It can be frustrating when watching a TV Show or Movie and just at a crucial moment the program cuts to an ad right? This experience can be exaggerated in an online digital environment where sometimes the ad might come in too early or too late in the scene.
When we receive content from our content suppliers, the chapter markers for when to insert an ad break are often provided by the distributer and added to our content publishing system. One explanation for an ad break starting too soon and cutting off part of the scene is simply the ad chapter point has been added incorrectly.
However, even if the ad chapter marker has been added at the correct point, this doesn't guarantee the ad break will start exactly at the correct break in the scene.
SBS On Demand uses adaptive streaming technology to ensure that the video stream is as consistent as possible for the viewer even if their home network is unstable. This technology will allow the video stream to adapt to the viewer's network conditions through the duration of the video; if you have fast internet, you'll receive our best video quality but if your network is slow or drops out temporarily the video player will drop the video quality down so that you don't receive any buffering. In adaptive streaming the video can be encoded into 'segments' of video of differing video quality or 'bit rates'. This allows the video to switch to a higher or lower bit rate according to the viewer's network conditions.
To deliver ads on SBS On Demand we use an ad delivery technology called 'Server-Side Ad Insertion' and a tool provided by Google called 'Google DAI'. In a Google DAI video stream, when the server finds the location of the chapter markers of the ad break, it has to 'split' the video stream to insert the ads, but it can only do so on certain frames in the video called 'keyframes'. However, a keyframe might not line up exactly with the start of a video segment and this is where the problem occurs and you'll notice a scene being interrupted or cut off.
In order to resolve this poor experience, we have been adding 'Creative Blacks' to the chapter markers of our programs. This is simply a couple of seconds of black screen at the point of the chapter marker for the ad break. This means that when lining up the ad break to the nearest keyframe this can now occur during the black screen as opposed to during the program itself, providing an experience that is more like when an ad break occurs on linear TV.
We have been systematically working through our content catalogue to add these creative blacks to the chapter markers but if you have been watching a program and see that the ad transitions are still cutting in too soon or too late please contact our Customer Service team with the details of the TV Show/Movie you are watching, and we can put the request in to our Technology team to add the creative blacks to the ad chapter markers for the program you were watching.