Cognitive Solutions: The Next Chapter In Streaming Video On Demand

Share this post:

“Now that we’ve found love what are we going to do with it?”

The lyrics to a popular 1970’s song pose a question that is at the heart of the rapidly advancing world of streaming video services. Digital video has become the fastest growing data type in cloud workloads, expected to exceed 80 percent of all Internet traffic and to surpass $100 billion in market value in the next three years.

Clients across a wide range of industries are beginning to integrate video and use it as a strategic source of data and insight. Cognitive solutions are emerging as game-changers in three key areas:

  • Audience – Integrating new data points, social media cues and collaborative filtering to understand how the client’s audience is segmented by motivation and how best to reach them.
  • Service – Measuring and predicting infrastructure as well as viewer behaviors in order to anticipate requirements before they are needed to ensure the highest level of quality for end users and clients.
  • Assets – Providing contextualized metadata about an asset that is deeper and more human than typical metadata and more accurate over time.

Consider the world of television. In less than a century, we have seen the morphing of the free broadcast network model (NBC, ABC, CBS and later, Fox) into the paid cable model pioneered by names such as AT&T, Comcast and Charter Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) to paid offerings like HBO, Showtime and ESPN.

Today we are in the midst of a new revolution. The rise of Streaming Video on Demand (SVOD) services, dominated by names like Netflix and Hulu, and the decline of appointment viewing has significantly changed how mobile consumers watch content today.

Contrary to what some have predicted, however, we are not seeing a major decline in cable viewers. Instead, many of them are simply adding SVOD subscriptions to their existing cable packages.But it is clear that a growing number of Americans are falling in love with a la carte services that give them the freedom to watch what they want, when they want, and on multiple devices.

According to a recent study by Pivotal Research, more than 50 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to at least one SVOD service, up from 43 percent a year ago.

But VOD providers dare not take these new subscribers for granted. They must ask themselves, “now that we’ve got them, how do we keep them?” Anyone who has ever been in a new relationship understands that the answer is to keep exploring new ways to keep it fresh.

One way is to dig deeper through the use of cognitive analytics to uncover new insights to benefit both consumers for unique and more personalized experiences and to help organizations with targeted marketing strategies.

While the amount of video has grown dramatically in recent years, the format remains largely untapped for data because recognizing content requires complex analysis of variables involving sight and sound. This leaves consumers challenged to find the content they want and content providers challenged with identifying content that will resonate with specific viewers.

Suppose, for example, you don’t just want to binge watch every episode of “Breaking Bad” over the weekend, but you are interested in seeing every scene between Walt and his son, Walter, Jr. Existing technology already in the market can be used to segment videos based on simple visual cues, such as a change in camera shots.

But we are working on a pilot project that uses experimental cognitive technology to identify higher-level concepts, such as when a show or movie changes topics. This new service uses deep learning analytics to process the complex variables of video and understand what they mean. That is something a subscriber might like to cozy up to on a regular basis.

Instead of spending many long hours manually extracting this kind of detailed data, companies can use IBM Watson to help complete the task in an instant.

These capabilities are just some of the new ways cognitive technology is being applied to video to help clients better understand content and produce more engaging experiences for consumers. In fact, cognitive solutions are already moving from TV land to the big screen.

Just recently, IBM Research worked on a project that used experimental Watson APIs to learn from previous horror trailers what makes them effective and identify relevant scenes in to help a filmmaker create a new “cognitive movie trailer.”

Now that the country and the world are falling in love with SVOD services and other video services, where do we go from here?A few suggestions: Apply cognitive solutions to gain a better understanding of your audience so you can develop or acquire content based on their desires. Keep surprising them with something new and unique. And make room on the couch and in the theater for Watson. Sounds like the formula for a great relationship.

To learn more about the new era of business, visit

General Manager, IBM Cloud Video Services

More stories

Houston, We’re Live Streaming

Since people around the world first gathered around black-and-white televisions to watch the 1969 moon landing, the general public has been fascinated by space, craving more visual information about the final frontier. At NASA today, we are on a mission to find new ways to share our discoveries on Earth and in space. Before the […]

Continue reading

An Open Letter to the President-Elect

International Business Machines Corporation Office of the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer One New Orchard Road Armonk, New York 10504-1783 November 14, 2016 Mr. Donald J. Trump Office of the Presidential Transition 1800 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 Dear Mr. President-elect: Congratulations on your election as the 45th president of the United States. […]

Continue reading

How New Algorithms Are Helping to Predict Food Dangers

Thanksgiving in the United States, like other holidays around the world, places food at the center of a joyful celebration — and at the forefront of our minds. As we plan, shop, prepare, cook and share our celebratory meals, we are careful to include not only flavors that our loved ones enjoy, but also foods […]

Continue reading