Q&A: Matt Cuson, Minerva Networks

Matt Cuson, VP marketing and product, Minerva Networks, talks to DTVE about how Minerva Smart Highlights can empower sports fans and increase user engagement with services.

How would you describe Minerva Smart Highlights in a few words, and how does it enhance the viewing experience of sports?

Smart Highlights produces custom highlight reels and supports games from international soccer leagues including MLS NFL, MLB and NBA. Designed by sports fans for sports fans, it solves two main problems those fans face today. First, there’s not enough time in the day to watch all the games. So intelligently compressing a game to fit into the time available was key. Second is the ability to focus on specific players or types of plays that capture the excitement of the game. Whether a casual or avid sports fan, you can customise the highlight reels to fit the available time, or zero in on a favourite player or specific play type.

What are the key elements in creating compelling custom highlight reels?

First, we use the content streams from each individual operator to comply with content rights terms. Second, we merge game metadata with the game video to mark each play and give it an index score of relative importance. Scoring plays will carry the highest index of course. Then we apply some AI tools to refine the baseline index to determine which plays to include in each length of highlight reel. Based on the actual game, we determine which viewing durations are best for that specific game. Users can then watch two, five or 10 minutes of highlights. As a bonus, you have the option to watch every play without all the dead time. So three-hour NFL or MLB games can be compressed into 45 minutes. We do all this within 30 seconds of the end of the game so users have immediate access to their highlights.

What do TV operators need to do to use the service?

The Smart Highlights feature is part of Minerva’s larger video management platform. We sell our full platform to cable and broadband operators who want to offer a premium video service. However for Smart Highlights, we also have APIs to allow integration of the feature into an existing video service deployment not using the Minerva platform.

What are the other capabilities of the Minerva video platform?

Minerva provides a full end-to-end solution for managing FAST, Freemium and premium video entertainment services. We cover the full range of features you’d expect from a pay TV service with live, on-demand, cloud DVR, personal recommendations, trending etc. with support for all the popular consumer devices as well as the more traditional managed set-top boxes. In addition, we make it easy to integrate with any OTT application and if the operator has access to local apps or local content we can easily integrate with those local apps too.

How else can Minerva help pay TV operators counter the impact of OTT and cord-cutting?

Operators play a critical role as aggregator. They aggregate content across multiple sources as a convenience for users, but also aggregate customers for streaming services looking for distribution with lower cost and lower churn. The market still has the problem of too much content in search of too few viewing hours. This is where Minerva comes in. We power a platform that gives operators a low cost, scalable solution that can support modern business models. Operators can start with a fully free FAST service, or a near free Freemium service mainly paid for by ads that can be offered to all their broadband subscribers. Then, with Minerva’s easy to use built-in merchandising tools and customisable UI, operators can upsell to premium services directly from the device. With Minerva’s support for personalised and dynamic ad insertion (DAI), operators can enjoy higher ad rates, even on local or niche content. With the explosion of content and the advent of more flexible business models, operators still play a critical aggregation role. Minerva makes that possible.

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