Video: 2020 Video Redefined and the Pandemic

Life’s certainly changed during 2020 and 2021, so far, is only cementing those changes. Who are the winners and who are the losers? Jon Giegengack joins John Porterfield to discuss the work Entertainment Research’s doing to understand the changing market.

I think we’re all aware that the pandemic is ravaging some market sectors and even some whole economies. At the same time, staying at home is allowing some families who are still in work, to save money. Jon explains that their polling shows that around a quarter of US consumers have dropped a service, whereas around a third have added one which mirrors the mixed stories we hear of lost jobs juxtaposed against ‘super savers’ who are investing their new-found wealth.

Jon’s view is that one key change that will last long beyond the pandemic is this adoption of streaming platforms. Premium video on demand is what people are interested in and is only buoyed by people’s investments in TVs during the pandemic, laptops, mobile devices etc. Furthermore, the pandemic has forced the hand of companies to move forward with their home distribution plans. Warner Brothers, for example, will be releasing their new films both at the cinema and on HBO Max at the same time at no extra cost to the subscribers. Whilst they may change their approach in 2022, this will have brought forward their plans and may also encourage others to do similar. It’s also another motivation for people to invest in their own home-viewing environment which will, in turn, encourage them to double down on their interest in viewing theatrical releases at home.

People do care about quality. They are forgiving when the quality isn’t there, but research shows that the majority of video watched on Netflix is done on a TV which is a big shift from its early days of streaming. Jon’s research shows that second screens tend to be used for YouTube-style videos and that time spent watching there doesn’t reduce hour-for-hour time in front of the TV.

This sounds like it’s great news all round. But the research shows that in the US it’s Netflix which is the main beneficiary of this change racking up a 49% increase in subscribers with Disney+, Hulu and Prime coming after. For TV providers, the news isn’t so good. vMPVDs such as YouTube Live and Hulu Live saw a 50% decrease and conventional TV cable/satellite providers saw a 32% drop.

Lastly, John discussed the impact on the content itself by the content where presenters have had to find ways of delivering TV from home taking many leaves from YouTubers to make sure they and their surroundings look good. This homely feel has been appreciated in some programmes leaving viewers with a closer connection to the presenters which may leave the door open to continuing some parts of programming like this in the future.

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Speakers

Jon Giegengack Jon Giegengack
Principal,
Hub Entertainment Research
John Porterfield John Porterfield
Streaming Technology Evangelist,
JP’sChalkTalks

Video: Broadcast Playout Cloud Transformation

Playout has been gradually moving to the cloud for a number of years now. Famously Discovery moved all of their thematic playout to the cloud in 2018 and many have done the same since. As we saw the other day, Sky Italia are now seeing ‘code as infrastructure’ whereby automated API calls launch the in-cloud infrastructure they need as part of their linear playout.

In this video, we hear from Matt Westrup from A+E EMEA on how they’ve moved their playout to the cloud with their partner Amagi. Running 30 channels in Europe, Matt explains that due to some business uncertainty with a partner company, the need for a DR facility was identified. Talking to Srinivasan KA from Amagi, they were able to create this using Amagi’s product portfolio based in AWS. Matt explains that after the DR facility was set up, they moved quickly to full mirroring and ultimately they flipped the switch and they announced they were now broadcasting from the cloud.

Srinivasan KA explains that many companies take a similar route when working in the cloud. Sometimes a cost-effective DR facility is all they need, however it’s easy to replicate all your workflows in the cloud and have that on standby. This can be done by keeping the content in the cloud evergreen, running automation but keeping the playout functions switched off to save money which can be quickly brought online as needed. Srinivasan KA looks at the high-level diagram of the A+E operation showing how S3 holds the content, goes through a workflow to the CPU-powered playout and then is handed off using direct connect to affiliates and telcos using Amagi’s POPs.

Matt comments that this was relatively easy to do from a business perspective “No-one was investing massively in fixed infrastructure” and they’ve found they have been faster to market with a speed they’ve “never experienced before.” Needless to say, the move to the cloud also came into its own and provided a seamless move work home working during the pandemic. And, looking more longterm, A+E will continue to benefit from not having to manage the physical datacentre/serber room infrastructure.

The video finishe swith an overview of Broadcast in AWS from Andy Kane. He covers the main drivers for broadcasters moving to the cloud such as business agility, a preference with some companies for increasing Opex spending, increased ease in experiementing with new technologies/ways of engaging with customers, using a remote workforce among others. Andy covers an example broadcast flow using MediaConnect for contribution, MediaLive Statmux for distibution, redundancy strategies and other building blocks such as TAG multiviewers.

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From the AWS Media Insights Webcast Series
Speakers

Andy Kane Andy Kane
Principal AI/ML Specialist Solutions Architect (Languages),
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Matt Westrup Matt Westrup
VP Technology and Operations,
A+E EMEA
Srinivasan KA Srinivasan KA
Co-founder,
Amagi Corporation
Ian McPherson Ian McPherson
Partner Development Lead – Media & Entertainment,
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Video: Making a case for DVB-MABR

Multicast ABR (mABR) is a way of delivering traditional HTTP-based streams like HLS and DASH over multicast. On a managed telco network, the services are multicast to thousands of homes and only within the home itself does the stream gets converted back unicast HTTP. Devices in the home then access streaming services in exactly the same way as they would Netflix or iPlayer over the internet, but the content is served locally. Streaming is a point-to-point service so each device takes its own stream. If you have 3 devices in the home watching a service, you’ll be sending 3 streams out to them. With mABR, the core network only ever sees one stream to the home and the linear scaling is done internally. Not only does this help remove peaks in traffic, but it significantly reduces the load on the upstream networks, the origin servers and smooths out the bandwidth use.

This video from DVB lays out the business cases which are enabled by mABR. mABR has approved the specification which is now going for standardisation within ETSI. It’s already gained some traction with deployments in the field, so this talk looks at what the projects that drive the continued growth in mABR may look like.

Williams Tovar starts first by making the case for OTT over satellite. With OTT services continuing to take viewing time away from traditional broadcast services, satellite providers are working to ensure they retain relevance and offer value. Delivering these OTT services is, thus, clearly beneficial, but why would you want to? On top of the mABR benefits briefly outlined above, this business case recognises that not everyone is served by a good internet connection. Distributing OTT by satellite can provide high bitrate, OTT experiences to areas with bad broadband and could also be an efficient way to deliver to large public places such as hotels and ships.

Julian Lemotheux from Orange presents a business case for next-generation IPTV. The idea here is to bring down the cost of STBs by replacing CA security with DRM and replacing the chipset with a cheaper one which is less specialised. As DASH and HLS streaming are cpu-based tasks and well understood, general, mass-produced chipsets can be used which are cheaper and removing CA removes some hardware from the box. Also to be considered is that the OTT ecosystem is continually seeing innovation so delivering services in the same format allows providers to keep their offerings up to date without custom development in the IPTV software stack.

Xavier Leclercq from Broadpeak looks, next, at Scaling ABR Delivery. This business case is a consideration of what the ultimate situation will be regarding MPEG2 TSes and ABR. Why don’t we provide all services as Netflix-style ABR streams? One reason is that the scale is enormous with one connection per device, CDNs and national networks would still not be able to cope. Another is that the QoS for MPEG2 transport streams is very good and, whilst it is possible to have bad reception, there is little else that causes interruption to the stream.

mABR can address both of these challenges. By delivering one stream to each home and having the local gateway do the scaling, mass delivery of streamed content becomes both predictable and practical. Whilst there is still a lot of bandwidth involved, the predictable load on the CDNs is much more controlled and with lower peaks, the CDN cost is reduced as this is normally based on the maximum throughput. mABR can also be delivered with a higher QoS than public internet traffic which allows it to benefit from better reliability which could move it in the realm of the traditional transport-stream based serviced. Xavier explains that if you put the gateway within a TV, you are able to deliver a set-top-box-less service whilst if you want to address all devices in you home, you can provide a separate gateway.

Before the video finishes with a Q&A session, Williams delivers the business case for Backhauling over Satellite for CDNs and IP backhaul for 5G Networks. The use case for both has similarities. The CDN backhauling example looks at using satellite to efficiently deliver directly to CDN PoPs in hard to reach areas which may have limited internet links. The Satellite could deliver a high bandwidth set of streams to many PoPs. A similar issue presents itself as there is so much bandwidth available, there is a concern about getting enough into the transmitter. Whether by satellite or IP Multicast, mABR could be used for CDN backhauling to 5G networks delivering into a Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) cache. A further benefit in doing this is avoiding issues with CDN and core network scalability where, again, keeping the individual requests and streams away from the CDN and the network is a big benefit.

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Download the slides from this video
Speakers

Williams Tovar Williams Tovar
Soultion Pre-sales manager,
ENENSYS Technologies
Julien Lemotheux Julien Lemotheux
Standardisation Expert,
Orange Labs
Xavier Leclercq Xavier Leclercq
VP Business Development,
Broadpeak
Christophe Berdinat Moderator: Christophe Berdinat
Chairman CM-I MABR, DVB
Innovation and Standardisation Manager, ENENSYS

Video: The End of Broadcast?

This discussion asks what the limits are of ‘broadcast’ in a world increasingly dominated by streaming. Whilst services like the BBC’s iPlayer have demonstrated how on-demand can sit alongside live streams of linear channels, the growing world of Disney+, Netflix and Apple TV+ is muscling in on the family television bringing with them different ways of accessing video.

Presented by Ian Nock, chair of the IET Media technical network, this is the 2020 John Logie Baird lecture online. First up, is Chris Wood from OTT specialist Spicy Mango who represents the perspective that OTT is the way forward. This isn’t a fight between screen sizes, he starts by saying, but rather about experiences and expectations. A great example of this is how pause and rewind features have made their way into many linear TV offerings. The convenience to pause a video while you leave the room or discuss it was so powerful that when it was possible to bring it into live, it did. This type of feature migration will continue to happen as the types of service merge.

Chris makes the important point that ‘live TV’ often means linear. There is a lot of live streaming available through Twitch, sports providers like DAZN and companies like Amazon Prime which is not captured separately. This makes it hard to understand how much people are still valuing the live feeling. Live TV, he says, is not going away whatever happens to linear RF transmissions because we need live programming, we enjoy it differently.

Source: DTG

Next, representing the UK Digital TV Group (DTG) is Yvonne Thomas who looks at the fragmented landscape with a large variety of types of VoD service available – subscription, advertiser etc. For the younger audience whose experience of video is predominantly over IP, their experiences become quite fragmented meaning it’s hard for a broadcaster to maintain continuity and relevance. Yvonne also talks about the proliferation of IT needed to watch all this content which can lead to families inadvertently exposing their data or compromising their security.

Nigel Walley from Decipher makes the point that some of our intuitions are wrong. As we see trends evolving, whilst the industry was initially discussing the rise of ‘second screens’, it’s important to realise that some of this was driven by the simple fact that the only place you could watch Netflix of YouTube was your second screen. As consumer electronics manufacturers have made space for ‘Netflix’ buttons and we see Google and Apple with their HDMI connected players, we see people have quickly reverted to watching good content on their best screen; their TV.

Another important point made by Nigel is that as much people companies talk about the ability to individually target viewers and deliver highly customised services, there will always be situations with shared viewing whether they may as well not be logged in as customisation takes much more of a back seat.

Source: OMDIA

Maria Rua Aguete from Omdia challenges our assumptions on who the big players in streaming are. They can be ranked both by revenue and by subscribers. Maria shows us that China Telecom, Baidu and Tencent are in positions 2, 3 and 4 when counted by subscribers. Still, one third of the world’s OTT subscribers are held by Amazon, Netflix and Disney+.
Maria continues to deliver a vast range of timely statistics that help us understand the current situation within the pandemic. She covers the popularity of free services with in the UK, recent M&A activity, the consumers’ rising appetite for video and international channels.

The session closes with a 20 minute Q&A.

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Speakers

Maria Rua Aguete
Technology Fellow & Executive Director,
Omdia
Yvonne Thomas Yvonne Thomas
Strategic Technologist
Digital TV Group
Chris Wood Chris Wood
CTO,
Spicy Mango
Nigel Walley Nigel Walley
Managing Director,
Decipher
Ian Nock Moderator: Ian Nock
Chair, IET Media Technical Network