What Big Metadata Means for the Future of TV


TV Metadata is becoming increasingly rich and complex – powering increasingly advanced experiences.

At a basic level, metadata tells us which programmes are available, and informs us about the content of those programmes. But metadata is getting richer and even bigger to support more visually engaging and functionally sophisticated user experiences. Now - add into the mix all the other data sets that the viewer has exchanged for an improved connected experience. At this point, we’ve tipped over into “Big Data”.

Harnessing Big Metadata

So what does the future of Big Metadata look like? Let’s imagine we’ve combined together every conceivable piece of consumer information belonging to a viewer.

We’ve got access to their social profiles, search history, on-line retail accounts, data from their mobile devices about where they’ve been and for how long, including from their vehicles. Then imagine we’ve refined, analysed and blended that information together and can make decisions based on this information in real-time.

In short, we’ve harnessed Big Metadata, what can we now use it for?

We can truly revolutionise the way that information and choices are presented to those viewers (including ads of course). Using Big Data techniques and a good deal of algorithmic “art”, choices can be simplified. Content can now be highly targeted to that viewer and more importantly, highly targeted in time, location and context.

Let’s imagine that I’m that viewer. I’m about to leave the house but I have 15 minutes to kill. What can I watch to pass the time? Don’t suggest a movie I might like, there’s only time for cats on skateboards. Offer me a chance to buy a related product? Not now, you know I only shop on-line late at night. Sync some appropriate content to my car’s entertainment system? Yes, perfect. How did you know I was going out for lunch?

Processing Big Metadata

Big Data is defined as having more data to process than conventional systems can handle. At this point, the traditional devices become obsolete and the only practical approach is to move all data processing to the Cloud, leaving the physical device for little more than presentation only.

Couple that with the steps towards cloud based DVRs and it’s clear that this trend already happening.

Connected devices allow this ever-increasing volume of data to be delivered to consumer devices. Will the traditional set-top-box or IDTV cope with the strain?

Probably not. The client device from which we consume our content seems destined to become ever smaller, less functional but increasing more connected.

As technology catches up, today’s Big Metadata becomes tomorrow’s manageable metadata. Of course, as the sources of data grow, Big Metadata happens again and deriving further intelligence from the data is a continual challenge.

How do you think the TV industry will cope with the expanding amounts of metadata? Will it take a Google or Facebook to unlock its potential? Or can the traditional industry step-up? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Richard Kirk, Head of Development, Metadata