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Taking OTT to the Next Level: Exploring the Value of Smooth Streaming + HLS

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In our previous post, we explored the evolution of multi-screen and the emergence of new network configurations, including DVB + OTT.  In this post, we will share our thoughts on a few of the innovative technologies available to augment these networks from a Quality of Experience (QoE) and security perspective.

We have recently observed an increasing number of operators relying on adaptive rate streaming (ARS) to support the development of new OTT video service architectures.  This is in no small part due to ARS’ ability to quickly and cost-effectively take operators over-the-top, and add interactive services to previously broadcast-only pay TV networks.

ARS is particularly attractive for DVB + OTT networks as multiple new streaming technologies have recently emerged to further simplify the deployment process, while also facilitating the development of new business models and increasing revenue security.  Smooth Streaming from Microsoft and HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) from Apple are two such technologies that are exceptionally well-positioned to help take operators over-the-top.  Additionally, since both leverage HTTP as their foundation, they can co-exist quite nicely.

As such, operators are increasingly choosing to use the two technologies in parallel, with the goal of reaching the most diverse range of device types possible.  In fact, the combination covers an exceptionally wide range of devices as well, encompassing delivery to tablets, smartphones as well as iPad, iPhones, set top box (STB) devices, connected TVs, PCs and Macs.

It should be noted, however, that while it is possible to use a single stream type to service all of these types of devices, operators are tending to prefer Smooth Streaming for PCs and Macs because of the sophisticated (and free) Silverlight environment and preferentially choose HLS for other connected devices.

DRM management – always a key consideration when deploying multi-screen services – also remains relatively straightforward as long as an appropriately high level rights management solution is deployed.

Using a combination of Smooth Streaming and HLS provides operators with an ideal environment for developing and deploying applications on a wide range of device types. In addition, the resulting service is well-protected and operates in a reliable fashion on all supported devices.

We anticipate that technology advances through ARS technology, particularly those based around HLS and Smooth Streaming, are likely to alter the current framework of managed network vs. Internet delivery. Choosing the right protocol, and the right revenue security solution, will enable service providers to deploy well-protected multi-screen services on the widest range of devices possible, thereby reaching the largest number of subscribers possible.

We’d love to hear your thoughts – please drop us a comment below.

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