Here are six technologies you may not have heard of, and why they can revolutionize the business of online video streaming.
At the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco last week I moderated a panel with six experts in the technology of online streaming. I asked each of the OTT Infrastructure Roundtable Panel members to highlight a technology or approach that we might not know about that could have a big impact on the industry. Here’s what they had to say.
From editing to playout, the lifecycle of video is a byzantine process fraught with complexity. James Field, Product Manager, Cloud Apps and Solutions, Cisco, thinks that IPV6 could be instrumental in simplifying the process.
“All-IP video production, going from camera capture all the way through. Lossless, seamless. With technology like IPV6, imagine every video packet or frame that’s ever been captured has its own IP address. It will be about the media object all the way down to the frame. You’ll be able to do amazing things with that. Whether its distribution, caching, forwarding, making things multilingual. It’s going to be a real game-changer. We are just beginning to see content owners starting to upgrade their analog production facilities to all IP, and that can be better than broadcast.”
For the uninitiated, streaming infrastructure can be intimidating. Dan Finch, Chief Commercial Officer, Simplestream, suggests there might be a new way to allow providers to cut streaming and simplify the process.
“There are quite a few companies that are offering playout-in-a-box. It’s very cost effective. It allows you to do automated scheduling and can give you further reach for your content. We’ve been helping one or two channels migrate from traditional DTH platforms to IP. It’s really changing their whole business model. It’s giving them cost reductions and an increase in revenue from other areas.”
Advancing discovery beyond 1995
With over 100 premium online video services, it can be difficult to figure out which service has an episode or show of interest. Dave Sampson VP Marketing RealNetworks, Inc., thinks this feels like the early days of the web, and that this could be a big opportunity for someone.
“My wife and I watch a lot of OTT, and we cannot figure what show is screening where. We’re halfway through a season of something and we don’t remember where it is. We spend a lot of time hunting and pecking. It feels like the web in 1995, and companies like Yahoo came along saying “we are going to be a portal to help organize all the great stuff up there and help you find what you’re looking for.” Someone is going to solve that for OTT.”
One file format to rule them all
One of the headaches streaming media providers must deal with is producing multiple copies of the same video to cope with the different online streaming formats. Jason Thibeault, Executive Director, Streaming Video Alliance, talked about a new standard which allows streaming in multiple formats from a single file.
“CMAF is a common media format, so it’s a container that can produce a single file format that can be used across any device. So, right now when people encode content for different device delivery they have to encode it in lots of different containers, lots of different formats. So, it’s a real problematic issue. The concept of CMAF came from an industry collaboration, and they’re working to drive it across the industry. I think it is going to make a huge difference in how fast people can bring content to market. And because they can bring it to market sooner it will help OTT adoption and help drive the market forward.”
Improving third-world streaming quality
Where infrastructure support is weak, streaming quality and reach suffers. Hadar Weiss, CEO, Peer5, talked about how a variety of technologies are coming together to improve developing world streaming performance.
“Alternative methods to deliver content (peer-to-peer, webRTC, and others) will improve the latency and quality we perceive. Alongside that I should mention multicast, and alternative ways to push the content closer to the viewer. Latin America, Southeast Asia, <quality> is not even close to the performance in the US. Those technologies will be very important to get the quality there that we see here today.”
A new level of TV control and experience
Luke Durham, CTO, Switch Media, talked about how two technologies are coming together to make the control of the television easier, and the experience more engaging.
“What’s rolling out in Australia and New Zealand is the HbbTV standard, very rich in interactive experiences. Using webRTC protocols you have a low-latency connection between your phone or tablet and the television. This allows you to control the TV, change channels, and interact with ads.”