Broadcast Watermarking - Why Broadcasters Should Be Using This Watermark Technology

by Intrasonics Team


The broadcasting world has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. So much so, that while conventional terrestrial and cable forms of television and radio broadcasts are still very popular, alternatives like streaming and on-demand platforms have allowed for easier accessibility.

As a result of this increased accessibility and global availability, it can be harder to track content.

One of the most effective ways to track content is through broadcast watermarking. But, what is broadcast watermarking and is it the same thing as broadcast monitoring?

In the following post, we are going to look at this subject in greater detail, so that you not only understand what broadcast watermarking is but how and why it should be used.

What is Broadcast Watermarking

Broadcast watermarking, much like other forms of watermarking, involves the insertion of a special inaudible audio tag or marking into television programmes.

This audio watermark is then used to identify everything from the channel that the programme or event is broadcasting on, the time of its broadcasting, and a whole host of other practical use cases too.

Why Audio Watermark a Broadcast? (Use Cases)

Audio watermarking is an incredibly versatile tool that can be used in several ways in television broadcasts, whether it’s a prerecorded or live show or event.

Intrasonics Hyperchannel Technology - Different Ways to Interact with Your Audience

A great way broadcast watermarking can be used is to enhance the experience of your audience.

As many people now watch television while looking at their smartphone or another mobile device, you can take advantage of this fact by including an audio watermark in a broadcast that utilises second-screen interactions to further engage with your audience.

We call this our Hyperchannel technology.

Rather than being distracted by social media platforms, you can encourage your audience members to use their device to enhance the experience of watching the broadcast in the following ways:


This can be activated as simply as a sound trigger recognised by the app at a certain point of the broadcast. The app can then deliver instant, additional bonus information about what your audience is watching right into the palm of their hands or extra content as a reward for their loyalty and time spent watching the broadcast.


On the other hand, you could use audio watermarking of a broadcast for something more involved with your audience, like interactive quizzes, votes or betting related to what they are watching.


Relevant ads can be triggered at the exact moment your user’s device hears the audio watermark in the broadcast.

This may increase the chance of your audience taking your desired action while they are at their most excited.


Have something to sell? What better time to provide your audience with the opportunity to make a purchase than when they’re fully engaged, and the product is at the forefront of their minds?

You can use your broadcast watermark to trigger a purchase button or link to your audiences’ device.

Thanks to the evolution of technology and how people interact with different media, standard forms of television are often not as appealing.

We live in an age of interaction and where people like to share their opinions and feel involved.

Everything from a live sports event to a gripping TV drama is considered an event or experience.

Whatever you use it for, broadcast audio watermarking can help make your audience feel more like an integral part of the process and less of a passive spectator.

Want more information on how Intrasonics can implement this technology to your broadcasts? CONTACT US today and we can set up a demo for you.

Forensic Watermarking to Prevent Piracy of Your Broadcast

Perhaps the most obvious use case of audio watermarking for a broadcast is the same as why you would watermark anything; as a way of detecting and stopping illegal use of your content.

Forensic watermarking on broadcasted material can help you to pinpoint a distributor leak or which licensee has redistributed the content without authorisation.

This is possible as you can ascertain the source, time and channel of broadcast.

Audience Measurement and Advertising Reach

Measuring success and customer/audience reaction to your products and services is essential in any industry.

Whether you are looking to track and assess the success of a show or an advertising campaign, broadcast watermarking can help.

You can gain insights into how many people watched a particular broadcast, when they watched it and whether they watched it all.

What Are My Options For Audio Watermarking a Broadcast?

When it comes to audio watermarking a broadcast, you have two options.

The one that is right for your needs and requirements will depend on the nature of your broadcast and whether it is:

  • Live streaming
  • Pre-recorded or on-demand content

Live Streaming (Hardware Encoding)

For watermarking a live broadcast, (this includes watermarking live sports), you’ll want to encode audio watermarks using a hardware solution that fits in the broadcasting chain. Intrasonics offers broadcast-grade real-time encoding (RTE) equipment that offers the following benefits:

  • Trusted real-time hardware used by channels and broadcasters throughout the world and includes support for SDI, AES3 Digital Audio and 12DB&22DB Analog Audio formats
  • Complete failover, with absolutely no downtime
  • SNMP monitoring, with absolutely no downtime
  • Lower latency, meaning you get your result fast!
  • One unit supports up to five concurrent TV channels or up to 20 concurrent radio channels.

Pre-Recorded or On-Demand Content (Software Encoding) For pre-recorded and on-demand content, software encoding is the type of audio watermarking you need to use.

Through Intrasonics, our software encoding offers distinct benefits, including:

  • Compatibility with all consumer-over-the-shelf (COTS) platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux along with MOV, MXF, MP4, MP3, Wav (Linear PCM) and many other audio and video formats.
  • Easy to automate and can be passed into the configuration programmatically
  • Just-in-Time Encoding, means streams are encoded as and when necessary
  • Cloud-ready, as we use APIs that make it easy to deploy this encoding to the cloud
  • Almost unlimited stream numbers, with the only restrictions being the hardware constraints you have.

Broadcast Watermarking vs Broadcast Monitoring - What’s the Difference?

Although it is easy to mistake them as being one in the same thing, broadcast watermarking and broadcast monitoring are different.

As insightful and effective as broadcast watermarking is, it is just one string to the bow that you can use to assess and track the use and success of content broadcast on television and other media.

Broadcast monitoring is a technique used to track the outputs of different forms of broadcast media, including television, radio and, unsurprisingly, the internet.

This monitoring method is used to track mentions of a specific program or event or the frequency at which specific shows or events are broadcast.

Broadcast monitoring is also used to track the changes in behaviours, awareness, perceptions, and norms associated with content over time.

Broadcast monitoring involves more than one technique or discipline.

It is a larger-scale operation utilising many forms of resources, software, and technology, including human analysts, analysis software and video and audio recordings.

Therefore, broadcast watermarking is a tool in a comprehensive broadcast monitoring strategy.

Summary - Why Use Intrasonics For Your Broadcast Audio Watermarking

Whether you are looking to include it as part of a more comprehensive broadcast monitoring strategy or want to track and monitor the use and engagement with your broadcasted content, broadcast watermarking is a useful technology to use.

At Intrasonics we have a proven track record and can help you to maximise the value of your assets by stopping illegal use, increase the level of engagement you have with your audience using our Hyperchannel technology, as well as more accurately measure the effectiveness and popularity of your content.

For more information on how we can help you here at Intrasonics, get in contact with us today.

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