In its simplest form, essence = content – metadata. In this context, (video) essence is the image itself without any of the transport padding (H and V intervals, ancillary data, etc).
Source: 54, 76
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Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc.
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The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC also develops digital terrestrial broadcasting implementation strategies and supports educational activities on ATSC standards.