Like VOD but in four dimensions? FAST channel programming automation and personalization with Contentwise Playlist Creator

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The media industry is grappling with how to reinvent linear TV in light of the recent surge in FAST channels supply and consumer adoption. FAST has opened up new opportunities for content packaging and scheduling, particularly long-tail assets, into finely curated thematic channels. This approach is designed to capture and engage niche audiences, to then monetize them through programmatic advertising.

However, the economics of FAST require that operators achieve fundamentally lower operational costs than those of TV broadcasting, while delivering users the same high-quality user experience. A more efficient approach to creating and delivering FAST channels is required.

In this respect, personalization is key. It not only enhances targeted and contextual advertising; it also improves channel discoverability and content programming, increasing the audience’s revenue potential, while enriching the viewer’s experience.

Bringing VOD personalization to FAST

We hear it consistently from industry stakeholders, customers, and partners: the same powerful AI-assisted editorial tools and content recommendation algorithms we use in the VOD domain would be of tremendous value if they could be used to curate programming and streamline the process of assembling thematic channels. These capabilities will facilitate the repurposing of existing on-demand catalogs or TV network archives. For this reason, two years ago, we launched our Personalized Linear Channels solution.

ContentWise UX Engine provides operators with superior capabilities for linear TV and FAST discoverability. Our AI-powered engine recommends channels to enable a dynamic personalized EPG experience. It suggests individual on-air or upcoming programs based on user habits and preferences. It takes into account programming time windows (tonight, tomorrow, this week, etc.) and… more!

However, It was still missing an important component to fully unlock FAST channels’ distribution, personalization, and data-driven curation at scale. Our machine learning algorithms, editorial tools, and business rules, which have been built primarily to support the full range of VOD use cases – e.g. automated curation of thousands of thematic collections and personalized carousels – were not optimized for linear channel content programming.

How could we adapt  the well-crafted thematic and personalized lists of content generated by our content recommendation system into channel schedules? How could we automate key operator FAST programming processes to scale them?

“The economics of FAST require that operators achieve fundamentally lower operational costs than those of TV broadcasting, while delivering users the same high-quality user experience.”

Paolo Romano, Product and Business Development Manager - ContentWise

AI-powered FAST programming with ContentWise Playlist Creator

In response to this challenge, we listened to our customers and developed  our new Playlist Creator.

Playlist Creator is designed to scale the FAST programming task thanks to automation and AI. It leverages complex content discovery and recommendation recipes to generate content playlists that are fed to FAST cloud playout systems – or simply consumed as Spotify-like playlists or social media feeds.

By leveraging ContentWise’s state-of-the-art recommendation engine, Playlist Creator automates channel programming and ad insertion placements, blending algorithmic AI recommendations with rule-based editorial tools. This eliminates repetitive tasks and streamlines the assembly and maintenance process of both thematic and personalized channels:

  • FAST Planning: Playlist Creator simplifies the overall content planning process by creating libraries of playlists for a variety of channel planning demands, including seasonal planning or weekly/daily updates. It’s also incredibly easy to launch playlists for pop-up channels or specific content distribution and syndication deals, within minutes.
  • Editorial Curation: seamlessly combines various approaches for content curation. Non-personalized recipes, such as top-viewed, trending now, or most recent content, can be combined with cherry-picked or rule-based editorial lists easily defined in the UX Engine’s editor-friendly console.
  • Automatic Personalized Curation: thanks to cluster-based personalization, operators can use the power of AI models that enable automatic content retrieval based on user-relevant personas, audience cohorts, or semantics. Operators can also apply deterministic rules to filter, balance, or push specific content as needed.
  • Dynamic Programming: content recipes for a playlist can be scheduled according to a weekly calendar or specific airing time  windows. This empowers operators to automate channel programming behaviors, such as configuring weekend marathons, dedicating days to specific sub-themes, implementing dayparting practices, and employing other tactics to create engaging and diversified channel programming.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Playlist Creator offers flexible schedule block durations. You can assemble schedules with blocks to perform fully automated pattern-based scheduling, for example, easily distributing TV show episodes throughout the day in a 3-block programming structure.
  • Automatic Serialized Programming: Managing episodic content is simple with Playlist Creator, including features like capping episode frequencies and handling sequential airing of episodes. Editors can focus on strategy instead of spending time manually distributing content throughout the daily schedule.
  • Repetition Control: Content repetition, including reruns and reprises, is crucial for filling thematic channel programming, especially when thematic content availability is limited. Playlist Creator incorporates sophisticated conditional rules and a looping mechanism to automate the scheduling of reruns, maximizing content exposure without causing viewer annoyance.
  • Automatic Ad Block Insertion:  Playlist Creator automates ad pods insertion and placement, with fully customizable rules to, for example, control ad frequency and detect ad breaks for mid-rolls seamlessly.

Playlist Creator serves as the ideal solution for efficiently scaling your channel programming and advertising operations, regardless of the content formats you’re handling—whether it’s long or short, scripted or unscripted, and whether the content is episodic or non-episodic.

To learn more about Playlist Creator, and about our personalization solutions for linear programming and FAST streaming, contact us at

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