Last year, public broadcaster VPRO produced a ten-part documentary series titled The Mind of the Universe, in which leading scientists from various fields were interviewed about their work. Aware of their role as a public institution, and looking for bigger impact, VPRO decided to distribute this series under an open license, allowing other people to re-use the materials for educational purposes. To cater to the needs of these ‘secondary’ users, VPRO, in collaboration with The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, launched the platform “Open Source Science TV”.
The platform contains all the raw materials that make up the interviews. To aid people unfamiliar with these interviews to find what they are looking for, Sound and Vision and VPRO have also manually segmented and tagged the material, and generated a transcript through automated speech recognition. Information about the license is easy to find and the materials can be downloaded in various file formats and qualities. By publishing materials in such a way reuse is made much simpler. The interviews, including the B-rolls, are also available on Wikimedia Commons, the media database of Wikipedia. Also, VPRO has worked with various universities to create online learning experiences, reaching an audience of thousands.
A practitioners’ statement was published reflecting on the experiences in the project. In it the various stages of publication are described and how these are affected by the notion of open publication. It concludes: publishing broadcasting materials under an open license comes with a number of challenges, but where these are tackled, there are significant benefits.
Because of the mind of the universe’s global nature, UNESCO decided to officially support the series. The open nature of the Mind of the Universe allows every broadcaster in the world to broadcast this series, in any form desired. This web based publishing of content is interesting in light of the ReTV project. The project aims to develop a so called Trans-Vector Platform (TVP) for the European media industry, focusing on broadcasters, aggregators or OTT re-broadcasters. After the publication of (annotated) content on different vectors, the TVP measures and analyzes audiences and their interaction with the TV content across all channels (such as traditional linear TV, VoD websites, a broadcaster’s own website, social web channels, and so on). Based on those interactions the TVP will propose and automatically create new content, by repurposing the existing content. We hope that this will ultimately attract more viewers while reducing production cost and therefore generate more value from media content.
Broadcasters face new competition from on-demand streaming platforms like Netflix, Maxdome and YouTube. Recently, also Facebook and Twitter joined the competition for live video. All these web-based platforms have been using the advantage of user data (especially account-based social media) and other back-channel information in the past years and have set de facto standards in the field of personalization and recommendation. To compete with these web-based content publishers, broadcasters need to embrace the opportunities of web-based publishing and exploit the available information on their users’ interests to provide personalized content (repurposing) and recommendations (reuse).
The Mind of the Universe is an example of how broadcasters can make their content accessible in a way that encourages further distribution in the age of the Internet. It is also a first step towards a personalised and interactive TV experience, and is therefore very valuable for the ReTV project.
This blog post was written with contributions from Jesse de Vos (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision)