With everyone in the throes of rolling out a multiscreen video solution, it easy to forget that it remains technically very challenging. Here are four big challenges enumerated by four industry insiders that are holding back the multiscreen revolution.
At the ETIA conference at Stanford University in Palo Alto, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of experts in a discussion entitled “One, Two, Three, Four: How Many Screens Before I Say No More.” I asked each of the panelist what they considered a big challenge in multiscreen delivery. Here’s what each had to say.
The transition to HEVC. It sounds simple and a no brainer as it’s more efficient, but it’s going to complicate every aspect of production, encoding, storage, delivery and playback. It’s going to increase fragmentation, and there’s no short cut around it. It’s a painful period we have to go through it until it reaches the same level of ubiquity that AVC has today.”
Will Law, Chief Architect, Media Engineering, Akamai
Comment: It took a decade for AVC (h.264) to move from specification to universal support throughout the value chain of video delivery. Expect the same to be true for HEVC.
Jim Monroe, Co-Founder, SVP Programming, Net2TV
Comment: Almost every aspect of data about video is in flux, including the lack of standards, the quantity and quality available, and how islands of data are holding monetization back. Data is developing into the biggest challenge in video delivery.
Closed captioning, getting it to work. Ever since it was mandated for broadcasts over-the-top the advertised specifications versus the actual implementations have always been challenging for us. It’s always the last thing we get working.”
Mark Adams, Vice President North America, Accedo.
Comment: In 2014, the FCC modified closed captioning rules to improve quality. The FCC mandate specifies word accuracy and completeness, accuracy of synchronization with the video, and screen placement. The FCC embraced SMPTE closed captioning standards. However, it is often the case that there are incompatibilities between implementation of standards, which appears to be the case here. After Mr. Adams finished his statement, Mr. Law commented: “Captions…it’s a pain.”
The fragmentation of the <smart TV> platform, the fact we have had several generations of a legacy OS, each of which has a different SDK. Yes, webOS we’re standardizing, but every time we add a new hardware SKU to support a new display technology that creates another certification that we have to do for our content partners.”
Christopher Cukor, Business Development Lead, LG Electronics
Comment: As yet there is no convergence in smart TV app platforms. In fact, we are headed in the other direction, with new platforms entering the market like Android TV and Amazon Fire TV. This will hold back smart TV adoption as content providers limit app development to only the most popular platforms.
We are solidly into the implementation phase of the transition to multiscreen delivery, but these four challenges show the technology is far from done.
Why it matters
We are solidly in the roll-out phase of multiscreen solutions.
However, it would be a mistake to assume that the technology was complete.
There remain many challenges, including with HEVC, Closed Captioning, Smart TV app platforms and consumption data.
These challenges must be addressed if the industry is to continue to grow strongly.