Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
WHAT IS ATSC WATERMARKING?
ATSC Watermarking is a suite of open standards that facilitate the resilient association of timed metadata to media content, allowing a broad range of enhanced media applications to be enabled through heterogeneous distribution environments.
WHY WERE THE ATSC WATERMARKING STANDARDS CREATED?
Advanced video services require the availability of timed metadata alongside video content. Many video delivery paths are unable to reliably deliver such metadata, either because the distribution paths provide no way for the to carry the metadata (e.g. legacy broadcast formats) or because the paths include processing (e.g. transcoding) or interfaces (e.g. HDMI) that do not preserve the metadata.
The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television with over 150 members, recognized the importance of timed metadata delivery to the success of advanced video services. ATSC issued a public call for technologies in 2014, announced the selected technologies in 2015, and issued the standards in 2016.
HOW IS ATSC WATERMARKING BEING USED?
ATSC has developed open standards for viewership measurement (ATSC A/333) and interactive television (ATSC A/344) that can be activated in televisions via ATSC Watermarking. CTA has developed a recommended practice (CTA CEB 32.10) for use of ATSC Watermarking to enable these features in ATSC 3.0 televisions (NextGen TV).
WHERE ARE THE ATSC WATERMARKING STANDARDS SPECIFIED?
The ATSC Watermark specifications are maintained by ATSC and freely available at the website https://www.atsc.org and include:
- ATSC A/334: Audio Watermark Emissions
- ATSC A/335: Video Watermark Emissions
- ATSC A/336: Content Recovery in Redistribution Scenarios
ATSC A/334 specifies a physical and data link layer for an audio watermark. ATSC A/335 specifies a physical and data link layer for a video watermark. ATSC A/336 specifies transport, session, and application layers for both the audio and video watermarks.
WHO OWNS ATSC WATERMARKING?
The ATSC Watermarking specifications are controlled by ATSC. They were created, ratified, and are maintained by the ATSC membership in accordance with the governance policies of the organization.
The ATSC Watermarking standards are open, meaning that anyone can access the specifications free of charge and use them for the purpose of building compatible products.
WHAT ABOUT PATENT RIGHTS?
Like many other broadcast and consumer electronics standards organizations, ATSC’s patent policy requires that its members make public representations regarding the existence of and licensing terms associated with their patent rights in ATSC specifications. These declarations are published on the ATSC website and those associated with the watermarking standards indicate that all patent holders, including Verance, have committed to making patent rights available on a reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) basis.
WHERE CAN I OBTAIN ATSC WATERMARKING IMPLEMENTATIONS?
Currently, Verance Aspect is the only commercial implementation of ATSC Watermarking. Aspect includes commercial products for ATSC watermark embedding and detection (both audio and video).
ATSC Watermark embedding using Aspect is currently available in broadcast equipment from Telos/Linear Acoustic, Ross, and Ateme.
ATSC Watermark detection using Aspect is currently available in televisions from LG and Hisense and in television chipset reference designs from MediaTek.
WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVALIABLE IF I WANT TO CREATE MY OWN IMPLEMENTATION?
Verance has released an open source example implementation of ATSC audio watermark embedding and detection.
A retired Sony video engineer published an open source example implementation of ATSC video watermark embedding and detection. This implementation has not been maintained, however, and varies in some respects from the published specifications.
DVB has published a set of ATSC Watermarking test streams that include DVB-compatible targeted advertising signaling.