FuboTV first vMVPD to deploy SCTE standard for local sports blackouts

Sports-themed vMVPD fuboTV is the first virtual pay-TV service to deploy SCTE 224, a technical standard for dealing with local blackouts and providing alternate streams of content to various groups of viewers.

Local blackouts have been a technically vexing issue for virtual MVPD operators like DirecTV Now, which notably struggled to deal with local station blackouts of NFL games in December. 

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If, say, the New York Giants visit the Washington Redskins for a nationally televised game on FOX, a national vMVPD operator must black out local customers in the D.C. area, but also provide an alternate FOX feed for these viewers. 

There are also device considerations. Since Verizon controls smart phone rights to NFL games, vMVPD operators must provide alternate FOX feeds for iOS and Android platforms. 

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“Being the first to fully implement SCTE 224 [allows fuboTV’s] broadcast partners to precisely communicate blackouts and alternate streams of content,” fuboTV spokesman Matt Biscuiti said in an email. “For example, FuboTV can automatically modify video streams on a per user basis to implement the requirements of its network partners--particularly relevant with geographic blackouts for RSNs and O&Os, as well as any device restrictions for particular sports content. The whole process works with zero human intervention, and is carefully monitored and double checked by other automated processes.”

As Multichannel News noted, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers developed SCTE 224 to cope with the migration of pay-TV operators into multiscreen apps. 

“As distributors migrate to IP-delivered content, systems must be created to replicate the traditional functional systems in order to create a contiguous service capability between QAM and IP video delivery,” a white paper on the standard says.