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EMA Releases Online Video Mezzanine File Specification

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) announced that it has published a new specification to assist retailers and distributors of online video content.

EMA Mezzanine File Creation Specification and Best Practices can be downloaded from the EMA’s website.

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Unedited press release follows:

Online Video Mezzanine File Spec Released


ENCINO, CA (June 12, 2013) … The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) today released “Best Practices & Specifications for the Delivery of Mezzanine Files for Digital Audio-Visual Distribution.” The document was developed by retailers and distributors to create efficiencies in the supply chain for online video content. Netflix, Rovi Entertainment Store, and Google’s YouTube already plan to accept mezzanine files in the recommended specification.

A mezzanine file is a digital master that is used to create copies of video for streaming or download. Online video services obtain the mezzanine file from the content producer and then individually manipulate it for streaming or downloading through their service.

“Video streaming and electronic sell-through of video are increasingly important components of the home entertainment industry, and it is imperative that the supply chain for those channels be efficient in order to bring content to market as quickly as possible and keep costs down,” noted Mark Fisher, President & CEO of EMA. “While the technical details of how video gets on a PC, tablet, or smartphone screen are not important to the consumer, it is the consumer that ultimately benefits by having the widest possible selection of content at attractive costs.”

“We ingest hundreds of mezzanine files every month for distribution through our customers’ storefronts, so a fast turnaround is critical for us,” said Dave Hazlett, Vice President of Content Operations, Rovi Entertainment Store. “The establishment of a specification for incoming mezzanine files should help further improve the efficiency of our supply chain and fuel consumer access to the latest entertainment on their devices.”

“Netflix supports the EMA specification as an acceptable deliverable and hopes that having an industry standard for mezzanine files will make servicing the needs of streaming platforms easier and more efficient for our content partners,” declared Kevin McEntee, Vice President of Digital Supply Chain, Netflix.

Fisher noted that a standard mezzanine file specification is desired because:

• Many different mezzanine file formats are currently being demanded, which imposes unnecessary costs in the supply chain;

• A standard mezzanine file will allow content to be made available for digital distribution more quickly and will allow for more new titles to be released in digital distribution;

• Standardization will promote automation, reducing costs and decreasing the time to market;

• A common format will improve quality control, as the more file formats that are used, the greater the risk of encoding errors and the difficulty of correcting errors.

EMA’s “Best Practices & Specifications for the Delivery of Mezzanine Files for Digital Audio-Visual Distribution” addresses issues such as video preparation, formatting, video and audio encoding, and containers. It is available online at

The document was developed by EMA’s Digital Supply Chain Committee, which is part of the EMA Digital Council. The EMA Digital Council brings together leading digital media retailers, suppliers, and technology providers to work together towards common objectives, such as digital supply chain efficiency, identifying ownership rights throughout the distribution channel, and promoting consumer acceptance of digital entertainment. Since its creation in 2007, the Council has been developing standards and best practices for the overall digital video industry.

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).