Metadata are an important ingredient for any business strategy in the media field, both at the industry and individual company level. At the industry level this can be seen from the large number of initiatives that have developed or are still in the process of developing metadata standards, because it is hoped that metadata serving the intests of an industry will prop up that industry’s business. At the company level this can be seen from the attempt of many pay TV Service Providers (SP) to offer access to their content through proprietary Electronic Program Guide (EPG) technologies. The other main application domain, streaming video on the Internet, does show that meaningful business models exist, to the extent that many services providers feel compelled to have a presence in that domain. While there is hope that such sophistications as metadata can be finally put in the picture, there is more than a possibility that the internet will become little more than a place where you can start offering services à la CATV, with minimal variations of business model.
This may explain why there are still few cases of significant uses of MPEG-7 in the marketplace. The pay TV model forces every provider to make all investments that are needed for an effective access to AV information. As a result every SP has very primitive forms of content access. On the other hand, it is true that, in spite of the confusion surrounding the word “convergence”, more content reaches the end users through multiple channels, each of which used to be controlled by a single industry. Content Providers who will want to exploit multichannel distribution opportunities for their content will need metadata that are truly generic, and there is no other metadata standard but MPEG-7 with this feature.
The TV Anytime Forum (TVA) is an organisation MPEG has dealt with in the latest phases of MPEG-7. TVA was one splinter group of the latter-day DAVIC work, when the management of that body had proposed the continuation of DAVIC beyond the 5-year date with a program of work centred on two projects: “TV Anytime” and “TV Anywhere”. The DAVIC membership did not support the continuation of the organisation but the idea of “TV Anytime” continued as a loose organisation of interested companies. The original idea of TV Anytime was that of a TV receiving device, like some products currently available, that has storage capacity and therefore could extend the use of the broadcasting channel by letting the receiver “pick” programs of interest to the user when they are actually transmitted so that the user could watch those programs when he had time for it. To achieve its goal TVA adopted a significant set of MPEG-7 technologies in its specifications.
At the completion of version 1 of MPEG-7 in July 2001 there was talk of setting up an MPEG-7 Alliance (MP7A), an organisation with a scope similar to M4IF. Eventually it was found more convenient to extend the scope of M4IF to host MPEG related interests. The proposal was accepted at the June 2003 M4IF General Assembly. The organisation continued with the new name of MPEGIF, but it merged with the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) in 2013. OIPF itself merged with the HbbTV Association.