This blog was originally posted on Videonet’s IBC Official Blog.
This blog looks at one of this year’s key themes – the issues surrounding content creation and innovation. As the marketplace swells with competition, and consumers become more fickle than ever, the issue of how to proactively tackle the content challenge has returned with vigour.
To keep up with subscriber expectations, video service providers (VSPs) must address the twin challenges of video content explosion and device expansion. Most recently, the record numbers of viewers worldwide who watched the London 2012 Olympic Games have highlighted how imperative it is for providers to establish a TV Everywhere strategy that can deliver premium quality video content to a diverse range of devices, both in real-time and across time-shifted viewing options. Significantly, this huge broadcasting event also revealed that the rise of second screen viewing is currently not only redefining how viewers engage with content, but also how they source and discover it. As such, the processing of content to operate seamlessly across multiple screens is integral to the evolution of the multiscreen experience as a whole.
Complementing the requisite live video services, VSPs are confronted with the challenges of satisfying the diversifying consumption behaviours of today‘s ‘on-demand’ culture – they must expand the reach of their video libraries while delivering a more encompassing selection of content. In order to get ahead of the competition, providers need access to a flexible set of tools capable of supporting a host of idiosyncratic viewing habits across VOD and nDVR services.
A critical element in this toolbox is the ‘packager,’ which prepares files for delivery to a specific end user device. A complete and versatile packaging solution is required to ensure the most efficient delivery of both popular ‘short tail’ content, as well as ‘long tail’ content that is requested less frequently by on-demand viewers. And now these traditional definitions for the popularity of content have a new dimension – how popular the requesting device and packaged protocol is. For short tail programs, providers can pre-package this content by transcoding all assets into every bitrate, resolution and adaptive streaming format to reach any device, whether TV, tablet, PC, laptop or smartphone. For long tail niche content, VSPs can transcode video, creating a set of mezzanine format files, that can later be packaged ‘on the fly’ into multiple formats for just-in-time delivery, eliminating storage of vast amounts of unused files. Implementing such a flexible video processing architecture not only enables providers to progressively build up their VOD libraries, offering a more diverse range of content, but also significantly alleviates other persistent complexities of video distribution, such as costly storage and bandwidth issues. In doing so, operators can cost-effectively provide a video service that is not only flexible and reliable, but meets subscribers’ diverse viewing preferences across a variety of content and devices.
In an increasingly connected media world, it is essential that providers implement future-proof architectures and technology to support evolving trends and innovations. By installing the appropriate infrastructure capable of supporting the streaming of video services to multiple screens on the schedule deemed appropriate by the consumer, VSPs can be confident in their ability to satisfy market demand, to grow their subscriber base and ultimately boost their bottom line.
At Cable-Tec Expo booth #443 and TelcoTV booth #819, RGB Networks will be showcasing its eVIA multiscreen delivery solution, highlighting how it helps VSPs tackle the challenges of content delivery in multiple formats, across multiple screens in live on on-demand applications. Come visit us to see this advanced technology in action!
This blog was originally posted on Videonet’s IBC Official Blog.
VOD transcoding is getting a lot of attention these days. Not that it ever went out of style, but lately it’s become front and center again for many video service providers (VSPs). I am on several customer calls and meetings per week about the topic.
Why all the attention on VOD transcoding? Simple answer – adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming. Tablets, phones, even set-top boxes are getting in the act. The new iPad “3” (even though Apple just calls it “the new iPad”) is taking ABR streaming capabilities to a new level. The new iPad’s 2048-by-1536 pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) is double the ppi density of the iPad 2. Analysts predict that Apple will sell a mind boggling 70 million of them this year.
And Apple isn’t the only game in town – the Samsung Galaxy tab and Amazon Kindle are two other hot devices that VSPs want to reach. Not to mention connected TVs and new adaptive streaming capable set-top boxes.
Providing VOD content to these devices is an entirely new revenue opportunity that has opened up to operators – and they want to capitalize on it.
Unfortunately however (there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) it’s not that simple. The traditional VOD transcoding that is done to deliver content to MPEG-2 and H.264 capable set-top boxes doesn’t work for newer over-the-top (OTT) devices. The content needs to be coded into several different profiles (bitrates and resolutions), segmented, packaged and encrypted. Plus, different packaging is required depending on whether you want to deliver content to HLS, SS, HDS or MPEG DASH clients.
That’s where file-to-file (F2F) ABR VOD transcoding comes in. With an ABR capable transcoder (like RGB’s Linux software-based TransAct Transcoder), you can transcode all of your VOD content into every bitrate, resolution and package type to reach any device. Plus, with built-in encryption capabilities that are integrated with leading DRM providers, our TransAct Transcoder allows operators to encrypt content and push to the CDN for distribution to end devices. In fact, we have several customers doing this today – packaging and encrypting latest release movies and making them available over a CDN.
A few key advantages that customers appreciate about our offline/VOD transcoding capabilities:
- Multiscreen VOD enablement
- ABR VOD transcoding to all adaptive streaming formats
- Manifest/index file creation
- HLS and SS DRM encryption
- Plug-and-play into VOD ecosystem
- Watch folders and drop folders on NFS, CIFS or WebDAV mounts
- F2F XML-RPC API signaling with call back
- CableLabs-compliant output including interlaced output for MPEG-2 and H.264
Plus, one of the really cool things you can do with our VOD transcoder is create a set of mezzanine format TS files that can then be packaged later for delivery “just-in-time” to ABR devices (take a look here for more information on this application).
If you want to learn more about our VOD transcoding capabilities, visit our File-to-File Transcoding page where you can download a detailed solution overview.
Reading through various news reports and, dare it be said, this very blog(!) – it’s quite clear that there is growing consumer appetite for services such as video-on-demand (VOD). Indeed, Informa has predicted that by 2012 some 909 million homes worldwide will have access to VOD. That equates to almost 4/5 of the world’s TV households!
With ANGA Cable just around the corner, this is a topic that is inevitably going to rear its head again. However, while there’s most certainly a huge market opportunity there for operators, there are also some hurdles that need to be overcome before this can be realized. Namely, how can operators relieve network pressure to cost effectively deliver premium video content with pristine quality?
The answer to that is simple—optimize your bandwidth!
Node splitting, switched digital video (SDV), digital terminal adapters (DTAs), MPEG-4/H.264—all are used to reclaim valuable bandwidth. There is one approach, however, which offers a future-proof route to capacity expansion that requires little maintenance or outward expenditure—transrating. This technology provides the quickest and most economical means for operators to achieve significant capacity expansion to support bandwidth hungry services, such as VOD, without affecting the quality of the picture transmitted. For more information, read this article from the December ‘09 issue of the Broadband Journal or watch our demonstration.
RGB employs patented transrating technology in our products today, which you can see in action at ANGA next week. Come on over to stand B50 and we’d be happy to show you our before/after VOD transrating demo so you can see the technology for yourself and the quality of the output that it provides.
We look forward to seeing you there!
With the IPTV World Forum fast approaching, here at RGB we’re looking forward to spending three days on the ground in London discussing the key trends affecting European video service providers.
Like their counterparts from around the globe, Europe’s cable operators, satellite providers and telcos are seeing increasing consumer interest in ‘catch-up TV’ and video-on-demand (VOD), yet not all of them have the infrastructures or the balance sheets to cope with this explosion in demand. As ever, the challenge is how to deliver these services while at the same time avoiding the well-documented costs associated with offering on-demand services to a mass audience. As a solution, there’s growing interest in video processing technology that can deliver a vast selection of anytime TV programs simply and cost effectively.
However, European service providers have an added challenge – their customers are reluctant to pay extra for any on-demand content. This means they urgently need to find new revenue streams if they’re going to cover the cost of upgrading their networks to support large scale VOD deployments. The U.S. market is a little bit more advanced in this area, so it’ll be interesting to see how many of the IPTV Forum attendees are looking towards the American market for inspiration.
Many U.S. providers are able to offer free-of-charge VOD services because they supplement it with targeted or addressable advertising, inserting ads into VOD and linear content that are designed to suit individual subscriber preferences. In contrast, targeted advertising is still more of an idea than a reality in Europe. But, talking to our European customers at least, this looks set to change. Over the next two years, targeted advertising seems destined to become a focal point for many European video service providers as they fight to offer consumers the most cost-competitive option.
Come and see us at stand #5 at the IPTV World Forum, Olympia, London if you want to learn more about how U.S. providers are meeting the challenge of funding new services through the use of advanced advertising.
The latest upgrade to RGB’s Dynamic Bandwidth Manager (DBM) addresses three growing trends in the video delivery business—more HD, more VOD and now the growing use of MPEG-4/H.264.
To learn more about how the DBM can help your network to keep up with bandwidth constraints brought on by the proliferation of advanced video service, click here to watch a Flash demonstration and read up on this bandwidth-saving device.
This is certainly the most dynamic time in the history of the video delivery business—so much is happening in the industry, making it both exciting and challenging.
I’m with customers every week and I see several key trends playing out. Currently, operators’ biggest focus continues to be around the addition of more services, with HD and VOD at the top of the list. With these bandwidth hogs eating up precious network resources, operators are pushing hard to deploy 3:1 HD statmuxing solutions, enabling them to continue to grow their offerings without major capital and operational investments.
Another interesting thing to mention is that we’re getting close to fully open systems for SDV and VOD. With the standardization efforts that have been going on recently in these areas, as well as around advanced advertising, deployment of new solutions and services is getting easier, allowing for new revenue opportunities.
The move to full-digital systems continues as well. The drivers are simple: the need for more bandwidth and the ability to continually launch new digital services in competitive markets. The MTA all-digital efforts of U.S. MSOs has been well publicized and is well on its way to rapid deployment. We are also seeing this trend in Latin America. Additionally, many Latin American systems, as well as smaller systems in the North American market, have been contemplating DVB systems to satisfy their need for a continual source of low-cost set-top solutions. We have seen recent deployments of DVB systems in Mexico and the Midwest as well as potential systems in South America. DVB set-tops will eventually outnumber their NTSC counterparts due to rapid growth of digital in Asia and Europe – this growth fuels an extremely competitive set-top supply chain that is now firmly entrenched in the Americas.
The last trend that I’d like to mention is IPTV. Discussions are heating up amongst all of the players, with much debate on how this will play out. We at RGB certainly plan to keep our eyes and ears open as we continue to evolve our delivery platform for a ‘video anywhere’ world.
No matter where this revolution in video takes us, all of us at RGB will continue to be here working with you through the excitement and the challenges. Read our recent newsletter for some of our latest developments and stay tuned for much more.
Politics isn’t the only thing changing on this historic day. Video is undergoing a major change as well. Congress now has its own YouTube channel. So if you want to know what your representatives are up to, check out the video channels for the House and Senate. And our new president is already using the video sharing website to make weekly addresses to the nation. It’s about time we got an upgrade from those outdated radio addresses. And if you’re working today at the time of the big inauguration, all the major news outlets (including ESPN) are providing multi-platform programming—set your TiVo to record the television broadcast, but you can watch online, on your mobile phone or even via video-on-demand after it’s all over. We’ve definitely entered a new video era—it’s everywhere—in politics and in the rest of our daily lives.
Most online video today is pretty grainy—there’s a lot of room for technology improvements—but video is certainly transforming from an entertainment medium delivered to your television to a whole new information delivery tool. It has become more than just a sit-on-the-couch, lean-back experience (although I don’t plan to give up my couch potato ways any time soon!).
In my previous blog post I wrote about the decline of ad dollars going to newspapers, radio, and broadcast TV that started in 2001 and the double digit growth in internet advertising spending that started at about that same time. Advertising Age posted an article, “Marketers to Up Spending in Cable, Online, Mobile in Next 6 Months,” that describes this continuing trend for 2009 and the growing pessimism surrounding these traditional media. Interestingly enough the article paints a brighter picture for cable TV.
One reason for this better picture for cable is that the audience share for cable programming continues to increase versus broadcast TV. Another and maybe more important reason is that the cable industry is taking steps to make advertising on its platform more targetable, interactive, and measureable – attributes that have attracted advertisers to the internet – with Canoe Ventures leading the way for the industry.
As the article mentions, they are “seeing less slowing in media that is more accountable and targetable,” and that the results (and measurement of those results) of ad campaigns are very important to marketers, maybe even more so than price.
Because of the connectivity that cable has to the home, cable is a great platform to enable advertising that is targetable, interactive, and measureable. Cable systems are already divided into geographic territories through their headend, hub, and node structure. VOD, for example, is divided into service groups made up of a few nodes where a separate QAM channel feeds only those homes in the node. Using this structure, the cable industry already sends different ads to or tags the same ad with different content for different geographic areas. With VOD, switched digital video (SDV), or applications in the set top box, cable can extend this targeting to the subscriber level.
In addition, the ability to overlay graphics on top of a video program coupled with mechanisms such as EBIF to encapsulate and transmit the content of these graphics is a great way to enable interactivity on the television screen. Cable systems can also gather measurement information such as viewing data from set tops, knowing if and when an ad was inserted in the network or set top, click through data, and time spent on interactivity – all of which are very important to advertisers.
All of these capabilities allow the cable industry to create a new ad platform with the highly desirable attributes of targeting, interactivity, and measurability that are causing such upheavals in the advertising industry guaranteeing a bright future for cable television advertising.