The VOD Metadata project is a cable television industry and cross-industry-wide effort to specify the metadata and interfaces for distribution of video-on-demand (VOD) material from multiple content providers to cable operators. The project does not address metadata or interfaces for distribution of VOD content from the cable operator to the consumer; cable operators today use several different vendor-specific methods for this distribution link. VOD Metadata is the electronically provided descriptive data associated with a content asset package, such as a movie. This metadata may vary in depth from merely identifying the content package title or information for viewer needs, to providing asset management resource information, or to providing business rules detailing how the content package may be displayed, copied, or sold.
VOD Content Specification 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0
Initial efforts focus on creating specifications for VOD and subscription VOD (SVOD) applications over MPEG-2 systems. The VOD Content Specification version 1.0 was released in February 2002. A second release in October 2002 created the Asset Distribution Interface Version 1.1 and the VOD Content Specification Version 1.1. It added features to deliver metadata separately from content and updating capability to the package. Both these releases use a text-based XML format to describe and to structure the metadata used in these applications.
In 2004, subsequent revisions to the 1.1 specifications have added support for new features such as High Definition Profile, carriage of vendor-specific trick, barker, and encryption files, and more flexible licensing windows. Versions 2.0 of Advertising Distribution, Content Specification, Specification Asset Structure and Specification Asset Inventory Messages were issued in early 2007. These new components to the specification allow for the adaptation of metadata structures to allow repurposing of content for different contracted applications and better controls over content distribution. The suite of VOD Metadata 2.0 specifications have become the de facto documents in the VOD industry used by content providers and application and server component vendors today for cable systems.
The VOD Metadata project benefits cable operators, and ultimately consumers, by:
- Lowering encoding costs incurred by the content provider;
- Creating interoperability between different vendors' VOD systems and equipment on the network side;
- Increasing service reliability through automated quality and validation checks; and
- Providing a mechanism to handle and offer new on-demand services or different variations of on-demand services.