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Media and Entertainment - Hooray for APIs!

By Alan Glickenhouse posted Thu February 05, 2015 01:34 PM

sundance_film_festival_2015_logo_detailTis the season for Media and Entertainment.  The Superbowl was last week, the Grammy awards are this weekend and Oscars not too far behind.  I just returned from a vacation to the Sundance Film Festival  (not an IBM funded trip). While everyone else was enjoying the movies (and I did too), I was of course thinking about how APIs would be used in Media and Entertainment.

media & entertainmentWe get our news, music, and watch entertainment on our mobile phone or use a smartphone to schedule going to the movies or theater. APIs are used to connect the mobile device to the necessary resources to acquire the media. APIs are also used to integrate partners, obtain value from social interactions, and target potential customers through data and analytics.

So, let’s explore how APIs are used in the Media and Entertainment industry. Once again I’ll use the structure I introduced a few weeks ago (here).

Mobile App Development – Common mobile capabilities provided by M&E companies include: ticket-icon

  • Basic APIs - media search, product catalog, pricing, description, try and buy via accessing clips/previews, seat availability

  • Custom APIs: enrollment/login, billing, making payments, reservations, schedule recording, personal play lists, cross-selling based on viewed items or history, for gaming create competitions and teams, and interactivity - engage the audience in choices affecting the flow of the entertainment, allow a self-directed viewing perspective.

  • Mobile advantages include finding a nearby theater and booking tickets. Geographic expansion – no longer is it necessary to have a physical presence to service a region.

What APIs are available today in M&E? Here are just a few samples of public APIs:

  • EIDR - EIDR (Entertainment IDentifier Registry) is a universal unique identifier system for movie and television assets. This helps improve internal asset tracking as well as decrease the risk of misidentifying media.

  • Flingo - The service sends video from websites to TVs, Blu-ray players, and other player devices via ordinary HTTP and JavaScript or Flash.

  • BBC – A complete ontology defines relationships among programs and their web properties. Also available is a comprehensive schedule, program listings by genre, and program details, including episode breakdowns. (note: currently a private API)

  • iTunes and App Store Search - place search fields on their website to search for content within the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore and Mac App Store.

  • eCoComa - allows users to search for videos from a variety of online sources. Given a keyword, the API retrieves a list of videos that are associated with the specified keyword. Calls exist to retrieve lists from MSN, AOL, Google, and Yahoo.

Besides creating Mobile Apps for their own customer’s accounts, there are many other areas where APIs can provide value for M&E companies.

video_storePartnering – M&E is implemented through a supply chain with content creators, distribution channels, retailers, etc. These participants in the chain can integrate through APIs for content acquisition, storage/retrieval, customer payments, content access, physical media delivery, customer service and account management. Multiple companies are in the chain, but a seamless experience is seen by the consumer. Cost structures are reduced through APIs instead of manual efforts.

Asset Management
Public APIs –M&E companies would like to make access to their Asset library and prices available for third parties to consume and use as part of their Apps to offer to consumers. Theater seat availability, pricing, and reservation APIs could be used by Apps for vacation planning or entertainment guides.


social icon imagesSocial – Twitter is buzzing about a new movie, actors are interacting with fans - M&E is all about social. Accessing social media(interest groups, twitter feeds) via APIs is a great resource for targeted advertising to a community that is likely to buy. Social interactions can be combined with consumer history and other contexts (e.g. location, calendar) through APIs to even further target appropriate messages.


Devices – Content is becoming associated with the individual, not a device. Today people start watching content on a TV move to another room and then watch the rest on a tablet while commuting to work. To enable this we need to support an individual accessing the content (authentication/authorization), understanding where they leave off and want to pick up as they move, and deliver the content to the appropriate device at the selected time/location. The simplest way to implement this scenario is through APIs.

Connected cars are media devices. Whether this is news alerts for drivers, personalized music playlists, or entertainment for passengers; the car is an emerging interface for media.


Devices continue to change. We’ve moved from fixed location devices like TVs to variable location devices like phones, tablets, and cars. Future interfaces will include wearables, windshield projection, and personal directed/targeted content. Content is sent to you as an individual based on where you are, who you are, your social interactions, and what is going on in your environment. Multiple individuals on the street may see different advertising content based on these factors. Content is separated from the device more than ever and APIs used to access the content from the device is how this will be achieved.

Data – Data collected on media accessed, viewing habits, and social comments is a tremendous asset that can be accessed via APIs. Analytics on consumers can lead to targeted marketing for future media that might be of interest. Access to the data via APIs can also be sold to other industries to cross-sell their products to consumers who are interested in certain media types.

M&E is heading toward consumer guided entertainment. Consumers will choose what content, time, location and interface they wish for their entertainment access. Virtual reality and 360 degree perspectives controlled by the consumer are happening. Manually integrating all the combinations would be an impossible task. APIs allow the individual assets to be accessed appropriately with customized pricing and delivery models providing time and location independent viewing. APIs accessing analytics based on customer usage provides tremendous value to an M&E company and to advertisers targeting high probability customers.

Hmmm, I wonder if IBM will send me to the Oscars? - To tell them all about the benefits of APIs of course.

Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion. You can also read my earlier blogs.




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