In Broadcast - June 2014 - 75

WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 32 - JUNE 2014

I N T E R N A T I O N A L

N E W S

InMEDIA

Extended Broadcast Channels

The rise in OTT and catch-up TV viewing is accelerating, yet IP delivered content
largely remains an added feature for traditional linear broadcast services...

By Andy Stout
Contributing Editor

T

o paraphrase Samuel Longhorne
Clemens, the death of traditional
broadcast has, of course, been
greatly exaggerated in recent years.
While the headline figures
surrounding online content are
attention grabbing - the BBC
iPlayer saw a record 320 million
TV and radio requests in March,
FIFA is forecasting that 50 million
people will download its second
screen companion app ahead of
this summer's World Cup in Rio -
the truth is that these numbers
still represent a small proportion of
overall viewership.
Indeed, recent research has
pointed out that in the UK, for
instance, 98.5% of all viewing is
still via the old-fashioned linear
television, even if more and more
of it is being time shifted these days.
Still, 320 million is a lot of people.
And with the likes of Apple, Google
and Amazon engaged in a battle
for access to the global television
infrastructure via their various DMAs
(Digital Media Adaptors), rumours
that the next generation Sky set-top
box will eschew satellite all together
to concentrate on IP delivery. The
almost daily surveys appearing
suggest that consumer take-up
of online content is accelerating,
broadcasters of all sizes are
looking at ways to ensure they can
extend their channel offerings well
beyond the linear.

Paul Turner,
Telestream

"...Most media
companies have
a strong desire to
add OTT/catch-up
services to their
offerings

"

"Demand is strong," says Paul
Turner at Telestream. "Most media
companies have a strong desire
to add OTT/catch-up services to
their offerings, though many small

Tom Cape, Director,
Capablue

"...Both wired and
wireless networks
are considerably
more capable of
supporting video

"

broadcasters don't have a clear plan
on how to monetise those services.
For some, it's simply a 'price of
entry' endeavour."
The US is considered to be among
the leaders in the field, but the rest
of the world is catching up fast
as monetisation models become
more refined and deliver on their
promises on the one hand, and
new technologies such as 4G and
LTE join an accelerating broadband
rollout on the other.
"Both wired and wireless networks
are considerably more capable of
supporting video," says Tom Cape,
Director of Capablue (an Arqiva
company since its acquisition in
February this year). "Between
September 2012 and the end
of 2013, over 213 operators
commercially launched LTE services
in over 80 countries, and over 100
networks were launched."

Device Support

The BBC iPlayer famously supports
over 1000 different devices,
necessitating a blizzard of different
codecs, bitrates, picture sizes,
video formats and quality, and while
not every solution looks to mirror
the same breadth of engagement,
the effort to supply online video
starts with transcoding.
"Fortunately, from a technology
standpoint, adaptive bitrate (ABR)
streaming support is ubiquitous in
most devices today," comments
Andy Salo, VP Product Management
at RGB Networks. "The beauty
of ABR streaming lies in that the
actual transcoding workflows are
very similar for all delivery methods
- whether linear or VOD making it

The latest version of the BBC's user interface for its iPlayer

easier for operators to roll out their
services. There are differences in
how channels are published in
an EPG versus how assets are
managed for VOD or network
DVR, but both require multi-bitrate
transcoding; both require packaging,
in real-time or on demand. "
As Telestream's Turner argues,
transcoding solutions need to major
on format support, image quality,
processing speed, and provide a
healthy cost/job ratio, but he also
argues that simply examining them
on a "take this format and turn it into
that format" basis is not grasping
the full picture.
His list of further considerations
surrounding transcoding includes
VANC handling, TC handling,
audio handling, down mixing,
Dolby processing and process
management. "This one is very
important - for most customers,
transcoding should be a 'lights out'
operation," he says. "However, the
huge quantity of different sources,
formats, frame rates, aspect ratios
means that without some form of
process management intelligence,
transcoding will require human
interaction almost all the time."
Nevertheless, even in its plain
vanilla interpretation, transcoding
can be a computationally expensive
business. Aiming to fulfil ABR
requirements, where the same
elements can be transcoded scores
of time, puts strain on equipment.
And while this can be offloaded
onto GPUs, it is no wonder that
transcoding is one of the prime
areas targeted by proponents of
cloud-based services.
In many ways it makes perfect
sense: buy x number of transcoders
for your operation, spin another
x number up as and when you
need them. Moving transcoding
into the cloud eliminates barriers

to scalability, allows support for
more computationally expensive
operations (such as HEVC), reduces
costs, and moves what costs there
are from opex to capex. However,
there are downsides.
"Many vendors attempting to brand
themselves as 'cloud' typically
offer a limited scope solution, with
few features and service offerings
that are a mile wide and an inch
deep," says Salo. "These solutions
are often simply proprietary pizza
boxes that have been deployed as
a managed service."
Workflow analysis is the key
here. If material is already being
stored in the cloud then there are
undoubted efficiencies to be gained,
but transferral requires both time
and money and it's also worth
pointing out that there are significant
workflow efficiencies that can be
deployed by matching the right
equipment to workflow processes
before the cloud even gets involved.
"If the customer is deploying the
catch-up service in conjunction with
a linear OTT streaming deployment,
there's a significant efficiency that
can be gained by using a live/
linear encoder such as our new
SelenioFlex live/linear configuration
that can simultaneously create the
initial on-demand files at the same
time it is streaming live," states
Kerry Wheeles, CTO, Networking
at Imagine Communications. "That
considerably reduces the turnaround
time before the catch-up version of
the programme is available following
the live/linear stream."

Evolving Technology

As befits a nascent technology,
evolution in the field is rapid.
There are multiple considerations
and complications to consider in
CONTINUED ON PAGE 76

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In Broadcast - June 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - June 2014

In Broadcast - June 2014 - Intro
In Broadcast - June 2014 - Cover1
In Broadcast - June 2014 - Cover2
In Broadcast - June 2014 - 3
In Broadcast - June 2014 - 4
In Broadcast - June 2014 - 5
In Broadcast - June 2014 - 6
In Broadcast - June 2014 - 7
In Broadcast - June 2014 - 8
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In Broadcast - June 2014 - S1
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S2
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S3
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S4
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S5
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S6
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S7
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S8
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S9
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S10
In Broadcast - June 2014 - S11
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_NABSHOWNYexpo
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