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Blog: Implementing HD Commercials at ITV

In January 2016, the DPP’s common Specification for the Delivery of HD Commercials and Sponsorship material was published, and, here at ITV, we have been the first UK broadcaster to adopt the new specification.

We started to take delivery to the new specification from 9th April 2016 and the number of HD assets delivered has grown rapidly, ramping up to 1000 HD commercials by the end of May. Since then the numbers have continued to rise, and currently, over 50% of all commercials and sponsorship material delivered to ITV is now received in HD. We expect this number to rise significantly between now and Christmas.

The journey to get this genre of material on-air in HD has been a long but exciting one, and this has marked a very significant step forward for a category of content that had previously only existed only in Standard Definition.

The main challenge when implementing any new delivery standard, or changing any legacy workflow, is without question the one of change management, ensuring you bring key people on that journey of change with you, which is absolutely critical if your implementation is going to be successful. Given that commercials and sponsorship material is delivered directly from the commercial suppliers into broadcasters transmission providers, there was a lot of complexity involved in the end-to-end supply chain which we had to better understand.

As part of the process to define and agree the new common specification through the DPP, we started to engage with a wide range of commercial bodies involved in the end-to-end process who, operationally, broadcasters had never engaged with in the past. This included the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), APA (Advertising Producers Association), Audio Post Production Houses, Clearcast, IMD, Adstream, Honeycomb, Adtoox and the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). Not surprisingly, as with any seismic change, there were obstacles to navigate on the journey. None more so than our desire to include in the published specification an Exception Process for the delivery of content produced intentionally quiet for creative reasons, a requirement that is allowable for this genre of content within the EBU R128 Recommendation. The IPA, who represent the advertising agencies and the APA who represent the audio post-production industry, were adamant this was a process their clients needed. After a lot of collaboration with key stakeholders throughout 2015 the DPP successfully got agreement from all parties, resulting in us being able to include this important process in the technical specification.

During the course of the DPP’s work we built up excellent relations with key stakeholders, all of whom played a critical part in helping ITV implement the DPP HD Commercials & Sponsorship Specification.

This was a great example of the industry working collaboratively to achieve common goals, demonstrating the DNA that runs through the heart of everything the DPP does. Due to this on-going engagement we had buy-in at the point of publication, which made for a very smooth implementation indeed.

This blog was written by Bill Brown, Head of Media Standards, ITV