV alternative that enables you to record, clip, and share moments from live video and broadcast TV. 

With SnapStream, you can do everything you did with SnappyTV—and more. Here are three SnapStream-powered sports social media posts that got over half a million views. 

 

1) LSU Football's FB Clip of Marcus Spears's ESPN Appearance 

LSU Football alumnus Marcus Spears appeared on ESPN’s Get Up! show after the LSU Tigers won their first game against the Alabama Crimson Tide since 2011. Using SnapStream, LSU Football clipped his appearance on the show and posted it on its Facebook page. 

The post got more than 600,000 views, close to 9,000 shares, and almost 10,000 likes. 

 

2) The St. Louis Blues’ Tweet of the Stanley Cup Final

In June 2019, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup for the first time. 

Their social media team tweeted a video clip of the final few seconds of that fateful game—and the players hugging each other and celebrating their historic win. That tweet garnered 2.2 million views, more than 15,000 retweets, and close to 50,000 likes. 

 

3) SportsNet New York’s Tweet of a Quinnen Williams Moment

During a press conference, Quinnen Williams, a defensive tackle for the New York Jets, had an awkwardly funny moment. 

SportsNet New York clipped and instantly posted that video on Twitter. It went viral, getting 3 million views, more than 7,000 retweets, and more than 28,000 likes. 

 


Looking for a SnappyTV alternative?  With SnapStream, you can ingest HLS and RTMP streams, natively export content to a variety of third-party services, record and search TV, and do a lot more. 

SnapStream Product Demo (watch now)

Replacing SnappyTV Webinar - Recording

 


SnapStream makes live video and  broadcast TV social. Our technology lets users instantly capture, create, and share video clips, GIFs, and screenshots to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as create square and vertical clips for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. SnapStream's customers include BuzzFeed, Major League Soccer, and the Arizona Coyotes.

Ask These 3 Questions During Your Search for a SnappyTV Alternative

November 09 2019 by Tina Nazerian

Snappy Question                                                                                   

SnappyTV is going away December 31, 2019—meaning users have just several weeks left to find an alternative (LiveCut, the tool Twitter is replacing SnappyTV with, has limited functionality). 

You should ask these three questions as you search for your new solution.

 

What kind of streams does this tool support? 

hls-rtmp

Depending on your organization’s needs, you might use either RTMP or HLS streams, or both. However, Twitter LiveCut doesn’t support HLS streams—it only supports RTMP streams. 

When doing your research, ask what streams the product you’re considering supports. Having the option to use multiple types of streams gives you and your team flexibility.

 

Does this tool have broad native support for CDNs and OVPs?

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You might also want to be able to natively export the clips you create to a variety of third-party services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and YouTube. Twitter LiveCut does not support natively exporting to any third-party platforms. 

If you need to use OVP, CDN, and MAM services, make sure the tool you’re considering natively integrates with them. That way, you won’t have to resort to manually downloading clips and then uploading them to third-party services.

 

Does this tool record TV in addition to live video? 

tv-recording

Having recordings of broadcast TV in addition to recordings of your own video feeds can give you more content to use. You can bolster your organization’s social media accounts by creating and posting video clips, GIFs, and screenshots from your own feeds as well as from broadcast TV. 

Make sure that the tool you’re evaluating has a built-in Electronic Program Guide (EPG) to easily schedule recordings of different channels. Closed caption-based search is another powerful feature. It can make finding great content easy. 

For example, say a leader at your organization gets invited as a guest on a news program. A tool that enables you to search through the closed captioning data to find that TV appearance, create a clip of it, and share that clip to your organization’s social media accounts can ultimately lead to more engagement from your followers. 


Looking for a SnappyTV alternative?  With SnapStream, you can ingest HLS and RTMP streams, natively export content to a variety of third-party services, record and search TV, and do a lot more. 

SnapStream Product Demo (watch now)

Replacing SnappyTV Webinar - Recording

 


SnapStream makes live video and broadcast TV social. Our technology lets users instantly capture, create, and share video clips, GIFs, and screenshots to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as create square and vertical clips for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. SnapStream's customers include BuzzFeed, Politico, and the Arizona Coyotes. 

3 Key Changes that Made Broadcast TV More Accessible in the U.S.

November 08 2019 by Tina Nazerian

Geoff Freed 2                                                                    

 

Key Takeaways

1) The "Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990" set the stage for modern accessibility, requiring TV hardware to support closed captions.

2) At the same time, a surge in the number of captioning agencies lowered prices and helped make closed captions ubiquitous.

3) Closed captioning requirements came to some online video through the "Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)" of 2010. 


 

In the 1980s, if you wanted to view closed captions on your TV, you had to buy a separate set-top box or telecaption decoder. Nowadays, however, you can simply press a button on your remote, and the closed captions will appear on your screen. 

That’s just one way broadcast TV has become more accessible to audiences. As broadcast technology has advanced throughout the years, laws have been put in place to make sure those changes are accessible to a variety of people. 

Geoff Freed has spent more than 30 years leading broadcast, web, and multimedia accessibility initiatives at WGBH in Boston. He’s the Director of Technology Projects and Web Media Standards at the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), which operates out of WGBH

Throughout his career, he’s seen changes that have made broadcast TV more accessible. Here are the three most major ones he’s seen. 


Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990

56b1e4ac670aec7c60c35c4a4a992b76

A telecaption decoder.

Freed says that the initial broadcasts of TV programs with closed captions occurred in March 1980. Those TV programs were: 

1) "Semi-Tough" (ABC Sunday Night Movie)

2) "Masterpiece Theater" (PBS) 

3) "Son of Flubber" (NBC's Wonderful World of Disney)

However, if viewers wanted to view captions on their TV screens, they had to go out and purchase a set-top box or telecaption decoder. Telecaption decoders weren’t cheap. Freed says they cost about $250 back then, or about $700 today. 

“If you were deaf and you wanted to watch TV, you not only had to buy a TV like everyone else, but you had to find another device so you could follow along with what's going on,” he says. 

The Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990, which went into effect July 1, 1993, changed that. The law states that if a TV receiver has a picture screen 13 inches or larger manufactured or imported for use in the US, it must have built-in decoder circuitry to display closed captions. The law also requires the FCC to ensure that as there are advancements in video technology, consumers continue to get closed captioning services. 

“With the enactment of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990, suddenly most TVs sold in the US could decode captions for no extra cost,” he says. 

 

A Surge in the Number of Captioning Agencies

WGBH logo

WGBH's logo. Captions were originally invented for broadcast TV at The Caption Center at WGBH. 

Freed says that one of the major shifts that came with the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 was an increase in captioning agencies. 

He explains that captions were originally invented for broadcast TV at The Caption Center at WGBH. WGBH began providing open captions, or captions that viewers see and cannot turn off, in 1971. Open captions were the way that TV programs were captioned until closed captions, which viewers can turn off, came along around 1980. 

The Caption Center at WGBH was the world’s first captioning agency. The FCC set up the National Captioning Institute (NCI) in 1980 as a way “to quell objections from networks like ABC and NBC who did not want to pay a PBS station—WGBH—to create captions for their programming,” Freed explains. Shortly after the NCI was established, a third one, called VITAC, came onto the scene. They’re still in business. 

Only a small percentage of TV programs had captions until about 1991. There were no laws at that time mandating that TV programs had to be captioned. The closed captioning audience was small (Freed notes that by about 1992, only about 400,000 set-top closed caption decoders had been sold) and captions were expensive to create and code. Producers “were reluctant to spend money on captions because the size of the audience was so small compared to the general viewership.” 

Yet, those three organizations—WGBH, NCI, and VITAC—still kept busy. And in the early 1990s, there was an increase in captioning agencies. While the primary cause for that increase was the passage of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990, another cause was the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That law, among other things, established new rules mandating closed captions for broadcast TV. 

“Suddenly in 1991, I can remember doing surveys of broadcasters and asking them, ‘who's doing your captioning?’ and I'd hear names I'd never heard of before,” Freed says.  

He explains that the impetus for the passage of closed captioning laws and rules was advocacy from the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Viewers and numerous deaf and hard-of-hearing advocacy groups complained, and legislators eventually listened. 

“Captioning agencies, led in large part by The Caption Center at WGBH, fought very hard to get laws passed that mandated captions on TV, too,” he says. “As you might expect, most broadcasters fought back, citing high costs and the small audience as the main reasons they did not want to be forced to provide captions.” 

However, as captioning agencies increased, prices decreased. Freed says there was so much price competition that some captioning agencies shut down because they simply couldn’t afford to stay in business. 

“You often get what you pay for,” Freed says. “But these days it's typical for people to charge depending on the level of caption production that you choose. As a producer or program provider, you might pay a dollar a minute. In the early 1980s, mid 1980s you would pay, more or less depending on who was doing the work, $2500 per hour.” 

He adds that producers and broadcasters saw those lower prices and realized that “captions actually broadened” their audience to anyone who owned a TV. 

“Captions were also being shown to be useful to people who were not deaf or hard of hearing,” he says. “They were useful for teaching kids and adults how to read. They were also useful for teaching foreign languages to adults as well.” 

The surge of new captioning agencies in the early 1990s meant that captioning technology also advanced. Today, there are a number of “do it yourself” captioning tools that are mostly for the creation of online captions. Anybody who produces online videos can create their own captions with these tools, some of which are free (including the one NCAM makes).  

“Making these tools available makes it easy or sort of removes one more excuse for not providing captions for videos that are only distributed online,” Freed says. 

 

21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)

Office 1

Under the CVAA, when NBC puts "The Office" online, it must include closed captions, because the original program aired with closed captions.  

Broadcasters no longer solely distribute their content to television screens. They can now put their content in front of virtually anyone, anywhere via the internet. In October 2010, President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) into law to ensure that twenty-first century technologies are accessible to everyone. 

“What the CVAA basically did was make a number of rulings about captions and other accessibility matters,” Freed explains. 

One thing the law stipulates is that if a broadcaster airs a program with captions on TV, and then wants to put it on the internet, the web version has to have captions as well. 

“If you take a captioned program from broadcast and you put it on the internet in whatever form, such as moving it to a YouTube channel or embedding it on your own page, those captions have to travel with the program,” Freed says. 

One exception to that rule is that a program or video created and distributed solely for the web doesn’t need to be captioned. 

“There are no regulations mandating captions for videos that are created solely for the web,” Freed notes. However, he thinks that captions for web-only videos will eventually become mandatory. 

Another thing the law states is that certain types of devices, such as Roku boxes and smart TVs with internet capabilities, have to be accessible to people who can’t see the screen. 

“You can buy Roku boxes these days and similar devices that will speak to you if you can't see the screen,” Freed says. 

The law also states that on-screen program guides must be accessible to those who can’t see. 

“If you turn on the capability, you'll be able to listen to the menus and listen to all of the programming grids for Netflix or Amazon or whatever and use them with your remote control, even if you can't see the screen,” Freed says. 

The law has made an “enormous difference” to people who can’t see who have decided to cut the cord and go with online distributed media. 

“Up until this rule was passed, anybody who was blind or visually impaired and wanted to watch TV alone or wanted to watch a program alone via a smart app or a Roku box was out of luck because there was no way to operate it non-visually.” 


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. Our solution includes closed captioning verification, loudness monitoring, audio watermark detection, and more. SnapStream also offers tools for searching TV; sharing TV clips to Twitter, Facebook, and more; and sharing clips of live events to social media in real-time. 

Seeking a SnappyTV Replacement? Here’s How SnapStream Can Help

September 27 2019 by Tina Nazerian

image (22)                                                                                   

In July 2019, Twitter announced that it would be sunsetting SnappyTV by December 31, 2019, and replacing it with LiveCut, which is now part of its own Media Studio. 

If you’re looking for a SnappyTV replacement for your social media team, SnapStream might fit your needs. We’ve been making TV social since 2015. Here are some of the features our hundreds of customers, including BuzzFeed, Politico, and Talking Points Memo, use to share TV and live video to Twitter, Facebook and a variety of other OVPs and CDNs.

 

Live Tweeting and More Direct Social Sharing

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Using SnapStream to live tweet a moment from a football game. 

With SnapStream, you can clip a video or create a screenshot or GIF and instantly share it to your Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts—all within one interface. No need to manually download a clip or open a new tab. 

You can customize permission settings to control which users have the ability to share content to your organization’s social media accounts. 

 

Editing Tools

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Using SnapStream to vertically crop a clip to a 9:16 aspect ratio. 

You can vertically crop clips within SnapStream for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. You can crop clips to a number of dimensions—square, 9:16, 16:9, and 4:3. 

And regardless of which social media channel you want to push your content to, you can use SnapStream to add watermarks (such as your organization’s logo) and meme text.

 

TV Search and TV Alerts 

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Searching for TV mentions of the term "Microsoft" with SnapStream. 

Need to find an exact moment of TV? SnapStream’s TV Search uses closed captioning text and program guide data for all the TV shows you’ve recorded to instantly find “a needle in a haystack” on broadcast TV. 

SnapStream’s TV Search can comb through your entire library in seconds (even if your recordings go back for years). The advanced language algorithms correct the transcripts and make them more readable. They also identify syntax clues that make your search more reliable and useful. 

You can search for your organization’s name, the name of a public figure, and more. You can also refine your search using boolean and other operators (for example, you can search “White House” or “Oval Office.”) 

If you want to keep track of a particular keyword, such as “Houston Rockets,” you can create a TV Alert and get a notification in your inbox whenever that keyword is mentioned on TV.

 

Integration with 3rd Party Services

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The 3rd party services SnapStream supports. 

With SnapStream, you can get your video files where they need to be by natively exporting them to a variety of cloud services. 

SnapStream has native support for a broad set of cloud storage, OVP, CDN, and MAM services: 

  • Box.com 
  • Dropbox 
  • Google Drive 
  • OneDrive
  • Google Cloud Storage
  • Amazon S3
  • Azure Blob Storage
  • YouTube 
  • Vimeo
  • Ooyala 
  • Brightcove 
  • Sony Ci Media 
  • Frame.io

After you push your video files to a cloud service, you can archive them to save storage space within SnapStream.

 

Workflows

Workflows

An overview of how SnapStream's Workflows feature works. 

Workflows in SnapStream let you save time by swiftly automating tasks using simple dropdown menus. 

You can configure Workflows to trigger on certain events (such as “Recording Finished” or “Clip Created”) and then take a sequence of actions, such as moving or copying a file, or exporting a file to a third party cloud storage provider. 

 

SnapStream Product Demo (watch now)

Replacing SnappyTV Webinar - Recording

 

SnapStream makes TV social. Our technology lets users instantly capture, create, and share HD quality video clips, GIFs, and screenshots to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as create square and vertical clips for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. SnapStream's customers include BuzzFeed, Politico, and CNN.

How Twitter’s LiveCut Compares to SnappyTV

September 27 2019 by Tina Nazerian

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In July 2019, Twitter announced that it would be sunsetting SnappyTV by December 31, 2019, and replacing it with LiveCut, which is now part of its Media Studio. Both tools let you create clips from live or recorded feeds, and also let you directly share clips to Twitter.  

However, there are a few differences between the two tools as well (note: we aren't covering other tools, such as SnapStream, in this post. You can learn more about SnapStream's features here). 

 

Feature SnappyTV Twitter LiveCut
Sharing to Twitter Yes Yes
Creating clips from live or recorded feeds Yes  Yes
Sharing to Facebook & YouTube Yes No
Creating GIFs & screenshots Yes No
Supports exporting to CDNs & OVPs Yes No
Supports both RTMP & HLS streams Yes No

  

Twitter LiveCut Only Lets You Directly Share to Twitter

It’s important to post your content to a variety of social media channels, so you can reach different types of audience members (for example, Instagram users tend to be younger)


SnappyTV would let you directly push your content to a variety of social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. However, LiveCut will only let you directly share videos to Twitter. If you want to share a video you created with LiveCut to another social media platform, you’ll have to download the video file and manually post it, which will delay how fast you can get your content to Facebook and YouTube.

 

You Can't Create GIFs and Screenshots with Twitter LiveCut

GIFs and screenshots are some of the most popular types of content to use on social media. They help add variety to your social media strategy—and a great GIF can go viral and become part of the online conversation. 

While SnappyTV would let you create GIFs and images in addition to video clips, LiveCut only lets you create and share video clips.

 

Twitter LiveCut Doesn't Support CDNs and OVPs

Third-party Content Delivery Networks and Online Video Players like Brightcove and Ooyala are integral for many organizations. While SnappyTV supported a few different CDNs and OVPs, LiveCut does not support any third-party platforms. 

That means that with LiveCut, anytime you want to upload a clip to a third-party CDN or OVP, you’ll have to download it and manually do so.

 

Twitter LiveCut Doesn't Support HLS Streams

Your organization might use a variety of content stream formats, including both RTMP and HLS streams. 

You can ingest both RTMP and HLS streams in SnappyTV. However, with LiveCut, your only option is to use RTMP streams.


SnapStream makes TV social. Our technology lets users instantly capture, create, and share HD quality video clips, GIFs, and screenshots to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as create square and vertical clips for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. SnapStream's customers include BuzzFeed, Major League Soccer, and the Arizona Coyotes. 

SnapStream Product Demo (watch now)

Replacing SnappyTV Webinar - Recording

 

 

Q&A with Jim Bernier, Turner Broadcasting Engineering Veteran

September 26 2019 by Tina Nazerian

SnapStream Series: The Future of Broadcast Monitoring & Compliance 

 Jim Bernier Image                                                                                   

 

Key Takeaways

Jim Bernier's long career in transmission engineering spanned pivotal moments in media technology, such as: 

1) the transition from 24-hour logging VHS machines to digital recording 

2) the move from DTMF tones to SCTE messages for program insertion cues

3) the deployment of SMPTE 2110 workflows

 


When Jim Bernier started his career in the early 1980s, he used regular videotapes for spot airchecks. 

Throughout his 40-year career, he saw the broadcast monitoring and compliance space undergo many changes. He was most recently at Turner Broadcasting, where he was the Senior Director of Maintenance and Transmissions Engineering, Technology and Engineering, US NetOps. 

Bernier retired in August after 18 years at Turner. SnapStream interviewed him to learn more about the four decades he spent in broadcast monitoring and compliance, and how he saw the field evolve. You can read an excerpt from the conversation below, which has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

 

SnapStream: What made you want to have a career in the broadcast monitoring and compliance space? Why did you pick that particular career path?

Bernier: I started out working out for cable television when I was in high school, doing remote sports production. I decided at that point that I wanted to work in television and went to college for that purpose. Then shortly after I graduated from college, I landed a job at my hometown local TV station, WWNY-TV, as an engineer technician doing production work during the week and light maintenance engineering on the weekends. 

About four years into that, the chief engineer of the station was retiring. They were looking to change some of the processes around the engineering staff, and they asked me to take over as director of engineering for the station. From that point forward, I was always in the management of engineering. 

 

What did your day-to-day responsibilities entail at Turner?

They were all over the place. My team was responsible for supporting all of the on-air systems associated with the Turner Entertainment Networks and supporting systems. That happened to include our monitoring and compliance systems as well. So they were responsible for addressing any technical problems that arose, as well as the troubleshooting, installing, and replacing of equipment. My responsibilities for that were to manage that staff. I was also involved with strategic planning and look-aheads as far as technology and what's coming down the pike.

 

You were in the broadcast monitoring and compliance world for four decades. In what ways did you see the space change in your four decades in it?

Probably the most significant change came when we transitioned—we used to do this using long record, 24-hour logging VHS machines, which were basically slow-scan machines that would compress 24 hours into what where old VHS eight-hour tapes, which had horrible video quality and horrible, if any, audio quality.

It was basically used more for proving that commercials ran than anything else. It was not terribly useful for much more than that. When you made the jump to digital recording, and being able to encode and record on hard drives, now you had a much more robust recording that enabled my team to start using it for some troubleshooting in addition to simply validating whether or not the correct commercials aired and measuring the dropout time of any kind of on-air fault.

We could go back and reconstruct what actually occurred on air and, and use it to help in our diagnosis of either equipment or operational failures that caused what we call on-air disruptions or OADs. As that technology blossomed, going from simple MPEG2 records and into H.264 records, we were able to re-capture more of the actual stream itself, rather than just decode video and audio. That became another element of compliance monitoring that was extremely important. Especially as the FCC placed more requirements to provide statements of compliance for closed captioning and descriptive audio services.

On top of that we also started moving away from DTMF tones. In the cable universe we went from using DTMF tones in a secondary audio channel to trigger cable headends' local insertion opportunities to using SCTE-35 messages in the transport stream. We are able to decode those messages as well and verify that they went out, as they are part of the transport stream. 

This is important in terms of supporting our advertisers, as well as the distribution arm of Turner. They validate and confirm to our distribution partners, cable headends, and MVPDs that we did indeed include those SCTE messages for their local insertions, as well as the same messages being used as SCTE-104 messages in the streaming environment. 

All of that could not have been captured in the slow-scan VHS world that that we started with. Even prior to those, we were simply recording air-checks on regular videotape machines, which was horribly inefficient in terms of both storage space and price.

 

Recording air checks on regular videotape machines—that was when you first started in the early 80’s?

Early 80's would have been using regular videotape for spot air-checks. So if you had a high-profile show that was recording, you might record an air-check either on a one inch tape, possibly even a two inch quad tape, or three quarter inch tape. Sometimes you might have used a full-speed VHS tape. 

I want to say it was in the 90's probably that slow scan VHS came in. They actually spin them down so you could record. Their birth was in the security realm and then we just found them to be useful in terms of doing air-checks as well.

 

Before your retirement, you did one of the first SMPTE 2110 workflows for Turner. Could you give an overview of that experience, as well as your thoughts on the transition from SDI to SMPTE 2110? 

I go all the way back to analog. I saw the transition from analog video and audio into SDI. Then, the jump in bandwidth to include high-definition SDI, which was the mainstay up until very recently. 

SMPTE 2110 is the packetized version of the video and audio signal. We’ve migrated our plant to that standard. Everything that runs through our master control today is ST-2110 as a video source. 

We understand fundamentally both video and audio start as analog signals. It's how sight and hearing works in nature. Then, we've managed to take technology and digitize it, compress it, and find algorithms that allow us to move far more information in a smaller bandwidth to get to an end product where we then turn it back into an analog display. Because what people hear is analog audio and what you see is analog light video.

The use of ST-2110 made perfect sense, once we were able to get the switching speeds on routers to be able to handle it. It used to be that when you were routing or handling a video signal or an audio signal, even in the SDI world, the signal moved in one direction. You plugged it into an output of one device and an input into another device and the signal moved from, let's say, from left to right. 

ST-2110 is a data network essentially. It's actually bi-directional. So you take your cable, which could be a simple CAT-6 cable, and you plug it into a port on one device and plug it into the other device, and the communication between the two is bi-directional. And when you're dealing with some of the broadcast pieces, especially in terms of production, sometimes it gets a little tough getting your head wrapped around the fact that a device has both the input and output and it's running on one cable. It's a bit of a nuance that I've seen some people, counterparts, having a tough time grasping.

Once you're on a network, the signal itself is a stream, and is able to be joined by any device that's on that same network. So again, it's kind of like IP machines—if you know the IP address of a particular machine on the network, you can possibly look at its directory, if it's given you permission to do that, and you can pull files off of it or put files to it. Well, it's the same way with video and audio now. As long as you know what the IP address is and you have permission to access it, you can actually watch the video.

Very much like data networks, you don't necessarily have to limit yourself to the IP address itself. You also have what are in effect domain name servers that'll reconcile names to IP addresses themselves. So you're able to use names and name references rather than absolute IP addresses.

 

What do you think the future of broadcast monitoring and compliance holds?

Well, I think the future there is huge. What I'm seeing in terms of demand from our network management people—when I say network management I'm not talking about the data networking people, I'm talking about the TNT network, the TBS network—they want to know how their signals are being received by the consumer at the far end. 

That's always been kind of a trick, because once we send it out, it's out there and there are any number of elements that can adversely affect the consumers’ reception of that signal. As we move forward with more direct-to-consumer distribution platforms, the ability to get feedback on quality of service becomes more important, and tying that back into the actual timeline of our signals becomes extremely important to our management team and sales team.

An ability to gather a lot of different data metrics and performance metrics, and collect them all into a codified system that can then present it in a logical and sophisticated manner, becomes the key to the monitoring and compliance elements. 

The basic compliance stuff is already being done. They've tackled most of that in recent years. It's going to be the far end QoS experiences that we need to capture, then correlate it back to the playout timeline (as-run logs).


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. Our solution includes closed captioning verification, loudness monitoring, audio watermark detection, and more. SnapStream also offers tools for searching TVsharing TV clips to Twitter, Facebook, and more; and sharing clips of live events to social media in real-time. 

SnapStream is:
  • how The Daily Show finds TV clips for their show
  • how organizations clip TV to Twitter and Facebook
  • how broadcasters can monitor their feeds for regulatory compliance
  • and more
 

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