MLB Tracks Assets via Teletrax

By Andrew Lippe

In an effort to better track its assets Major League Baseball is using the Teletrax digital watermarking system to track and assess the use of their game content beyond live game broadcasts. The Telextrax system puts an invisible watermark or thumbprint on the broadcast before it goes to air and can detect assets used from the game in other markets. Teletrax is part of a joint venture between Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands and Medialink. MLB will employ Teletrax throughout the MLB postseason.

“The digital thumbprint is not visible, nor does it compromise the picture of the program in any way,” says Elizabeth Scott, vice president of programming and business affairs for Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.

Teletrax operates off an embedder installed in the Fox studio in Los Angeles and in the Turner Studio in Atlanta. “The embedder is installed at the very last point of production before it goes to air,” says Scott. The process is done remotely and is not done in the production truck. As the final game feed passes through the embedder the watermark is put onto it. The watermarking system remains on for the duration of the game.

Teletrax filters every program on all cable broadcasts and satellite waves looking for the specific watermark pertaining to a specific game.

“The thumbprint will have its own unique number,” adds Scott. The same watermark will be on any one asset for any one game. For instance, game one of the NLDS between the Phillies and Rockies game has its own identifier, or thumbprint, pertaining to it. Every asset of the game is marked and is in the hands of MLB in only a few short hours.

Every time the asset is used by a broadcast or television network it is immediately reported to the Teletrax system. At this point it can’t be used to track Internet usage but Royal Philips Electronics is actively involved in creating similar solutions for the Internet. The trick is being able to identify the watermark after being compressed.

“The Fox Network, and TBS, pays premier money for the rights to these games and we should protect that property,” says Scott. The watermarking system identifies those programs that are using footage while the game is still on and after it has ended.

“I will know with absolute certainty what has been used from the game telecast immediately after the game broadcast,” adds Scott. “We can also inform our sponsor the afterlife of their insignia.”

Teletrax also has an international network that covers television stations across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, South and Central America, and Canada. MLB knows what footage is being used internationally. “Knowing these cultural trends could revolutionize monetization of footage,” added Scott.