Updated EMA Avails Enables Greater Automation of Digital Video Supply Chain

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) today announced that the newest version of the EMA Avails schema has been approved by the EMA Avails Working Group and is now available. The EMA Avails schema is a standardized communication of data about content available for transactional online video on demand. The update, Version 1.7.2, enhances the schema in a manner that will enable greater automation of the communication and reduce exception handling for both retailers and content providers in the digital supply chain and will allow the industry to soon transition from Excel-based communication to an XML format.

The latest version of the EMA Avails schema is available here.

“EMA’s digital supply chain initiatives have a single purpose – to reduce friction points in the online video supply chain so that the supply chain is more efficient, more timely, more reliable, and less costly,” noted Mark Fisher, President & CEO of EMA. “The new version of EMA Avails we are announcing today is a significant enhancement in the communication of content availability metadata that should yield tremendous value for the industry.”

Content availability metadata, commonly called “avails,” are the communications from content providers to retailers about when video titles (for instance, a feature motion picture or television episode) will be available online and in which territories, and providing additional data crucial for digital supply chain workflows. Avails are arguably the most important data digital entertainment retailers handle, as they kick off the scheduling and production workflow (ordering and fulfillment).

Prior to the development of EMA Avails, content availability metadata was communicated in a variety of different formats and in a manner that required the data to be entered manually in retailer systems. This led to a great deal of inconsistency and inaccuracy in avails communications. The EMA Avails schema, first released in 2013, eliminated those problems and as a result has become the industry standard.

The new EMA Avails version 1.7.2 includes support for content bundles and bonus material as well as enhancements for international avails, such as currency and time-zones, for precise content windowing.

EMA Avails Version 1.7.2 was developed by the EMA Avails Working Group, which consists of supply chain professionals from some of the leading transactional online video on demand services. Technical support and expert guidance was provided to the working group by the Motion Picture Laboratories, Inc. (“MovieLabs”).

“Both retailers and content providers will benefit from this new EMA Avails schema, making the delivery of content across different screens, platforms and territories much smoother,” said Craig Seidel, VP at MovieLabs. “One of our core objectives is to help develop and implement new standards that drive concrete benefits for the online video industry. We look forward to the improvements this will make in the digital supply chain.

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) is the not-for-profit international trade association dedicated to advancing the interests of the $35 billion home entertainment industry. EMA-member companies operate approximately 35,000 retail outlets in the U.S. and 45,000 around the world that sell and/or rent DVDs, computer and console video games, and digitally distributed versions of these products. Membership comprises the full spectrum of retailers (from single-store specialists to multi-line mass merchants, and both brick and mortar and online stores), distributors, the home video divisions of major and independent motion picture studios, video game publishers, and other related businesses that constitute and support the home entertainment industry. EMA was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA).