MovieLabs on the Importance of EIDR to the Future Media Supply Chain

Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR) global unique identifier system, which plays an important and relevant role in the future media supply chain, according to MovieLabs.

“EIDR is an important component” of today’s movie and TV distribution ecosystem, Kip Welch, VP of business development at MovieLabs and an EIDR board member, said Jan. 30 during a “Fireside Chat” called “Preparing for EIDR 2020 – The First Ten Years” at EIDR’s annual Participant Meeting in Playa Vista, Calif.

During the session, he and MovieLabs CTO Jim Helman explored the current architecture and outlined the new industry requirements and operating models to refresh the platform and accelerate adoption for global digital workflows driving efficient localization and dynamic audience measurement.

Welch noted that MovieLabs is funded by the six Hollywood movie studios – and, after Disney completes the purchase of 20th Century Fox, “soon to be five – to do different types of technology research.” He also pointed out that Helman and Raymond Drewery, VP of Europe Middle East Africa (EMEA) operations & principal scientist at MovieLabs, “were the original architects” of the EIDR system.

The MovieLabs Digital Distribution Framework (MDDF) is a family of specifications around digital distribution that covers, among other things, common metadata and EIDR, Helman told attendees.

Although there are “a lot of IDs” across the movie and TV distribution ecosystem – not just EIDR – and each is used for different purposes, “EIDR is the one that has a persistent registry behind it that can be looked up, that can be used across workflows [and is] the only one that isn’t a dumb number,” Helman said.

What’s a “very important thing to us at MovieLabs – especially this year – is figuring out how to connect workflows – not just transactional, which we love, but also” subscription video on demand (SVOD), audio video on demand (AVOD), in-flight entertainment workflows, digital-first workflows and other workflows, he said.

“All those systems are not connected by the same people, the same departments within the same company, the same terminology,” he pointed out, adding: “We need to have a way of bringing those things together if we as an ecosystem and an industry are going to be successful at an umbrella level, not just in our individual silos. And EIDR is a key enabling component for making that happen because it’s the only ID that can cross those workflows effectively and allow anyone to look it up anywhere in the chain.”

EIDR is also “tailor-made” for cross-platform search, according to the MediaLabs executives, who stressed how important it is for everybody in the media and entertainment industry to talk to colleagues in other silos within their organizations. “We have to have the same ID popping up in broadcast as in digital-first” and other distribution platforms, according to the company, conceding how challenging it is to be working together on initiatives like this because we’re all used to working within our own silos.

It’s also important to “make sure the business rules and specifications and the workflows built around” the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) “for broadcast workflows aren’t so different from what we’re going to do in home entertainment that they don’t connect, and we’ve wasted an opportunity,” according to MediaLabs.

Blockchain, meanwhile, can be valuable technology. When you need a clear, auditable chain, blockchain is good to have in “a world of partial trust where things get handed down from one party to another,” according to the company. MediaLabs is in the middle of a project now in which it’s looking at using a blockchain database “to facilitate another aspect of supply chain automation for the entertainment industry,” it noted.

Turning to the next generation of EIDR — 3.0 – MovieLabs noted: “There are lots of things that we would love to take advantage of now, but we really don’t have the infrastructure… But for title matching and such we could do a much, much better job and probably reduce the load… if we had machine learning actually driving our title matching, for which it’s very well-suited.” Looking ahead, “we’re going to have more and more categories of things that are going to need to have identifiers,” according to MovieLabs.

This all started on the home entertainment side of the business – the distribution side of the business, in other words, moderator Guy Finley, president of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), pointed out. He added that the industry still has some ways to go, especially when it comes to the content creation side of the business.